Two weeks after college leaders raised concerns about what was perceived as a restrictive technical requirement in a new $2-billion federal-grant program, government officials issued an amendment that eliminates the requirement.
Deep in the original 53-page guidelines for the grant program, known as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants Program, was a line stating that recipients “must be compliant with the latest version of Scorm (Sharable Content Object Reference Model).” The Scorm standard, a set of rules software programs can follow to work together, was developed mainly by the U.S. military for training modules, and some college leaders said they are not accustomed to it. The college officials, led by the leader of a competing standard’s group, argued that Scorm works well in settings where students are going through self-paced exercises—as in military and corporate training—but that it is not designed for a professor leading groups of students, as is more common at colleges, and that it would not be worth the cost and effort to build their materials based on the standard.
The amendment rewrites the old language of the regulations to leave it up to college which standards to follow, as long as the online courses follow some “industry-leading e-learning open standards.”
Mike Trupo, a spokesman for the Department of Labor, one of the agencies administering the program, characterized the change as a clarification rather than a substantive change, suggesting that the original language may have been misinterpreted as a requirement when it was meant as a guideline. “We put this amendment out to clarify our intent and eliminate any confusion,” he said.