A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a grant program from the federal government that was going to require that the course content created be SCORM compliant. This was based on an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education that said:
Some higher-education leaders say a little-noticed technical note in a new $2-billion federal grant program could make it difficult for colleges to use the money to build free online course materials.
The issue centers around a single line of the 53-page grant guidelines for the program, known officially as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants Program: “All online and technology-enabled courses developed under this [program] must be compliant with the latest version of Scorm (Sharable Content Object Reference Model).”
and After …
Now, it seems that the requirement for SCORM isn’t quite as important as previous thought. A new article in The Chronicle of Higher Education now reports that
Two weeks after college leaders raised concerns about what was perceived as a restrictive technical requirement in a new $2-billion federal-grant program, government officials issued an amendment that eliminates the requirement.
The article goes on to quote from the Department of Labor that
The amendment rewrites the old language of the regulations to leave it up to college which standards to follow, as long as the online courses follow some “industry-leading e-learning open standards.”
My Take …
I believe that this amendment that allows institutions to follow elearning standards continues down a road that is faulty. To go out on a limb here, I believe this may actually be the first of at least one more amendments that will be issued. I wrote in my earlier post:
As many of us in instructional design and eLearning know, SCORM has little to do with actual learning. Instead, SCORM represents a technical specification to help ensure that eLearning content survives different systems and upgrades….I believe the notion that one institution could build a SCORM-certified course and have it distributed and taught by another institution may in fact be flawed. Others may disagree with me. In either case, I would question whether the assessments are in fact aligned with the objectives and instructional methods for the content when the courses are shared. By way of the IMS GLC Public Forum, Rabel offers an extensive and deep analysis of the flaws of this thinking and follow-ups here.
I think what will happen is that many institutions will realize the difficulty of creating content that can be shared easily. David Wiley has written extensively on the need and the difficulty in sharing instructional content, and he has influenced my thinking on this topic. Particularly, granularity of content makes it difficulty to simply share. Plus, as I mentioned, instructional content has a pedagogical perspective. It is not learning theory independent. So, one faculty member’s theoretical perspective cannot simply be picked up and replanted into another faculty member’s course.
Also, I believe some will begin to question whether there is any other “e-learning open standards” besides SCORM. Yes, there is IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS packaging standards), and yes, there is Dublin core, but these are certainly more esoteric to higher education in the US and are not “industry leading,” particularly in the US. I did interestingly find that the US Department of Education pledged to align with IMS Global Learning Consortium and their standards.
SCORM is it when it comes to elearning technical standards. I do not believe, however, SCORM or another standard will work for higher education.