Scorm 1.2 vs Scorm 2004

SCORM 1.2 vs SCORM 2004 – Which is Better?

The industry of technology never stops. Constantly, companies from that industry update their products to offer a better and complete version. This is something that users appreciate because they can expect that the product they got would be getting better among the time. Nevertheless, sometimes older versions are better than new versions.

In the eLearning industry, especially talking about LMS or Learning Management Systems, and all the concepts that come around it, organizations get used managing a specific version, and many times prefer to keep the one that already has all the information and courses. Or they do depth research to understand which would be the best decision that they should take between the versions.

In this blog, with want to help all that, like you, are looking which version of SCORM (1.2 and 2004) is better, why and which would be the main differences. To start, let’s talk a little bit about SCORM. Breaking the word down, the ‘S’ stands for ‘sharable’, which implies that the information can be accessed easily by different people over different platforms. ‘CO’ stands for ‘content object’, that speaks about the presence of different courses and documents within the e-learning platform. Lastly, ‘RM’ is ‘reference model’ that refers to the information that the developers require to ensure that the courses and the systems on which they are run use the same format.

In other words, SCORM is nothing but a set of standards that make the courses and the course-carrier LMS compatible with each other. Your courses in SCORM format can be read from any LMS that is SCORM compliant. If you are reading this blog, I’m guessing is because you already have a SCORM compliant LMS.

Regardless of the buzz around the TinCan API, SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 still enjoy better support as a way of ensuring standardized communication between online courses and their corresponding learning management system. SCORM 1.2 is in all likelihood the most commonly used specification in the industry. The biggest advantage of SCORM 1.2 is that uploading content to the LMS is as easy as uploading a ZIP file. Unfortunately, SCORM 1.2 lacks many of the features of the more modern specifications, like SCORM 2004. So which to choose? In this blog, we are going to compare SCORM 1.2 vs SCORM 2004 to give you some tools before choosing one of them. Also, check out a previous blog post if you want to know more info about SCORM.


SCORM 1.2 or SCORM 2004 – Which makes more sense for you?


While not as widely used as SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004 2nd edition is known for its sequencing and navigation improvements. Content vendors now have the ability to prevent access to certain course elements based on earlier results.

Still, the question remains: is there really an advantage in using the ‘newer’ SCORM 2004 over SCORM 1.2?

There are three main changes in SCORM 2004: Status Separation, read-write Interactions, and Sequencing.

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SCORM Status Separation:


SCORM 1.2 has one value to hold the status of the lesson – ‘lesson_status’ – and this can be passed, failed, completed, incomplete, browsed, or not attempted. This was not ideal as instructors wanted to know, for example, if the learner had gotten through the entire lesson (completed) but not passed the quiz (failed). SCORM 2004 addressed those issues by splitting lesson_status into ‘completion_status’ (completed/incomplete) and ‘success_status’ (passed/failed).


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Read-Write Interactions with SCORM:


In SCORM 1.2 ‘interaction data’ is write-only, which didn’t make much sense (why ‘write’ something you can’t later ‘read’?). SCORM 2004 specifies interactions as read/write, which is especially helpful not only for reporting, but because your lesson can now query the status of a previous interaction, get the result, and act accordingly (i.e. ‘user answered this question in the last launch, so they don’t get another chance to answer it again’).


SCORM Sequencing:


SCORM 2004 attempted to improve the author’s control over the content through the ‘sequencing’ part of the spec, but it’s very complex, and a few LMS and authoring products support it. The sequencing spec itself isn’t even usable defined until the ‘2nd Edition’ of SCORM 2004 and further refined through the 3rd and 4th editions of SCORM 2004. It’s a neat concept but overall few find it usable.

Do you find any of these improvements represent a critical need for your requirements? Have a look at Convert PowerPoint courses to SCORM Compliant courses.


Many LMS products have supported split-status reporting for a while anyway. If your LMS already allows combined statuses, then you may already have this requirement satisfied.

Overall, there’s a reason most eLearning content is still built for SCORM 1.2 – it works and generally satisfies the tracking requirements many organizations require.

Of course, if your LMS and authoring software supports Tin Can, that may be the way to go. xAPI or Tin Can is in active development, whereas SCORM has pretty much halted, though it will surely enjoy some longevity with a large installed base and cross LMS/tool implementations.

The 1.2/2004 debate is one that is best answered based on the requirements of the organization. It may well be that the features of 1.2, although at first glance they may seem inferior to 2004, are sufficient for the job they are needed for. Undoubtedly 2004 is the superior product, and if what you are looking for is a more current version that more accurately falls in line with current trends and methods, then 2004 will be the version you’ll need.

Want to learn more about either version of SCORM or the new Tin Can API? Would you like one of our advisers to get in touch to schedule a free demo so you can see Paradiso LMS in action?

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We know that for you and your company or institution it is important to understand better what is SCORM and why and how it is necessary that your LMS compliant with it. Watch this video to get a better view of this concept.

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