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What is SCORM Compliance? Everything You Need to Know About SCORM

Debarpita Banerjee Published on : 24 April 2024
What is SCORM Compliance_ Everything You Need to Know About SCORM

Looking to create eLearning courses that work seamlessly across all the LMSs and devices? Well, SCORM compliance is the answer to your problem. Keep reading the blog to learn everything you need to, about SCORM!

Have you ever created an amazing eLearning course, only to find it incompatible with your chosen Learning Management System? Or are you struggling to transfer your course content from one LMS to another, just because they do not accept similar content formats? As eLearning educators and content creators, we all have faced this issue!

But with SCORM compliance, you can solve all these issues. SCORM allows you to develop eLearning content that can be effortlessly uploaded and played on any SCORM-compliant LMS. In this blog, we will tell you what SCORM is, SCORM compliance, what are its major benefits, the different versions of SCORM, how it works, and much more. So, let’s get started!

What is SCORM?

SCORM is a set of technical specifications that act as a common language for eLearning content and Learning Management Systems (LMS).  

Its key aspects are explained below:

  • Sharable Content Object: SCORM focuses on creating reusable learning modules that can be easily packaged and transferred across different LMS platforms.
  • Reference Model: It’s not a rigid set of rules, but rather a framework that defines how eLearning content should be structured. It also defines how the eLearning content interacts with an LMS. It outlines communication protocols, data exchange formats, and sequencing rules.


What Does SCORM Stand For?  

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. While it might sound complex, but it essentially acts as a translator for eLearning courses. It ensures that the eLearning content can be understood and delivered effectively by the LMS platform. This eliminates compatibility issues and allows for a smooth learning experience and content transfer.

What Does SCORM Compliance Mean?

In the context of SCORM, compliance means whether an eLearning content or an LMS adheres to the SCORM technical standards. When eLearning content and LMS platforms are SCORM-compliant, it means they’re built following the SCORM specifications. This ensures they can interact and function together smoothly.  

Being SCORM-compliant technically means fulfilling the following criteria:

  • Packaging: SCORM dictates a specific way to structure and package eLearning content. Compliant content is wrapped in a SCORM package, which includes the learning modules, metadata, and instructions for the LMS.
  • Communication: SCORM defines a communication protocol between the content and the LMS. Compliant content can exchange information with the LMS about learner progress, completion status, and assessment results.
  • Tracking and Reporting: SCORM ensures consistent tracking of learner interactions and performance data. Compliant content reports this data to the LMS in a standardized format, allowing instructors to easily monitor learner progress.


What is SCORM File and SCORM Package?

A SCORM file itself isn’t a single file, but rather a type of content package that follows the SCORM specifications. This content package is called the SCORM Package. 

So, the SCORM Package is basically like a zip folder. It contains all the necessary files and components for your eLearning content that are needed to function within a SCORM-compliant LMS. 

When you author your eLearning content using a SCORM-compliant content authoring tool, it typically creates this SCORM package for you. This package can then be uploaded to any LMS that adheres to SCORM standards. 

What Files Does a SCORM Package Contain?

Here’s a breakdown of what a SCORM package typically includes:

  • Learning Modules: This is the core content of your eLearning course, like videos, quizzes, presentations, or interactive elements.
  • Manifest File: Think of this as an instruction booklet. The manifest file specifies how the LMS should launch and navigate the learning modules within the package. It also defines the sequencing of the content, if applicable.
  • Metadata: This provides additional information about the eLearning content, such as the title, author, description, and any specific technical requirements.
  • Sequencing Data (Optional): If your course has a specific order in which learners should progress through the modules, the sequencing data outlines this pathway for the LMS.


The Manifest File

The manifest file, often regarded as imsmanifest.xml, is the heart of a SCORM eLearning package. It’s an XML file that functions like a detailed instruction manual for the LMS. It provides all the technical information needed to launch and manage the eLearning content.


