SCORM and Moodle: Common issues and easy solutions

From eWorks by Bernadette Parry

Bernadette Parry
Bernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TrainingVC training, advanced Moodle training and support desk services. Today Bernadette considers common issues when it comes to working with SCORM and Moodle, and simple solutions to these problems.

What is SCORM?

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. It’s not just a name though. It’s a series of specifications that define information exchanged between the learner’s interactions with the content and the Learning Management System (see image below using Moodle as the LMS). Still a bit of a mouthful? Basically, this is what you should know about using SCORM packages with Moodle:

  1. SCORM packaging is a standard way of putting together some web pages and other content that is then zipped into a .ZIP file. This is a convenient way to transport (share) bits of content. The final ZIP file is often referred to as a SCORM object or SCORM package.
  2. Once the package has been uploaded to Moodle, the user can interact with the SCORM package. For example, learners can click on items that respond, and complete quizzes.
  3. Information is then passed between the SCORM package and Moodle. Examples of this Information are quiz scores (if there are any), and the pages looked at. There may or may not be a grade in the SCORM package.

SCORM Moodle flowchart

How are SCORM packages created?

There are many ways to create SCORM packages, including the use of software such asWimba Create, Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline. SCORM modules can also be composed of regular old HTML – a mini website if you will. Don’t forget that to make quality SCORM packages, you need to plan, be creative, and make the content engaging and educationally sound.

Should you use SCORM?

Content made using the commercial authoring tools such as Lectora, Wimba Create, etc can help to make your course look more professional, and they are very popular for this reason. However, do keep in mind that if you are using Moodle/Totara, then reporting and grading using standard Moodle activities works better. One of the main benefits of SCORM packaging is the portability of e-learning content which is often expensive and time consuming to create.

Common problems when working with SCORM

1. Changing/updating the SCORM package

SCORM packages that are created in proprietary software are not so easy to edit unless you have that software and the technical skills to use it. You may also need the original files that the SCORM package was created with. (Note that this is not restricted to SCORM packages.)

2. Completion issues

The following may cause issues with the SCORM package sending completion information to Moodle:

  • Having multiple browser tabs open and flicking between them. Best not to do it – each tab doesn’t necessarily have the whole picture of the steps you have taken.
  • Not exiting the package correctly. You must click exit and follow the steps precisely. You should not close the browser/browser page to exit the SCORM package because it is the exit that sends the message to the LMS that the SCORM package has been completed.
  • A temporary internet outage.
  • Using the back button at any time while working on the SCORM package. Again best not to do it – the history of your interactions can become confused.
  • Refreshing the browser page while working in the SCORM package. This isn’t a good idea – you may lose your progress.

3. Is your SCORM package a valid SCORM package?

In other words, is your module SCORM compliant? Of course there are other folders/files/rules required, but this is one good way to check:

  • Unzip your .zip – and there should be a file called ‘imsmanifest.xml’ in the root directory. This is vital as it has information about the navigation structure of the web pages, how to find images, a unique identifier, metadata, etc.
  • Use SCORM 1.2 – be aware that SCORM 2004 is not supported in Moodle.

4. And for the more technically minded:

  • At least one item in the manifest file must reference a resource which is identified as a ‘SCO’.
  • If an HTML page is referenced as the resource for an item in the manifest file it must contain LMS calls.

5. Using a SCORM package in Moodle

  • For SCORM packages which don’t return a score, instead simply relying on the user completing them, the SCORM settings under grading method should be set to Learning Objects. This updates the course score for the user.
  • If you have a package in a Moodle course that some learners have already started/completed, and you update the SCORM package, then the learner’s data remains intact. However, the completion date may be updated to whenever the new version of the SCORM package was uploaded. Note: if you change the identifiers in the imsmanifest.xml file, the learner tracking data can be deleted.

Ready to kick up a SCORM?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one. You can find further valuable information about using SCORM modules on the E-standards for Training and Moodle websites. Or contact eWorks to find out how we use SCORM packages.

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