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Articles about IMS

IMS's three-pronged strategy
Two weeks ago I attended the IMS Learning Impact conference in Barcelona; this was one of the first IMS events I'd attended in some time, and I've tried to put together some thoughts on the IMS technical strategy.

Portfolio reference models and interoperability
This meeting of the Portfolio SIG will discuss interoperability and related issues directly and in some detail. It will be informed by the discussions on Jiscmail's CETIS-PORTFOLIO and CETIS-PORTFOLIO-DEV.

CETIS wins new JISC interoperability service contract
You might well wonder if providing a service about interoperability standards for JISC isn't what CETIS has been doing for quite a while now; you'd be right, it has. The new contract means a step change in the way CETIS will fulfill that service to the community, though.

EDF-4 Bolton
The 4th ELF Developers' Forum will cover the latest from Toolkit projects including the re-use of Enterprise toolkits and REST Webservices for Personal Learning Environments.

Joint Accessibility and Portfolio SIG Meeting
The meeting will centre around on-going work connecting e-portfolios with accessibility, in the contexts both of e-portfolio usability and enhancing access to higher education.

CETIS Metadata and Digital Repository SIG meeting
The next CETIS Metadata and Digital Repository SIG meeting will look at reference models, specific requirements from eLearning repositories and the OAIS model.

CETIS Assessment SIG meeting
The next CETIS Assessment SIG meeting will focus on issues around eassessment policy and practice, and look at likely future developments.

13th CETIS Enterprise SIG Meeting: XCRI Showcase

Meeting to gather feedback on IMS Content Packaging v.1.2
The EC- SIG are hosting a meeting to collect community feedback on the public draft of the IMS CP v1.2 specification to send to the IMS working group.

Call for papers - 6th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT2006)
Theme: "Advanced Technologies for Life-Long Learning". Life-long learning becomes much more achievable as versatile infrastructures for mobile communication and portable Web access emerge. Supplementary to this, social software for supporting learners in sharing common views and actually build authentic understanding on relevant themes for learning needs to be conceptualized and experimented with.

Call for papers: Interoperable e-learning systems in action
The workshop is being organised and funded by the Telcert project and is sponsored by the European eLearning Industry Group, SURF SiX and European IMS Network. The workshop is hosted by the Open University of the Netherlands, one of the Telcert project partners.

TELCERT Workshop; Tools for the e-Learning Framework
This workshop introduce participants in the e-Learning Framework projects and the broader JISC community to the tools developed by the TELCERT project. These tools exploit the IMS Application Profiling Guidelines which offer the prospect of refining (i.e. profiling) a variety of e-Learning technology specifications so as to better meet the needs of a target community, without breaking underlying interoperability.

Next generation activity based eLearning
The Communities of Practice meeting in Berlin is the FINAL UNFOLD CoP meeting and provides a unique opportunity to participate in a working meeting whose goals are to “map out the requirements for the next generation of Learning Design based systems”. The meeting will be led by Rob Koper of the OUNL.

UML For Everyone

12th CETIS Enterprise SIG Meeting

Blackboard to acquire WebCT
For the academic sector, this looks like the final act of consolidation in the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) market. The two former rivals will officially merge, but much larger Blackboard will provide the brand name for the resulting company.

UNFOLD Communities of Practice meeting
The Communities of Practice meeting in Glasgow provides a unique opportunity to spend three days talking with others who are working with the IMS LD specification, and participating in practical workshops.

New CETIS briefings available
The ever-popular series of CETIS briefings on e-learning standards just received two new additions, two major updates, and some tweaking on others.

Alt-I-Lab 2005 Demonstrators
The Alt-I-Lab conference has a regular demonstrators session where participants can show off their latest interoperability wares to the assembled crowd. This session tends to be held in an informal market-style which lends itself to a great deal of informed discussion between participants and really is at the core of what the Alt-I-Lab conference is about.

Connecting Teachers & Technologists
Organized by the Enterprise SIG, the Pedagogy Forum & the JISC e-Learning Focus Journalists

e-learning tech that is fit for purpose, innovative and sustainable
Educational technology interoperability standards are at something of a crossroads; the first generation of them are either in wide use, superceded, or in the process of final maturation. In the mean time, open source and service oriented architectures have changed the landscape considerably. Time, then, to re-examine the place of these specs in the wider development of e-learning technology.

Digesting Alt-I-Lab 2005
Since it is the biggest e-learning interoperability do on the calendar, alt-i-lab is both a good bellwether for new trends, and a bit of a powerpoint blizzard. From Professor Laurillard's high level and wide ranging vision of the UK e-learning strategy, to the pithy pronouncements of Sakai's Brad Wheeler, we pick some highlights.

It's a LOM binding, Jim, but not as we know it
For most people who have to describe digital learning resources, IMS Meta-Data is just the ticket. It provides almost everything: the model for the record, the method of encoding it and the means of checking the record. With the new IEEE LOM XML binding, that will change in some subtle ways.

OKI and IMS, wires and sockets revisited
Two years ago, at the alt-i-lab conference in Boston, the relation of the Open Knowledge Initiative's (OKI) Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs) with IMS's specifications was discussed at length. Now, just before this year's alt-i-lab conference, the OKI - IMS relation is finalised at the process and part of the spec level. One the wider, technical level, the merits of combining OSIDs with web services will be demonstrated during alt-i-lab in Sheffield.

Bodington Buzz - making learning more effective
The LAMS learning design package has recently been released as Open Source; TOIA is a highly regarded assessment engine free to UK Education institutions; Personal Development Planning is becoming increasingly required for institutional assessments either using blogging, e-portfolios or other methods; institutions are increasingly looking to share data in a secure way with other collaborating institutions with Shibboleth technology being favoured. All these topics are addressed in the JISC e-learning framework, and all have been integrated using the Bodington VLE.

ePortfolio 2005
the 3rd International Conference on the electronic portfolio

alt-i-lab 2005
alt-i-lab (Advancing Learning Technology Interoperability)2005 includes working sessions, demonstrations and exchange of e-learning technology.

Next EC-SIG meeting
The next EC-SIG meeting will take place on Monday 13th June at the University of Bolton.

Next EC-SIG meeting
The next EC- SIG meeting will take place on Monday, 13th June at the University of Bolton

10th CETIS Enterprise SIG Meeting

LAMS is open source
As promised by the roadmap that was presented last summer, the IMS Learning Design 'inspired' Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) is now available as open source software. In a ceremony at Macquarie University, a LAMS launch CD with the system, documentation and case studies was presented, and is now available as a free download.

Another test
with a description

CETIS Assessment SIG meeting
The sixteenth CETIS Assessment SIG meeting will cover a range of issues around CAA and interoperability standards.

How to let educational systems talk
The public draft release of the new IMS General Web Services spec, is both a relatively simple and pragmatic guide as well as a milestone of some import for educational technology. It essentially sets out how systems on a network can have a webservice conversation. It doesn't determine what the conversation is about, and the language is from somewhere else, but it does set the basic template of how to do web services in the e-learning domain.

Third CETIS/LIFE codebash goes public
To test the interoperability of educational content, metadata and services there's nothing like getting files into and out of as many different tools as possible. Better yet, get the developers of those tools into one room, and let them sort out any issues. CETIS codebashes do just that, but the third iteration had some differences: it was co-organised with the European LIFE (Learning Interoperability Framework for Europe) project and some of the files are now public.

LionShare releases personal repository milestone
Born of the recognition that the vast majority of learning and teaching material lives on peoples' PCs, the LionShare project aims to provide a simple and trusted way to share those materials with others. The open source application isn't quite done yet, but a useable beta has just been released.

NLN material plugs OK
*update* Prototype materials for the latest round of National Learning Network (NLN) content development have been successfully tested. After a round of trialling and testing by a number of different colleges and educational centres, the interoperable packages were presented in Birmingham by the five content vendors. Unlike previous batches, this round of content procurement by the NLN is aimed exclusively at Adult and Community Learning (ACL).

Getting to grips with Learning Design
The IMS Learning Design workshop in Valkenburg is well under way now, with the first real life experiences of authoring and running Units of Learning (UoL) being uploaded for other people to test. We chatted with a couple of participants.

Interoperability state of play at IMS Melbourne meeting
The open tech forum at an IMS meeting is a public show-and-tell that is occassionally layed on for the benefit of the wider community. The one in Melbourne this week was exemplary in giving a wide variety of people the opportunity to air their views on the state of play in e-learning. The downside is the blizzard of (Power)Points that can unleash. We gather the kernels for your enjoyment.

Educational Metadata FAQ launched
Everything you always wanted to know about data about educational data, maintained in a Wiki, with an initial kernel of answers by a roll-call of experts in the field.

Learning Design tool bash in Valkenburg
It's like the buses; you wait for one for ages, and then several come along at once. The IMS Learning Design specification was finalised in 2002, and about four implementations are getting ready now. A good time, then, to start playing around with them, exploring what they can do, and seeing whether they interoperate.

