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Journal Article

The Implications of SCORM Conformance for Workplace e‑Learning  pp183-190

Gabrielle Witthaus

© Jun 2009 Volume 7 Issue 2, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp85 - 190

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This paper explores the impact that SCORM conformance has had on workplace e‑learning. The author describes a project in which she was requested to "repurpose" some materials that had originally been designed for the face‑to‑face teaching of English as a Foreign Language, into SCORM conformant e‑learning materials. The rationale for this request was that the training centre management wanted to track learners' progress via a Learning Management System (LMS). However, in order to integrate SCORM‑conformant tracking functionality into the programmes, the learning materials would have to have been stripped of all the collaborative, productive and communicative aspects of their pedagogy. The learning designers and training centre management had to engage in a steep learning curve to find an alternative solution that was both pedagogically sound and administratively efficient. This anecdote highlights some of the challenges facing the corporate sector in terms of the management of e‑learning content. To put the issues into context, the paper gives an overview of SCORM, and defines some related terminology — Sharable Content Objects (SCOs), LMS and Learning Content Management System (LCMS). SCORM conformance has two main aims: the ability to deliver content on any Learning Management System, and the ability to track learners' actions and scores when they use the materials. It is argued that, while the higher education sector has chosen to emphasise the first aim, focusing more on the development of stimulating learning content that can be shared across disciplines and across institutions, the corporate sector has emphasised the second aim, focusing more on tracking learners' progress through learning programmes. It is suggested that this is one of the explanations for the continued proliferation of relatively rigid, behaviourist style teaching materials for workplace e‑learning. This instructivist style pedagogical model is considered in relation to the military and programming origins of SCORM, and a number of more innovative approaches to workplace e‑learning from the recent literature are discussed. The paper concludes by arguing that, for corporate e‑learning programmes to be successful, all stakeholders need to be included in the strategic decisions, and all stakeholders need to engage in a learning process to understand each others' points of view and explore the available options and their consequences. This study will be of value to anyone who needs to develop SCORM conformant courses, as well as managers who are charged with overseeing such projects, or developing an organisational training strategy involving an LMSLCMS.


Keywords: learning design, SCORM conformance, LMS, LCMS, learning objects, e-learning 2.0


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