The Way Forward

Standards Documents

After an incredibly passionate and spirited discussion on Tuesday and Wednesday, the SCORM Technical Working Group made very few firm decisions about the scope of what we were going to do.

Despite this, I would say that the meeting was by far one of the most enlightening, productive and I would argue “pivotal” TWG meetings since my initial involvement with ADL four years ago.

The world has changed since the merry band in the SCORM TWG assembled to cook up SCORM 2004 back in 2002.  Back then, there was no YouTube. No Facebook. No MySpace. The iPod was a baby and hardly a product priced for the masses. Cellphones that had cameras were not at all ubiquitous in the US. Text messaging and web browsing certainly were not commonplace on mobile devices. WiFi was hard to find. People only played video games at work if they worked for a dotCom.

And, to be perfectly candid in my opinion, SCORM 2004 wasn’t so much about the way forward as it was fixing what everyone knew was still not right with SCORM 1.2.


It was pretty evident to me, at least, that this SCORM TWG meeting was as much about tidying up the loose ends still connected to SCORM 2004 as it was to start really thinking about what’s next for us in E-Learning. Should we do more of the same, but continue to make things more stable? How important is reusability of learning objects, or anything else we’ve been preaching for the past four years? This was the first SCORM TWG meeting that I attended in-person, and it was the largest attended  meeting that I can remember, with the most diverse audience ever assembled. And the question that we’re all left to answer from this meeting isn’t so much “What are we saying to each other?” (We miss you P.D.), so much as it was….

“What do we want to do?”

The passing of both Phillip Dodds and Claude Ostyn this year is very sad, but the timing could not be more impactful (I don’t  want to say ironic, but I don’t have a better word to describe it). With the IP issues as resovled as they’re going to be between ADL and IMS and the timetable so tight in order to resolve Simple Sequencing with IMS — we are all presented with a mission and an opportunity now that probably would not exist with the same shining lights leading us before. There were voices heard in this last meeting that have been largely silent before, and it’s a change that everyone has to get used to — but it’s a very good change.

The meeting highlighted how important the framers of online learning believe SCORM is, as it is. But I spoke about (and heard from many others), that there’s more to this picture — and that doesn’t necessarily mean we need to hold on to the past. We may not need to start from the ground up and press the “Reset” button on SCORM, but we also shouldn’t be afraid to do it, either.

We need to figure out what problems educators and learners are trying to work through, and what e-learning looks like in the  near and longer-term. And… quite frankly, we need to figure out if that vision can be commercial enough for everyone involved to profit. The government is turning SCORM over to the community that uses it. It’ll be up to all of us to support it in some way. And while it’s a little scary, I think it’s an AWESOME thing. Because when that happens, everyone has ownership. Everyone has skin in the game to be committed to putting out the best specification we can open up to the world. And everyone has a voice  in what the future of online learning can be.

I’m much more empowered now than I was before. I’m excited and humbled to be able to work with so many passionate and  brilliant people on this. And I’m going to be reflecting quite a bit on how I see the future taking shape.

But the most important thing that all of us involved with SCORM need to know is what YOU think learning should be like. If you could wave the magic wand and participate (or simply consume) your training or learning however you wanted… what would it be? Please feel free to comment.

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