Joint Pedagogy and EC SIG meeting on Learning Design
Update on learning design meeting

IMS publishes service oriented architecture whitepaper
The paper is a revised version of a document presented during last year's alt-i-lab conference (the old version date is still on it), and is indeed well worth revisiting. In it, Four experts from IMS, Sun, Microsoft and the Open Knowledge Ininiative (OKI) consider the fundamentals of the approach as applied to the learning, education and training sector.

Sentient launch repository with Word interface
In a bid to make the authoring part of learning object lifecycle easier for non-specialists, Sentient has anounced the availability of a new repository on the UK market, LearnBase.

CELEBRATE Evaluation Report
A hefty pdf (1.8 Mb, 202 pages) outlining the outcomes of the large, 30 month Context eLearning with Broadband Technologies (CELEBRATE) project. A fair few case studies and a firm focus on the practicalities of using learning objects in schools make it well worth a (skim) read. Inevitably, some of the lofty goals of the project at the start have not quite come out as intended. For example, the question whether interoperability standards make reuse of material any easier could not be addressed systematically. Still, the finding that interoperability was as much down to minimal standards of hard- and software infrastructure in schools as the format of the objects themselves is worth bearing in mind. Thanks to EdTechPost for the link.

The state of standards at Online Educa 2004
In amongst many, many other things, Berlin's Online Educa 2004 conference had almost a full day's worth of events on the topic of educational interoperability standards. Since the morning's session was mostly about content interoperability, and the afternoon session about collaborative technology, the panel discussion at the end made for some pretty clear contrasts about where different people think interoperability standards are.

Exam in Hull, results from Glasgow
The TOIA (Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment) project has successfully run a formative maths exam that took place in Hull on a TOIA server in Glasgow. The hosted service for the QTI compliant system is designed to make it easier to use for those (UK) institutions that don't have the resources or inclination to run a TOIA server of their own.

Fifteenth CETIS Assessment SIG Meeting
The fifteenth CETIS Assessment SIG meeting will take place on Wednesday 26 January 2005 at the University of York.

Two-part Series on Specifications for Increasing Online Learning Accessibility - Part 2
This live web conference takes place in two parts on 2nd December and 16th December 2004 at 16:00 Eastern Standard Time (around 21:00 in the UK).

Two-part Series on Specifications for Increasing Online Learning Accessibility - Part 1
This live web conference takes place in two parts on 2nd December and 16th December 2004 at 16:00 Eastern Standard Time (around 21:00 in the UK).

Designs for Learning: Finding and reusing learning objects and learning activity management (LAMS) in basic number and statistics
This workshop will demonstrate how simple it is to create sequences of learning activities incorporating reusable learning objects (RLO) using freely available tools. You will have the opportunity to use some of these interoperable tools developed by the JISC to support e-learning and explore Learning Activity Management Software (LAMS) to create sequences of learning activities. The session will focus on teaching basic data interpretation and statistics.

Bashers and Pluggers fix IMS Content Packaging spec
There's nothing quite like a bunch of developers with their tools to iron out the pesky little bugs in a spec. That's what participants to the ADL plugfests and CETIS codebashes did, and fixing the bugs that they found took Content Packaging from 1.1.3 to 1.1.4.

Interoperability in action video
The eXchange for Learning (X4L) programme has released a video on the web about the practicalities of making interoperable learning content. While there's plenty to read about the pros and cons of standards, this video shows an actual scenario of finding, creating and enhancing learning objects using a variety of tools.

IMS releases ePortfolio spec
*updated* Most of the guts of the public draft of the spec aren't entirely new, but it does draw together parts from a number of existing IMS specs, and shows how they can be used to contruct a variety of different kinds of ePortfolio that can be exchanged between different systems. Significant potential gotcha: there's a known licensed patent on part of the spec.

8th CETIS Enterprise SIG Meeting

Intrallect Developer’s Forum: Repository Interoperability
The purpose of this forum is to discuss potential ways in which other e-learning systems can interoperate with Intralibrary. The day will include demonstrations of intraLibrary’s current modes of interoperability and technical discussions on various system-to-system technologies.

Eighth CETIS-TechDis Accessibility SIG Meeting
The eighth CETIS-TechDis Accessibility SIG Meeting will have a "Back to Basics" theme.

Intrallect wins JORUM UK national repository contract
With the awarding of the 250.000 GBP contract, the JISC sponsored JORUM project will start the transition to a national repository of learning materials, to be made available to the UK Further and Higher Education by August 2005.

Redwood group maps Managed Learning Environments
When any new technology comes on the scene, there's always a scramble of people figuring out methods, and trying stuff that'll work for them. Service oriented approaches (soa) to Managed Learning Environments (MLEs) are no different. Just as certain, however,is the point at which some structure and coherence is brought to bear. For service oriented MLEs, that is exactly what the Redwood Group is planning to do.

Tenth CETIS Educational Content SIG meeting.
The next meeting of the EC SIG will be on Thursday, 2nd September, at Learning & Teaching Scotland.

Microsoft extends webservices, IMS Enterprise and LIP support
The extended support consists of a raft of new, education specific features built on the Microsoft BizTalk 2004 platform. The lot is known as the Enterprise Services Framework (ESF), and essentially aims to be the traffic cop in the heterogenous, multi-platform environment of a typical FE or HE network. It can take information in wide variety of forms, and push it out again in standard and not so standard formats.

Alt-I-Lab results: mind the gap...
between user expectation of interoperability and reality. Or so the University of Waterloo's Tom Carey thought. And repeated it in at least four other varieties of English to make sure the message hit home. Because last week's was the second alt-i-lab, we can begin to look at whether the participants in the interoperability fest are actually closing that gap.

Open source e-learning technology hits prime time
So stand by for the inevitable backlash. But seriously: the relation of open source to open standards was the topic of the opening debate of the big alt-i-lab e-learning technology interoperability do, the open sourcing of LAMS was announced there, the increasingly popular Open Source ePortfolio Initiative (OSPI) held a conference right before it, open source reference implementations were mentioned by nearly everyone there, most of the hotly debated service oriented approaches to MLE design rely wholy or in part on open source components, and even Microsoft announced its inimitable take on the phenomenon by launching a 'shared source' webservices kit for Class server.

LAMS to be open sourced, partnership programme announced
After an announcement of the imminent open sourcing of the Learning Design 'inspired' Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) at a special meeting held by the Department for Education and Skills in London last week, LAMS lead developer James Dalziel announced the beta partnership programme at the Alt-I-lab interoperability conference in Redwood City, California. Both moves are designed the make the popular and pedagogically innovative tool readily accessible, sustainable and convergent with the IMS Learning Design interoperability specification.

Learning Design communities UNFOLD
Not even Einstein could have conjured up something like the theory of relativity in isolation. For that, you need a community of practice. In that respect, implementing, teaching with or authoring Learning Design is no different. The EU sponsored UNFOLD project aims to provide the infrastructure and the expertise to help people form just such communities. The aim: the collaborative building of best practice in the Learning Design area.

IMS Question and Test Interoperability gets major make-over
The public beta of the venerable, comprehensive and increasingly popular IMS Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) specification has been released. Age, popularity and size played a major part in the decision to give it a thorough overhaul: the world has moved on quite a bit from its first appearance in 2000, and the many implementors found some aspects that can be done better.

Most effective pedagogic technique ever or 21st century cannon fodder processor?
As Centre for Recording Achievement (CRA) director Rob Ward reminded the audience, the dream of a lifelong learning record is hardly new. Yet considerable political will at the national and European level, combined with an increasingly networked world and maturing technical standards mean that the dream is getting rather closer now. But what about the nightmare scenarios of invaded privacy, litigated universities, and co-erced or apathetic learners? The CETIS pedagogy forum organised a debate to consider the consequences.

Transferring resourcelists from a VLE to a library (and back again)
In the notoriously unresolvable discussion over what a learning object is, one category that's easily overlooked is the traditional academic article or monograph. Printed or otherwise, these are bread and butter learning resources in many a course, and constitute one of the main intersections between the e-learning and library worlds. Hence the need to exhange lists of such resources between virtual learnign environments and (digital) library systems, which is now addressed by the new public draft of IMS Resource List Interoperability.

Using the Enterprise SDK to create a minimal IMS Enterprise web service
The IMS Enterprise Web Services specification may be a pretty complex spec with reams of documentation, but with the IMS Enterprise SDK for Java the implementation process is drastically simplified. This article shows you how to write and deploy a minimal Enterprise Group Management service - and by minimal we mean minimal!

Matching content to learners
The one year old IMS Accessibility for Learner Information Profile (ACCLIP) specification allows you to store the accessibility preferences of learners in a flexible way. Which is handy, but a less than complete solution until the content a learner wants to look at can be matched to those preferences. With the new IMS Accessibility for Meta-Data (ACCMD) spec, that circle is now being closed.

UK Ministry of Defence contracts BT for e-learning system
As most large organisations have found at some point, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) found that a) its training requirements can't be met by face to face education alone, and b) its e-learning provision is patchy and disconnected. So a plan was drawn up, and British Telecom awarded about 25 million pounds to provide a system for up to 300.000 users. That's one single system...

IMS revs Meta-data spec
But hang on, wasn't IMS Meta-Data supposed to be succeeded by the IEEE LOM standard? Indeed it is, and that is exactly what the new revision of IMS Meta-Data is mostly about: how to get to IEEE LOM 1.0 from IMS Meta-data 1.1.2. More than that, it is a pretty comprehensive, up to date and accessible guide for anyone who wants to implement the LOM.

