About a week ago I tweeted:

from what i’m reading between the lines, #SCORM is dead to the ADL. they’re moving on. interesting timing considering #TAACCCT

I had no idea how much hand-wringing and consternation my off-handed comment would cause. It apparently caused (directly or indirectly) some heated discussions about SCORM being dead.

The problem is, I never said “SCORM is dead.” I said “SCORM is dead to the ADL.” Big difference.

Let me elucidate here.*

I posted my tweet after noticing several things:

1. It’s well-documented that the ADL has tried to hand SCORM off to other organizations without success for at least a couple of years — remember the LETSI SCORM 2.0 initiative? Unfortunately, lawyers got in the way.

2. I had recently heard that the ADL has decided to put a lid on SCORM and cease further development, with the lone exception being the possible addition of new data elements from the CMI-5 initiative. No refinements to sequencing and navigation, no web services.

3. In case you haven’t noticed, the ADL is working very hard to promote the Future Learning Experience Project and Project Tin Can. Their marketing materials repeatedly use the phrase “beyond SCORM.”

For example, a recent ADL newsletter contained this:

ADL launches Future Learning Experience Project
SCORM was built to support web-based delivery of learning content, based on initial design dating back to the late 1990s. While ADL continues to support SCORM and commits to supporting SCORM compatibility in new efforts, we have also begun new work to meet distributed learning needs beyond SCORM: the Future Learning Experience Project.

“New work” that goes “beyond SCORM” while “continu[ing] to support SCORM.”

Add it all up and you can make a pretty solid case that the ADL wants to move on to the next thing, and the next thing will be defined by the outcome of the Tin Can research coupled with the Future Learning Experience Project.

And your point is?

I could write a book trying to explain the troubled life of SCORM, and how it has been seen as a savior, an outcast, an anchor, and a noose. But I don’t want to do that. I just want to let everyone know that my tweet was simply an off-hand remark that it appears the ADL wants to move on to something else. The ADL wants to have “life after SCORM.”

In a private email thread, I told some of those concerned:

My point with my tweet was that I have a gut feeling that SCORM, as we know it, is being left behind. This isn’t a negative statement, though it could be construed that way. In my mind, it’s quite the opposite: the ADL (and others) appear to be very active and engaged with the learning technology community. I’ve never seen this level of activity. It’s just that what’s being worked on (in super-simple terms) is a modern tracking mechanism that really only has a cursory relationship to SCORM as we use it today.

Perhaps ADL’s work on SCORM is complete […], but SCORM still needs improvements, and from my admittedly limited observations, the ADL shows no intention of doing that work, choosing to focus on a successor to SCORM instead. Hence my comment that SCORM is dead to the ADL. Brad Pitt is dead to Jennifer Aniston, but he’s not really dead, y’know?

So please put away the pitchforks. SCORM is alive and kicking, though it probably won’t get that reconstructive knee surgery it’s been needing for the last 5 years.

Frankly, I think SCORM’s run-time model is flexible enough that it will remain relevant for years, and that makes me happy. I’m one of the few people who thinks SCORM can be very useful today even when using social media. Just because no one has done it yet doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Lessons learned

My lessons learned:

  1. Some things are better left unsaid (untweeted), especially if they have the potential to be taken out of context.
  2. The power of social media means even little pipsqueaks like me can cause a ruckus, intentionally or not.

Lessons learned for others:

  1. Don’t take things out of context.
  2. The ADL needs to work on its marketing/messaging.
  3. SCORM is still cool.

* One of my favorite Disney songs ever.

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  1. That’s a big downside of the Twitterification of conversation and debate. 140 characters just isn’t enough to convey nuance. It’s really easy to take something out of context when there is no context.

    I’ve always been frustrated by those in generations more experienced than mine who refuse to use email because you can’t effectively express emotion and nuance. So then does it follow that I’m too old for Twitter?

    1. @mike That must explain it… I believe I’m a couple of years older than you, so it follows that I’m too old for twitter, too. I must have misused it somehow. Darn technology. I’m switching back to pen and paper!

  2. Great post! I especially like your “Lessons Learned for Others” comments 2 & 3. When I was at ADL I worked so hard to create and convey consistent messaging, but with things so “in-flux” it was hard to get internal agreement (and sometimes even discussion) . You and Mike have been right on about where things stand and where they are going and can go.

  3. @philip – Don’t do that…

    I don’t see the tweet and discussions around it. But this tweet give you the opportunity to say more about your thought… and doing this, you make me realise where we are now with SCORM. I must say that I’m not really the one who look at that every day.

    You do like we do many time in school. You say something big, some people ask you questions and wanted you to explain you idea and you do so for the benefit of all your readers.


  4. Well, as far as i know scorm came out of the Office of the United States Secretary of Defense, so i don’t think “dead” is the proper term here, despite that i actually don’t like scorm specifications. There are lots of simple, well-known specs that could have been used instead of it (they even haven’t implemented json or soap omg)

  5. Its amazing how people can take things and run with it! Seriously, are we all becoming so jaded to each other’s opinions that WE are the only ones that consider our own thoughts and opinions as the ONLY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY, and that NO ONE can say what’s on their mind without being threatened or mistreated…I totally agree with everything that you wrote in this article.

    Thank you for taking the time (which you definitely didn’t have to do) to backup your tweet (by chance I do need to follow you…makes mental note). It just stinks that half that time, we can’t make a comment and express our own opinion without people being “offended” or if you are a celebrity, you get a lawsuit slapped at you because you said something that is so common to most people’s slang. Seriously, I think adults can be more childish in situations.

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