SCORM-ing Like It's 1999 | Mindspace

SCORM-ing Like It's 1999

January 23, 2019



In 2019, Executive Orders sometimes take the place of more traditional legislation here in America. But in 1999, a fairly unheralded decree was issued by then-President Bill Clinton establishing the “President's Task Force on Federal Training Technology”—also known as Executive Order 13111. The goal of this Task Force was laid out very clearly in Section 1.


The Task Force shall provide leadership regarding the effective use of technology in training and education; make training opportunities an integral part of continuing employment in the Federal Government; and facilitate the ongoing coordination of Federal activities concerning the use of technology in training. 


This was all happening at a time when CD-ROMs were the norm, the Internet was on shaky ground as the dot-com bubble was about to burst, and the use of VCRs still far outpaced the adoption of DVDs. 


The Department of Defense — declaring war on poor training standards since 2000. 


The resulting report from the Task Force, published in July 2000, was reasonably insightful. Perhaps most importantly, it did not ignore other efforts — particularly one from the Department of Defense (DoD) and their emerging Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) standard. Tanks, bombs, and SCORM. Yes, the military was responsible for creating the most widely-used learning standard. SCORM 1.0 was introduced in 2000, with the familiar 1.2 standard first appearing in 2001.


The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL) — still funded by the DoD — has been central to the evolution of SCORM over the past 20 years and, more recently, the introduction and adoption of xAPI. 


Rules (Standards) Are Meant to Be Broken


Understanding these standards and their role is important for selecting vendors and partners, ensuring compliance, and making backward compatibility with legacy programs easier. But visionary companies will not allow government-sponsored specifications and constraints to solely dictate new learning initiatives in their business. 


I recently had an opportunity to sit down with the head of L+D for a company in the auto repair industry. While a legacy LMS is the center of their training programs today, she envisions a future where technicians are trained in repairs for different vehicle types using Virtual Reality (VR). Similarly, estimators would leverage portable devices with Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities. AR would enable them to “see through” a problem to what other systems could be impacted on that make and model, ultimately improving efficiency and the customer experience. 


For this company, training is blurring into operations and even personnel management, but how can it not?


Our discussion ended with an outline for evolving the systems and the methods of learning currently deployed, with the goal of making employees more efficient and more prepared to serve customers better. Not among the requirements? SCORM compliance.

Ready to bring your training up to speed with modern technology? Let's chat!


Words by Chad Bellin, Director of Products and Strategy at Mindspace.

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