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How to spot dodgy e-learning providers

SCORM is at the heart of delivering e-learning via an LMS. Check out our seven point list detailing what to beware of when commissioning e-learning providers

There are two equal parts to any e-learning and choosing e-learning providers: the content and the SCORM. At all times it must be remembered that the SCORM element is as important as the content.

It seems to be a symptom of the economic downturn that a whole bunch of people are popping up as bespoke e-learning providers but they have little or no grasp of SCORM.

During the development process, the content element is quite obvious and it is easy for you to tell whether you are getting what you have asked for. The SCORM element is much more difficult to monitor but you should get an assurance at the start of any sourcing process that you will get SCORM that will perform exactly how you want it to.

Unfortunately, during the development cycle, the focus is always on the content and it is likely that only when the course is ‘delivered’ that the deficiencies in the SCORM becomes apparent. Too often it then becomes our job to deliver the bad news.

At this stage, a disreputable company only has your payment in sight and they will make a number of manoeuvres to it. SCORM is standard and any e-learning provider worth its salt will be so steeped in the rules of SCORM that this should be an effortless part of their development cycle.

All e-learning should be supplied properly SCORMED so that the course will perform to your needs on any LMS. All LMS systems are created to specific standards and our DLE is based on MOODLE which is the world’s favourite LMS.

Any properly SCORMED e-learning should automatically adhere to these standards and any reputable e-learning supplier should be immediately happy to guarantee that their material will be delivered to your requirements on any LMS.

What to be wary of with e-learning providers

  1. Beware of any e-learning supplier who tells you SCORM is difficult or complicated; this is a clear manifestation of their lack of experience/expertise with the concepts of SCORM and an early indicator that things are likely to get bumpy.
  2. Beware of any e-learning supplier that does not want to supply a course to your specifications. Any attempt to force you to have a course configured to ‘their format’ is another early indicator of a rigid or a shallow grasp of SCORM. Look for absolute confidence from your supplier that they will deliver exactly to your requirements.
  3. Beware of any supplier who does not want to engage with our checklist.  On first reading, this may appear pretty complicated but it covers a range of technical specifics that any reputable e-learning supplier would treat with a breeze.
  4. Beware of any supplier who does not want to immediately engage with Learning Pool to ensure that their SCORM approach is completely matched to your learning needs at the start of any process.
  5. Beware of any supplier who does not want to give you a sample course to test. It is a myth that SCORMING is done once the course is written – you should be able to have a sample of previously written courseware and/or an early prototype should pass all our testing with flying colours – don’t wait until the ‘final package’ is delivered to find out your supplier’s approach to SCORM does not work.
  6. Beware of any supplier who can not show examples of their work on live LMS systems. Any reputable company should be happy to provide testimonials and access to satisfied customers.
  7. Any reputable supplier should be able to supply a list of different LMS’ where they have delivered successfully. Beware of anyone who can only suggest a single LMS; double-beware if it is only their own internal LMS! Triple-beware if they can not suggest a single LMS but refer only to reload, or any other ‘SCORM testing’ software – the only true testing is that the course runs to your satisfaction on your LMS.
  8. Be alarmed by any complications or bumps during the content creation part of the process. Any struggling with the ‘straightforward’ aspect of the course creation process would be a strong indicator that they are going to seriously struggle to deliver the SCORM aspect of your course.

How to know when things have gone wrong

All of the discussion so far has been how to anticipate problems with your e-learning provider and how to ensure that you cover yourself way before a problem is delivered. At any point during the development

At any point during the development process, there is one key phrase that should immediately set all alarm bells ringing.

There are a number of variations of this phrase but you know you are probably heading for deep trouble when your supplier says:

“There’s not a lot we can do; it works fine when we test it here and we don’t know why it doesn’t work on your LMS – there must be a problem with your LMS.”

Remember – at Learning Pool we’re here to help you through these processes.

SCORM can seem pretty esoteric but don’t forget that we can help you cut through any techno doublespeak – Learning Pool is your technical backup to help ensure that you get what you want from your suppliers.Use the checklist but don’t be shy to use us directly if you think it will help you get what you need.

Use the checklist but don’t be shy to use us directly if you think it will help you get what you need.

A final point – think ahead!

When commissioning a new course it is always a good idea to ask “How soon does this bespoke course become ‘out of date’ and what can I do to protect myself?

  • What will happen if terminology changes?
  • What will happen if the government or government policy changes?
  • How easily can I update links in my course if these require changing?
  • What will happen if the government or government policy changes?
  • How easily can I update links in my course if these require changing?
  • How easily can I update links in my course if these require changing?

In an ideal situation, the answer to all these questions should be: there is no problem!

And it shouldn’t cost you any more money!

If you get any other answers to these questions then you may want to re-think whether this is the ideal supplier for you.

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