SCORM Engine

I’ve just noticed this post on Rustici’s Blog -they’ve also mentioned in the past about the possibility of offering a commercial plugin for Moodle and their SCORM engine.

One of the questions posed on their post is:

Q: Would open source adoption increase revenue substantially?
A: Doubtful. If the SCORM Engine were part of Moodle, for example, would any Moodle user come to us for a support arrangement? Or would they go to a Moodle host? Would we continue to appear to be a distinct entity in the eyes of a user? We don’t think so, and given that, what’s the positive impact for us? (It is, after all, about us, in some respects.)

While this may seem selfish to some people in the open source community – it’s also a very important one that many open source communities battle with! Rustici is a Business that needs to make money to pay employees so they can pay their mortgages etc… I presume a large amount of their income comes from the licensing of their SCORM engine.  SCORM LMS development isn’t cheap – and it’s not always easy to find someone to fund the full development work, but it’s not as hard to find people willing to pay smaller amounts of money to get a SCORM compliant Engine! – So when SCORM 2.0 comes out finally – Rustici may be in a better position to spread the cost of development across a larger group of clients rather than the traditional Moodle method of a single up-front cost.

But eventually, an Open Source based LMS will implement SCORM 2004 and then 2.0 (maybe) – we’re hoping this will happen for Moodle soon! – So any income that Rustici receive for licensing may decrease significantly when that happens. But – if the SCORM engine in Moodle was an open-source engine from Rustici – then the profile Rustici would get from this integration could improve Rustici’s revenue rather than decrease it!

So will Rustici release an open source version of their Engine? – I would love to see it happen, but I don’t think it is likely at this stage! – in the meantime it will be good to see a commercial offering from them to allow people who really need compliance/certification inside Moodle to have a viable option!

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2 Responses to “SCORM Engine”

  1. Tim Martin says:

    Dan. First off, thanks for taking the time to pay attention to us and what we’re doing. We’re obviously very aware of Moodle, and particularly its impressive worldwide adoption.

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you’ve had an open mind in considering our approach to the SCORM Engine and whether or not we should open source it. Without a doubt, a substantial portion of our revenue comes from SCORM Engine licenses.

    Your read on our direction (at this time) is a good one. We do not intend to open source the Engine for the time being. We believe that licensing the SCORM Engine allows us to focus all of our energies on it in such a way that we’re able to move quickly as the standard evolves AND achieve remarkably high levels of compatibility. My partner Mike just posted on the latter topic here [], and I think it tells a good story about what we’re doing well. Everybody wants to make this stuff work right, but it does take a lot of time and focus. (SCORM 2004 and sequencing and navigation, in particular, require time and focus.)

    We’ve actually chased two separate paths to this point with regard to integrating the SCORM Engine and Moodle. The first path is our typical SCORM Engine path, where we have an application that integrates with Moodle and requires installation, etc. This carries headaches of integration, maintenance, etc.

    The path about which I am more excited is the SCORM Cloud path []. Basically, we’ve created a hosted version of the SCORM Engine in the Amazon Cloud. This allows us to have an in-place instance of the SCORM Engine, accessible via web-services, for use from any application. Fees will be tiered and based on your usage. This means that by installing a simple Moodle mod and requesting a SCORM Cloud app_id, that you’ll be able to take advantage of the SCORM Engine’s great compatibility and SCORM 2004 and AICC support with almost no integration work at all. We’ll host the content (thereby providing another service) and deliver it, then inform the host Moodle install of the state.

    If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited about the possibilities. The initial costs on the SCORM Cloud are substantially lower than the SCORM Engine, so I’m optimistic that this will be useful for a lot of Moodle folks. The Moodle extensions to interact with the Cloud are underway (we’ll make those open source, for what it’s worth, I think). I hope to have something posted for you to mess with in the near future.

    I wouldn’t presume that this would make a SCORM 2004 extension of Moodle unnecessary, but hopefully it will fill a gap in the interim and serve a different role.

  2. dan says:

    The SCORM in a Cloud idea looks like a solid one! – great business model too! 🙂

    will you publish the pricing structure for this publicly?

    by the way – any moodle module you create to allow interaction with your cloud will need to be open source as it will be based on existing Moodle code which means it automatically becomes GPL – doesn’t mean it needs to be useful to anyone not using your Cloud based service though! – I look forward to seeing it in action!