Best Practices for Building Large Storyline Courses?

For the past year we have been converting about 10 years of online courses spread across 14 states into Storyline, including some very large professional licensing courses.

We have been advised by our LMS support group (Inquisiq) that we should keep our SCORM courses rather small (i.e. no more than 30-40 slides, including other media).  Unfortunately, these larger courses are required by state regulators to be a minimum of 40 hours of material.  Consequently, if the SCORM courses (i.e. lessons) are kept small, the number of lessons can appear quite intimidating to the learner.

It has been suggested that we divide the one (1) 40-hr licensing course into 4-5 separate "courses" and then tie them together into a curriculum.  Yet that is proving to be quite cumbersome and inefficient.  For instance, if a learner enrolls in the licensing course, instead of getting one "Welcome" email to the course, he or she will get up to 4 or 5 separate welcome emails...thereby creating a confusing scenario.

Is there anyone out there who has had meaningful experience on what might be a "maximum" size of one SCORM file (either in number of slides or data size)?

I feel certain that there are those of you who have developed (intentionally or unintenionally) that which you find to work best.

Thank you in advance for any advice or assistance you can provide.


James W. Greer, CPCU

President/AE21 Online

Tampa, FL

(800) 820-4550

11 Replies
Phil Mayor

Depends on which version of Scorm, how many quiz slides, variables etc you are tracking.

I have built 30-40 slide courses that overload Scorm 1.2 resume data and have also built a course with over 200 slides that works.

40 hours in one course from a user perspective just seem cumbersome and uninviting, also if the resume function doesn't work well this is not going to be usable.

I would advocate splitting it into more manageable chunks, the ability to do it in smaller sections will be better for the user and they can feel like they have achieved something as they complete each course.

Brent deMoville

My bias in any online learning is to keep the modules to 20 minutes or less.  The average person at work is interrupted at least once every 10-15 minutes and longer modules end up negatively impacting continuity.  The long compliance courses can be designed with the metaphor that the course is a book and each module is a chapter.  We use Plateau as our LMS and we can create single courses with multiple objects and credit is not given until all modules are complete.

This design makes for a better user experience and minimizes some of the technical concerns that often come with longer single module designs.

I wish you all the best with your conversions.  It sounds like a massive project.

Jim Greer

Thanks, Phil, for responding.

We're using Articulate Storyline, SCORM 2004, for our builds.  Generally speaking, they really work well no matter how large they are, and we have some that are 80+ slides.  The only negative is that they take quite a while to open, save, etc.  But when they're published, they seem to work fine.

We have no choice regarding the "40 Hours" issues, as this is are online regulatory licensing courses for insurance professionals.  The issue is just how we build it.  Personally, I thiink that wisdom over valor is the way to go...and keeping the SCORM files at somewhere between 50-75 slides, or 12-15 MB per file, is more manageable.

I agree with you that keeping them smaller and manageable gives a person more of a sense of progress and completion.  Conversely, they will may see literally "dozens" of lessons in the menu, but if they're moving at a decent pace, that will also give them a visible sense of completion.

My doubt comes only from advice from an Inquisiq support member who suggestedthat SCORM files should be somewhere in the "20-minute" range.  I'm not real sure how many slides/media pieces that might be, but it may well be consistent with the guidelines I mentioned above.

If there is anything else that you think might provide me some insight, please share.  I do appreciate your prompt response.

Thank you very much.


Phil Mayor

50 -75 slides isn't too too large, I suppose it depends on the length of the audio, I do prefer the idea of 20 minute course length.

This length is more manageable from a user perspective and as Brent suggests it becomes more palateable for the user.

Your problem is that you then need 120 20 minute courses, which is going to look daunting for a user.  Because of the requirements for the course there is no real way to make this any easier.

I then would focus on ensuring the course functions well and doesn't become a burden to the user because of poor usability or slow loading, at least this way you ensure the user has a good experience and does not get frustrated.  

Jim Greer

Thanks Brent,

This gives me some solace.  I think I will work to keep the SCORM files between 30-50 slides, max.  With any interlaced media, the file sizes should be manageable, and the courses not too long.  My gut is that no more than 20 minutes per SCORM lesson would be optimal...and right now that seems to be somewhere between 30-50 slides.

Our conversion effort has taken about 15 months...and we're about 3 weeks away from finishing.  Then, in 2014 we move to sales and marketing...

Thanks, all.

(If anyone has any other word of wisdom, please impart ...we can use all we can get!

david mckisick

Our rule of thumb is 20 minutes for each WBT module. 30 minutes is pushing it. Chunk up the larger course into several modules and link them together with several results slides. You can build the whole thing as one Storyline file with multiple Scenes, thus making a very tidy, well defined structure and allowing them the option to take whichever modules they choose to take at whatever time they wish to take them.