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An online learning primer
First and foremost, the concept of delivering an assessment, quiz, activity or game in a structured way, means you typically want to provide tracking in some form or another. You want to be able to construct or author this content, deploy it, and see the progress of your students. As mentioned, this doesn't have to happen using a open source standard. Your absolutely empowered to build out your own strategy for making two (or more) computers talk to each other.
Markets that drive this space include K-12, Higher Education, Corporate and Professional Training, Compliance, Do It Yourself (DIY), and gaming approaches. Each having their own specific angles that shape the standards or create new ones. Technology itself, begins to open new doors and capabilities.
There is no shortage of acronyms used to describe learning environments and the mechanisms that support them. Rather than hit you over the head with all of them, we'll focus on the more popular points in e-learning history below, which will highlight pivotal technology changes just over the last decade.
- AICC Formed
International Association is born
Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) Formed by Aircraft manufacturers.
- Meanwhile in movies...
June 22, 1988
- Computer Based Training (CBT)
AICC: PC-platform was established as the primary delivery platform.
- Digital Audio Specification
Disk Operating System (DOS)
AICC: Produced a specification which allowed vendors to use a single audio card.
- Computer Managed Instruction
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
Runtime interoperability specification for Learning Management Systems (LMS) or CMI systems called "CMI001". Designed for CD-ROM and LAN.
- AICC/CMI Runtime updated
Hyptertext transfer Protocol (HACP)
This protocol allowed for content running on one server, the ability to communicate with another.
- Department of Defence
Executive Order 13111
Tasked with developing common specifications and standards for elearning across federal and private sectors.
- SCORM 1.0
Consider this more of a alpha concept, was never widely used.
- SCORM 1.1
Commercial vendors begin to adopt and implement.
- SCORM 1.2
More widely adopted after hammering out issues from early adoption.
- SCORM 2004 aka SCORM 1.3
Building off of SCORM 1.2 and feedback from the community it bolted on Sequence and Navigation and enhanced the Content Managed Instruction Object.
- SCORM 2004 2nd Edition
- SCORM 2004 3rd Edition
Sequence and Navigation updates, and User Interface enhancements to provide consistent functionality.
- Activity Streams
Method of syndicating activities across social web applications i.e. social networking. This standard began to get adopted by e-learning entities as a mechanism for reporting student activity.
- SCORM 2004 4th Edition
Enhancements to sequence and navigation.
- Academic Activity Stream
Apollo Education Group (a parent company of University of Phoenix ®) was awarded a patent for its Academic Activity Stream.
- Experience API
1.0 released. Takes e-learning outside the browser via OAuth security, REST, JSON in a "actor verb object" or "I did this" type statement(s).
- Web Plugins and Security
Web plugins with security holes have periodically been blocked by browsers. This includes Flash and Java. This may or may not put a cramp in your content deployment, and is something to be aware of.
Do you need SCORM/AICC in order to build e-learning?
Absolutely not. Today we see all the App Stores, Gaming platforms, and online social sites allowing and enabling people to openly share experiences, skills and trades. If your goal is creating content that can be transferred from system to system this is a good place to start. SCORM 1.2 had the highest amount of adoption and is often supported in many Learning Platforms.
The goals and scope of your project dictate what options you have available to you. If you need assistence making sense of all this, don't hesitate to reach out.
If you do choose SCORM, we have several products to help you get off the ground. If you to convert SCORM to some other flavor, we can do that too.
Migrating Content, and Portals
You may have vintage content that is ripe for a overhaul?Cybercussion Interactive has several products to extend, enhance, automate, and re-package content. Have a platform but it doesn't support SCORM?SCOBot Runtime API's can save the day allowing you to fully support SCORM. Feel free to contact us today.
Off-the-shelf training has its place, just like a production car vs. one hand crafted in Italy. These tools commonly already come pre-bundled with page interactions, themes and other styles. They commonly can offer e-learning standards built in. It's possible a slide show gets you part way to your goals, or you may ultimately feel you need technical assistance with what you feel is a black box. We have several logging and diagnostic tools to help aid the troubleshooting effort.
Be careful of the technology these tools use. They may (for example) use 100% flash; and limit your portability when it comes time to deploy. They may also only deploy only to mobile (or only desktop) and don't work correctly.
This is a subject that comes up from time to time as exploits become more openly available. Please keep in mind that SCORM is a open API, freely accessible on the LMS. There are, however options to mitigate security. No measure can give you 100% peace of mind, so you need to consider backend reporting, and data forensics to truly be sure. Portals/platforms can take advantage of more modern options to limit external domains access, and direct interaction with the SCORM API from sources other than the Content Object. Most cheats are crude, and typically lack the level of detail a real Shareable Content Object can provide. Most Platforms independently track session time. So falsely reporting values is easily traceable. All to often, beyond just direct manipulation of the SCORM Runtime, students may evaluate assets, scripts, and external data which can also commonly direct them to the correct answer. Developers similarly need to take more steps to obscure the data so its not easily read like plain text - "Security through obscurity". Which typically is not recommend practice by a standards body like SCORM or AICC.
Just recently students have been expelled for key-logging teachers computers. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions, road blocks or need solutions.
