Today I received an e-mail from IMS Global Consortium, saying that a good number of software vendors -ANGEL Learning, Blackboard Inc, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson Education, and the University of Michigan (the Sakai Project) - are going to introduce the new IMS specification, known as Common Catridge. Product will be in the streets as early as the Spring of 2007.
"...and then says "the specifications will soon be released to the IMS Developers Network."
While I think specifications and standards are great, I still can't see the "new" benefits of Common Catridge. They are the same promised when they released Content Packaging. However, this CC seems to be a unique umbrella for Content Packaging, Metadata, QTI.. so, from that point of view seems interesting.
By the way, the specification is not available for download, but we have tools vendors already developing it. Interesting isn't it?
The only two official resources are a PDF and video from http://www.imsglobal.org/commoncartridge.html
(Case in point, it uses XML namespaces for including QTI XML with other bits of XML. That is great for a bit mammoth consolidated app, but not for a system that is modular or uses external tools. If you have a QTI object, you could define the spec to just refer to it, and ship it in a separate file -- as HTML refers to a JPEG. To make things worse, it seemed to be using the bleeding edge definitions of all the rolled-up standards, so it is a huge amount of work to implemente IMS-CC.)
I offered some ideas, but the process was quite 'cooked' by the sound of it, and it was too late to propose any of them
Moodle on the other hand has its own exchange format (backup files) that evolves quite quickly, and other apps are already writing to it (ie eXe). And not only that -- we also have important lessons learned in the process of supporting and evolving that format. From that point of view IMS-CC wasn't that exciting.
[Bear in mind this is about my reading of an early draft. May have evolved to being the best thing ever. Or not.]
Right now, it's mostly vapourware -- if it picks up steam in the market, we can always implement it reading a reference implementation from one of the other open source projects
Lately there have been a lot of specifications that have never turned out to be a real 'standard' (as in widely used), so I'm getting a bit conservative on this front myself. At the Moot UK several people told me straight-faced that it was incredible that Moodle didn't support the XXYYZZ standard that they thought was the cat's whiskers. In every case, when I asked them what widely-used systems implemented them... the answer was none. Bah.
BTW, I don't know if any other Moodle developer talked with Dirk.
We already support SCORM (even though unfortunately the developers working on complete SCORM 2004 compliance for Moodle 1.7 could not finish it in time ). I don't think IMS CC is a big jump conceptually from that. If enough teachers want us to support IMS CC then Moodle will.
I don't think IMS CC is a big jump conceptually from that.
Quick note -- as far as my reading goes, IMS-CC is more akin to moodle backup/restore files. That's why it is a rollup of standards: the 'QTI' part is similar to our mod/quiz activities and the other standards provide for other types of activity.
unfortunately the developers working on complete SCORM 2004 compliance for Moodle 1.7 could not finish it in time
And for the record, some of those developers are @ Catalyst
Good news is that yesterday I had a meeting to cover the path forward for SCORM reporting, and I think we'll be moving forward again soon.
Well, while I work with eLearning standards 90% of my day; I only have access to what IMS publishes in its Web Site, and after reading the documentation and brochure of IMS Common Catridge, I felt like reading a booklet of a Greatest Hits CD of my favorite band. I mean a compilation of Content Packaging, Metadata, QTI within a single product (A greatest hits!).
In the end, it seems that nothing new is being offered with this new spec (probably I'm wrong as this is my understanding after reading the brochure).
However, I don't know how hard it would be for content developers and tools for creating content to adapt products for the new wave...
I must confess that I feel confused as IMS seems to be promoting a recycled version of its own spec, instead of improving, enpowering other specs - that for me - are more "powerful" from a pedagogical point of view such as Learning Design....probably because Learning Design doesn't belong to any of big ones.
While there was significant interest from some quarters to use the newly minted IMS QTI 2.x, it was decided to use QTI 1.2 because few, if any, of the major LMS systems will be able to use QTI 2.x in the near future. Updates to the Common Cartridge may incorporate newer specifications when it's appropriate. The Common Cartridge uses only some of the question types available in the full QTI spec because not all platforms can handle all of the question types the QTI spec describes.
There were successful demonstrations of the Common Cartridge at the alt-i-lab conference in Indianapolis last June, and you'll probably begin to see significant publisher content available in the next 12 months. Admittedly, the Common Cartridge was originally conceived to benefit content publishers -- big or small, even individuals -- by providing them with a common open source standard that would facilitate the broadest distribution. One component of the Common Cartridge is a process for validation, to ensure that packaged content adheres to the prescribed profile of specifications.
More information is available on the IMS public website:
Thank you so much for the information. That's good to know!
