The corporate LMS market is large, and growing, expected to reach $7 billion globally¹ by 2023. There are an enormous number of vendors for corporations to choose from, each offering a different suite of content, features, and pricing.
One of the common characteristics used to differentiate options in the learning management systems industry is SCORM. An LMS may describe itself as SCORM compliant or SCORM certified. But what does each term really mean, and does the difference really matter for enterprises? To understand the difference, it is important to understand SCORM itself.
What is SCORM?
SCORM was created as a standard of interoperability for LMS content, allowing users to easily integrate content from different sources into their system. SCORM is a technological model, stipulating requirements for the content-system interface to meet the SCORM standard.
However, the SCORM standard can be met at a variety of levels. There may be a large difference in functionality between a SCORM compliant and a SCORM-certified LMS. Understanding the difference between SCORM compliance and SCORM certification is important, as it informs decisions as to the content that can be added to the LMS in the future, how that content interacts with different systems, and who can supply content.
To claim SCORM compliance or conformance, a vendor must download and pass a test from the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, the creators of the SCORM standard. Compliance tests for different versions of SCORM are available for download on the initiative’s website, and are completed on the honor system, without review of results by the ADL or any other third-party assessor.
An LMS, or suite of content that claims SCORM conformance, could pass the test at a high level; or, conversely, it could meet only the minimum standards. Because of this, a wide variation in performance is possible for systems that are SCORM compliant.
This could cause a number of problems, particularly for large organizations. An LMS may pass the test for SCORM compliance, and still not support all of the objects and features included in a content package.
To be SCORM certified, an LMS must be tested by an independent ADL testing center. Submitting to a test by an independent third party provides assurance that a system meets SCORM requirements at an appropriate level, ensuring that the LMS will support SCORM content.
When the SCORM requirements are met, the LMS is added to the SCORM Certified Product List, denoting the highest certification available for LMS products.
Is SCORM Certification Necessary?
SCORM compliance may be enough to meet the needs of an SME or smaller organization; but a large business or association will have diverse training needs.
For large corporations making a long-term investment in a learning management system, SCORM certification is the only way to ensure that LMS software is compatible with a wide array of content to meet current and future needs. Training thousands of employees, contractors, or members requires a higher level of interoperability. Only a SCORM-certified LMS can be relied upon to support the flexibility, scalability, and diversity of content required by a large enterprise in the long term.