Interoperability Standards for Education

San Diego, CA (USA), December 2013 - Interoperability is a major concern as platforms and technologies for learning proliferate. SCORM and the xAPI, LMSs, and LRSs came about because of attention from government and corporate organizations. But what about the education field? The IMS Global Learning Consortium provides guidance and support for learning technology in educational organizations worldwide.

Standards for interoperability are increasingly important as platforms, applications, systems, and technologies for learning and education proliferate. Many educators are already familiar with SCORM and the Experience API (xAPI), learning-management systems (LMSs), and learning-record stores (LRSs) because of the attention that government and corporate organizations have given them.

But what about the education field? The challenges for communicating information and for application compatibility are becoming even greater as educators strive to comply with national and state initiatives, such as Race to the Top and Common Core in the US.

The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) is an international organization that develops open standards to meet these challenges. Bill Brandon, the editor of Learning Solutions Magazine, has written an article in which he offers a high-level overview of the group: a brief history and statement of its mission, its major standards, and a glimpse of where it is headed. In later articles he intends to follow up with more in-depth looks at the major initiatives of IMS GLC.

History and mission

The IMS GLC began in 1995 as an EDUCAUSE project, part of the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative. In 1997, it became the Instructional Management Systems project, with a focus on higher education. Over time, the scope of IMS has grown to address the interoperability needs of K-12 education and corporate and government training.

According to its formal profile statement, "The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) is a global, nonprofit, member organization that strives to enable the growth and impact of learning technology in the education and corporate sectors worldwide." Membership in IMS GLC is growing and currently includes over 190 organizations, including learning technology product suppliers and publishers, institutions of training and learning, and government and professional consortia. Nearly half (47 percent) of the member organizations have headquarters outside the United States.