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Learning Impact Blog

 

Sketch: student data privacy (May 2022)

Contributed by Kevin Lewis and Dr. Tim Clark

 

Think About IT! Seven Reflections on Student Data Privacy

  • With the continual influx of digital applications available to support teaching and learning experiences in various contexts and at all levels, educators have to be committed to providing a safe environment that protects students.

  • One aspect of that protection is ensuring student data privacy when using those applications.

  • It’s challenging to balance the freedom of teachers to select the best digital resource to engage student learning while simultaneously protecting student data.

 

Here are seven thoughts and suggestions on student data privacy you need to think about.

1 All personal information should be protected.

The Department of Homeland Security defines personally identifiable information (PII) as any information that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information that is linked or linkable to that individual. All information about students should be protected. That includes general PII, such as a first name, age, etc, as well as Sensitive PII, such as a social security number, driver’s license number, etc. Remember that even general personal information about a student can be grouped by an application to start building a profile, so the collection of data points can reveal a lot about the user.

 

2 Students don’t naturally care about protecting their own data.

If students see a link or an application, they will want to access it. Devices and applications that harvest student data are designed to be appealing and user-friendly. Data privacy has to be taught and encouraged. Think about a young child crossing the street. Parents have to teach the child about the potential dangers and the steps to use to stay safe. Teachers often have to assume responsibility for what the students are sharing and their applications in the classroom. Districts can assist by ensuring that a process is in place to help teachers with this responsibility.

 

3 Parents should be engaged in the process of protecting student data.

Parents may be unaware of the strategies necessary to help protect student data privacy. Parents usually put their trust in the teacher. If the teacher recommends an application for student use, the parents will assume that it is safe. Districts and schools need to include training and communication for parents in student data privacy just as they support other initiatives related to student learning. Likewise, parents may be a good resource for schools when addressing student data privacy concerns, as many may have experiences and expertise that can be shared among the school community.

 

4 Just because an application appears to have an educational use doesn’t mean that it’s safe.

Teachers may experience a false sense of security when an application promotes that it’s for educational purposes, like teaching the alphabet, for example. Also, if another teacher recommends an application or if it’s marketed at a conference, it can appear safer than it really is. There’s an assumption that a standard is in place for branding something like an educational application. Look at its target audience, the information requested, and the amount of advertising, and approach the use of all applications with caution.

 

5 Free is never really free.

An application may seem to be a bargain when it is advertised as free, but it’s free at a cost. At a minimum, It may be harvesting personal information to use to target advertising to users. Furthermore, it may be using a technique called behavioral advertising, whereby it follows users and tracks their browsing trends across the Internet and retains their demographics and behaviors.

 

6 Educators must speak up about what they need regarding data privacy.

Legitimate suppliers of educational technology applications don’t know what they don’t know. Including them on a private list of banned applications doesn’t help those suppliers to make the necessary changes to better protect student learning. When application providers are genuinely dedicated to improving student learning, they also want to provide safe learning experiences. Schools and districts need to ensure that their suppliers know the requirements for ensuring student data privacy.

 

7 Data privacy isn’t just for students.

A culture of data privacy needs to be proactively developed and practiced by everyone in a learning environment. Think about data privacy as an umbrella, covered by federal laws to provide structure and guidance, which are supported by states and educational agencies that also provide additional support. Districts can assist their schools and teachers with policies, processes, and programs for vetting and approving applications. Finally, teachers need to research and evaluate the applications they use in their classrooms with their students. Everyone, at all levels, should learn and practice the skills necessary for protecting data privacy.

 

A Community Built Solution: TrustEd Apps

As a baseline for a district’s data privacy culture, 1EdTech (formerly known as IMS Global Consortium) assists member districts by vetting applications and certifying them for data privacy by utilizing a community-developed open rubric as part of its TrustEd Apps™ program and through the use of its TrustEd Apps dashboard.

To find out more information about TrustEd Apps, visit www.TrustEdApps.org. Join 1EdTech by visiting www.imsglobal.org/join and completing the online membership application.

 

Kevin Lewis, 1EdTechKevin Lewis is the Data Privacy Officer for1EdTech and facilitates its TrustEd Apps program
 

 

Tim Clark, 1EdTechDr. Tim Clark is the Vice President of K-12 Programs for 1EdTech

 

 

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Header for Learning Impact blog (April 2022) with Rob Abel's photo and title: The Non-Profit, Member-Guided Goodness of 1EdTech

As we close in on the official transition from IMS Global Consortium to 1EdTech, I wanted to add to my previous posts about the 1EdTech brand to explain the value of having two affiliated organizations under the 1EdTech brand: the 1EdTech Foundation and the 1EdTech Consortium.