Metadata and Digital Repository SIG Meeting

New application server marries Java to webservices
With the new, snappily titled Java System Application Server Platform Edition 8, Sun promises to make it easier for Java developers to develop and deploy web services. The new server software is free for both development and deployment, and includes support for the J2EE Connector Architecture to facilitate exposing existing enterprise systems as web services.

Same area, different goals; Sakai and the JISC Framework Programme
With Managed Learning Environment (MLE) implementation increasingly moving from theory to practice, two major initiatives come along at once. One will deliver a customisable but complete 'community source' MLE, the other a means of stitching together an MLE out of bits you already have or want. We talk to Chuck Severance of Sakai and Tish Roberts and Scott Wilson of the JISC Framework Programme about differences and similarities.

LionShare Wiki
The LionShare peer-to-peer personal respository project had opened a Wiki. For anyone already using LionShare, or interested in it, this is the place to get more info and contribute to its further development.

Blackboard, OUNL deal widens Learning Design access
IMS Learning Design and Educational Modelling Language (EML) pioneers the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) makers Blackboard inc. have inked a strategic alliance that allows the OUNL's Edubox player to be integrated with the Blackboard VLE and portal. The deal will make it easier for institutions with Blackboard installations to take advantage of the pedagogic flexibility and power of EML, or, in the near future, IMS Learning Design.

JISC sponsored assessment management software beta released
The TOIA (Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment) project is a JISC sponsored software development collaboration with Freedom2Learn Ltd. Together, the two have developed a server based system that manages questions and tests from just display to a fully managed high stakes test. The service is free for UK institutions, and available to buy for everyone else.

Eduplone reveals initial IMS Learning Design support
And very initial it is too: current material does not go far beyond what's possible with conventional learning objects. But the idea of welding the pedagogic flexibility of Learning Design to the flexibility of the open source Zope/Plone web content management system is intriguing, and the support for basic e-learning standards in Plone useful.

IMS specifies buckets
Data buckets, that is, in the public draft of the new Sharable State Persistence specification. Its function is as simple as it is useful: it provides a means for learning objects (specifically of the SCORM persuasion) to store data about the state they were left in. These buckets can then accessed by other objects, who can act on the data.

Community and conformance
It's the quintessential paradox of technology standards: enforcing a technical standard, while supporting the peculiar demands of a specific community. Such an exercise in cake possession and consumption is now undertaken by the EU Framework Programme 6 (FP6) sponsored TELCERT project, who aim to give national and/or occupational communities the tools to define their own application profiles, and the means to test conformance to them.

Metadata Quality in e-Learning: Garbage In - Garbage Out?
One of the first things I ever learned as a schoolgirl about computers and computer programming was the acronym GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. As a grownup librarian working in e-learning, I was surprised to find a few years back that those who were thinking about metadata for learning objects appeared to have forgotten this truism.

Splashing in Ponds and Pools
There's an awful lot going on in the general area of learning resource discovery and management at the moment. Most especialy about finding the right place to store resources, while still making sure that they can be discovered by other people. The Splash peer-to-peer (P2P) personal repository has been around longer than most in this area, and has been connected to nodes at institutional and regional/national level. We look at some of the lessons the developers learned.

Learning Design Listing
No, not the IMS spec, but a sign of an impending terminological confusion: in this sense it means an approach to e-learning pedagogy that goes beyond traditional instructional design. Which is indeed very much what IMS Learning Design sets out to facilitate, but it is a spec, not an approach. This post at elearningpost coins the term Learning eXperience Design (LXD) for the approach, and solicits comments about what such a holistic approach to learning might look like.

JISC programme to foster the pick 'n mix MLE
The concept of an institutional learning environment that provides the information that people need, when and where they want it has been around for a while, but has not been easy to realise. The JISC's new e-learning programme includes the e-learning technical framework strand, that is designed to make it more do-able. Now that the first call for technical framework projects is out, we look at what the framework sets out to achieve and how it intends to get there.

Fostering interoperability, Japanese style
Japan's Advanced Learning Infrastructure Consortium (ALIC) has been promoting e-learning interoperability standards in their part of the world, much like Industry Canada, SURF SiX or CETIS. Except that it funds single open source implementations of specifications. By Japan's main educational software vendors themselves. We ask ALIC's Kyoshi Nakabayashi about their experiences with the approach.

eLearning Results 2004
This is the second of the standards focussed e-learning conference organised by VLE maker Giunti. This edition focusses on implementation and streamlining rather than new specs and practices. The conference will be preceded by workshops on IMS Learning Design, SCORM 2004, OKI, and SCORM and AICC Certification.

CopperCore to power Learning Design implementations
The Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) has just released CopperCore: an IMS Learning Design engine, the first of its kind. Rather than provide a complete take-it-or-leave-it Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), the open source package is designed to be integrated into a range of existing e-learning infrastructures.

ePortfolio London 2004
Following the success of the first international conference wholly devoted to the ePortfolio (electronic or digital portfolio) in Poitiers, the European Institute for ELearning (EIfEL) and the Cass Business School have great pleasure in inviting you to a follow-up event in London, to move the agenda forwards.

IMS presents public draft of Enterprise Services, reference implementation to follow soon
IMS Enterprise Services for Web Services is in effect a successor to Enterprise; IMS' venerable spec for person and group management. Where the old one was just a data format, the new provides a means to exchange, say, enrollment data between a VLE and student record system dynamically. A reference implementation was developed by CETIS at the same time, and will be available at the same time as the full release.

Portal or VLE?
Challenging rant from Derek Morrison at what looks like a blog that's well worth watching: auricle, the blog of the elearning at Bath team. This post is about the paucity of genuine interoperability, mainly because of the tendency of some vendors to "enhance" interoperability specifications with their own extensions.

SCORM and the art of specification maintenance
SCORM 1.3 is dead, long live SCORM 2004! It is pretty much the same thing, but the name change indicates some hectic manoeuvering to satisfy the conflicting demands of stability and predictability versus the need to fix issues. The new version is out now. Also, the first public indications of ADL's desire to hand the present SCORM 'to the community' have surfaced in last week's co-located CEN/ISSS and IEEE LTSC meeting.

'Institutional Digital Repositories' and 'Learning Object Repositories' - What's the Difference?
Quick and dirty survey-on-a-blog at Scott Leslie's EdTEchPost. The purpose is to help him make a comparison between various repository software packages. It is an interesting question in its own right, though.

IntraLibrary slots into Australian interoperability research project
The Collaborative Online and Information Services (COLIS) interoperability demonstrator project, now continued as the Interaction of IT Systems and Repositories (IISR) project, is to swap out its existing learning object repository with Intrallect's IntraLibrary.

Suite of QTI development tools completed
The CETIS assessment SIG has coordinated the development of a set of three tools that helps developers implement IMS' Question and Test Interoperability specification.

Joint CETIS Assessment SIG/SURF SiX meeting
The 11th Assessment SIG meeting will be a joint event with the Dutch SURF SiX Expert Group.

Identifiers, migrating metadata and orphaned objects
Sometimes you want an identifier to unambiguously refer to a resource: punch in a loved one's phone number, and you expect their phone to ring, and no other. Much the same identifier - resource functionality would be desirable for learning objects, but that has not been sorted yet. CETIS organised a meeting with a broad swathe of stakeholders to address the issue.

4th CETIS Enterprise SIG Meeting
The meeting will be held in the Tower Building of London Met University, across the road from Holloway Road Tube Station. It is not advised to attempt car parking in this area.

Implementing LAMS to Improve Teaching and Learning

Towards making your Personal Development Planning/e-portfolio systems interoperable
An opportunity to participate in a forthcoming Workshop of the LIPSIG/JISC ‘MLEs for Lifelong Learning’ Programme.

IMS Abstract Framework names parts
Though it may look like a kind of architecture, IMS' newly released Abstract Framework is more of a reference work. Designed to map out what has already been done and could be done in the eLearning specification world, it provides a guide to the kinds of things that make up eLearning practice. We talk to the principal author, Colin Smythe.

Using SHAME to fill your SCAM
The deadly serious people at the Knowledge Management Research group at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology just released their open source Standardized Hyper Adaptable Metadata Editor (SHAME). The editor is designed to be used in conjunction wih the equally open source, RDF-based Standardised Content Archive Management (SCAM) system. The pair are meant to kick start eLearning on the semantic web.

Learning Design inspiration
After months of demos, talks and an increasing buzz, WebMCQ and MELCOE have made the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) public. The IMS Learning Design "inspired" editing and playback system is said to revolutionise the way eLearning is done: by focussing on the process of learning, rather than just shovelling content.

LOM/CanCore Open-Source Software Components released
Rather than building a complete metadata application that only meets one set of current needs, the CanCore people built a set of components that can be re-used in many digital library applications that suit your requirements. It's an approach to open source educational software development that we're going to hear much more about.

