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2017 Job Title: SCORM Hacker

In: InspirationWhat If Ideas

A while ago, maybe even a year ago, I was watching an Allen Interactions webinar where the presenter was looking at some work they did for Hilton using their Zebra Zapps tool. I still haven’t had the opportunity to try that tool, but I remember thinking at the time how it seemed neat that they put all of the text into an editable XML (extensible markup language) file, which would make localization (translating the course into various languages) super easy. At the time though, it seemed like just a neat little add-on; not something that would make or break a decision on which rapid elearning tool to use.

SCORM Hacking 101

So far this year, I’ve had to edit four SCORM packages, using nothing but the code that was output and let me tell you, that has drastically changed my idea on the subject! I consider myself rather fortunate in that the packages I had to edit did have fairly well organized code (though the JavaScript files were not always named in a transparent way) and one tool even output text in XML (don’t know if it was made in Zebra Zapps or not). Within a day or two of work,with a little digging, I was able to accomplish changes to logic and text, rezip the files, and reupload them to our LMS. I had to do this because we didn’t have access to the original tool. The packages were created by a third party vendor. And it was the difference between hundreds of bucks a pop for changes, or using a little elbow grease. In our case, elbow grease (and my programming skills) won out. But what if they hadn’t?

Why does this Matter?

So many of our tools are proprietary. So what happens when you lose access to them? Can’t pay for that license any more? You’re toast! Worked with a third party developer and can’t speak with them anymore? All hope is lost! As I continue to work as an open source contributor in Oppia, I’m more and more convinced that we all could use more of this kind of tool. More free, more open source. Pretty much every month, the instructional design sub-reddit gets questions from newbie instructional designers asking about which programs to purchase, how to build their portfolio, how different proprietary programs measure up. It would be amazing to be able to say, “Hey, you’re a student or your trying to break into this field. Take this and build some portfolio pieces.” I don’t mean to say that just having such a tool would negate the need to have experience in the industry standard tools (at least not in the beginning) but wouldn’t it be great to NOT have to think about how to afford a license to a tool. To instead be able to jump right in and create something comparable to a Storyline, Lectora Inspire, or Captivate piece. And furthermore, be able to easily edit and update the output? (Note, Adapt is one open source option which can create some cool stuff, and is something I still want to experiment with, but isn’t quite the same as the big 3).

What do you think?

Could our industry use a free and open source tool, comparable to the big 3 rapid elearning tools? Any open sourcers out there ready to build such a thing?