Exciting times for elearning standards. Lots of discussion about two unrelated events. First, SCORM “cheats” are published and the community rallies to address the issues. Secondly, and coincidentally, the IMS recently withdrew the QTI spec from further work by IMS membership. I'll follow-up on the IMS QTI issue in a subsequent post (likely linking to more detailed information from others).
What is SCORM Cheatlet?
Cheatlet Concept goes Public
I seemed to be more concerned than others. In late August, I submitted a paper on the issue to the LETSI SCORM 2.0 Workshop, without disclosing precisely how to implement or code the exploit. The paper, Security Before Features was discussed online and at the Pensacola meeting in October 2008, but little seemed to happen as a result. Work continued on SCORM 2004 4th Edition without any API changes.
Cheatlet Example/Running Code Goes Public
Flash forward to a few weeks ago. Working completely independently, Phillip Hutchison had a similar moment of inspiration and crafts his own SCORM “cheatlet” bookmark. The big difference was this included a working cheat as a link right in the blog post (chealet linked since removed, but code is still available by request to Phillip). Soon this issue received broader attention. Reaction and opinions flew about the internet. Plateau proactively sent a letter to its US government LMS customers about this issue to help calms their fears. Ironically, I think this also drew further attention and discussion.
Defense Approaches, Work-arounds, Opinions
Soon after the example code hit the internet, opinions flew between experts on twitter, email and blogs. I posted a overview of the issues on the Questionmark blog, along with a follow-up post on general defensive strategies, including some specific solutions to support those approaches.
Some feel quite strongly that SCORM has never been suited for more than the lowest-stakes elearning events. I feel that stakes must always be viewed as a continuum. Furthermore, I believe it is far easier to consider the high stakes end of the spectrum first and back-down as necessary. In any environment, is incredibly difficult to start with little or no security and patch your way up to a secure system.
Others may see it differently. I'm sure there will be plenty of opinions. I'd say my views on this issue tend to align with Phillip Hutchison (whom I've never met, but respect) more than Mike Rustici (whom I've known & respected for many years). I'll come back and update this post as they emerge. Other opinions include: