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Why One Big SCO?

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There is a tendency on clients asking on hole courses made in only 1 big SCO, have you heard about it before and have any idea why is so? My guess is clients are tired of handling troubles with scorm and LMS and wanna interact with LMS as less as posible... Do you have another explanation?

Answer

We definitely see this tendency as well... there are tons of "one big SCO" courses out there.  We generally call these (listen for the ominous background music): monolithic SCOs. Truth be told, there's not much wrong with the monolithic SCO... It doesn't take advantage of some of the important tools made available to a SCORM content developer, but it's not the end of the world either.  

This question, though, is about the "Why?"  The offered explanation is a reasonable one, although, I think not the right one.  My theory is that there are not yet tools that properly take advantage of the sequencing and navigation components of SCORM 2004.  Perhaps these providers have elected to go with the monolithic SCOs because they, too, get frustrated with varied LMSs implementations.  That's probably fair.  Perhaps there isn't sufficient 2004 adoption to merit taking advantage of it.  Perhaps, they elect to program to the least common denominator because it's more practical.  (Many courses can switch between SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 with little headache because the standards are consistent, even though not compatible.)

It is, in some sense, a "chicken and egg" kind of argument.  LMSs aren't compelled to implement the advanced functionality until someone can take advantage of it (and SCORM 2004 is hard for LMS vendors).  Content providers aren't compelled until there's someone who can actually use it.  (Hey content vendors... there are over 100 LMS implementations running the SCORM Engine... that's a pretty big group... join us.)

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    Chris Phillips

    There are some really bad things that I've seen happen with monolithic SCO's.

    For example, real world, I had an executive that came to us after one of these monolithic SCO's was deployed and taken by 40k+ learners. His question was simple - how many attempts did it take his people to pass the test... unfortunately we couldn't tell him because the content and the test was in the same SCO. We couldn't tell the difference between someone opening the SCO to look at the content and someone opening the SCO to take the test. In addition the SCO had a "retake" button inside it as the last page when a user failed the test so they didn't have to close the content and get a new learning session to reattempt the test.

    The combination of these 2 things made our 'attempts data' completely unreliable. One person had 39 attempts at the SCO and another person had 5. The person with 39 attempts in reality only attempted the test 1 time and passed while the person with 5 in fact attempted the test 4 times before passing.

    Another issue is bookmarking the monolithic SCO. Lots of issues come up when you want to let them bookmark during the content but don't want bookmarking enabled if they are taking the assessment buried within the same SCO.

    Of course the monolithic SCO is going to be large and developers want to save & show users which sections inside the SCO they have completed & which they still need to take. They comeup with their own inner-tracking system leveraging SCORM objectives or even custom SCORM data. They come up with their own markup & parsing to deal with these things as well.

    I see content developers spend more time developing/testing & debugging issues like these than they spend focused on the content effectiveness or building meaningful interactions into their content.

    In my opinion it all boils down to "The LMS is ugly" and the developers want a more glossy navigation/GUI for their learners.

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