Reusable Competencies moves from IMS to IEEE
In a move that is meant to be the first more, IMS donated the Reusable Definition of Competency or Educational Objective (RDCEO) specification to the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) for development as a standard. Apart from enabling wider adoption of RDCEO, the decision represents a streamlining of the specification-to-standard process that has been widely touted for many years.

UK Learner Profile components to form core of European standard
With the official acceptance of the CEN/ISSS "Guidelines for the production of learner information standards and specifications" workshop agreement, the first steps have been taken to establish a European standard for the transfer of learner information. The agreement will make it easier for learners of all descriptions to present their educational credentials and achievements to employers and colleges both nationally and at the European level.

A recipe for interoperability in practice
At the 8th CETIS Educational Content SIG meeting held in Glasgow on 28th August, Colin Milligan (RELOAD), Martin Morrey (Intrallect) and Gerry Graham (Learning and Teaching Scotland) presented a demonstration of practical interoperability between a content repository (the JORUM Intralibrary) and a virtual learning environment (PIONEER), mediated by the RELOAD Editor. For full meeting minutes and presentations, see the EC-SIG web page at:

Fourth CETIS-TechDis Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) Partnership Meeting.
The next CETIS-TechDis Accessibility SIG meeting will include presentations and discussions on creating accessible e-learning, specifications and usability.

WebCT 4.1 adds further IMS Content Packaging support
The latest version of the popular VLE makes it easier for users to add course material in IMS Content Packaging format. Export is a slightly different matter, however.

CETIS Learning Design Workshop
*** This Workshop is now full. Registrations are closed *** This two day workshop organised by the CETIS Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC SIG) and the CETIS Pedagogy Forum will be held on Tuesday 28th October and Wednesday 29th October 2003, at Learning and Teaching Scotland, Glasgow.

Open Source IMS VDEX authoring tool available
Hot on the heels of the spec itself is a first public beta of the first VDEX compliant authoring tool. With it, users can make VDEX encoded vocabularies and explore them for inclusion in IEEE LOM compliant metadata.

9th CETIS Educational Content SIG Meeting
*** This meeting is now full. Registrations are closed *** The 9th CETIS Educational Content SIG (EC SIG) Meeting will be held on Friday 12th December 2003, at the Dept. of Computer Science, Manchester University.

Educational Plone-Sprint
The open source Zope application server tends to get developed in 'sprints', and the tradition continues for the newer Plone content management system that runs on top of it. This particular sprint is intended to add virtual learning environment functionality to Plone, including support for a number of IMS specs.

IMS Vocabulary Definition EXchange (VDEX) is a public draft.
IMS have just released a rather handy, small and general purpose specification for the exchange of vocabularies. There are a good many potential uses for the spec, but one of the main ones is as a means to facilitate interoperability between different application profiles of existing IMS and other learning technology specifications.

Learning Design and reuseability
A recent article by Stephen Downes about the reuseability of instructional or learning designs in general, and those compliant with IMS Learning Design in particular, caused rather a response in the CETIS Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC SIG). We examine the issue and summarise the discussion.

The Open Source Portfolio Initiative releases 1.0
Earlier this year, the university of Minnesota realised that its well regarded and mature e-portfolio system would have a much better chance of reaching its full potential by open sourcing it, and getting others involved. The first fruits of that decision are now available for demo and download. Next stop: OKI and IMS "compliance"...

CETIS briefing on Simple Sequencing published
The latest in the CETIS series of "What is ..." briefings about e-learning interoperability standards deals with IMS Simple Sequencing. Written by Warwick Bailey of Cambridge University, it is a four page introduction to the e-learning content specification.

RELOAD editor adds Content Packaging and SCORM authoring
Following a comprehensive rewrite, the 1.1 version of the RELOAD e-learning content authoring tool can now be used to edit both plain IMS as well as SCORM content packages.

Blackboard and SCT link up
The VLE maker Blackboard, and information systems maker SCT announced an agreement to smooth integration between two of their main products.

'QTI Ready' almost ready
Adding to the growing pile of IMS QTI compliant software is a new server side plug-in: QTI Ready. Following the emerging trend of supplying applications that are meant to do only one thing, and do it well, QTI Ready allows you to edit and play QTI based quizzes and tests on any J2EE aware webserver. Your existing VLE should be able to take care of the rest.

Conformance programmes gather momentum
For as long as we've been talking about standards and specifications the issue of conformance has kept cropping up. The lack of any sort of trusted agencies bestowing the Official Stamp of Approval on e-learning products brought us to a state where the claims of vendors regarding standards compliance are treated as highly suspicious - and rightly so. However, this year we've seen several strides forward, and some hints of better times to come.

IMS release specification for storing accessibility preferences
What once started as the "disability" placeholder in the Learner Information Profile (LIP) has grown into a fully fledged specification for storing access preferences. With it, learners can specify how they'd like interact with e-learning content in whatever context they find themselves.

New Australian e-learning centre of excellence starts work
The Macquarie e-learning centre of excellence (MELCOE) has just been launched onto the world. Though the centre is new, they are the stewards of the existing COLIS reference implementation of a number of IMS interoperability specifications.

Course identifier standardisation work started
Before you can say or do anything with a course, you have to be sure which one you're talking about. Since most institutions, or even departments, refer to courses in different ways, this leads to problems when sharing access.

The advantage of a standardised, structured data format is not limited to data exchange with other systems that understand the same format. Some cool work with XSLT by Raymond Yee and also the Digital University (DU) of the Netherlands demonstrates that content in one standard format can be transformed into another in practice.

MIT alt-i-lab Day One
David Whiley's quick but comprehensive overview of the first day of last week's alt-i-lab: a more or less closed get together of essentially all the interoperability specification bodies, and their various representatives. The page also links to David's and Raymond Yee's report on the session on tools at the conference.

Interoperability in practice at the CETIS / LTScotland codebash
Bangor, Wednesday, July 2, 2003. 46 participants from 26 organisations from 4 countries came to the second CETIS / Learning and Teaching Scotland codebash in Glasgow last week, with 2 participants joining in online.

8th CETIS Educational Content SIG Meeting
*** This meeting is now full *** The 8th EC SIG Meeting is a free all-day workshop and discussion event, with reports on the latest in content-related standards and specs, and demos and presentations on new developments. This meeting is being held in tandem with the CETIS Assessment SIG Meeting on August 29th; go to the Assessment SIG website to register for that one.

QTI meets LOM
The COLA project, run by the Scottish Colleges Open Learning Exchange Group (COLEG), has developed one of the first applications of the IEEE Learing Object Metadata (LOM) standard to online assessment.

Next CETIS Assessment SIG meeting - 29 August 2003

CETIS makes online documentation system for QTI ASI available
CETIS Assessment SIG member Niall Barr of Strathclyde University has developed a rather nifty system to browse the many elements of QTI as well as a list of possible response types. Not just that, you can discuss them as well.

Big vendors reaffirm commitment to standards
Which is nice, but what does that mean outside of their marketing departments? For a start, a promise to hold them against. But there's more.

No one standard will suit all
Not a new sentiment, really, but one worth repeating. And it was repeated, in many different ways across a rather wide spectrum of speakers at the eLearning Results conference in Sestri Levante, Italy, yesterday.

IMS ACCLIP is a public draft
The IMS Accessibility for the Learner Information Profile has entered the public draft stage. Barring some very unusual happenings, the document will provide the basis for a means of storing learner's preferences for how they want or need to access learning content.

7th Educational Content SIG Meeting
This meeting is now full. Special pleadings and offers of good quality chocolate may be sent to the EC SIG Coordinator at

Three Objections to Learning Objects
A thoughtful and thorough critique of the learning object concept. Particularly notable about it is Norm Friesen's tracing of the learning object's provenance in the training and military world. i.e. context is demonstrated to be the problem at two levels: that of a learning object itself, as well as the concept of them. Also notable is his contrast between the specifity of the technical domain from which the 'object' concept came, and the inherent ambiguity and vagueness of 'learning' or 'pedagogy'. The paper does not outline an alternative to replace learning objects, however.

Third CETIS-TechDis Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) Meeting
The Third CETIS-TechDis Accessibility SIG (Special Interest Group) Partnership Meeting will take place at the University of Central Lancashire.

The teachers teach the techies
The launch of the new CETIS Pedagogy Forum yesterday is a strong indication of a shift in the way e-learning (content) interoperability standards are developed. The techies got the standards out there, but now it's the teachers' turn to drive the agenda and get their concerns heard. And people sit up and take notice; both the DfES and ADL had representatives eager to learn what educators might bring to their organisations' plans.

Using Information Technology in support of Personal Development Planning
A major conference on PDP and IT, co-organised by Thames Valley University, Oxford Brookes University and The Centre for Recording Achievement.

Learning objects: difficulties and opportunities
An eight page article by David Wiley that takes a pretty critical look at the whole learning object idea. Most damningly, it contends (with cited evidence) that the whole re-useability idea isn't really working in object oriented software- and that's where the whole object idea came from in the first place. Not just that, the article also argues that the commercial content domain shows that the learning object economy is unlikely to materialise either. So is there no hope for either re-useability or the learning object idea? "If we are to follow the software development model we claim to hold dear, learning objects should not contain content at all; rather, they should contain the educational equivalent of algorithms – instructional strategies (teaching techniques) for operating on separately available, structured content."

