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IEEE LTSC and ISO SC36 seek to prevent LOM split

Standards are as much process as they are product, and that means they need to move from one organisation to another. Occassionally that goes wrong, with a split standard as the imminent danger. IEEE LTSC and ISO SC36 are now working hard to prevent that from happening to the LOM metadata standard.

Of all the elearning interoperability technologies, the LOM is both the most pervasive, and also the only proper standard. It provides the guts to IMS's present and future Meta Data spec, and it is profiled in anything from SCORM, to CanCore to ARIADNE. As it provides the means to describe everything you need to know about a learning object, and therefore how to find it, it is pretty crucial to the whole learning object idea.

Hence the fact that it would be nice to have it not just be an IEEE standard, but also an internationally accredited ISO/IEC standard. The reason being that the first is mostly a matter for experts and by experts, while the latter is the international coordinator between national standardisation bodies like the US' ANSI, Britain's BSI and Germany's DIN.

Nicer still, however, is having just the one standard with two labels, and not two slightly different standards. Should the latter happen, vendors would either wait until one standard comes out on top, live with an incompatibility headache that end users will have to deal with virtually forever or else just forego the whole standard. In other words, all those things that open standards are supposed to prevent.

As In the LOM's transition from IEEE LTSC to ISO SC36, it was mostly the choreography that went wrong; which changes could be made to it by whom and when. But with forking looming large, minds are concentrating fast.

And so, on the co-located IEEE LTSC and ISO SC36 meetings in Paris this week, one ISO SC36 source indicated that it never was the intention to come up with a competing standard. It wouldn't have completed the ISO/IEC process if it was. Likewise, IEEE will now formally propose to SC36 that the one group be set up to look at the whole LOM standardisation and maintenance process. How that will be filled in depends on the ISO SC36, but options include leaving LOM 1.0 alone (save a few bug fixes, should they be found), and work together on the one version of LOM 2.0.

However that group might be peopled and put to work, it is clear that both standards bodies don't want this hanging over them for any longer than is strictly necessary. And neither does anybody else.

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