IMS Briefs and Reports

The papers referenced here relate to our efforts in implementing IMS specifications over a period of time; They are meant to inform both at a technical and non-technical level, and describe how far these specifications can help to achieve 'interoperability' between VLEs (and MLEs), and what that term might mean.

Our work to date has been in applying Metadata, Content Packaging and Enterprise specifications to COSE . In the next phase, the SCORM specification for content runtime behaviour will be implemented, and our intention is to apply QTI, LIP and other emerging specifications.

The specifications provide the best means available in achieving interoperability, but provide only a framework for data interchange requiring negotiation of exchange profiles between partners e.g. in implementation of optional features [extensions]. Conformance requirements can apply at different levels for each specification, and in general, are only loosely defined. There is currently no independent agency to certificate claims to conformance. The only proper test for interoperability is evidence of actual exchange between systems, which is facilitated, but not guaranteed by use of the specifications.

It is clear that different specifications have matured over the past several years. Specification development is an on-going process and with new technologies and exchange models, more powerful specifications will emerge, though these may not be backward compatible with current versions. Whatever future developments, it seems quite possible that in key areas investment in making systems, tools or content conformant can be re-paid as different communities choose to stabilise on a usable specification or specification set.

Certain of these briefs are referenced from collaborative reports to expand on the material contained therein. Certain others, labelled as draft documents, may not be quite complete but the intention in including them here is to provide the information in as timely a fashion as possible in what is a rapidly changing field.

JISC funded work in modifying COSE

A Framework for Interoperability

[Jan. '01 Observations on using IMS Specifications up to date indicated]

Collaborative projects

SURF Pilot Interoperability Study

SURF Pilot Report

[Jan. '02 Staffordshire University Regional Federation participating in Pilot Study with other MIS Vendors
using IMS Enterprise 1.01 specification as part of JISC MLE Programme]

CO3 Project

C03 Report now available here

CO3 Project web site - for more briefs

[Interim reports and briefs relating largely to CO3 work at CeLT, Bangor University:
 Briefs below will be added there in due course]

COSE and CO3

[Spring '02 Briefs expanding on content of C03 Report from COSE perspective]


IMS Metadata Specifications (v. 1.0, 1.1, 1.2)
Metadata used in COSE

[Spring '02 About the Metadata Specification(s) and how implemented in COSE]

Content Packaging and Runtime

Implementation of the Content Packaging Specification (v.1.1.3)
Content Packaging and Interchange in COSE
Content Packaging Issues

[Spring '02 About the Content Packaging Specification and how implemented in COSE]

ADL SCORM v. 1.2

[Overview of the SCORM specification set as the basis for COSE work in JISC X4L programme]


IMS Enterprise Specification (v. 1.01) and COSE
Enterprise exchanges [coming soon]
Enterprise Issues

[Spring '02 About the Enterprise Specification and findings on how it will be implemented in COSE]

Which DTD

[Elaborating on confusion over Enterprise 1.01 control documents]

About Enterprise Interoperability Profiling Tools

[About using profiling spreadsheets used to determine interoperability intersect, courtesy Bill Olivier]

What Interoperability Tables might mean

[More on interoperability intersect, courtesy Bill Olivier]

XML Generator

[To be further developed in collaboration with CETIS SIG Learner Information and Enterprise Group]


Packaging Update

[Findings on content handling in the absence of a runtime specification (!)

These early findings are supplanted now with development of RELOAD tools at and our own new (in v.2.1, specification compliant) packaging option for standalone (and interoperable) content (see SURF X4L)

There is also great interest in the Learning Design specification, in providing a more sophisticated runtime model (as well as other things) than is offered by the SCORM model


Introduction to IMS specifications

[Update on 'Framework' brief referenced above]

Other Articles

The Managed Learning Environments Steering Group Reports

[Mar. '02 Link to JISC Summary Report, Technical Report and individual pilot project reports]

MAISIE Center Report - Making Sense of Learning Specifications & Standards

[Mar. '02 S3 (from title) Guide from US with advice on what specifications mean in practice]

Enterprise 1.1

[May 2002 From CETIS web site, describing new Enterprise specification with stronger conformance statements]

Educause Extra

[October 2001 From IMS web site, with an overview of IMS working groups and accomplishments from IMS CEO]

Last revised / updated 01/08/02

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