Knowledgebase: SCORM Authoring Tools
SCORM Version Differences Explained – The Evolution of SCORM
Posted by Jessica D'Apice on 12 January 2018 02:34 PM

As you publish your courses, and you come to the LMS export settings, you go to select SCORM as the format to export to, and you see several versions of SCORM to choose from. There are many differences between the different versions of SCORM. At ICS Learning Group support, we always recommend that you publish to the latest version of SCORM so that you can do more with your course, and your LMS can store and display more data about your learners’ interactions with the course.

***At this time (January 2018), the latest version of the SCORM specification is SCORM 2004 4th Edition. If your authoring tool does not give you the option to pick an edition, just choose SCORM 2004.***

This article will be updated any time Rustici releases new specifications for SCORM.

You’ll notice that the most recent version of SCORM was released quite a while ago (March 2009). This is because development has been mainly focused on other eLearning specifications. To learn more about the evolution of SCORM, and comparisons of other eLearning specifications, please visit this web page:

Getting back to SCORM, what exactly are the differences between the different versions of SCORM? How did SCORM evolve? Read on to find out.



Released January 2000

SCORM 1.0 was a draft outline of the SCORM framework. This document did not contain a fully implementable specification, but instead contained a preview of the work to come. SCORM 1.0 contained the core elements that would become the foundation of SCORM. In particular, it specified how content should be packaged (content packaging), how content should communicate with an LMS (run-time) and how content should be described (metadata). Each of these areas was described in a separate specification or a “book of SCORM.”

IRRELEVANT SPECIFICATION: Most publishing tools do not offer this version anymore.



Released January 2001

SCORM 1.1 was the first real and implementable version of SCORM. It fleshed out SCORM 1.0 into an implementable specification and commercial vendors began to adopt it. These early adoptions revealed that the SCORM idea was valid, but that it left many details to be worked out to be sufficiently robust for widespread implementation.

IRRELEVANT SPECIFICATION: Most publishing tools do not offer this version anymore.



Released October 2001

SCORM 1.2 is when SCORM hit the big time. SCORM 1.2 incorporated all of the lessons learned from the early adoptions of SCORM 1.1 to create a robust and implementable specification. Vendors who adopted SCORM 1.2 realized dramatic cost savings from increased content interoperability.

STILL WIDELY USED: Although still available in most authoring tools, we do not recommend publishing to this specification, as the LMS’s distributed by ICS Learning Group, while capable of handling SCORM packages published to this specification, will be able to pull and display SIGNIFICANTLY less data from courses published to SCORM 1.2, as opposed to SCORM 2004.


SCORM 2004 “1st Edition”

Released January 2004

Widespread adoption of SCORM 1.2 brought some problems to light. SCORM 1.2 was very good, but it still had some ambiguities that needed to be tightened up. SCORM 1.2 also lacked a sequencing and navigation specification that allowed the content vendor to specify how the learner was allowed to progress between SCOs. The lack of a sequencing specification meant that most SCORM 1.2 content was produced as a single monolithic SCO instead of created with granular, reusable SCOs. SCORM 2004 addressed both of these problems.

SCORM 2004 (in all its flavors) includes very mature versions of the content packaging, run-time and metadata books. The parts of SCORM 2004 that were derived from SCORM 1.2 are VERY mature and VERY stable. In fact, the individual standards that make up these books are well on their way to becoming accredited standards.

SCORM 2004 also added a new “book” called “Sequencing and Navigation.” This specification allows content vendors to create rules about how users may navigate between SCOs. For  instance, a content author can say that “a learner can’t take a final test until he has completed all of the courseware material.” Or, “if a learner fails question X, remediate him back to SCO Y.”

The term “SCORM 2004” is generally used to refer to any edition of the SCORM 2004 specification. You may also see references to SCORM 1.3. Prior to its formal release, SCORM 2004 was indeed called SCORM 1.3, but that name is no longer in official use. The term “1st Edition” is in quotes in this section because this specification wasn’t actually called “1st Edition,” at the time, it was simply referred to as “SCORM 2004.”

IRRELEVANT SPECIFICATION: Most publishing tools do not offer this version anymore.


SCORM 2004 2nd Edition

Released July 2004

As industry started to adopt SCORM 2004, it was quickly realized that there were some defects that had to be resolved. ADL quickly responded by issuing SCORM 2004 2nd Edition. This specification was adopted and implementations started to pop up.

SUPPORTED, ALBEIT NOT WIDELY USED: SCORM 2004 2nd Edition has significant adoption, but it has not yet reached adoption levels near those of SCORM 1.2. While the core SCORM books are very stable in all of SCORM 2004, sequencing is a VERY complicated specification. It may also be listed in the imsmanifest file iln the schemeversion tag as “CAM 1.3”.


SCORM 2004 3rd Edition

Released October 2006

The complications of the sequencing and navigation specification have mostly driven the future evolution of SCORM. Third Edition is largely a set of improvements to the sequencing specification to remove ambiguities and tighten the specification for greater interoperability. The big change in Third Edition was the addition of user interface requirements for LMSs. Previously, it was completely up to the LMS to determine the appropriate user interface. In Third Edition, new language was added that requires the LMS to provide certain user interface elements to enable sequencing and navigation to function consistently across systems.

STILL WIDELY USED: SCORM 2004 3rd Edition, like 2nd Edition, has significant adoption.


SCORM 2004 4th Edition

March 2009

This edition contains further disambiguation of the sequencing specification and also adds a few new features to the sequencing specification which will broaden the options available to content authors. The new features in Fourth Edition make creating sequenced content much simpler. ADL is unveiling a new certification process for SCORM 2004 4th Edition which will require LMS’s to be continually retested to maintain their certification ensuring that compliance problems can be continually addressed.

Rollup of weighted completion data. SCORM 2004 has always include a “progress measure” data model element that indicates “how complete” the user is on an individual SCO. This data will now be officially rolled up with different activities having different weights. This weighting and rollup will give an accurate picture of the user’s overall completion of a course and enable LMS’s to provide accurate progress bars.

Jump navigation request. Many sequenced courses want to provide the ability for SCOs to control navigation in a way that is different than what is available to the user. Previously, the navigation requests that a SCO was allowed to make were identical to what the learner was allowed to do. The new “jump” navigation request gives content authors more sequencing options and separates the requests that are available to internal calls from the requests that the learner is allowed to initiate.

Shared data between SCOs. SCORM 2004 4th Edition now allows SCOs to share arbitrary buckets of data. When creating a sequenced course, it is often very helpful to have a common pool of data that different SCOs can access to maintain a shared state. The lack of this functionality has always been a big obstacle to creating cohesive sequenced content.

More objective data available globally. All of the objective data that can be reported at runtime is now available to be shared with other SCOs and courses via global objectives. This will provide for simpler and more creative sequencing strategies.

MOST RECENT SPECIFICATION: The new features of SCORM 2004 4th edition increase its usefulness dramatically, and we recommend you use it.

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