RELOAD releases beta of open source Metadata editor
One issue that keeps popping up in debates about learning objects is the metadata question; how are educators supposed to make an interoperable description of a learning object that will allow it to be found by others? The Reload elarning tool development project decided to attack that problem before any others, with the first results already appearing.

2003 eLearning Results Summit
The summit is a high level get together of interoperability standards luminaries. There are two parts: a free conference sponsored by Giunti labs with talks by people ranging from IMS CEO Ed Walker to Anne Wright of the DfES / e-GIF. The other part is a series of paid-for technical workshops sponsored by IMS and designed to get people up to speed on the various IMS Specs and application Profiles like SCORM.

Use and Abuse of Reusable Learning Objects
Peer reviewed paper in the Journal of Digital information that takes stock of the never ending discussion about what a learning object is. As such, it provides a good overview, even if the proposed definition may not be that much more enlightening. Essentially, the author bases the definition on learning intention, operationalised as form (i.e. the context of a course), relation (to some kind of exposition) and re-useability.

Professors Laurillard, Liber, Conole and Stiles to speak at CETIS pedagogy forum launch.
Now that the initial push for educational technology interoperability standards is taking effect, CETIS is turning its attention to their pedagogical ramifications by setting up the CETIS pedagogy forum. Unlike the well known CETIS Special Interest Groups (SIGs), the pedagogy forum will not just concentrate on one particular set of standards, but focus on the teaching and learning implications of all of them.

Canvas Learning release QTI, SCORM Player and Author tools
What's more, there's demos for everyone and the Canvas Learner Player is free for educational usage while the Author has a 50% introductory price. So what does the goody bag contain? Essentially, a simple, slick-looking, accessible and low cost question-and-test module.

Major SCORM stakeholders unify message
In a bid to clarify one part of the elearning content field, the IEEE LTSC that is now meeting in Paris will take the initiative to set up both an overarching SCORM / CMI advisory group and a one-stop website for everything you always wanted to know about SCORM and all the specifications and standards it profiles.

CETIS launches Enterprise SIG
Bangor, Wales, 12 March 2003 - the CETIS project is starting a new Special Interest Group (SIG) for everyone interested in implementing or learning more about IMS Enterprise and related specifications.

Online assessment and professional development
A presentation by Granada on its latest testtool and by FD Learning about their professional development tools.

Learning Design eyes implementation, about to release architecture
After the end of the IMS meetings in Vancouver, the Valkenburg group of IMS Learning Design implementers got together to see where things stand with the spec and its predecessor; Educational Modelling Language. The first glimpses of LD tools are there, but this is just the beginning of a long process.

We've got the tech, lets build some communities
At the quarterly IMS meetings, the open technical forum is often the one to watch for the latest trends in elearning. The tech forum that is taking place in Vancouver, Canada right now is no exception, and the next priority is clear: building communities.

Second CETIS-TechDis Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) Partnership Meeting
Accessibility issues are of importance to all those involved in developing learning technology or creating content for it. The SIG (Special Interest Group) focuses on creation and implementation (i.e. on content authors and on developers) and is open to anyone interested in interoperability standards and accessibility.

IMS Learning Design a full specification
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.

Northern Ireland students will 'access the data they need, when they need it'
The Northern Ireland Integrated Learning Environment (NIIMLE) project has just been formally presented at a well received launch. The idea is to provide all FE and HE students in the region with a single, secure access point for all study information from whichever FE or HE institution they are at, have been to, or might go to in the future.

SiX plugfest report: encouraging, but could do better
Dutch educational standards working group SiX just published the results of its plugfest. Over the day, various managed/virtual learning environments were required to import, export and display a standardised set of ADL SCORM 1.2, IMS Content packaging 1.3, IMS QTI 1.2 and IMS Enterprise 1.1 data. Result: familiar problems and remarkable differences between products.

IEEE to lift SCORM, IMS Content Packaging to standard status, clarifies LOM future.
Though proper standards bodies like IEEE are supposed to be more cautious and slow than specification bodies, IEEE's Learning and Teaching Sub Committee (LTSC) is anouncing a raft of new standards and initiatives for 2003. LOM will get new bindings, the Architecture and Reference Model and the gubbins that define SCORM are nearly standards, Competency Definitions and Digital Rights Expression Language are in various stages of completion and with a bit of luck, the ongoing copyright issue over IEEE standards might get resolved.

Digital Repositories Interoperability spec approved by IMS
The latest IMS spec to reach 'final' status deals with ways to store learning objects and make them available to other people. There are quite a few specs out there that will help systems do that already, but none specifically geared to make use of the IMS Meta-Data spec. Fortunately, IMS is not in the mood to start re-inventing the wheel, and has therefore liberally borrowed from existing specs.

The one standard, LOM and the semantic web.
In a lengthy and characteristically thought provoking presentation, Stephen Downes challenges both the need and the demand for just one Learning Object Metadata (LOM) standard. That done, the very existence of such beasts as learning objects is called into question. We examine the argument.

Next CETIS Assessment SIG meeting
Meeting to be held on 29 April 2003, 10:00 - 16:00, at Southampton University.

6th CETIS Educational Content SIG Meeting
This meeting is now full: registrations closed.

Designing Instruction with Learning Objects
Checklist of dos and don'ts when developing learning objects. Though useful, it suffers from some contradictions: on the one hand, Principle 3 says that learning objects must be small to be reuseable, while Principle 1 says that Learning Objects Must Be Units of Instruction That Stand Alone. i.e."Create the content of a learning object to be similar in scope and nature to the content of a typical "lesson" so as to create instruction, not merely information (Downes, 2000)." Also, Principle 4 holds that A Sequence of Learning Objects Must Have a Context, but "instructional content designed as context-independent chunks in an object-oriented programming environment can be shared with other users, recombined with other objects, or redesigned by other instructional developers with reasonable expectations of cost savings"

Granada make QTI Assessment previewer available
In a bid to help development and implementation of the IMS Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) spec, Granada Learning have made a test previewer available online. It allows content developers to upload QTI assessments, and check how they're rendered in Granada's Testwise tool.

Designing Courses: Learning Objects, IMS Standards, XML, SGML, etc.
Great link from the elearnspace blog: a pretty comprehensive resource list for anything to do with learning objects.

Exposing information resources for e-learning - Harvesting and searching IMS metadata using the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting and Z39.50
Quite technical and comprehensive overview of both the nacent IMS Digital Repositories spec and the protocols used in JISC's Information environment. "while we are confident that the use of OAI-PMH described here will form a sensible basis for interoperability between different systems, the draft nature of the DRWG specifications probably means that it is a little early to be spending significant effort on supporting IMS metadata in Z39.50 just yet."

IMS Simple Sequencing approved
After some delay, IMS members have voted for Simple Sequencing; a means of describing how a learner can progress through on-line learning activities. The idea is that it will provide a means of choreographing learning objects in a few simple ways. The spec will be part of the forthcoming version of SCORM (1.3) for precisely that reason.

IMS Open Technical Forum and Special Briefing
The Open Technical Forum event is open to anyone interested in the latest developments around elearning interoperability standards. The Special Briefing is more in-depth about the IMS specifications.

JISC calls for new round of MLE and Lifelong Learning projects
The UK's JISC has just sent round Circular 01/03, which calls for project proposals in the field of MLEs and lifelong learning. Successful projects will be part of phase 2 of a programme that explores how digitised learner information can be made interoperable, how it impacts within and across organisations and tests the personal development planning section of the UK's learner profile. Practically all projects are expected to use IMS LIP.

The Evolving Role of Course Management System Providers in the Transformation of Education: An Interview with Blackboard's Matthew Pittinsky
Crystal clear outline of Blackboard's intentions: they'll own and monetise the platform, everyone else can supply the value added. Really good question: "By considering itself an OS and by requiring external developers to adhere to its own Building Blocks development protocol, is Blackboard trumping the evolving industry standards in favor of its own proprietary one?"

EM2: An Environment for Editing and Management of Educational Metadata
A Educational Technology & Society article on an EU project about educational metadata- easily one of the trickiest areas of learning technology. This lengthy piece is pretty compulsory reading for anyone who needs to facilitate metadata searching and creation. It discusses both the practical problems, the most common tools and proposes the architecture of a comprehensive educational metadata management tool.

ADL release new implementation guide, conformance test suite almost final version 1.3 of SCORM
Just ahead of the forthcoming plugfest, Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) release a new implementation guide of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), as well as an updated conformance test-suite for self-testing content and systems. All of these are for version 1.2; 1.3 is edging closer to 'final' status with a new working draft.

Preparing Teachers To Use Learning Objects
Not a ground breaking article, but a very useful collection for introducing post secondary teachers to learning objects. The value lies in being very precisely aimed at helping e-learning champions convince their colleagues why they may want to roll their own objects. "It would be foolish for every teacher to write his or her own textbooks. Similarly, it is not feasible for every teacher to create all of the learning objects for a course."

Z39.50 search and retrieve turned into simpler web service
With the launch of version 1.0 of Search and Retrieve Webservice/URL access mechanism (SRW/U) and the Common Query Language (CQL), webservice implementors of various hue now have a handier way to either expose their own databases, or search others'.

