"SCORM is not for everyone"- ADL responds
Wilbert Kraan, CETIS staff
October 17, 2002

Our 'Dan Rehak: "SCORM is not for everyone"' article provoked quite a few reactions around the web; both positive and negative. But we wanted to give ADL itself an opportunity, and Mark Oehlert, ADL's communications officer, was kind enough to take up the gauntlet and respond to some of the main points reported in the article.

SCORM 2.0 will have a completely new architecture with a new content model and performance tracking.

This statement according to my own knowledge of our standard briefing slides and by Dan Rehak's own remembrance comes from a rather innocuous slide that we have used for a while now that depicts SCORM 2.0 as having a new, adaptive architecture. This has long been discussed. The plan has always been for SCORM's architecture to evolve as the specification itself evolves and matures. What SCORM 2.0 will end up being is not exactly clear at this point. The plan is to evolve SCORM to ensure that it is as useful as possible to the ADL community. We need to base this on the feedback and needs of the community. It may end up that significant architecture changes are asked for and warranted, but the important point is that this will not be done in a vacuum. We are continually engaged in serious efforts to not only listen to what the community is asking for but to respond accordingly. We have been successful because of the support from the vendor community and we will continue to be successful if we work with that community in evolving SCORM. If tools are not going to support the standard, the standard is not very useful. The point is that we would be hurting our own efforts if we tried to move SCORM in a direction that would cause those that have invested a great deal to implement to have to throw everything away and start over.

SCORM 1.x will be given from ADL to the community that uses it, once
some IP issues are resolved.

First, I don't know what IP issues are being referred to so I can't really address that - I don't really think there are any. Second, if by "given" you mean participation and collaboration then I don't think that SCORM was ever out of the hands of the community that uses it so "giving" it back is a bit off. SCORM has always been developed in an environment that open for all to participate in. We also always said that SCORM was originally developed for toolmakers and vendors not designers. We are now hard at work in cooperation with leading ISD thinkers and designers, so again, I'm not quite sure which community doesn't have SCORM. Further, SCORM and associated documents and tools are and will continue to be made freely available from www.adlnet.org for "anyone" to use. We agree that the focus has been technical in nature and geared to the vendor community, but that was the plan. We wanted to ensure that there was a solid infrastructure to start from and focusing on the vendor community allowed us to create that. Now with the work going on with Sequencing and the planned work with profiles and assessments we are beginning to address the needs of the ISD community. This is now possible because of the infrastructure.

On the other hand, if by "given" you mean actual responsibility for development, support and maintenance of SCORM [that is what we meant, Ed.] then again this is an idea we have discussed openly in multiple forums for a long time. The US DOD really doesn't want to stay in the reference model writing business long-term so while this has always been considered an eventuality, we aren't going to jump out of ADL tomorrow either. Communities should also not be concerned that we are going to hand SCORM off to some ill-defined consortium; SCORM is a reference model -- referring to models that industry, academia, and others worked together to create. Again, we will attempt to manage this evolution and migration in a way that best serves our communities of interest - which has always been our goal.

SCORM's pedagogical model is limited, and is not suitable for everyone, particularly primary and HE.

IN CMU's own Designer's Guide it states on page 4 that: "While SCORM claims to be pedagogically neutral, this guide focuses specifically on a single user, self-paced e-learning pedagogy; that is, one learner interacting with the instruction. The guide's primary focus is for the training community; however, the SCORM definitions and strategies presented in the guide can be easily transferred to the educational community for a wide range of learners (including K-12 and higher education). The guide can also be applied to distance education, computer-assisted instruction (CAI), and some forms of classroom instruction." What SCORM really focuses on is reusable, interoperable content. I think those principles can be applied in primary and HE. It set out to and has succeeded in addressing the ability to reuse, locate, and provide for interoperability of learning content to LMSs. You can still take advantage of those concepts with or without the use of collaborative tools. Many LMS systems do support collaborative environments as well as SCORM for blended learning environments.

Finally, as someone else has noted in a comment to this story "I'm glad to see Dan referred to as one of ADL chief architects. As they say: "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan...Dan has contributed mightily to SCORM and we hold him in the highest regard."

Thanks for the chance to respond.

Our Dan Rehak: "SCORM is not for everyone" article has links to a number of referring sites as well as direct responses. Don Johnson's comprehensive response is particularly recommended.