I received a [Google Alert](http://www.google.com/alerts/) this morning from [Al Moser’s blog](http://elearningslam.blogspot.com/2008/01/thinking-about-scorm.html) where he basically states it’s time to blast our thoughts of reusability, in terms of reusing content objects into other contexts, and instead focus on reuse of content across learning environments. I urge you to read the original post, but let me riff on Mr. Moser’s thought:
The SCORM philosophy will work best if we go back to its original purpose which was to ensure that you could re-use existing (compiled) content from one LMS to another; not from one COURSE to another, or from one authoring tool to another. Right now they are caught between trying to ensure that a course will work well on any LMS (therefore, it pretty much has to be static) and the Web 2.0 concepts of content aggregation in real time from multiple sources (thereby breaking LMS-independence)
I must admit I’m a little torn on the subject, because I don’t think that reusability of content into different contexts is impossible. I think it’s very difficult to pull off without the use of some aids in the form of applications, tools, search technologies and rigid presentation standards, admittedly none of which are used together today. But I can picture it. Others pictured it. Claude Ostyn and Phillip Dodds even pictured it. If you can see it, I’m tempted to believe you can build it when it comes to digital technology.
However, in stating this which I think is in direct opposition to Mr. Moser’s thought, I definitely agree that getting the E-Learning community over the hump of reusability is important, and this notion of redefining reusability by coupling it with “interoperability” isn’t a fragmentary notion. At the big SCORM Technical Working Group meeting, one of the ideas batted around for what to do next was to consider which “ilities” were really relevant.
I agree that it’s near impossible to reuse content in different contexts where we’re at now. We still can barely get tools we use all the time to work all the time. I mean, jeez… I defined Articulate and Quizmaker as a standard for my organization. And guess what? If you have special characters in your Quizmaker assessment, it can break your suspend data on closing the content, and thus it makes it look to the LMS like you didn’t complete content, even though you might have. So you work though that one issue and maybe you inserted a special character into the title of your content — which ends up as an attribute in your Metadata and in your Manifest — and that breaks your content. You fix that, but decide to put in multiple Quizmaker assessments into an Articulate Presentation, but you don’t want to use any of the assessments as a determining factor towards completion — which after much testing you find out will never leave a student’s enrollments because of some weird issue with how Quizmaker assessments are leveraged in Articulate Presenter.
I don’t mean to go off on a rant on issues Articulate has in *Vendor X’s* LMS. But I want to highlight the issues I see in just getting content from the same authoring tool, with the same code base, working in one LMS in a consistent manner with other pieces of content authored in the same tools and deployed to the same environment with the exact same code base.
See, my point is that as difficult as my scenario above is — I’m not trying to mix my content in with content possibly produced by somebody else — possibly not even built with Articulate. Even using certified SCORM products isn’t good enough. Articulate IS certified. *Vendor X* **IS** certified. But that doesn’t mean they work together out of the box.
So maybe for slightly different reasons, I agree with Al Moser about reusability. Because, from my vantage point, we can’t even talk about reusability — even at a technical level, until we can address interoperability. And frankly, we can’t talk about interoperability until we finally settle on **compatibility.**
Because at the end of the day, you just want the content you buy or build to work in the system you support. And if you’re building the content, this should be a science, not an art.