Open uPortal technology gains ground in the UK
Over a series of meetings, US representatives of the Java in Administration Special Interest Group (JA SIG) outlined their open source university portal technology to a diverse sample of UK HE representatives. Result: intriguing points of contact between UK educational software projects and uPortal have been identified, and a UK JA SIG has been set up.

The Lattecentric Ecosystem
Yet more evidence of a spreading trend for individualised, even peer to peer approaches to elearning. Stephen Downes tackles the vexed question of learning object granularity and how it fits certain approaches to elearning. The 'latte' refers to caffè latte: learning as a conversation between friends in a cafe.

Developers content to bash code at CETIS
In the interest of science, about twenty-five developers were happy to have their precious programs maltreated during the CETIS content package codebash. Under the good offices of Learning and Teaching Scotland's (LTScotland) Gerry Graham CETIS' Lorna Campbell, IMS content packages were freely swapped between systems. Conclusion: getting wrapped-up learning objects from one system to another is getting a lot smoother, but we're not quite there yet.

Problems and Issues in Online Learning, October 2002
The title maybe a bit expansive, but this is a taut and to the point state-of-the-art article by Stephen Downes. Because it is by Stephen, it is not just a list of issues either; he argues consistently against monolithic, separate learning systems on both technical, functional and economic grounds. "The silo model is dysfunctional because it prevents, in some essential way, the location and sharing of learning resources."

OKI, IMS, ADL and SIF join up
The four main US-based educational technology specification bodies are to formalise their ties, set up coordinated activities and provide joint support for developers.

Objective: Re-usable competency
After some extensive technical finetuning, IMS just made version 1.0 of the Re-useable Definition of Competency or Educational Objective (RDCEO) spec available. The purpose of this spec is to make it easy to refer to things like learning outcomes, skills, knowledge and tasks. This is particularly useful when information is required for career plans or when refering to course prerequisites or course outcomes.

LSC's Distributed and Electronic Learning Group looks to beef up e-learning support post 16
In a pretty substantial report, the distance and electronic learning group (DELG) of the UK's prime further education body (the Learning and Skills Council, LSC) outline their vision of e-learning post 16 in a series of 154 key issues and recommendations. In very general terms, the aim is to achieve a robust, targeted and comprehensive framework for the whole sector.

First Accessibility SIG Partnership Meeting publishes results
The First CETIS Techdis accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) get-together was held Tuesday last week. The Manchester meeting brought together, for the first time in the UK, e-learning vendors and specialists, academics from the FE and HE sectors and representatives from disability groups. As the feedback indicates, the opportunity was not wasted to discuss the challenges and opportunities of making e-learning accessible to everyone.

Eduzope initiative seeks to combine standards support with open source
Two trends are starting to dominate IT government policy making in Europe: standard compliance and open source licensing. E-learning is no exception there, and the Eduzope initiative has sprung up to cover both bases.

5 step guide to becoming a content provider in the JISC Information Environment
Detailed, relatively technical outline in the current issue of Ariadne that shows you how to let your resources interoperate with the JISC Information Environment. "Most content providers will already offer a Web site through which end-users can access their content. To be a part of the JISC-IE, content providers also need to support machine oriented interfaces to their resources."

Building Educational Metadata Application Profiles
A research paper (in MS Word format) by the people who authored the acclaimed CanCore and EdNA metadata profiles, to be presented at DC-2002 conference in October. "Efforts are currently underway to bring these abstract models and theoretical constructs to concrete realization in the context of communities of practice. One of the primary challenges faced by these efforts has been to balance or reconcile local requirements with those presented by domain-specific and cross-domain interoperability."

Blackboard releases version 6, announces SCORM compliance, signs nation wide deal in the Netherlands
Blackboard systems, the dominant learning management system (LMS) vendor in higher education, announced new versions of their Learning System and Community Portal System products, and inked a nation wide licence deal with SURFDiensten- an IT services organisation for the Dutch education sector.

First CETIS briefing on current standards: IMS LIP
The first of a series of CETIS briefings about current e-learning standards is now available. The briefing is a concise overview of IMS Learner Information Packaging, a specification for a standard means of recording information about learners. Future versions of these general outlines will be added to the different standards' entries in the CETIS reference section.

JISC publishes MLE briefing, supports new MLE projects
The UK's JISC demonstrates its ongoing commitment to technology awareness raising by releasing a comprehensive briefing about the future of MLEs in Further Education, starting a new series of interoperability pilot tests and supporting a project that will research the pedagogical implications of new elearning standards.

IMS Learning Design reaches public draft stage
In a close vote, members of IMS accepted Learning Design as a public draft. Now that it can be implemented, the specification promises to be a comprehensive and powerful way to design learning experiences on-line. Not just that, it aims to allow educators the greatest possible freedom in designing these experiences, while still promoting content re-use and exchange.

Creating Environments for Learning: VLEs, MLEs, digital libraries and middleware

IMS Enterprise Workshop for JISC Programmes
A one-day workshop for projects involved in current JISC MLE Programmes ('SW&NI' and '1/01') covering use of the IMS Enterprise specification.

IMS member exchange: Conformance Now!
Two topics were billed for the IMS Open Technical Forum: conformance issues and e-Learning Implementation in the UK. As it turned out, specification conformance was the main topic of practically all presentations. The why and how as well as the why not was illuminated by representatives from a wide variety of organisations.

First CETIS-TechDis Accessibility SIG Partnership Meeting

DfES' e-learning guru: Learning Design is the way ahead.
In her keynote speech to the IMS Open Technical Forum, Professor Diana Laurillard, the head of the e-Learning Strategy Unit of the UK Department for Education and Skills (DfES), called for the widespread adoption of Learning Design. The specification still needs to be formally adopted by IMS, but was hailed for its ability to allow easy re-use of successful learning models, without straightjacketing adopters into one single pedagogical approach.

Carnegie Mellon release SCORM best practices guide for developers.
One of the main contributors to the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) specification, The Carnegie Mellon Learning Systems Architecture Lab, have made a draft version of the SCORM best practices guide for developers available on their website. The guide is neither normative, nor particularly detailed technically, but is intended to get content developers up to speed on SCORM 1.3 instead.

IMS Accessibility charter approved
In a just-in-time vote, the IMS Accessibility for Learner Information Profile (ACC LIP) group charter was approved today. Right after the moment the charter was passed, the project group that is now gathered in Sheffield was able to start designing the accessibility extensions to LIP. These extensions will enable users of managed learning environments to store their technology access preferences in a central place.

Learning content. Theirs, yours, mine and ours.
On the 30th of September, MIT's Open Course Ware (OCW) initiative will make the first batch of MIT learning resources available to the world. Free of charge. On the other side of the pond, the CELEBRATE project has just started to establish a digital repository to see, among many other things, what kind of model will generate a viable stock of learning objects for Europe's schools. Meanwhile, projects like the universal brokerage project and the UK's National Learning Network (NLN) are maturing nicely. The question that arises, then, is where all that learning content is going to come from, and, more importantly, who is going to make it.

Learnwise 2 VLE presented at ALT-C conference
Granada Learning announced the availability of LearnWise 2 server --a new virtual learning environment (VLE)-- at the ALT-C 2002 conference in Sunderland.

Consolidation continues: Skillsoft and Smartforce merge
In the widely predicted period of consolidation in the e-learning software market, two of the largest vendors have just completed a merger.

Macromedia presents Authorware 6.5, cuts education pricing in the US
Macromedia will make a new version of Authorware available at the end of September. Main changes include better accessibility tools and extensive XML support. Meanwhile, deeper discounts are offered to US educational volume buyers.

The Next Killer App in Education: An Interview with Michigan's Carl Berger
Interview with a veteran of e-elearning about the future; its mostly a combination of portals and wireless networks. ''Many universities have already installed the first piece, the technology for wireless communication, on their campuses. In addition, some institutions are beginning to develop "push" and "pull" technology.''

Jones e-education Course Management Platform Open Sourced
As part of a move out of the Managed Learning Environment (MLE) software market, the Jones Knowledge group has decided to open source a basic version of its e-education package.

IMS Special Briefing: Standards & Specifications in E-learning
Following the Open Technical Forum on Thursday the 26th of September, IMS will organise two open sessions on e-learning standards on Friday 27th. The morning track is intended for managers and end users and the afternoon track is aimed at developers.

Lancaster team present evaluation engine for e-learning resource brokerage platform.
A team from the Department of Communication systems at Lancaster University developed an evaluation engine that helps rank e-learning resources in the "Universal Brokerage Platform for Learning Resources".

W3C releases a raft of new XQuery and XPath documents.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has updated draft specs for XML Path and XML Query language specs, data models and use cases.

CertMag's Guide to e-Learning
Basic, but useful introduction to the e-learning industry. "Confusion concerning e-learning comes from using the word “e-learning” to describe anything and everything within this very young industry."

elearnspace Interview Stephen Downes
Interview with Stephen Downes, which outlines a number of his refreshing ideas. "If you look at the field of standards you have the same thing. IMS thinks that it will be the standard for elearning. But IMS isn’t everything. There are initiatives in Europe."

