Ed-tech advocates are wary of a federal grant requirement.

A $2 billion federal grant program promoting the development of sharable web-based educational tools requires applicants to comply with a Department of Defense (DOD) program, irking a leading open education organization.

The federal grant program, known as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCT) Grants Program, includes the easy-to-overlook line: “… online and technology-enabled courses developed under this [program] must be compliant with the latest version of SCORM.”

SCORM, which stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model, is an eLearning software standard created by the DOD for self-paced, computer-based learning in the military and business sector.

The TAACCCT grants program—a smaller version of a failed federal plan to pump $12 billion in to community colleges—was hailed by ed-tech advocates when it was announced in January.

Officials from the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a leading ed-tech standards organization, have led the criticism of TAACCCT’s requirement to use SCORM. In a January letter to IMS members, Chief Executive Rob Abel wrote that “SCORM is not a good fit for education on our public forums.”

“The requirement to use SCORM for educational content is an outdated regulation that will stifle the intended outcomes,” Abel wrote on the IMS website, calling SCORM a “niche” program that wouldn’t be conducive to teacher-led classes.

Educational content can be created and shared under SCORM, Abel said, but doing so would require a special “authoring environment to manipulate [content].”


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