13 Steps to Produce a SCORM Course
Our Account Managers are regularly asked the question: how do I create SCORM courses? I thought it would be useful to share an account of how I taught myself how to use Articulate Storyline 2 in one afternoon.
Basing my approach on Josh Kaufman’s brilliant book: The First 20 Hours, I fast forwarded my progress to being able to produce SCORM (and Tin Can) content in a single sitting.
SCORM is often deemed to be impenetrable to the layperson, largely due to the perceived complexity often caused by its name: Shareable Content Object Reference Model. There are so many iterations of the standard and so many different authoring tools to choose from.
I can hear the developers and eLearning experts cringe at this description, however, in order to simplify the process from the outset, one can think of SCORM as an advanced PowerPoint file.
First things first, this is a guide to get you up and running rather than getting you to a point of excellence! Our goal is for you to become competent on day 1.
Authoring tools allow you to produce professional looking training content packages without the author needing to be a developer. In terms of authoring tools, there are many options in the market but my experience is with the following:
- Articulate Storyline 2
- Adobe Captivate 9
- iSpring Pro
Depending on your budget and requirements choosing one of these tools should put you in good stead, especially as they all give access to free trials for you to see which one best suits your needs.
Each tool has its own traits and the decision of which to use is based on your requirements. For the purpose of this article, I randomly chose to use Articulate Storyline 2. Although there are some specifics involved the philosophy of my approach applies equally to all authoring tools.
Traditionally speaking a developer could produce a SCORM zip folder inclusive of content and the manifest file to communicate with a Learning Management System like LearnUpon. The rise of authoring tools has allowed everyone to produce SCORM compliant training courses. In this post, I guide the complete novice to the point where they have produced their first course….in one day.
Some key rules of thumb:
- Do not try to reinvent the wheel.
- Deconstruct the basics first
- Short bursts
- Take notes
This is not a bells and whistles guide, this is a get up and running approach. Let’s start!
1. Content is key:
I cannot stress enough that all of your content should be ready prior to even considering SCORM. Training courses are merely vehicles. Although there is merit to having engaging and colourful content, one must focus on avoiding a style over substance approach.
Your presentations, videos and assessment pieces can be delivered in a stylish manner that holds the learner’s attention throughout. This is however something that can be done towards the end. I recommend leaving design to the end because it may become a time sink in the learning phase.
2. Is your LMS SCORM compliant?
All Learning management systems should be compliant with SCORM. Check to see if yours is compliant prior to starting. You should be able to preview your courses after you upload them. You can also preview your courses in the authoring tools as you work allowing you to tweak elements easily.
Ok, so we are ready to start learning how to use Articulate Storyline 2. Sign up for a trial here.
3. Learn the rules first:
Break down the key skills first and prioritize them. 80% of your success is going to come from 20% of the options in front of you. So, we need to identify what is most important and focus solely on that. Storyline uses a hierarchy of elements called: scenes, slides, and layers.
The story view gives you a view of these elements and how they relate to each other. When a learner launches the course in an LMS they are met with an interface that will have on a basic level, two interactions; navigation and choices. Their choices on specific slides will cause “triggers” to drive them down routes you have designed.
- Scenes: Every single Storyline project has at least one scene.
- Slides: Scenes are made up of slides
- Layers: Slides are made up of layers; each one being shown dependent on certain actions
- Triggers: Triggers drive the progress down the route that you design.
4.Use the insert tab rather than home:
This may seem like a very simple suggestion but the insert tab shows you more options laid out in a clearer manner. The vast majority of options required are now listed easily for you to review. This is highly important when you are not familiar with an interface.
5. Add new slides:
When you decide to add new Slides to a scene you will be given a lot of options. You can choose to use the pre-made templates which will catapult you to a point where the basic framework of the course is decided. This is useful when you are adept at using the tool as it saves time and effort. For the purpose of learning the tool, however, I’m going to import a PowerPoint slide deck I made earlier.
6. Import ready-made content:
For our first course, we are going to take a shortcut! Let’s use a skeleton. Add a new slide and import a PowerPoint. In the story view, I can now see the basis for my course (change dropdown to ‘Import to current scene’ to keep everything in one scene for now!). This 4 slide powerpoint is going to be the content section. I’m then going to add in some assessment.
7. Get inspiration from E-Learning heroes:
Not only can you get some really great information from this resource, you can download templates uploaded by the community which you can use as shortcuts. I found that deconstructing a template and seeing how it works was easier for me to understand rather than staring at a blank story view.