SCORM 1.3 development update.
Following plugfest 6, Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), the custodians of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), revealed a few more details of what will be included in the SCORM version 1.3 application profile.

5th Educational Content SIG Meeting

IMS releases public draft version 1.0 of the Digital Repositories Interoperability specification.
The Digital Repositories Interoperability (DRI) spec allows Managed Learning System (MLE) users to search, gather and expose various learning objects that are stored in repositories. It also allows people to submit, store and request them, and the resources delivered. And all of this from a spec that doesn't actually specify very much.

New UK governmental e-learning standards body proposed.
An initiative to set up a new e-learning standards conformance authority for the UK has been launched. The authority's remit would consist of the drawing up of application profiles that are based on a core of international e-learning interoperability specifications and the testing of applications' conformance to these profiles.

Experts question SCORM's pedagogic value
Is the underlying model behind SCORM actually useful for teaching and learning? This is the question raised in an article at Online Learning Magazine, with input from a number of US learning experts.

7th Assessment SIG Meeting

IMS outline future plans at London meeting
At a meeting of vendors in London organised by JISC, Colin Smythe of IMS outlined some of the specification consortium's plans for the coming year, including recommendation on transport protocols, and a brand new content specification.

ALT Workshop 'Using XML for Educational Content Management'

US education consortia release "manifesto" on web services
HEKATE - The Higher Education Knowledge and Technology Exchange - have released a white paper entitled "Web Services Enabling Technology for Application Integration and Assembly". Beneath the somewhat clumsy title is a bold manifesto for using XML-based middleware services in the (higher) education sector. But can it live up to the hype?

New JISC projects to look at cross-sector interoperability
Two new projects funded by JISC are taking the "Managed Learning Environment" (MLE) programme to a new level, by trying to create interoperability not only between systems, but between systems in different institutions in both higher and further education.

IMS release Enterprise v1.1 specification
The IMS Global Learning Consortium have released version 1.1 of the Enterprise specification, designed to allow systems to exchange information about learners, courses, and groups.

Content Interoperability Conference
The National Learning Network and the University of East London will be holding an interoperability conference on the 11th and 12th of July 2002. The event will focus on the practical implications of adopting IMS and ADL (SCORM) specifications for the development of learning materials. There will be time to try out learning materials within a Virtual Learning Environment and discuss the implementation of the specifications.

IMS release updated white paper on accessibility
The IMS Global Learning Consortium have released an updated set of guidelines on accessibility.

IMS Open Technical Forum
This public forum takes place after the next set of IMS meetings in Sheffield this September. The keynotes have yet to be announced, but the two panel discussions will be on Conformance Issues and e-Learning Implementation in the UK.

Canvas Learning: New website, improved demo now online
Canvas Learning - formerly a part of Can Studios - have updated the online demonstration version of Canvas Learning Author on their new website.

IMS Learning Design specification clears first hurdle
The IMS Learning Design specification has passed the first stage in the process of being released by IMS.

CanCore produce survey of learning object metadata implementations
CanCore, the producers of a profile of IMS Metadata for use in Canada, have released a survey of metadata implementations. The survey covers application profiles (like CanCore itself), metadata creation tools, and repositories.

IMS Accessibility Open House
Members of the IMS Accessibility Working Group will present the IMS Accessibility Guidelines and lead discussions.

JISC announce new round of FE college interoperability projects
JISC, the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee, has published an invitation for proposals to conduct interoperability projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The projects will use IMS specifications to provide interoperability between components of college Managed Learning Environments (MLEs), for example between a student record system and a virtual learning environment.

Can Studios demo new authoring tool and player
Can Studios are providing an online preview of their new Canvas Learning suite, comprising a visual editor (Canvas Learning Author) and a player for browser-based or standalone delivery of IMS QTI content (Canvas Learning Player).

Consolidation before the leap; IMS Enterprise 1.1
Wilbert Kraan takes a detailed look at the latest IMS Enterprise specification, and asks is it worth waiting for v2.0?

Blackboard to adopt OKI specifications
Blackboard have announced their intention to adopt the specifications of MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative.

IMS Release Simple Sequencing Specification
The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) have released a new specification tackling the issue of connecting learning objects using sequencing rules.

Who said that? Metadata, trust, and the Semantic Web
A new paper from researchers in Stockholm looks to the future of metadata in eLearning, and in particular the next-generation Semantic Web proposed by Tim Berners-Lee and others. But to get there we need to past some of our preconceptions about metadata - like the idea that learning object metadata can ever be objective.

UK Colleges report on interoperability pilot projects
The final reports from the Further Education colleges participating in a set of JISC-funded interoperability pilot projects have been published.

Dutch event shows way forward for authoring EML
A few weeks ago a conference was held in the Netherlands attended by various educational and commercial organisations interested in the Educational Modelling Language, developed by the Open University of the Netherlands.

New Sequencing specification imminent - Open Source tools to follow
Phil Dodds of ADL announced yesterday that a new specification for sequencing content would soon be released by IMS.

CETIS-TechDis Accessibility SIG Partnership Meeting
The aim of this meeting is to introduce the Accessibility SIG and to ascertain what is required by the FE and HE sectors in terms of accessibility for learning technology. The Accessibility SIG will be formally launched at this event.

IMS release updated Enterprise specification
The IMS Global Learning Consortium have released version 1.1 of the Enterprise specification.

CanCore release new metadata guidelines
CanCore, the Canadian metadata profile, has two new documents providing guidelines on how to use the Lifecycle and General element groupings in the IMS Metadata specification.

Content Packaging interoperability tests reveal room for improvement
The CETIS Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC-SIG) recently carried out a set of interoperability experiments to see how well different tools handled IMS Content Packages.

Syllabus Interviews IMS CEO
Syllabus magazine this month features an interview with Ed Walker, CEO of the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

K-12 and Rights Management take Centre Stage at IMS Forum
The first IMS open technical forum meeting for 2002 was held on February 27 in Sydney, Australia. Among the issues brought to the fore included interoperability in schools or in the K-12 sector, and rights management for digital resources.

New version of WebCT Campus Edition released
WebCT announced this week the release of WebCT Campus Edition 3.7. The new version features improved performance, support for a MathML-based equation editor, and "enhanced support" for IMS Enterprise.

IMS seek feedback on Digital Rights Management
The IMS Global Learning Consortium has opened a forum to gather opinions on digital rights management. The focus of debate is a briefing paper submitted by IPR Systems and the Australian IMS Centre.

IMS presentations now online
The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) have published presentations made at the IMS Open Technical Forum in Sydney, Australia last week.

CETIS Assessment Roadshow - Oxford Brookes University

CETIS Assessment Roadshow - ALT eContent Conference

IMS Enterprise workshop
This is a small-group interactive workshop, aimed at people currently developing Enterprise applications. It will attempt to bring together some example implementations and identify the common aspects, and areas of divergence.

IMS release QTI v1.2
The IMS Global Learning Consortium have released version 1.2 of the QTI (Question and Test Interoperability) specification.

CETIS Assessment Roadshow kicks off
The CETIS Assessment Roadshow kicked off a tour of the UK this month with its first workshop at Herriot-Watt University.

6th International Computer Aided Assessment (CAA) Conference
This refereed conference focuses on the use of I.T in the assessment process in Higher Education. CAA is becoming increasingly common and this event will be of interest to new practitioners, academic enthusiasts as well as policy makers and administrators.

Tools for implementors
A good way to get an understanding of standards and specifications in eLearning is to try using them - and for that you need some tools to work with. Thankfully, there are other universities and colleges doing exactly the same thing, and have built their own toolkits you can use to get you started.

JISC to fund standards-compliant tools and services as part of X4L programme
The UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has issued a call for proposals under its Exchange For Learning (X4L) programme, including development of tools that support specifications such as IMS and SCORM.

IMS Open Technical Forum
IMS is holding an Open Technical Forum after the working group meetings in Australia.

Microsoft release LRN 3.0 Toolkit, supporting IMS Content Packaging, IMS Metadata and SCORM
Microsoft has released a new Toolkit for working with content packages and metadata, and initial reactions by users have been very positive.

Universities face profiles challenge
Representatives including principals and registrars from many UK universities attended a special event last week on the subject of transcripts and personal development planning in UK education.

University of Glasgow release IMS report
A report entitled "Testing IMS in Real Contexts: Implementing IMS Specifications, Implications and Best Practice" has been published by the University of Glasgow.

New BSI guidelines 'herald coming of age' of computer-assisted assessment
The increased use of computers in assessment has brought with it new concerns over issues such as fairness and security. Responding to these and other concerns, the British Standards Institute (BSI) has issued a new draft set of guidelines that provide a minimum set of requirements for organisations making assessments using computers.

IMS release Content Packaging, Metadata errata updates
IMS Global Learning Consortium have released two minor updates to their Content Packaging and Metadata specifications to correct minor schema discrepancies and other bugs.

Repositories open up to web crawlers
A new gateway service allows web crawlers – the programs that index web pages for search engine sites like Google – to access metadata in repositories that implement the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) protocol.

