Steve Lay (CARET, University of Cambridge) hosted the joint Assessment and EC SIG meeting at the University of Cambridge last week. The day provided and opportunity to get an update on what is happening in the specification world, particularly in the content packaging and assessment areas and compare that to some really world implementations including a key interest – IMS Common Cartridge.
Packaging and QTI are intrinsically linked – to share and move questions/items they need to be packaged – preferably in an interoperable format:-) However despite recent developments in both the IMS QTI and CP specifications, due to changes in the structure of IMS working groups there have been no public releases of either specifications for well over a year. This is mainly due to the need for at least two working implementations of a specification before public release. In terms of interoperability, general uptake and usabillity this does seem like a perfectly sensible change. But as ever, life is never quite that simple.
IMS Common Cartridge has come along and has turned into something of a flag-bearer for IMS. This has meant that an awful lot of effort from some of the ‘big’ (or perhaps ‘active’ would be more accurate) members of IMS has been concentrated on the development of CC and not pushing implementation of CP1.2 or the latest version of QTI. A decision was taken early in the development of CC to use older, more widely implemented versions of specifications rather than the latest versions. (It should be noted that this looks like changing as more demands are being made on CC which the newer versions of the specs can achieve.)
So, the day was also an opportunity to reflect on what the current state of play is with IMS and other specification bodies, and to discuss with the community what areas they feel are most important for CETIS to be engaging in. Profiling did surface as something that the JISC elearning development community – particularly in the assessment domain – should be developing further.
In terms of specification updates, our host Steve Lay presented a brief history of QTI and future development plans, Adam Cooper (CETIS) gave a round up from the IMS Quarterly meeting held the week before and Wilbert Kraan (CETIS) gave a round up of packaging developments including non IMS initiatives such as OAI-ORE and IEEE RAMLET. On the implementation side of things Ross MacKenzie and Sarah Wood (OU) took us through their experiences of developing common cartridges for the OpenLearn project and Niall Barr (NB Software) gave an overview of integrating QTI and common cartridge. There was also a very stimulating presentation from Linn van der Zanden (SQA) on a pilot project using wikis and blogs as assessment tools.
Presentations/slidecasts ( including as much discussion as was audible) and MP3s are available from the wiki so if you want to get up to speed on what is happening in the wonderful world of specifications – have a listen. There is also an excellent review of the day over on Rowin’s blog.
It’s not been so much springwatch time as codewatch time for JISC CETIS with our fourth codebash taking place on 7/8th June at the University of Bolton.
As in previous events the ‘bash’ focused mainly on content related activities concerning IMS Content Packaging and QTI. However there were a number of extended conversations surrounding various e-portfolio issues. The Portfolio SIG held a co-located meeting at the University on the second day of the codebash.
Thanks to our Dutch colleagues at SURF we were able to provide remote access to the event through the use of their macromedia breeze system. We had about 15 remote participants including a large Scandinavian contingent organised through Tore Hoel from the Norwegian eStandards project. Tore also hosted a face to face meeting on day two of the bash.
Day one began with a series of presentations giving updates on IMS Content Packaging, QTI and SCORM. Although it may well seem that content packaging is ‘done and dusted’ there are still some issues that need resolved particularly with the imminent release of v1.2 of the specification. Wilbert Kraan outlined the plans the IMS project working group have to develop two profiles (one a quite limited version of widely implemented features and one more general) for the new version of the spec to mixed response. Some people felt there was a danger that providing such profiles could limit creativity and use of the newer features of the specification and create defacto limited implementation. It was agreed that care would have to be taken on the language used to describe the use of any such profiles.
Steve Lay then gave an update on IMS QTI and a useful potted history of the spec’s development stages and the functionality of each release of the specifcation. The IMS working group is currently looking at profiling issues and hopes to have a final release of the latest version of the spec available by early 2008. Angelo Panar from ADL provided the final presentation giving an overview of developments in SCORM and the proposed LETSI initiative to move the governance of SCORM out of ADL and into the wider user community. Angelo also outlined some of the areas he envisaged SCORM would develop such as extending sequencing and consistent user interface issues.
Although smaller than previous ‘bashes’, the general feeling was that this had been a useful event. There’s nothing quite like putting a group of developers in room together and letting them ‘talk technical’ It’s probably fair to say that less bashing of packages took place than in previous events, but some useful testing particularly in relation to QTI did take place between remote and f2f participants. Maybe this was a sign of the success of previous events in that many interoperability issues have been ironed out. It is also probably indicative of the current state of technology use in our community where we are now increasingly moving towards web services and soa approaches. It is likely that the next event we run will focus more on those areas – so if you have any suggestions for such an event, please let us know.
Copies of the presentations and audio recordings are available from the codebash web page. You may also be interested in Pete Johnson’s (Eduserve) take on the event too.