The manifest file adheres to a specific XML schema defined by the SCORM standard. This schema dictates the organization of elements and attributes within the file.

Key Elements

The manifest file contains several key elements, including:

  • Metadata: Provides details about the learning experience, like title, description, and keywords.
  • Organizations: Defines the structure of the learning content, outlining how the learning modules are organized and sequenced (if applicable).
  • Resources: Lists all the individual resources included in the package, such as HTML files, images, videos, and scripts.
  • ADL CP: (Optional) May contain elements related to Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) capabilities, focusing on reusability and interoperability across different learning platforms.


Key Functions
  • Sequencing and Navigation: The manifest file can specify how learners navigate through the course content. It can define dependencies between modules, enforcing a specific learning order if necessary.
  • Tracking and Reporting: The manifest file specifies how the LMS should track learner interactions and report data. It defines what events (like completing a quiz or visiting a page) should be tracked and how the data should be formatted for the LMS to understand.


Benefits of a Well-Structured Manifest File

A well-structured manifest file has many benefits, like:

  • Improved Interoperability: A good manifest file ensures the LMS can accurately interpret the content and deliver a smooth learning experience.
  • Enhanced Tracking: Clear instructions in the manifest file lead to accurate tracking of learner progress and performance data.
  • Simplified Reusability: A standardized manifest allows the same content package to function across different LMS platforms.


How to Open a SCORM Package?

You can very easily open a SCORM package by uploading it into any SCORM-compliant LMS. But if you don’t have a SCORM-compliant LMS, you can still open a SCORM file by following the steps given below:

  • Extract the SCORM package, which is usually in the form of a ZIP file. 
  • Look for a file named something like “index.html” or “story.html”.
  • Open this file in your web browser.
  • This will launch a basic version of your eLearning content in your web browser. 


But please remember that you might not get the full-blown eLearning experience in this way, as you were supposed to get in an LMS. 

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What Are The Different Versions of SCORM?

SCORM has gone through several iterations since its inception. Till date, there have been four main versions of SCORM, which are:

  1. SCORM 1.1 (1999)
  2. SCORM 1.2 (2001)
  3. SCORM 2004 (2004)
  4. Experience API or xAPI (2013)


The key points about all these versions are summarized in the table below:


Year of Release

Key Points



It was the first version of SCORM, so obviously it had very basic functionality. 



Improved core functionalities, and established basic communication functions.

SCORM 2004 (3rd Edition)


It is the most widely used SCORM today. It had many enhancements in sequencing, reporting, and interoperability.

SCORM 2004 (4th Edition)


A few more advanced features were included in this version, but it was adopted by very few users. 

Experience API (xAPI)


It is the successor to SCORM. It comes with broader tracking capabilities but is still not widely used. 


Now let’s take a deeper look at some of the major versions of SCROM one by one. 

SCORM 1.1   

This was the very first version of SCORM, released in 1999. It was considered to be more of a draft or preview version than a fully implementable standard. It laid the groundwork for future versions of SCORM, which were more robust and feature-rich. 

Though it had limited functionalities, it succeeded in developing an understanding of the need and benefits of having a standard format for eLearning content. 

SCORM 1.2 

SCORM 1.2, which was released in 2001, two years after SCORM 1.1, was the first widely adopted version of SCORM. It established the core functionalities of SCORM, including communication between eLearning content and LMS platforms. 

However, it had limitations in tracking learner interactions and managing complex learning experiences. Hence, a more advanced SCORM version was later introduced. 

SCORM 2004

SCORM 2004 was a revised version of SCORM released in 2004. Its main motive was to address the shortcomings of the SCORM 1.2 version. It offered significant improvements in areas like:

  • Sequencing and Navigation: It offered more control over the order learners progress through the content.
  • Advanced Reporting: It offered the ability to track a wider range of learner interactions and provide more detailed reporting data.
  • Interoperability: It had enhanced compatibility with different LMS platforms.


How to Check the SCORM Version?

