Speaking of IMS…

IMS produces standards they want everyone to use.

Why, then, do I have to log in to their site in order to VIEW the documentation for their standards?

Situation: I found a link to a PDF on their site. When I clicked it, I was presented with this warm greeting [link no longer available]:

The page you are trying to access is reserved for participants in the IMS GLC Public Community or is reserved for IMS GLC Members, Affiliates or Alliance Members.

If you have already set up an account and just need to login, please do so here. If you would like to register for a free public community account, just head on over to our registration page.

So… in order for me to even read their standards, I have to tell them who I am and put my personal information in their database? How does this foster adoption of standards?

Geez these guys burn my britches…


The IMS site requires the following information before you can view any of their documentation: Name, email, organization name, job title, job description, country

Pretty invasive if you ask me.


After registering for site access, I was greeted with a second page asking for persona information, and asking me to agree to IMS’s licensing terms. They require the following information: Name, email, “entity on whose behalf you are accepting this agreement”, street address (includes city, zip, country), phone number

(Phone number? Seriously?)

The license terms are FIVE PAGES long after pasting into a Word file.

Interesting bits (emphasis mine):

IMS specifications are published solely for the purpose of enabling interoperability among learning products and services used by the education and training communities served by IMS members and are made available under license to Registered Users solely to further that purpose.

I guess this means the standards aren’t meant for public consumption after all, though the end result of the standards are?

Users of the Specification(s) are encouraged to engage directly with IMS as IMS members, including registration of all applications of specifications, in order to enhance the level of interoperability in the education and training industries worldwide.

I read this as: tell us who you are and how you’re using IMS specifications so we can include you in our next press release (you know, the part where we pat ourselves on the back).

Any use of the Specifications(s) or other Materials provided by IMS must be accompanied by the copyright legends provided with full attribution given to IMS.

If this were the case with the HTML, ECMAScript, or XML standards, our documents would be bloated with useless attribution credits. (Side note: I wonder how this affects SCORM, as SCORM uses IMS specifications for packaging? Is anyone who produces a SCORM-based course supposed to pay respect to the Don provide attribution to IMS in their courseware?)

Licensee agrees to publicly and visibly acknowledge and attribute to IMS the Specification(s) upon which products are based to any and all Development Partner(s).

So if Company X uses an IMS specification, they’re supposed to go over to each “Development Partner” — many of whom may be commercial competitors — and let them know?


IMS issues press release for new e-learning interoperability standards

News from the IMS Global Learning Consortium:

The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) today announced the public review of the first phase of the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards to allow open and seamless integration of educational web applications. Called “Basic LTI or BLTI,” this first standard addresses the most common roadblocks to achieving a seamless experience for teachers and students.

Reading this press release, I couldn’t help but notice two things:

  1. There’s an awful lot of chest-puffing and self-congratulation going on here — people’s credentials are thrown around an awful lot, and over half of the press release is filled “Statements of Support.”
  2. There’s no hyperlink to the standards that are being announced, nor is there any information about how you can read the new standard proposal, whether you can try it yourself, how long it’s open for review, etc.

If the new standards are written as poorly as this press release, it’s going to be 1,000 pages of useless spec. All filler, no killer.

IMS announces new QTI validation service

The IMS Global Learning Consortium announced a new Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) validation service a few weeks ago:

IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Question and Test Interoperability Conformance Community
Common Cartridge Alliance will provide community tools for QTI conformance and online product catalog

Download pdf [link no longer available]

Lake Mary, Florida, USA,  10 July 2008. The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) today announced new support that will allow vendors of products that implement the IMS Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) standards, and the users of such products, to validate conformance.  Results of conformance tests to application profiles approved by the IMS GLC will be published in an online catalog on the IMS GLC web site.

The new QTI community will be offered as a component of the Common Cartridge Alliance (see http://www.imsglobal.org/cc/alliance.html ) and will be managed and administered under the policies and procedures for development of and conformance to IMS GLC application profiles.

This sounds great… developers who write scripts for quizzes in e-learning courses can finally validate their work, right? Well, I’m afraid the key phrase in this announcement is “offered as a component of the Common Cartridge Alliance”; that means the QTI validation isn’t a publicly accessible service a la the W3C’s HTML and CSS validators. Membership in the Common Cartridge Alliance isn’t free, and starts at $100.

As I’ve mentioned before, it really gets in my craw that the IMS positions itself as a big player in creating and maintaining e-learning standards, yet keeps their doors closed to the public. How can it be a standard if people can’t get to it? Sheesh.

And hey, IMS (if you’re listening): enough with all the press releases touting IMS’ latest endeavors and successes (real or imagined); it reeks of money-grubbing corporate culture and really doesn’t help anyone… especially if you’re saying “look what we’re making but you can’t have any!” You bill yourself as a global non-profit, so start acting like it.

Link: Opening Up the IMS

Good post from Michael Feldstein at e-Literate:

There’s something fundamentally contradictory about open standards being developed behind closed doors.

Over the past 18 months, I have had the privilege of participating in the IMS work on a regular basis. During that time, I have mostly kept my mouth shut about the openness issue. Out of respect for the staff and the board, I wanted to experience the process from the inside and see how it works today before advocating change. But at the Learning Impact conference last month, I decided to speak out.

At one point I said, “I know plenty of people in the ed tech community-good people, exactly the kind of people that we need to participate-who think that the IMS is some kind of secret society.” I got a fair few “amens” from other participants, both publicly and privately.

Amen, indeed, brother!

Read the entire post at e-Literate

Good news from the IMS Global Learning Consortium?

A press release issued today indicates the IMS Global Learning Consortium is piloting the use of Creative Commons licensing for some of their standards. This is excellent news for proponents of open standards, and will hopefully lead to more openness from the IMS.


Historically, specifications and standards consortia have grappled with the need to be good stewards of the investments made by consortium members and achieving control toward interoperability in practice, while also engendering market innovation. IMS GLC has conceptualized a novel approach that may be applicable to many standards organizations. Today, almost all such organizations publish their specifications under standard copyright.

“We are pleased to be breaking new ground in achieving wider use of and innovation from open standards while still stepping up to achieving interoperability in practice,” said Rob Abel, CEO of IMS Global Learning. “IMS Global has been working for two years now to put in place some key processes, such as open source tools for application profiling and testing, that will enable this new approach.”

Read the full press release here:
IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Pilot Project Exploring Creative Commons Licensing of Interoperability Specifications

The IMS Global Learning Consortium needs to loosen up!

Today I’m working on a simple JavaScript/XML-based quiz. I decided I’d like to use a standardized XML format for the quiz questions and answers, so I googled QTI, a common quiz format. Turns out QTI is (yet another) IMS specification (duh, I should have known that!).

I looked up the QTI specs on the IMS site and couldn’t believe the boldfaced notice I saw on the page: “HTML documents may be viewed online, but may not be printed without permission” (emphasis added).

Can you believe that? IMS is in the business of creating standards they want the whole world to use. These standards should be open, easily accessible and free from licensing constraints. Why on earth do they want to put silly notices like this on their site? (Not to mention they didn’t even provide a contact link to help the visitor contact IMS about getting permission.)

This reminds me of their Common Cartridge project, which developers can’t even browse without being a paid member of IMS (individual rate: $100/yr).

The marketing tagline for the Common Cartridge project? “Free the content”

I say it should be free the standards!