How to create LMS-friendly eLearning courses?

As a corporate trainer or a subject matter expert, you may have encountered a client who requested a training course that could be delivered on their learning management system. The client might say they want the course to be “LMS friendly” or “SCORM compliant.”

So, what does it mean for a course to be LMS-friendly?

An LMS-friendly course, in short, is a course that can be easily integrated into a learning management system (LMS). This means that the course content and structure are compatible with the LMS and that the course can be delivered via the LMS with minimal effort.

To achieve this, the course must meet certain technical requirements. For example, it must be published in a format that the LMS can understand, such as SCORM or xAPI. In addition, the course should be designed in a way that makes it easy to navigate and use within the LMS interface.

Understanding SCORM and xAPI.

If you are like most people, the first time you encounter the term “SCORM” or “xAPI” you probably have no idea what it means. Do not worry, we will explain it in simple terms.

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. It is a set of technical standards that define how online learning content and learning management systems (LMSs) should work together. The xAPI (also known as the Tin Can API) is a newer set of standards that build on SCORM. It is designed to be more flexible than SCORM and to work with a wider range of learning experiences, including offline and informal learning.

These were created to solve a very specific problem: how to make sure that courses could be easily shared between different LMSs.

In the early days of eLearning, courses were often created using proprietary software that only worked with a particular LMS. This made it very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to move courses from one LMS to another. The SCORM and xAPI standards were created to solve this problem by defining how courses and LMSs should work together.

In practice, this means that courses that are published in SCORM or xAPI format can be easily imported into any compliant LMS. This makes it much easier to share courses between different LMSs (or to switch LMSs altogether).

It is worth noting that not all LMSs support SCORM or xAPI. Some older LMSs only support proprietary formats. However, most modern LMSs do support SCORM and xAPI, so this is not likely to be a problem.

So, what does this mean for you as a course author?

Basically, it means that if your course or training program is formatted in SCORM or xAPI, you will be able to use the same course material across various clients. Since it is easy to edit courses, you can modify the same course according to the client’s requirement and increase the shelf life of the course.

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Creating an LMS-friendly course.

If you are new to SCORM or xAPI courses, it is a good idea to hire a course developer to help you create your courses. This will ensure that the course is technically sound and that it meets all the requirements. Additionally, you won’t have to get into the nitty-gritty details of how SCORM or xAPI work or worry about whether your courses will work with the client’s LMS. Not to mention, the reluctance to learn a completely new course authoring tool.

But, if you are up for the challenge, you can try to develop the course yourself. Don’t worry! We’ll help you accomplish this in a step-by-step manner.

1. Course Authoring App.

The first step is to choose a course authoring tool. This is the software that you will use to create your courses. There are many different course authoring tools on the market. Some are very simple and only allow you to create basic text-based courses, while others are much more complex and allow you to create highly interactive courses with audio, video, and gamification.

The course authoring tool you choose will depend on your needs and budget. If you are on a tight budget, you can use a free or open-source tool such as Moodle or LAMS. These tools are good for creating simple courses but may be lacking in some of the more advanced features that you may want.

If you have a larger budget, you can consider a commercial tool such as Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. These tools are much more powerful and allow you to create very sophisticated courses. However, they also come with a steeper learning curve.

2. Determine the SCORM or xAPI Version.

Once you have chosen a course authoring tool, the next step is to determine which SCORM or xAPI version you need to use.

SCORM 1.2 was released in 2001 and is the oldest and most widely used version of SCORM. However, it has some limitations, such as the fact that it cannot track offline or informal learning.

SCORM 2004 was released in 2004 and addressed some of the limitations of SCORM 1.2. It is a more modern standard but is not as widely used as SCORM 1.2.

xAPI (formerly known as Tin Can API) was released in 2013 and is the newest standard. It is very powerful and flexible and can track both online and offline learning. However, it is not as widely adopted as SCORM 1.2 or SCORM 2004.

The best way to determine which version you need to use is to check with the client’s LMS provider. They should be able to tell you which version is supported.

3. Functionality of the Apps

Specific functionalities will vary from app to app, but there are some general features that you should look for in a course authoring tool, such as:

  • Creating and presenting information with words, shapes, photos, characters, animations, video clips, and sound
  • Building engaging interactions and games into your courses
  • Creating quizzes and surveys
  • Tracking learner progress, scores, and time spent in the course.
  • Generating reports on learner performance
  • Importing/exporting content from other sources (e.g., PowerPoint, Word, Excel).
  • Publishing courses in different formats (e.g., SCORM, xAPI, AICC, cmi5).

4. Course Content

The next step is to create the course content. This is where you would need instructional design skills. What are the goals of the course? What is the level of the learner? Are they beginners or experts? What type of content will best help the learner achieve those goals? What type of interactions and activities will best engage the learner? These are all important questions to consider as you create your courses.

As mentioned before, the learning curve for the course authoring tool can be quite steep. If you don’t have enough time to experiment, it may be a good idea to hire an instructional designer or eLearning development company to help.

5. Add Assessment

Once you have created the course content, the next step is to add an assessment. This is important to track the learner’s progress and see if they are achieving the desired learning outcomes. The assessment can take many different forms, such as quizzes, surveys, exams, or projects. It is important to choose an assessment that is aligned with the course goals.

6. Publish and Test

Once you have created the content and added an assessment, the next step is to publish the course and test it. This is important to make sure that the course will work properly in the client’s LMS. Testing can be done manually or with an automated tool such as SCORM Cloud. SCORM Cloud is a cloud-based testing platform that allows you to test SCORM and xAPI content.

7. Evaluate and Revise

The final step is to evaluate the course and revise it if necessary. This can be done by looking at the learner reports, surveys, or other feedback mechanisms. Based on this feedback, you can make changes to the course to improve it.

There you go! You have just learned how to create an LMS-friendly course! It wasn’t too difficult, was it? If you’re looking for off-the-shelf courses or LMS-friendly courses for your employees, get in touch with us today!

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