Can Studios preview Canvas, an IMS QTI editor and renderer
Can Studios preview their Canvas content development system, a visual layout tool for building courseware compliant with the IMS QTI specification.

Common Behaviour: IMS and OKI consider architecture issues
At the IMS Open Technical Forum in San Francisco, a panel of representatives from Carnegie-Mellon, MIT and IMS discussed using layered architectures to simplify the process of developing software and content for learning.

IMS QTI group go graphical
At its Open Technical Forum in San Francisco, IMS gave a presentation of its progress in Question and Test Interoperability.

Simple Sequencing is 'no longer simple'
Brandt Darque of Boeing reports on the progress of the Simple Sequencing working group at IMS San Francisco.

IMS Learning Design considers EML-IMS hybrid
The IMS Learning Design Working Group report on their progress, including the consideration of a new integrated EML-IMS proposal.

IMS Enterprise group considers move to transactions model
The IMS Enterprise working group outline future move away from information models to a transaction-based specification.

New IMS Content Package Editor update
The University of Edinburgh have released version 1.1 of their IMS Content Package Editor.

Questionmark improve Perception
Questionmark has released version 3 of its Perception assessment solution.

Saba submits extension to IMS specifications for LMS-VLE communication
Saba has submitted a specification to the IMS Global Learning Consortium for data transfer and communication between a Learning Management System (LMS) and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Blackboard pave road ahead with Building Blocks
Blackboard has rolled out its Building Blocks initiative for extending the Blackboard platform. Third party vendors – and users – can now write plug-in applications and services using the Blackboard API. What will this mean for open standards - and the future shape of the eLearning market?

IMS Open Technical Forum
IMS Open event at Palo Alto, California.

CampusPipeline release Luminus Integration Suite with IMS support
As part of their new Luminus product line, CampusPipeline have released the Luminus Integration Suite, incorporating support for the IMS Enterprise specification.

Edinburgh team release open-source IMS content package editor
Earlier this month the UK IMS Content Packaging and Management project at the University of Edinburgh released an editor for working with IMS Content Packages.

Giunti announce new learning content management platform with strong emphasis on standards
Italian publisher Giunti Interactive Labs have announced a new learning content management system (LCMS) conforming to IMS, SCORM, and other specifications.

IMS release white paper on accessibility
Reflecting renewed international interest in issues of access to eLearning - inspired at least partly by legislative changes in the US - the IMS Global Learning Consortium has released a white paper on accessibility for learning applications.

New QTI release from IMS
IMS Global Learning Consortium have released the public draft of Question and Test Interoperability version 1.2.

Universities UK: CETIS Profiles group present UK HE Transcript
A major consultative conference on implementing the HE transcript is being held at Universities UK on 30 November 2001. The CETIS Profiles group will present a Consultative Document mapping the UK HE Transcript against the IMS Learner Information Profile specification.

Education community advises European Commission on standards, open source, and learner profiles
The European Commission's IST Programme has launched an open consultation process to discuss the research and policy priorities in the area of "technology supported learning". So where do standards and specifications fit in?

IMS Metadata 1.2.1 released
IMS has released version 1.2.1 of its metadata specification. This point release is designed to correct "minor discrepancies between element descriptions in [the information model document] and the IMS Meta-Data XML Binding."

ADL release SCORM v1.2
The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Co-Laboratory have released version 1.2 of SCORM, the reference specification for sharable content objects for learning. The new release incorporates IMS Content Packaging and IEEE Learning Object Metadata.

The semantic web: How RDF will change learning technology standards
The field of learning technology has entered a phase of intense work on standardization of learning technology descriptions of various kinds. Most of the work so far has focused on XML as the encoding language for such specifications (e.g. IMS, IEEE-LOM and SCORM).

However, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is putting their energy into another model for computerized descriptions, called Resource Description Framework, RDF, which is the foundation for the Semantic Web vision of Tim Berners-Lee.

This raises important question regarding the future of learning technologies: In what way might RDF be useful for learning technology specifications? In what sense does RDF represent the future of meta-data, and how does this affect learning technology?

The next wave: CETIS interviews Mikael Nilsson about the Edutella project
We are in the midst, it seems, of a quiet revolution in computing. The technologies that built the internet, with its giant server farms and gigabyte databases, are giving way to a new wave of distributed technologies. After the furore over music network Napster dies down, we are seeing a new generation of projects in the education field taking up the peer-to-peer challenge of building distributed, "democratic" learning technology. One of the most interesting new projects out there is Edutella, an attempt to create a distributed web for learning metadata making use of emerging standards. We talked to Mikael Nilsson about the project, and what the future holds.

New vocabulary for describing educational audiences from a UK perspective
The Metadata for Education Group (MEG) has produced a new draft document that provides a comparison of different education schemes in the UK, making it easier to classify the educational level of learning resources for UK practitioners.

Digital repositories: IMS releases white paper
The IMS Global Learning Consortium has published a white paper on digital repositories for learning objects and other assets. The paper, by the IMS Digital Repositories working group, describes the digital repositories "problem space", and takes a look at some of the implementations of repositories from around the world.

IMS Meta-data, Content Packaging & Enterprise: An advanced technology course
Course from IMS giving an in-depth explanation of the key IMS specifications that support the exchange of content and course information.

IMS Meta-data, Content Packaging & Enterprise: An introductory course
An introductory course by IMS on specifications that support the exchange of content and course information.

Macromedia announces availability of eLearning Studio, Authorware 6
Macromedia's latest eLearning content development solutions, offering compliance with ADL, IMS and AICC specifications, are now available for purchase.

New SCORM release will incorporate IMS specifications
The Advanced Distributed Learning Network (ADL) is due to release a new version of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) in the next few weeks, incorporating two IMS specifications.

IMS takes EML as starting point for new specification
The IMS Global Consortium has approved a document defining the scope of its Learning Design working group, with Educational Modelling Language (EML) as the possible basis for a future IMS Learning Design specification.

Click2Learn unveils Aspen
Click2Learn have released the Aspen Enterprise Learning Platform, what it is heralding as "the industry's first comprehensive and unified e-Learning infrastructure".

IMS Meta-data, Content Packaging & Enterprise: An introductory course
Course for managers and users on IMS metadata, content packaging and enterprise.

New IMS-compliant assessment creator
Russian software company xDLSoft have released a new version of their shareware utility IMS Assest Designer, which helps users create IMS-compliant assessment materials.

IMS, DCMI, IEEE to work together on metadata issues
Organisations working on standards for educational metadata have issued a communique setting out how they plan to work together to solve issues affecting the education and training communities.

Evaluators sought for new content packaging tutorial
The JISC funded IMS Content Packaging and Management Project are seeking volunteers to evaluate their online tutorial on the development of reusable educational resources.

The next big thing? Three architectural frameworks for learning technologies
A key event at the IMS symposium in Ottawa on August 2001 was a panel on Architectural Frameworks. Representatives from IMS, MIT’s Open Knowledge Initiative, and Carnegie Mellon University put forward three ways that learning systems of the future could be designed.

IMS and ADL to collaborate on sequencing, provide free software
IMS announces the setting up of a new fast-track working group to tackle sequencing. ADL promise free compliant sequencing software to follow.

CanCore strip down IMS metadata specification for easier implementation
In a speech by Norm Friesen at the IMS e-Learning Specifications and Standards Symposium, CanCore outlined their stripped-down version of the IMS metadata specification.

IMS Working Groups Report Progress
The symposium provided IMS with an opportunity to report on the progress made on specifications by its working groups.

Comment & Analysis: Why Context Is King
While the delivery of content to the learner continues to be a major theme at IMS, last week’s IMS events saw the emergence of learning context as its counterpoint. This feature takes a look at some of the ways educational context is making an impact on the development of learning technology.

CeLT announces new content packaging tool
The Centre For Learning Technology (CeLT) announced this week that they will release PackageIt!, a new IMS-compliant content packaging tool in the coming months.

IMS, Oracle announce free iLearning classes
IMS and Oracle are making freely available three online courses covering IMS standards.

Blackboard and Datatel announce integrated online campus solution
Blackboard and Datatel have announced that they are developing a unified solution for online campus environments, bringing together learning systems and administrative systems such as student information and financial systems.

IMS Releases Content Packaging 1.1.2 specification
This month the IMS Global Learning Consortium released version 1.1.2 of its content packaging specification.

Macromedia releases eLearning Studio with support for LT standards
Macromedia, creators of popular web content creation tools Dreamweaver and Flash, today announced the release of eLearning Studio. The new package combines version 6 of learning content creation tool Authorware with Dreamweaver 4 and Flash 5, and claims support for ADL, AICC and IMS standards.

CETIS Workshop at ALT-C 2001
On Monday 10 September CETIS will be holding a one day pre-conference workshop at the ALT-C 2001 conference in Edinburgh.

New utility helps WebCT users share learning content
Vendors of integrated learning systems WebCT have released a new utility that allows users to import or export content from WebCT's e-learning system in an IMS-compliant format.

IMS, ADL and MIT agree to work together
On July 11, 2001 - Leaders of the MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI), the Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab (ADL), and the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) issued a joint press release announcing their intention to cooperate to "close the gap between innovative pedagogical technology and production learning resources."

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