The Timeliness of SCORM 2.0 Discussions

Last Friday, I submitted two white papers forged with considerable ideas and suggestions from professional colleagues (Tom King), fellow professionals (Ethan Estes and Steve Flowers), and new colleagues from around the world (Martin Ebner).

Like Philip Hutchinson, I began the efforts with a serious attempt to produce a formal and very “serious” (read: academic) body of work. I additionally tried to take an informal, yet collaborative approach to writing the papers through the use of Google Docs. Like Philip, even though I turned in my papers on time, I don’t know that I got it all written exactly as I want to express my thoughts. Without ample review of the papers prior to their submission, I must accept that they’re conversation starters (hopefully), and that the discussion that should follow will take the initial ideas proposed and give them life and definition.

My papers are here:

I would ask (beg) regular readers and other interested parties to read and discuss the papers on the LETSI pages. But if these papers don’t strike your fancy — there are plenty more to poke your sticks at. At the time of my writing this blog post, there are 70 papers submitted for review, and more are coming in as I write. To say the call for white papers is a success is underscored by the overwhelming (and seemingly unmanageable) response.

Ironically (or just coincidentally depending on whether you’re a fan of Alannis Morrisette or not), the transparent and completely open formation of what is to become SCORM 2.0 is happening at the same time as we learn about the dissolution of the ECMAScript group and the CSS-WG in the W3C. Plenty of good discussions of what went down here, here, here and here.

It’s pretty crazy to me that all the reasons being cited as to why these two groups fell apart all boil down to similar root causes:

  1. Trying to take on too much by doing innovation by committee instead of codifying exemplars of best practice.
  2. Working behind closed doors.
  3. Losing the “vision.”

LETSI is starting off well. Everything is out in the open. You don’t need a login to read any of the goings on — it’s all there for the public interwebs to see. You can read the white papers. You can sign up on the site and add commentary and contribute your thoughts into the fold. You can blog about your opinions and just by mentioning SCORM or LETSI, someone is bound to pick it up with Google Alerts, and even in passing, your constructive feedback is going to get rolled in. Many of us are on Twitter (I’m @mrch0mp3rs). And look at the response so far: 75 white papers submitted for review. I don’t know how many submissions were expected — I figured ~30 would be a success, so the number we have (and more are coming in daily) is just a resounding signal of the interest and the resounding success of transparency.

At least, that’s how I see it.

Managing that level of response is proving to be challenging. The rewards, however, are so worthwhile. Each member of the Program Committee has a “Bird Dog” — which means we have a paper we’re going to actively promote and raise awareness to. I have ten (they’re small ones — like a page each). That also means ten times the discussion (suckas!!!)

We’re going to swipe at these white papers by tagging each of our bird dogs to help us wrangle them into the requirements that will ultimately come together at the SCORM 2.0 Workshop in October (see the LETSI site for details — I’ll be there). The first stab we’re going to take is tagging a paper as proposing a SCORM “evolution” or “revolution.” It may seem simplistic, but we have to get a handle on the wide scope of ideas by starting to categorize them.

  • Evolution – SCORM looks like relatively the same animal as before. It has the about the same scope and it solves very similar problems, but perhaps in new and innovative ways.  
  • Revolution – SCORM is a new beast entirely. It tackles new problems, increases the scope or completely changes the conceptual model.

The papers I’m particularly fielding are all by Yannck Warnier. I would encourage you to read them and discuss them (topics and links below):

Avoid SCORM Profiles
Cross Domain
Cross Platform Test Suite
Database Structure
Documentation License
Interactions Objectives Example
Not Exportable Type
Recommend SCORM API
Sequencing Examples

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