Sequencing giving you the blues? Me, too!

I recognize for many of you, SCORM 2004 Sequencing and Navigation is impossible. My guess is that for most of you, it’s a jumbled problem that combines the complexities in understanding how to create a manifest that correctly interprets the intent of your instructional flow — and the problem of how an LMS actually interprets your sequencing instructions.

I’m pretty lucky to be able to narrow down the problem, because I spent many long days and nights side-by-side with Angelo at ADL, who’s the Godfather of Sequencing and Navigation (though I’m sure he’s loathe to go down in Wikipedia history for that effort in lieu of his Level 70 Shaman in WoW). In other words, my problem isn’t generally writing an effective manifest with Sequencing in it. All I want to do for my company right now is create a three-item tree for Pretest, Content and Posttest.

My problem is our LMS. I won’t name it, but it rhymes with “BaBa.” It’s a certified product that we’re upgrading to. It’s certified to SCORM 2004, 2nd Edition. I import content from ADL to run in its content administration. I can see from the debugging window that its handling the data model well (enough). But in between it redrawing the Table of Contents every time I navigate from one SCO to another and (what I think is happening with) the interpretation of what the rule is on the active node in the activity tree — I’m not being presented with any content as a result of passing or failing an objective. It’s recording the SCO itself as being passed or failed in the resulting transcript. But it’s not flowing on.

And that sucks. Bad. It makes me miserable. I have felt and feel for people dealing with these issues in our armed services and in all branches of government, where the decision is made to go with Vendor X for an LMS but the person who has to make the content work in the LMS has no say in the selection.

We talked at great length about this at the SCORM Technical Working Group meeting last month. It will be discussed even more. There was talk at the time about the various vendors actually getting together with each other and figuring out how to share the interpretation of what a manifest is instructing a system to do. If you care about this… which is key to “interoperability” that many people are looking for… make it known to whoever your LMS Vendor is via their customer service or sales contacts with you and yours… and let them know that the next time you renew or upgrade, a factor in the decision to spend money with them is going to be how well they’re playing with others.

They won’t come to the same table by themselves, but they will if it means holding onto and growing the investment in YOU as a paying customer.

That’s my rant for the day.

EDIT: That’s not really fair of me to say at all. There were a handful of representatives from LMS Vendors large and small at the TWG. Several of them were very willing to “come together” and commit to working with a shared set of content packages as test cases to tweak their implementations to behave the same way. I won’t out them either at this point (I don’t want to be counter-productive). My main point is that if they’re going to do this, as customers we can hold a great amount of sway by encouraging this activity — either with the carrot or with the stick.

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