Monday, September 22, 2008

Whither SCORM

It was way back in 2002 that I first heard about SCORM, as I got to attend a presentation on SCORM by an IIT academic. At that time SCORM was not widely-known among eLearning professionals in India. But before long it became a buzzword in the eLearning industry. Six years down the line, however, this eLearning standard seems to be going out of favor among eLearning experts. There is a growing opinion that the standard has failed to deliver on its promise of promoting collaboration and reuse in content development.

See some answers in response to a question from Mark Friedman on the future of SCORM at Linkedin Answers:

I believe that SCORM has to demonstrate the ability to achieve it's promise of content and media searching and finding that can produce training mashups from various sources. This was a big deal for SCORM in the beginning with the idea that "Training resources would be able to be reused"...
- Trevor Bollers

In my work, SCORM is already outdated. It was developed for the Federal Government 10 years ago. The individual sco's in the standard include both display and content. The purpose is to allow each SCORM compliant course or module to transfer tracking information no matter which LMS platform you are using. I work with multiple LMS systems and come across many problems with compatibility. It's not efficient to re-publish a course for every end user display platform.

To be truly useful today, a standard built around keeping content separate from display is needed. There are so many different devices to which we can deliver content. My suggestion is an XML component for the content and a display properties component. With that we can publish content with varying display properties, so that more learners can be reached.

- Jacqueline Monroe
In short, while SCORM does have its utility for ensuring interoperability (compatibility with any LMS), it has failed to promote reusability and collaboration.

Learning 2.0

I answered the following question about Learning 2.0 at Linkedin Answers:

How does Collaborative Learning support/extend existing formal learning? (Asked by Mark Friedman)

My answer (Incidentally Mark selected it as the best answer):

Mark, I am not sure if your question pertains to learning in school/university or learning in the workplace. I'd assume the latter for my answer. Lately I am myself deliberating on this issue: how useful are Web 2.0 collaboration tools in the context of workplace learning, especially in situations where the learning objectives are very specific. Though a sceptic earlier, I am becoming more and more convinced that collaboration can indeed support learning.

Workplace learning always has a performance focus. It is useful only if it is transferred to work. It is here that collaboration tools like discussion boards, blogs and wikis can play a very useful role. After training, when learners go back to their workplace and apply the newly-acquired knowledge and skills to their work, they may have queries, feedback, and comments that they would want to discuss with a subject matter expert or fellow learners. Such discussion may be relevant to other workers as well. Moreover, the comments and feedback from learners may trigger revision of the learning material. The potential of such collaboration for workplace learning is really high.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pitfalls of Crowdsourcing

Following the Crowd - This article in The Economist brings out the pros and cons of Crowdsourcing quite well. While the potential of Crowdsourcing is well-known, thanks to Wikipedia, the pitfalls may not be so clear:

In fact, as the idea spreads, its limitations are becoming apparent. Once the initial excitement fades, some firms are realising that crowdsourcing can be more expensive than doing things themselves. Ask the internet crowds for a new product design, for example, and you may find that submissions have also been sent to rival firms, or have been stolen from elsewhere. Checking that submissions do not infringe copyright can be a nightmare; simply designing things in-house can be the cheaper and safer option.

There are other reasons why crowdsourcing and commerce make uneasy bedfellows. Most crowdsourcing projects rely on volunteers, and people are much less willing to volunteer if they feel someone else is profiting from their hard work. Wikipedia’s success may have much to do with the fact that it is run by a non-profit organisation. A commercial version of it would probably have to find a way to reward contributors.