If I'm not wrong in some other specs, such as qti, content packaging, they were first submitted to the general public (public draft?) for comments, corrections, etc, but now it seems Commong Catridge will hit the streets in its final version.
I'm wondering if software vendors have been working with a non-final version of the specification.
It's a little different this time, since the Common Cartridge uses existing specifications. The profile of these specifications has been developed by representatives from the publishers and the platform developers, who have all been actively involved from the outset. Public release of the profile is slated for June 2007. The content work is largely done, with attention now focused on authorization and validation components.
Is there anything Moodle developers would want me to ask? Any feedback from experience trying to read/implement IMS-CC or the standards that it involves (QTI, SCORM 2004, LOM, CP)?
I'd love to hear about what you learned at the workshop. I've had my eye on CC for a while and I'm really curious to see where it's gotten.
CC is going to be very important for the advocates in universities as the publishers start to roll out content. The faculty will want to be access from within Moodle and we need to be able to play ball.
I'm also interested to hear what happened at the workshop.
There is a lot of interest from content providers (including the OpenLearn project at the OU), and we're starting to see platform providers start to support CC. I think we understand (famous last words) what needs to be done to allow Moodle to support CC import - and we're trying to figure when we can do this. CC isn't a magic bullet, but it doesn't look like the best bet to date for handling third party learning content.
CC isn't a magic bullet, but it does look like the best bet to date for handling third party learning content.
The workshop ended up being more of a presentation, unfortunately, and the audience was mostly educators. We did discuss some aspects of CC implementation, and Joel Greenberg (OU ) said that he's committed to get CC support in Moodle. So we did have a bit of a post-presentation chat about how to get that happening.
I didn't get much of a chance to ask the more technical questions -- about the modularity of the spec, QTI complexity, and the really strange authentication part of it.
Chef is going to take alot more work, and apparently that needs to be done first--adding it in blows all reasonable timelines and budgets due to it's loosely coupled nature--when there is no course level archive, it is much harder to make a cartridge. We'd need a content/activity picker/sequencer that enabled one to assemble a cartridge from the collection of resources/tools etc. they have access to.
IMHO, only, of course - if someone wants to fund Moodle IMS CC as the open source reference implementation, that would be relatively straightforward up to IMS QTI--and we could implement a generous subset of that.
The above is IMHO, only, of course.
- I think that Martin Langhoff focuses on the wrong part of common cartridge (from a teacher point of view ).
Let others develop the cartridge: it will end up as a container file with a kind of XML-manifest, describing in a TOC a growing set of contenttypes like Scorms, IMS/QTI-sets, etc..
Moodle offers extra functionality, for example for forums and glossaries and wikis, but I think that you never will be succesful to bring them to a standard, as long as other VLE's are not offering such kind of extra functionality. (we saw the same problem with IMS/LD)
Reading the CC-manifest and offering a teacher a friendly way to unpack and shuffle the content in a moodle course should be the Moodle focus, in my humble opinion as a teacher moodle user with hardly any techical knowledge:
The more important part from a moodle-teacher-point-of-view is how I can install AND TUNE FOR MY TEACHING PURPOSES the CC-cartridge I like.
- The old IMS/CP plugin from Helen looked promissing:
if you found an I MS/CP package, you could implement it and you got a nice TOC with content frames. Happy? no..
if i did not like a small part, I could not hide that part and I still cannot replace a part with a new one..
- The SCORM packages have the same problem: accept the scorms as a whole or not.
- if you use the SCORM as a module you only can say to the students: "Skip part 3 of the scorm and work on moodle assignment 3 that follows that scorm... rather clumsy.
- if you use the course format for BIG SCORM COURSES, you even have to do more: you must implement the sidebar block -which is still not a part of the core distribution - and organise your compensating moodle activities in that block... even more clumsy
- Backup/restore and IMPORT look at first glance nice, but the selection tools which Moodle offers are organised from a technical and not from an educational point of view. (the same old problem teachers have with the navigation bar)
Lets focus on IMPORT: I create in a Moodle course an educational set, containing: a label, 2 resources a forum and an assignment:
- I would prefer to have a visual support tool for grabbing them as an educational set and then import that set.
- Now I have to remember which is what in the long list of the import list, organised by technical moodle type not following the visual organisation of the original Moodle course
- Technically that is not possible? well, i saw it in Moodle in the past:
An old tool, partly reimplemented as the crosshair tool came most close to this wish: the fancy layout script. (We use it heavily these days for reorganising courses now our school has changed the school period system)
In the enclosed picture you see the course on the left and available resources on the right, just drag and drop while the visual organisation of the course is still available!
