Size Matters

Posted by Brian Kleeman

Amongst the millions of Inquisiq users, several create their own lessons using a variety of authoring tools (Articulate, Captivate, etc.).  Most of time, they simply upload these lessons (SCORM packages) into the LMS, and then import them to automatically create a course.  For extremely large SCORM packages (200MB or more), Inquisiq has a “Fetch” feature that allows a server to server transfer.  However, just because you can upload a large SCORM package, doesn’t mean that you should.  Here’s why.

A 50MB SCORM package is generally considered a large SCORM package.  If your SCORM package is larger than this, you should understand why, as this may become an issue for you and your users in the future.  Is it because the lesson itself is a very lengthy lesson, or is it because the content within the lesson is large (like uncompressed HD quality video)?  Lesson duration and content are the two main contributors to the final packaged size of your SCORM file.

A long lesson:  Adult learning theory will tell you that a single lesson should be no more than 15 – 20 minutes.  Statistically, this is about all the time we adults have to focus on one thing.  If you make a long lesson, you risk the user dozing off or just losing retention of the information.    If you provide a lesson containing multiple hours of content, consider it luck if your users remember the first 10 minutes.    In addition, SCORM requires a continual Internet connection to run a lesson.  The longer the lesson, the more chances your users have of momentarily dropping their Internet connection (too many users at the coffee shop).  If you have built a course with a single lesson (more than 30 minutes long), simply break it up into several smaller 15-20 minutes lesson segments.  Your users will feel they accomplish more by completing individual lessons and they will actually retain more of the information.

A huge file within the content:  This is a common problem.  You build a lesson with a huge embedded uncompressed HD video and now the SCORM file is so big, you experience “time out errors” when you attempt a conventional upload into Inquisiq.  You then utilize the Fetch feature to upload it, however, you must consider the problem that your users might experience when they try to play it.  Hey, you timed out trying to upload it, so don’t you think your users might have the same problems downloading it?  At this point, try: assessing your content, compressing video files, and adjusting the size of screen view for video (full screen to 1/3 screen).

In reality, there is no reason that you need a full screen HD video of a talking head.  Most authoring tools allow you to compress your video to “Internet Delivery” quality which should work for a majority of your content.  If you really want to deploy HD content, consider breaking up your lesson into several smaller lessons, or instead of embedding your large file content inside your lesson, simply link to it.  Most clients who have large videos put them on YouTube or Vimeo (any3rd party video site) and simply link the lesson slide to it.  Plus, external video services usually have an auto detection feature which allows you to upload a high definition version, but scale it down based on your user’s connections when played.  Allowing users with slow connections to access your lesson, but high speed users can watch the quality/HD version!

Take Away Tip of the Day:  if you have problems uploading your content conventionally because of SCORM package size, consider it a red flag! Reevaluate the design of your lesson and explore the lesson consolidation tips above.  In the end, it’s a win-win for users and admin alike!

Tags: Corporate Training, LMS Features, SCORM, Training Providers, LMS Support, Software as a Service (Saas), Uncategorized