The future of SCORM isn’t necessarily “SCORM”

There’s not been a lot going on with LETSI and SCORM 2.0 since our big workshop in October, but it’s not like there’s been nothing.    There’s meetings and discussions happening weekly, mostly in the Architecture and the Business groups.

Recently, Avron Barr emailed many of us as the Sponsors’ Meeting approaches this month.  LETSI very soon will need to get firm onhow to proceed we’ll proceed with the SCORM 2.0 effort. Avron writes…

“In addition to continuing the requirements gathering effort well into 2009 and possibly not calling what we are doing “SCORM” at all, we’ve also discussed the possibility of an open source software platform for e-learning systems and not just an updated reference model.


The actual open source effort might be a LETSI Working Group, a self-managed SourceForge community, or a Member Section in OASIS. We have a lot more planning to do. I’d like your thoughts about how best to explain why were are moving to an open source or “community source” model and what we might actually see coming out of this effort.”


I think he’s right on.  Some of us talked about this very notion at the close of the workshop and going on since then.  The way I’ve been thinking of it, LETSI is the organization that shepherds the process of gathering the requirements, shepherding the partnerships and architecture and holds the vision for what needs to happen, in terms of a platform for open-sourced organizational learning and performance improvement activities.  Some other organization, even inexorably linked, handles the open-source development of the technologies and tools that implement what LETSI comes up with.

For what it’s worth, while a bunch of us at the workshop bought the domain name as a joke, we do own… because SCORM is simply better with bacon.  But I digress.

SCORM, per Dr. Eric Roberts (and Philip Dodds before him), solved two big problems back in the late 90s:  vendors selling LMSs who were tearing a fledgling industry apart with proprietary implementations that made content and data impossible to transfer (thus driving costs of implementation sky high), and lower the costs for acquisition of learning technology for the government while helping to future-proof their capital investments in both content and the technology to get it to soldiers and employees.

Those problems still exist, and SCORM has worked with glaring efficiency to solve those problems, but what’s happened since then is that a global community has gone through a lot of the same struggles working with SCORM.  There’s a lot we want to do with online learning (see those white papers and use cases).  But SCORM can’t solve all these problems by itself — and by that I mean that the same vendors with an installed base of clients who’ve specialized in solving specific types of problems over the past ten years now aren’t the only people who need to be involved with how their LMS technology integrates with performance management, customer relationship management, talent management, business application systems, etc.  LETSI has to pull in decision-makers, engineers and visionaries with a wider net.

Let me get specific so there’s no confusion:  LETSI needs Moodle.  LETSI needs Blackboard, too. LETSI needs WebEx.  LETSI needs SAP and Oracle.  LETSI needs SalesForce.  LETSI needs a bunch of partners who aren’t traditionally in the learning space.  All the ways in which educators, managers, owners and senior leaders want to see training and learning data mashed up with other types of data in their organizations — we need to work in concert… together.  I’m almost positive it’s not just the learning professionals who want to mashup this data — we all need to really think about our APIs because we can imagnineer (if you will) for the problems we can visualize today — but the best thing we as technologists can do for the future problems we can’t imagine is provide a way for people to interoperably combine our data with other data.

My goal over the next week is to enumerate what I’m thinking in detail.  My hope is that some conversation stirs up both here and on where we can get the best ideas out in the open.

Feel free to question or disagree with me.  I can take the criticism.





















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