SCOBot Runtime APIs
Build vs Buy:
There are often several threads/posts online seeking a free SCORM Runtime API, and anyone who has done a bit of research has probably come up empty. This is because of a number of reasons.
- This can take a handful of developers up to 2 years to accurately create
- Finding developers familiar with end-to-end SCORM
- Thousands of pages of white paper specifications to read
- The availability of server-side code (PHP, ASP/ASP.NET, Ruby, JSP etc...) to match your requirements
There are other options like subscriptions to online portals commonly off-site, and managed elsewhere.
Your team may decide building your own is the way to go, but if you are in a deadline pinch, you simply won't have the time to fashion a SCORM Runtime API, and the necessary backend components (let alone the student frontend experience).
The SCORM 2004 Specification is comprised of 3 key areas:
- Sequence and Navigation
Most of SCORM 1.2 was labeled 'optional'. So the implementation learning curve for base support was minimal. This is also a substantial why this version of SCORM was the most popular. It also didn't include any Sequence and Navigation.
Is it all just Marketing?
This is a common question that pops up. SCORM enables entities to share their content with other platforms that support SCORM. They may have invested thousands if not millions in courses. Being able to actively integrate SCORM in your proprietary system will enable you to support these lessons and enable you to choose how they bubble up there status, scoring and interactions.
SCOBot SCORM 2004 & 1.2 Runtime Environments
This was built in conjunction with the SCOBot SCORM Content API which assists developers adding SCORM support to their custom Shareable Content Objects.
- API Support for SCORM 2004 & SCORM 1.2
- Event triggers your LMS portal can 'listen' to
- Manages cached CMI (student attempt)
- Force terminate interval for SCOs that exit, but don't terminate
- JSON Attempt Object - simple integration
- Integrate with your backend language of choice
- Performance: Low-latency cached student attempt
- Commit-guard - will not allow a commit unless data has changed.
- Shared State Persistence namespace (in progress)
- ADL Sequence & Navigation
- Cross Domain support
- Manifest Parser for SCORM 1.2 & SCORM 2004
If you are a commercial entity, and or have a paid service/access, and would like the source code, please note the "Buy" option has been added. However, if you'd like more information, a demo or sample that can be made available.
Advanced Distributed Learning actually has a certification for Learning Management Platforms. That effort requires a 3rd party to review/analyze your software for roughly $4,000.
What you get
Let's Get Packing:
SCOBot Packager is a and Adobe AIR based application to assist you in packaging Shareable Content Objects. All to often you may have vendor based or internal content that needs to be edited and re-packaged for deployment. You may even have cases where your zipping and or hand editing of the XML manifest is causing a lot of grief getting it uploaded to the server.
There are a ton of use cases surrounding not only the SCORM Specification, but often the wants and needs of people using these tools.
Repeatable steps can commonly be automated. When you identify something you have to keep doing over and over, that typically is costing time. Hand editing XML or copy and pasting snippets from the web can also lead to invalid syntax. This project takes into account the following:
- You may want to add base SCORM Communication into a HTML file.
- You may want the imsmanifest.xml to be created for you.
- Include schemas from the SCORM Specification.
- Removal of known bad file types which can bloat your package. Popular hidden files, source file types included.
- Push all the content into its own folder, away from the spec files.
- Include base LOM (Learning Object Metadata) for adding to a repo.
- Switch SCO or Asset, and detect launch files.
- Design your TOC structure with folders, then browse to the top, and let it do the rest.
- Also retain, or flatten the structure
- Ignore SCORM 2004 manifest files/folders if downgrading to 1.2
- Pie-chart of file types packages so you know whats making up your package.
- Objectives, Flow-Control, Sequencing Rules (advanced features)
Common use cases for this product include re-packaging existing content from a content management system or vendor.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What do you mean 'Inject SCORM Communication'?
This process includes the SCOBot Content API, and a small subset of initialization with parameters to auto-score, pass and complete the student. This, after all is about 80-85% of all SCORM based activities. It's the "I was here" approach to presenting the student with some content and logging they saw it, and for how long.
Keep in mind that this is intended to be used in HTML files only, and you must manage whether you choose to inject this capability. The application will backup your original launch file.
Can this convert SCORM 1.2 to SCORM 2004 (or vice-versa)?
That effort typically requires a surgical approach. Requires evaluation of how the current content interacts with its current library.
What type of trial?
Typically 30 days. That allows any email feedback, concerns or requests to get addressed. Feedback is greatly appreciated, and understanding more about what features are popular helps. If you have an existing contract, or are providing feedback that can be extended.
Why would I even need this?
SCORM has a Content Aggregation and Resource packaging specification. In order to share your content with multiple LMS Platforms you need to follow these guidelines. Commonly, when hand creating these its time consuming and often ends in aggravation. The time it takes to upload, and test your package creates a churn. Sometimes, your content package can be invalidated simply by missing a step, or breaking the syntax. You may be re-packaging content, or re-sorting the table of contents.
When will a full release occur?
It did! Thanks to those who tested out use-cases.
Can this enhance or extend existing SCORM functionality?
This is all too much geek, can you just help me?
Absolutely, hit the contact page and send us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.