4 IMS Global Standards Affecting K12

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  • June 26, 2015

final open sign graphic(This post is a follow up to a previous article. Read part 1 here.)

Here are the big four IMS Global Standards worth knowing about for K-12:

  1. LTI (a.k.a. Learning Tools Interoperability; LTI Link; LTI Launch Link; LTI Connector)

LTI is a Standard for authenticating a user into another system and getting back specific content. There are multiple editions of this Standard (v1.0, v1.2, and v2.0) and they are all active. The classic use case for LTI is that someone currently logged into one system, e.g. an LMS, can click an LTI link which instantly delivers targeted content from another system, e.g. an e-text or some other content repository. The LTI link contains enough information to authenticate the user to the content repository and request a very specific bit of content, such as a specific paragraph of text, a video, a document, etc. As you might imagine, if everything had LTI links available, users could effortlessly hop from content to content without any hurdles of signing in and searching for the intended content. Life with LTI everywhere would be grand!

  1. Common Cartridge (a.k.a. CC)

Common Cartridge is a zip file that contains a Manifest File (i.e. an index file) and various other content links and files (i.e. pdf files, video files, html files, etc). Common Cartridge allows publishers to breakup their content into ‘nuggets’ that can be delivered to schools and inserted into a Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Object Repository (LOR). The vision here is a school can selectively acquire Cartridges from various publishers and assemble them into a sort of ‘play list’ that suits their unique instructional needs. A single subject course could use Cartridges from multiple publishers, and because the Cartridge includes the content, you never have to ‘leave’ your LMS or LOR to access the content, it’s all in the Cartridge.

  1. Thin Common Cartridge (a.k.a. TCC)

Thin Common Cartridge is zip file that contains an LTI link (to authenticate), a standard weblink to targeted content on a publisher’s servers, and two types of metadata (Learning Object Metadata and Curriculum Standards Metadata). Thin Common Cartridge is essentially a simpler Common Cartridge (CC) because it doesn’t include content files. Where CC requires publishers to create, update and constantly send big zip files that may be laden with content, TCC does not. Where CC requires schools to build giant content repositories to store all the CC’s, TCC does not. TCC also addresses the potential reluctance of publishers to cut up all their content into pieces and send it everywhere around the world in open zip files. Because a TCC file can be much quicker to produce and require fewer updates (weblinks stay the same and content changes are made on the publisher’s servers) there is a growing appeal among schools and publishers to use TCC over CC.

  1. OneRoster

OneRoster is an agreed upon CSV template and REST API for sharing class rosters between a Student Information System (SIS) and any another system (typically an LMS or some other content solution). OneRoster is the newest K-12 focused standard developed by IMS and it’s likely to be a big hit. Systems that adopt the OneRoster standard, especially the REST API, allow schools to stop the madness of manually creating unique class roster data extracts, the insecure emailing and FTP’ing them and the frustration of the knowing the data is out of date minutes after the extract is produced. With OneRoster’s REST API, publishers can receive an automated feed of class rosters to ensure all users have logins and those users are in the right class groups. Missing logins and incorrect class groups are major stumbling blocks to ensuring online resources are used in the classroom. With OneRoster, schools can pave the way for digital resources in the classroom and eliminate problems before they happen.

There you have it. The big four IMS Global standards for K-12. IMS is always growing and no doubt this list will grow in the future. For now, knowing the big picture of these four will cover you in any IMS conversation or social event!

Enjoy.

-Berj

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