- Imagine that the list on the right is a visible dragable CC-container!!
- teachers trying to import Blackboard courses would also love such drag&drop tool, but please, first create the CC-drag-and-drop-tool!
I am very interested in making an interface for designing the webquest/projects in your image here. As a first step, at my university, we have made a section by section backup/restore/import code (soon to be released as the Project Course Format) for Moodle 1.9. It allows quick packaging of mixed activities around themes. It also automatically recreates associated links each time the project is moved, shared, rearranged.
Could you give give some advice on how you would design this in Moodle 1.9?
Later we would think about how this would integrate into IMS-CC.
I am very interested in your section by section approach, I will test your Project Course Format this summer holiday! (We are now in the big migration from Moodle 1.6.x to 1.9.1!)
I give you my 5 cents, to check if we are thinking along the same lines, i will study your project and reconsider more aspects later on:
Looking at our struggling teachers, trying to use Moodle for their educational purposes, I see two lines:
- In the long run I expect publishers to deliver Common Cartridges and we will wish to open and adopt their products for our own educational setting. (My email was ment for that part) We also try to bring together all non-commercial creators in one Big Dutch collaboration project, needing the same distribution solution: I always hope that Moodle is the first one to shwo the proof of concept!
- The second line is more related to your approach and has my priority too. (But I lack the resources for big local Moodle patches.)
When we observe our teachers while they design a course - or even better: when they try to reuse a course from last year in a slightly different context - we see that Moodle fails in the support of their endeavor:
Creating a course in the first place
- leaning on the visual (Gestalt?) support of the Moodle course formats weeks and themes, teachers try to create visual sets*) of learning activities. I still consider this part of Moodle as the crown juwel..
- Against our advise - but they are the teachers - they prefer to organise more then one set in a single section: using title for the top set and label for the other sets creates a big problem when they try to use the import function:
- section titles are never imported with import
- backup does import section titles, but the last imported title overruls any previous one
- therefor we advise them to use only the labels (as labels ) and forget the titles. (I consider to reuse the title as teacher tip label or metadata field "with the eye closed" for other teachers)
- A typicle set contains:
- a label as organising title (for teacher and student)
- one or more resources
- activities as supporting exercises (focus on feedback)
- activities as supporting tools (for example a glossary as item collector)
- a final assignment to finish the set (focus on criterium)
Reuse in another course:
- What a teacher wishes is to select such a set in one course and port the set as set to another course:
- a general tool to (multi) checkmark the resources/activities when you see them in their visual organisation could help..
- BUT IF they are convinced of the usability of creating sets with labels on top you could offer an export/import tool that offers the opprtunity to export/imoprt labels: when you checkmark a label for that purpose a new question could popup: "Do you want to import the complete set?"
- a spin-off could be the use of this tool to seed a course with copies of sets in the same course..
- We are also thinking of store for sets, but are blocked by the limitations of the current Moodle implemenation
*) I avoid the word learning object, I used the word learning molecule for a while, but call it now simple set.
McGraw-Hill Content Cartridge
How do I import the content--that I have in a zipped file from MG-H--into my Moodle class site? Can anyone help with this one?
and one more question...what do you think about (the idea of) scorm 2.0? is it possible to compare these specifications (cc & scorm 2.0).
i would be very thankful for every comment about this.
Even SCORM is not the holy grail... just read: "SCORM: the pros and cons" -> http://matbury.com/wordpress/?p=140
If you don't know much about IMS CC itself, you might find this page helpful http://www.imsglobal.org/commoncartridge.html.
thanks for explanation (if there will be one)...
You asked about how far along implementation of CC spec is. The first version of the spec was released towards the end of last year, and they're now finalising its first revision - adding better QTI among other minor changes.
You can find example content in CC format in OpenLearn. For our own use in making content available to others, I've found SCORM, IMS CP and CC all to be very similar. Because OpenLearn is interested in allowing as many people as possible to use our content, we try to support a range of standards - hopefully everyone will find something they can make use of. We hold our source materials in XML which is rendered into the Moodle database and to HTML files that make up the majority of the download zip.
Also the Moodle-Courses are generated from this XML.
"The "Alternative Formats" block isn't really shareable. I know it looks like its converting the Moodle course into other formats, but it isn't. All our content starts off as XML and we render it from that into the other formats including inserting into the Moodle database to make a the course itself. All the block really does is lists files with the right style of name if it can find them in the right place."
What I said in that other forum is still correct: we start with XML in our own schema, convert it to a set of HTML pages and use a PHP script to create the imsmanifest. Its not coming from Moodle at all.
What's meant with "block" in this context? Something like an add-on?