8. Use Design or Format Background:
To produce a consistent look and feel you may want to choose a design from the design tab:
Alternatively, you may format the backgrounds of the slides yourself. Right-click on a slide and select format background. You can use an image or simply fill the background with color or patterns. When you are happy with how you have set it up either apply to that specific card or select apply to all. Now all your slides are uniform.
9. Add video:
Add a new slide. Choose a blank layout. On the Insert tab click on add video. You can choose to upload the actual video file, such as a .mp4 or embed a hosted video (please note that YouTube is no longer an option as of May 2015. You can add a link to YouTube as a web object, however.
The learner can click on the link and the YouTube video will be rendered. Don’t use the embed code, use the basic link e.g. https://www.youtube.com/embed/zj8bQpPtxLc
10. Add a Quiz:
Now that our ‘content is uploaded’ we are then going to add some questions to ensure that our learners understood and processed that information. You have a lot of options at your fingertips: Quizzes are based on question banks. The rationale behind using question banks may not be obvious at first but is similar to how LMS’s handle this.
You create question banks that house questions separately from the quiz itself. This allows for some very interesting possibilities, particularly around the ability to create randomized draws of questions so that each learner gets a different set of questions.
You will probably reuse questions again and again particularly as your creation of courses becomes more frequent. To add a slide that will contain quiz questions click on ‘new slide’ and choose from the quizzing templates:
Choose the type of questions you want to use wisely. The content will dictate this. The old favorites: True or False, Multiple choice and fill in the blank are easy to create and suit most scenarios.
If you want to create slightly more engaging questions try using the more free-form questions, such as matching drag and drop or a Hotspot. With a hotspot, you choose your image to use and then select the space where the learner should select. Storyline makes this process incredibly easy and the results are engaging to your audience.
11. Add Triggers:
We have some content and some assessment in place, now we need to ensure that it flows in a manner you wish. We are going to add some triggers so that choices and performance dictate the path is taken and the messages shown. The basic elements of trigger address the following:
- What happens?
- Where does it happen?
- When does it happen?
You can click on the new trigger icon on the right-hand side of the interface to create a new trigger which will be tied to a particular slide.
However as mentioned before I much prefer working from the Insert tab, and the lightning symbol is much more fitting for the action!
A ‘Trigger Wizard’ will appear:
It contains all the rules for how a trigger will work and what effect it has.
- What happens? A drop-down will allow you to set the action that will take place. The most common of these is the ‘jump to slide’. This means that the content progresses to…
- Where does it happen? This is the slide that the trigger will cause a ‘jump to’. In the example of a linear course, it will simply be one slide forward
- When does it happen? It happens when a certain event occurs. This can be an active event for the learner such as them clicking on an answer or it may be passive, such as it occurring after a specific time (this allows you to ensure learners spend specific amounts of time on certain areas).
- The object may be the specific button/area that is interacted with. The Next button for example.
You can edit and rearrange the triggers easily. Just make sure that they are lining up correctly.
12. Result slides:
The results slide can be problematic at first but with some guidance, it will not be a problem.
To add a result slide you can follow the same steps as the quizzing section. Within the quizzing templates, there is a result slide tab. Results slide will gather the answers that your Learners commit to and weigh them against the standards you have set. You select which quiz elements are included in this and decide the passing grade.
Make sure you select all of the slides that you want to include in the collection of answers and to set a pass mark and /or timer.
Preview your course and check if all the buttons and navigations work and most importantly whether or not the results are tracked correctly and presented on the results slide.
Ok, so we are nearly there! Now we need to publish our first course in the desired format. Stop what you are doing and save. Saving will allow you to use this ‘.story’ file as a template in the future. Story files are distinct from SCORM files and it can be easy to forget this in the eagerness to finish.
Click the publish button and choose what format you want to publish it. I use SCORM 1.2 files so I navigate to the LMS section and change the output option to SCORM 1.2. Then click on reporting and tracking and make sure your file is set up for your LMS correctly.
In reporting ensure the ‘Report status to LMS’ is set up in the manner that suits your requirement. The four options are:
The most common scenario with assessment based SCORM files is to ‘Track using quiz result’ making sure the result slide to report is indeed the result slide you created. Conveniently, Tin Can files are published in a very similar manner in Storyline 2.
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