What is SCORM? Is a SCORM-compliant LMS overrated?

Have you heard of the term SCORM? If you are evaluating different learning management systems (LMSs), you might have come across this term. To put it simply, SCORM enables you to share and transfer content between different learning management systems easily. It’s essential to understand what SCORM means to decide if it is a deal-breaker when it comes to choosing an LMS for your organization. Spoiler alert: we don’t think so!

What is SCORM: meaning explained
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Table of contents

  1. What is SCORM? 
  2. SCORM - a short history
  3. The downside of SCORM
  4. So, let's forget about SCORM
  5. SCORM and Easy LMS

What is SCORM?

What is the meaning of SCORM?

The definition of scorm is: Sharable Content Object Reference Model [1]. But what does it mean? "Sharable Content Object" indicates that SCORM is all about the creation of online training units that you can share between systems. In short, SCORM is designed to facilitate the transfer of content between Learning Management Systems. It's like the ZIP file of the LMS systems. Now you know the definition and meaning of SCORM, let's take a look how SCORM works.

SCORM enables you to package your content and share it with other systems more efficiently

How does SCORM work?

SCORM defines a specific way of constructing a Learning Management System so that you can exchange the content created there with other SCORM-compliant systems. It enables you to package your content and share it with other systems more efficiently.

However, SCORM uses the term Reference Model because it is not actually a standard. Its creators didn't write SCORM from scratch. Instead, they noticed that the e-learning industry already had many standards that solved part of the problem. SCORM simply references these existing standards and orients developers on how to use them together.

What is a SCORM package?

A SCORM package is an XML-file that contains all the information to transfer learning content to a SCORM-compliant LMS.

What is a SCORM-compliant LMS?

A SCORM-compliant LMS can accept any content that is also SCORM-compliant, and then make it available to users of the LMS.

SCORM - a short history

SCORM is quite old in the Internet Age

The American Department of Defence (DoD) developed SCORM as part of its Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative [2]. As explained above, and despite what people think, SCORM is not an open standard for shareable content. Yes, it's widely accepted and considered the de facto standard, but it's not an open standard. There are three different versions of Scorm:

  • SCORM 1.1: The first version released in January 2001, which was not widely accepted.
  • SCORM 1.2: The second and improved version of 1.1. It solved a lot of issues of 1.1, and it was widely adopted in October 2001.
  • SCORM 2004: A more sophisticated version of SCORM was developed to support the sequencing of content with different paths the user could take. It was released in January 2004.

So, actually, SCORM is quite old in the Internet Age 👴.


In the SCORM 2004 version, they added a new part that describes a runtime API and data model used for communication between content objects and Learning Management Systems.

SCORM vs. Tin Can API

Let's talk about SCORM vs. Tin Can. SCORM was developed a decade ago. Times changed as did the requirements of the e-learning industry. So, in 2011, the DoD commissioned the next generation of SCORM. It was released under the name Tin Can API. So, Tin Can is just the new SCORM. They renamed it again in April 2013 as the Experience API, but many still refer to it as the Tin Can API. Since the DoD also commissioned Tin Can, it is not an open standard.

The downside of SCORM

SCORM limits what an LMS developer can build

SCORM sounds great. Sharing content with other systems. Easy transfer. Who wouldn't want that? A lot of people. How many times do you switch systems or distribute your content to other organizations or systems? Not that often.

Also, SCORM limits what an LMS developer can build because it has to meet their given standard. If you followed the short history described above, this standard is quite old and doesn't account for all the new and innovative stuff that's happening out there.

Adding full SCORM support to become a SCORM-compliant LMS requires a lot of extra code and extra costs for developing an LMS. We can spend that money to build other important stuff 😉.

So, let's forget about SCORM

If you are looking for a SCORM-compliant LMS or think it is a must-have, it's time to move on. There are many more advantages to choosing a modern learning management system with different possibilities than sticking to an old model. Here are the other, more important things you should be looking for in an LMS:

SCORM and Easy LMS

Finally, let's talk about SCORM and Easy LMS. Given its limitation, we’re not fully SCORM-compliant at Easy LMS. Becoming so would limit what we could build by taking up time and money that we could use for other cool stuff.

It is possible to add your SCORM module to a Course. You need to contact our support at support@easy-lms.com so that they can enable it in your account. For detailed information on this topic, please check out our help article: How to add a SCORM module to a Course?

Our Corporate and Enterprise Owl clients can develop a SCORM module from the learning content they create in our system. They can then import the module to other SCORM-compliant systems.”

Note: Our SCORM export feature is an experimental beta. We encourage you to test it before purchasing a subscription if you need this feature. Easy LMS is not fully SCORM-compliant. Please be aware that any issue with SCORM files may not be prioritized in support.

Useful resources

  1. SCORM
  2. Wikipedia

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is SCORM?
    SCORM is a reference model created by an American initiative to make e-learning content shareable and reusable between LMS platforms.
  • What does SCORM do?
    SCORM basically "tells" the developers how to build their LMS, so that their files can be easily transferred to other systems via SCORM packages.
  • Do you need a SCORM-compliant LMS?
    Only if you really want it. Or if you have old content from another LMS that you wish to transfer to a new LMS.
  • Is Easy LMS compliant with SCORM?
    Easy LMS allows you to export data into a SCORM module (experimental beta) and import SCORM modules into a Course.

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