SCORM in "the cloud", and what we're doing to TestTrack now

A few weeks ago, we released the new version of our website (which has been well received) and upgraded our servers. TestTrack, our freely available testing application, has been growing constantly and was overloading the server on which it lived. The transition went very well, the 404s have been handled (for the most part), and things are functioning as we all wanted.

During the process, TestTrack was down for a period of time, and our phones started ringing. People really depend on TestTrack. We’re glad. We want folks to use it; it helps us get better and it helps further the standard as a whole.

So, for all you who depend on TestTrack, let this be your warning. We’re doing something new with TestTrack again. We’re about to move TestTrack from a traditional SCORM Engine installation to our newest release… something we’re really excited about. We have developed a hosted/cloud based version of the SCORM Engine, the SCORM Cloud.

“What?”

Some of you are reading this thinking, “What in the world is “cloud computing“? Put “simply”, cloud computing lets us provide the SCORM Engine functionality as a service. Rather than having to install the SCORM Engine for each of our customers on their servers, anyone who wishes to integrate against the SCORM Engine may do so against an existing installation in Amazon’s Web-service Architecture.

Is this a big deal?

No. If you’re a TestTrack user, and all you care about is TestTrack’s ability to import and launch your content, this really isn’t a big deal. It does allow us to scale TestTrack more effectively (because we can increase storage dynamically and add EC2 instances as need), but it shouldn’t dramatically impact your experience.

And yes! I am personally very excited about things that could come out of the Hosted SCORM Engine. I’m excited about what we can do with it, and I’m excited about what others can do with it. Anyone who aspires to “mash-ups for eLearning” and cares about SCORM may now have the tool that really lets them make a difference.

The first thing we’re doing with the SCORM Cloud, as mentioned above, is releasing TestTrack against it. That means that the core part of the TestTrack application will continue to function as it does today (a .NET application hosted on our own servers), but that the content delivery and tracking and import will all be handled by the SCORM Cloud. Consider this your proof of concept (and our beta). From there, some of the things we have in mind include (ideas only, no promises):

  • Automatic SCORM Version upgrades
  • Alternative pricing structures for the SCORM Engine (with lower up-front costs)
  • Hosting for content vendors who want to track the use of their content
  • Anything that reduces the “silo-ed” nature of the learning industry today

And more than anything, we’re hoping you, the community, will create awesome products around the SCORM Cloud. What could you do?

  • Deliver content from any application?
  • A Facebook application?
  • A Google Calendar based LMS?
  • Limit the server/bandwidth requirements on your LMS by offloading them?
  • Anything. Come up with better ideas than we have!

Shoot us a message. We’d love to talk through the possibilities with you. We’re pretty excited about the unlimited possibilities this creates, and we’re nearly ready to share the APIs and documentation that will allow you to build around the SCORM Cloud.


  • Congratulations. This is a great move and will surely benefit the community. Of course I may be extra pleased because it validates what we’ve been thinking too.

    Cloud Computing + Open APIs = Great Opportunities!

  • Ooooh… cool! Looking forward to seeing the documentation. 🙂

  • lang holloman

    Let the future of scorm delivery and deployment begin in the distrubuted and cloud worlds!

  • Damon Regan

    Exciting stuff. Looking forward to the details to come.

  • Jason Haag

    Very exciting! Please keep me posted TIm.

  • Emersono Simon

    Hi,

    I have a course that is made up of 8 modules. The course was developed with Captivate 4. We are trying to find out how to control the SCORM sequencing so that the learner MUST progress in a sequential order from lowest to highest. Is there a setting in Captivate or the published Manifest that can do that?

    Also, if we wanted to enable a “forward” button in a module once the module was completed (status=completed), is that a status that the LMS has to “push” back? And, how would we read it?

    Thanks,
    Emerson

  • Emerson.

    Thanks for the question. The answer depends a fair amount on where you’re deploying the content. If you have access to a good, SCORM 2004 LMS, you can accomplish what you’re trying to do as we have in this forced sequential example.

    If SCORM 1.2 is your only option, you’re probably out of luck. A very few 1.2 LMSs have prerequisites included, but it’s really uncommon. You could also build a single, monolithic SCO, but probably not using Captivate.

    With regard to the button (assuming SCORM 2004), you could do that, yes. You would need to know (in the SCO) if you were complete. You could then enable a button that called SetValue(‘adl.nav.request’, ‘continue’); basically.

    I hope that’s enough to get you headed in the right direction.