SCORM Overview

SCORM, or Shareable Content Object Reference Model, is a compilation of technical specifications for web-based e-learning. The SCORM standards are governed and published by the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL).

Among SCORM goals are to enable interoperability, accessibility and reusability of web-based learning content for industry, government, and academia.

SCORM Versions


The original version of SCORM, version 1.0, was a proof of concept only. It introduced the notion of Sharable Content Objects (SCOs) and the API model in which the burden of managing communication across the Internet is handled by the run-time environment, not by the content objects.


The first production version of SCORM was version 1.1. It used a Course Structure Format XML file based on the AICC specifications to describe content structure, but lacked a robust packaging manifest and support for metadata. Version 1.1 was quickly replaced by SCORM 1.2.


SCORM 1.2 was the first version with a real conformance test in the form of a test suite. It uses the IMS Content Packaging specification with full content manifest and support for metadata describing the course. Also allows optional detailed metadata tagging of the content objects and assets described in the manifest. Version 1.2 is no longer maintained or supported by ADL.

SCORM 2004 (1.3)

The current version of SCORM is version 1.3, also known as SCORM 2004. It includes the ability to specify adaptive sequencing of activities that use the content objects, new standards for API communication, and resolves many ambiguities. SCORM 2004 also includes the ability to share and use information about success status for multiple learning objectives or competencies across content objects and across courses for the same learner within the same learning management system.

The current version/edition of SCORM is version 1.3.3 (SCORM 2004 3rd Edition).

    SCORM 2004 Editions
  • 1st Edition (January 2004) - versioning changed so each book could be independently maintained
  • 2nd Edition (July 2004) - included improvements regarding Content Aggregation Model and Run-Time Environment
  • 3rd Edition (October 2006) - clarified various conformance requirements and of the interaction between content objects and the runtime environment for sequencing; added new conformance requirements to improve interoperability

SCORM 2004 Books

The SCORM 2004 standard consists primarily of five books, including an overview book, detailing SCORM conformance. Those books are: SCORM Overview, SCORM Content Aggregation Model, SCORM Sequencing and Navigation, SCORM Run-Time Environment, and SCORM Conformance Requirements. They are available for download in PDF from the ADL website.

The SCORM Overview book introduces SCORM and describes how the other books relate.

The SCORM Content Aggregation Model (CAM) book pertains to content packages. It describes how SCORM content packages are structured and described. The imsmanifest.xml file is the primary file describing a package, its structure, metadata, and sequencing information.

The SCORM Run-Time Environment (RTE) book describes how a learning management system (LMS) deploys and delivers content packages. This includes describing the SCORM runtime API a SCO uses to communicates with the runtime data model that a LMS uses to keep information regarding a learner's experience with a content object.

The SCORM Sequencing and Navgiation (SN) book describes how content packages declare sequencing between activities, how learners can issue navigation requests, and how those requests are interpreted by a SCORM run-time environment.

The SCORM Conformance Requirements book details the conformance requirements that are verified by the ADL SCORM conformance test suite.

Collectively these books total over one-thousand pages and detail the SCORM standard in its entirety.