Which is Better to Choose SCORM 1.2 or SCORM 2004

We should first begin by issuing a caveat emptor as the contents and thoughts reflected in this piece should not be seen as conclusive in its entirety. This doesn’t signify the incorrectness of the information or features highlighted here. It is just to serve as a definitive guide and an exposition on the available options and how you can utilize the options to achieve your goals.

One should note that his/ her eventual choice would be based on surrounding circumstances, immediate needs, financial capabilities, and end-term goals. The heart of technology and capitalism lies in healthy competition.

Companies offering tech products in a bid to outsmart their numerous competitors have to frequently upgrade their products usually in terms of versions and with this comes better features and perks to satisfy the teeming population’s needs. For this article, we would be considering two versions of SCORM which are often put side by side in arguments bordering on their efficacy. They are SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004.

Tabular representation of SCORM stats.

Despite the buzz hovering around the invention of the Tincan API both SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004 have enjoyed constant support as a result of the standardized communication that exists between online courses uploaded and their corresponding learning management system.

Features of Both SCORM’S

SCORM 1.2 in all sincerity is the Industry’s most common specification since its hallowed introduction in 2001 with its relevance spanning over 2 decades. One of its features is the apparent ease in uploading content to the LMS. The similitude of this is just like uploading a ZIP FILE. It has been the industry’s top pick, the only problem being its attendant ambiguities and lack of modern specification evident in the SCORM 2004 version.

The three distinctive features of SCORM 2004 over 1.2 is the enhancement of some features which would be subsequently discussed. They include Status Separation, read-write Interactions, and Sequencing.

1. Status separation

It’s not new to find technological innovations that tend to monitor and evaluate the user’s status to track activity performance. It can be likened to Modern-day analytics. In the SCORM 1.2 version, there is the inbuilt feature of lesson status often reflected by words such as passed, failed, complete, incomplete, browsed, or not attempted. The following words essentially show the activity of the user about the course content. While this was a decent feature, SCORM 2004 subsequently improved on this feature by addressing fundamental concerns about situations when the user had completed all course modules (completed) but did not pass the quiz or test (failed).

SCORM 2004 brought clarity to this issue by categorizing lesson status on the parameters of completion (complete/incomplete) and success (passed or fail). With this new feature, we can easily ascertain the status of the user without confusion. SCORM 1.2 received a lot of backlashes and criticisms for this limitation in data supply. Other authors want more data solely dependent on their preferences and this did not make it a good fit.

2. Read-write interactions with SCORM

In SCORM 1.2 interaction data is ‘written only’ which doesn’t have a logical explanation. Why would you be able to write something and not be able to read it? The feature ostensibly defies common sense. The 2004 variation in a bid to improve functionality has the read/write specified as interactions. Apart from its benefits in detailed reporting, your lesson can run a query concerning a previous operation/ interaction and can demand results in cases when it’s deemed utterly necessary and in the same vein act accordingly.

For example, the user has completed this module so they do not need to be sent back to a previous module or the user has answered this question in an earlier quiz and it doesn’t need to be launched again. In such instances, the LMS can reshuffle the content in question. It also gives authors the leeway to make reference to older works, see results and create an action plan based on available information.

3. Sequencing

The issue of sequencing which is a pretty big thing in E-learning was formerly deemed impossible as a lot of learning management systems did not even support the option. The underlying principle of sequencing like the name connotes is the way and format contents are presented to the user or the learner. It ensures that there is a predetermined format for this content.

Sequencing allows authors to include rules that determine content order. It sets up specific paths that can be adjusted per learner and allows them to save results mid-course and continue at a later point in time. Sequencing is a feature that is only SCORM 2004-enabled which puts the SCORM 2004 above the 1.2 variant in this regard.

In terms of analytics and reporting, they sort of perform the same functions. The only perk of the 2004 alternative is its in-depth and complex navigation cum sequencing. To fully utilize the benefit that comes with this app you should ensure that you select the appropriate authoring tool and SCORM-compliant LMS.

4. Character length of suspend data

Suspend data is information generated by a SCORM package to keep track of the learner’s journey throughout the course. One downside of the 2004 version is the character length of 4,000 characters while its preceding variant has a character of 4,096 which is deemed a setback since recent versions ought to improve on earlier ones to meet users’ dynamic needs. Although subsequent inventions of the 2004 version have doubled on the character length of suspend data even up to 15X more than the earlier 4,000. This is a significantly great improvement as there’s room for up to 60,000 characters in newer versions.


While the tragic flaw of 1.2 was its rather shocking blindness to minute yet intricate details it covers the needs of many organizations and instructional designers. While the 2004 variant addressed the deficiencies of the SCORM 1.2 its conservative outlook particularly concerning metadata and content sequencing needs to be addressed to meet the demands of a 21st- century focused technological product.


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