If you do not know the version of SCORM your eLearning content is based on, you can find out the SCORM version by examining the Manifest file. 

Examining the Manifest File

This method requires a bit of technical know-how, but it’s the most accurate way to determine the SCORM version. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Access the SCORM Package: You’ll need to access the SCORM package file, which is usually a ZIP archive.
  • Locate imsmanifest.xml: Unzip the package and look for a file named “imsmanifest.xml”. This is the main manifest file that defines the structure of the eLearning content.
  • Open the File: Open the imsmanifest.xml file in a text editor (like Notepad or TextEdit).
  • Find the Version Tag: Look for a tag like <schemaversion> or <model>. The text within these tags will indicate the SCORM version. For example, you might see <schemaversion>1.2</schemaversion> for SCORM 1.2 or <model>SCORM 2004 3rd Edition</model> for SCORM 2004 3rd Edition. 


How SCORM Works

The working of SCORM involves multiple steps from content packaging to learner’s progress tracking. Here’s precisely how SCORM works:

  • Packaging the Content: When the content authors create the learning content (like modules, quizzes, videos), this content is packaged following the SCORM specifications. The package includes the learning modules, metadata (information about the content), and instructions for the LMS. A manifest file (imsmanifest.xml) is also added. 
  • Uploading to the LMS: The SCORM package (usually a ZIP file) is uploaded to a SCORM-compliant LMS. The LMS recognizes the package format and initiates communication-based on SCORM specifications.
  • Launch and Delivery: The LMS interprets the manifest file. It understands the structure and sequence of the learning modules from the manifest file. When the learner launches the eLearning content within the LMS interface, the LMS delivers the content according to the given instructions.
  • Run-Time Communication and Tracking: During the learning process, the SCORM package sends information about learner interactions, such as completing a quiz or visiting a specific page to the LMS. The LMS tracks this data based on the specifications within the SCORM package.
  • Reporting and Completion: Upon completion of the course or modules, the SCORM package sends a final report to the LMS. This report might include details like overall score, time spent, and specific areas completed. The LMS stores this data and allows instructors to track learner progress and performance.


Key Benefits of SCORM

Some of the key benefits of SCORM include:

  • Reusable Content: By ensuring compatibility across different LMS platforms, SCORM allows authors to develop eLearning modules that can be used in various learning environments.
  • Simplified Content Delivery: The standardized packaging format eliminates the need to redesign content for each LMS, saving time and resources.
  • Improved Tracking: SCORM ensures consistent tracking of learner interactions across various LMS platforms.
  • Interoperability: Organizations can choose the best LMS for their needs without worrying about compatibility issues with existing SCORM-compliant content.


To Sum Up

SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) ensures eLearning content is compatible with any SCORM-compliant LMS in the world. SCORM allows for smooth communication, tracking learner progress, and reusing content across different LMS platforms. Since SCORM packages are reusable and can be easily used across different LMS, it saves a lot of time and manual effort. 

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SCORM compliance means that your eLearning content and LMS both adhere to the SCORM technical standards. It is important because any SCORM-complaint file will run very easily in any SCORM-compliant LMS. So, it makes the transfer of files much easier.

There are four major versions of SCORM, along with a derived API version:

  1. SCORM 1.1
  2. SCORM 1.2
  3. SCORM 2004 (3rd Edition)
  4. SCORM 2004 (4th Edition)
  5. Experience API

The manifest file present within the SCORM package works as the instruction manual for the LMS. It helps the LMS understand the learning modules, and present them in the correct sequence to the learners. 

Yes, SCORM-compliant LMS keeps track of learner’s overall progress by tracking their lesson progress and assignment progress. 

Written by: Debarpita Banerjee

Debarpita is a Content Writer with Muvi. With around 2 years of experience in content creation, she has worked across industries like SaaS, EdTech, eLearning, AR-VR, and Metaverse. She believes in delivering content that can be of some value to the readers. In her free time, she likes to try her hand at website and app development.

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