What Is SCORM and Do I Even Need It?

You will hear a lot about SCORM when creating eLearning courses, but what is the meaning of SCORM? We’ll explain SCORM, what is it, and whether you need it.

A Brief History of SCORM

SCORM stands for Shareable Object Reference Model. It was first created in 2000. It was made to be a file packaging system that lets you put your course content into a file. From there, you could easily let your course content live in various LMSs. The goal of SCORM was specifically to let you use your content in various LMSs.

SCORM 1.1 was released in January 2001, followed by 1.2 six months later. Then, SCORM 2004 was made in 2004. This is the most recent version of SCORM, so yes, the system is about 20 years old.

Today, the answer to what is SCORM is that it’s the most common language and most common compliance system in eLearning. But there is also Tin Can - created in 2013, so if you are looking for a comparison between SCORM and Tin Can, check out this article. 

Lets You Package Content for Desktop Learning

Now that you know what is the meaning of SCORM, it’s time to focus on the three main things it can do. First of all, SCORM packages your content for desktop learning. Given when it was developed, the fact that SCORM focuses on desktop learning makes perfect sense. If you don’t use desktop learning, then you will want to look at TinCan instead or just skip eLearning languages.

You Need an LMS to Open SCORM Files

Another crucial thing to know about SCORM is that you need to have an LMS for it to work. You can’t open your SCORM file without an LMS. That LMS lets you deliver your SCORM file of course content to your learners.

You Only Have to Create SCORM Content Once

The goal of SCORM and the reason so many people still use it is that you just have to create your content and file once. If you have another LMS that you want to use, you don’t have to recreate your content from scratch. You just import the SCORM file into the new LMS, and you are ready. This saves you time and prevents you from starting from scratch if you change LMSs or want to use multiple LMSs.

How to Create a SCORM File

You need to use an authoring tool to create a SCORM file. One of the most popular examples is Adobe Captivate. Another option is Articulate 360, which actually includes several authoring tools. Not all authoring tools can create SCORM files, but Adobe Captivate and Articulate 360 both can.

Do You Need SCORM?

You don’t necessarily need SCORM in today’s eLearning landscape. Instead, you could easily just use one of the many native authoring tools within your favorite LMSs. The most common scenario today, when you would need SCORM, is if you already have an LMS that is just SCORM compliant. Then, your LMS would only work with SCORM files, so you would need to use it.

You may also have another situation where SCORM is useful. For example, we know someone who builds comprehensive courses in SCORM files. Then, he sells the courses to live on other LMSs via the SCORM files.


SCORM is a language and compliance standard for eLearning. It was created for desktop use and lets you create a course once and then use it on various LMSs. But if you don’t want to use SCORM, there are other options today, such as native authoring tools built into LMSs.

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