IMS Learning Design a full specification
Wilbert Kraan, CETIS staff
February 14, 2003

After a fairly smooth period as a public draft, IMS Learning Design has now been accepted as a full specification by a 94% majority of IMS members. In a sense, the real deal starts now, as the specification is now stable enough for the vendors to develop.

The one important aspect of a public draft passing into full specification is not just the t crossing and i dotting, but the fact that it is now a stable document. Because it won't move, even when later versions do appear, it gives developers an easier target to hit.

This may well be fortuitous, as IMS LD is a fairly hefty spec. Its documentation lists, for example, six pages of conceptual vocabulary specific to the learning design framework. The full description of how to capture a learning design in XML runs to 65 pages.

Not to fear, though, because the designers have had the foresight to specify three levels of compliance. The first level contains all the basic functionality, while the levels B and C mainly allow further refinements.

From the pedagogic point of view, the basic, underlying idea is actually quite simple. Rather than proscribe what sort of teaching approach you'd have to adopt in order to design a Learning Design, the spec attempts to provide a means of expressing the approach that best suits the learning objective you have. It achieves this by taking the research finding that most pedagogic approaches have a similar model at their core: a Method prescribing various Activities for
learner and staff Roles in a certain order. That conceptual vocabulary is simply there to flesh out the Methods, Roles and Activities.

The final specification will appear at the IMS Learning Design pages. More information about Learning Design and its progenitor, EML, can be found at, the new forum of the Open University of the Netherlands.