The Shareable Content Object Reference Model or SCORM, is a set of technical standards for e-learning software products. SCORM standards are the de facto industry standard for e-learning interoperability and are designed to ensure that e-learning content can effectively work with all administrative platforms such as an LMS/LCMS.


SCORM is a product of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, an action launched in 1997 to standardize online training and education management and delivery. Sponsored by the Department of Defense, the ADL involves multinational groups from industry, academia and government to develop and update SCORM.

SCORM integrates technical standards, specifications and guidelines to meet global demands for accessible, interoperable and reusable systems and content. It specifies that content be packaged in a ZIP file, described in an XML file, communicated via JavaScript and sequenced using rules in XML.

To date, three different versions of SCORM have been released. The first to be widely employed was SCORM 1.2, which is still supported by most LMS. The latest, SCORM 2004, is based on new standards for application programming interface (API) and content object-to-runtime environment communication. SCORM 2004 has three editions.

SCORM is made up of three sub-specifications:

  • Content packaging. Content should be packaged in a self contained directory or ZIP file. Known as a Package Interchange File (PIF), it must contain an XML “manifest file” that contains all information needed by the LMS to deliver content. The manifest divides courses into one or more sharable content objects (SCOs).
  • Run-time. This section standardizes the launching of content and communication with the LMS. It states that the LMS should launch content in a web browser, and may only launch one SCO at a time.
  • Sequencing. This section specifies how learners can navigate between SCOs, and how progress data can be rolled up to the course level. Sequencing rules enable content authors to accomplish many important tasks such as specifying the completion of prerequisite courses and providing question weighting.


The next generation of SCORM is called Experience API, formerly referred to as Tin Can API. It is an application programming interface specification for the interoperability of data produced by technology (Experience API).

Changes are also underway at ADL. The Department of Defense plans to transition stewardship of SCORM to another organization. Meanwhile, the ADL Initiative will continue to maintain SCORM 2004 for the department, as well as engage in R&D efforts for other advanced learning technologies and standards.

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