Image of Value of 1EdTech Consortium and 1EdTech Foundation

The Role of 1EdTech in Public and Private Benefit

1EdTech logo with taglineThe 1EdTech brand promise is to power learner potential through a united community dedicated to an open and trusted educational technology ecosystem that makes life better for all stakeholders. Yes, it’s a bold statement, but one made with humility given the 25-year history of enduring impact we have already made, with much more to come.

My friend, colleague, and mentor of many years, Dr. Bill Graves, would often talk about how education is both a “public and private good.” This simple phrase has deep meaning. It is a source of pride for those in our community who have given themselves to the world of education. It means that in education, there is both public benefit (the positive impacts on society) and private benefit (the positive impacts on the individuals). You don’t need to think too long to realize they are both needed in our world. The phrase also means that we recognize that there is a compact with society to serve more than private gains.

The reality of public and private benefit is reflected daily in the work of the 1EdTech Consortium.

Publicly owned organizations work shoulder to shoulder with privately-owned organizations as equal partners. They are all held to the same high standard of enabling the foundation for an open and trusted ecosystem. Most importantly, this high bar is reinforced with a Board of Directors that cut across the various types of organizations and is charged with taking responsibility for achieving the community goals, including overseeing the community-based consensus-driven approach that has been a key to the success of organizations like ours.

The Non-Profit Status of 1EdTech and 1EdTech Consortium

There are many types of non-profit organizations and many ways that for-profit organizations can be related to non-profits. Different kinds of non-profits can be associated with each other. In the world of standards and edtech associations, there are different types of non-profits and even for-profit organizations. I will explain here the reasons that 1EdTech Consortium will continue to be organized as 1EdTech was, as a 501c6 non-profit.

A 501c6 is generally characterized as an “industry league” or “chamber of commerce.” It is exempt from taxes but not a charity (a contribution is not considered deductible as a charitable donation by the IRS). The other potential non-profit designation in the 1EdTech/1EdTech by-laws is a 501c3. A 501c3 organization is a charity. 1EdTech Consortium/1EdTech Consortium is clearly operating for the public good and would pass any IRS test in that regard, and that is why it could operate as a 501c3. For clarity and transparency, we feel that the 501c6 designation is a better fit for a membership organization in which the members have voting rights, and a majority of the Board of Directors comes from the members.

The Value of Adding a Non-Profit Charity as an Affiliated Organization

1EdTech Foundation logoI spent many hours discussing how to best manifest the ideas of public and private good into the business structure of 1EdTech.  This led to the (relatively quiet) formation several years ago (but, unfortunately, after Bill’s passing) of the 1EdTech Foundation, a public charity dedicated to supporting the mission of 1EdTech (this type of relationship is supported by what the IRS refers to as a “Type I” supporting organization). It’s a very simple idea to create a public charity that utilizes philanthropic funding to advance work that can accelerate the open and trusted edtech ecosystem that is managed more directly through our organizational operations.

The 1EdTech Foundation has already attracted some very generous funding from various sources but has really just begun. Moving IMS Global Consortium to the same brand of 1EdTech (technically the 1EdTech Consortium) makes the connection clearer.

You might wonder why this is necessary, as many know that IMS has received grants from some of the major foundations in the past? The short answer is that many philanthropic sources prefer giving to 501c3s. The longer answer is that separating the operational aspects of the mission and the policy aspects of the mission can be a good thing, which is why we envisioned this setup.

In my next post of the series, I will discuss some specifics of our philanthropic work.

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Sandra DeCastro, 1EdTech Vice President, Community Programs5 Reasons Why for HED

Contributed by Sandra DeCastro, Vice President of Community Programs

 

Top Five Reasons for Higher Ed Leaders to Attend Learning Impact

I like to think that every one of our Learning Impact conferences is remarkable. It's always the place where leaders—among our members and in the edtech sector overall—can focus and collaborate on solving the top-of-mind issues facing higher education. It's where we hear from experts about where we're heading and what we need to plan for in the 1-5 years to keep the learning going. And it's where we get inspired by our peers and colleagues for their work advancing teaching and learning technology.

This year is no exception, especially since it will be our first as the 1EdTech Consortium.

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out our comprehensive program for higher ed at the 2022 Learning Impact Conference, June 13-16, in Nashville. Here are some highlights and things to look out for when you're there!

 

#1: Digital tools to recruit, retain, and reengage students

Institutions face many of the same challenges like attracting students and families who may question the value of what we offer and keeping them engaged and successful once they arrive. Adjusting to new technologies and bringing students back from the pandemic adds to those challenges, but they also offer opportunities for innovation. The 1EdTech community is already implementing these innovations to improve the student experience and is ready to share them with you.

Attendees will learn about:

  • Student expectations for technology in a post-pandemic world as they transition from K-12 into college
  • Effective applications of artificial intelligence in the classroom to support student success initiatives
  • How digital tools allow for more personalized pathways and equitable experiences for learners and educators
  • Tools designed to track and measure academic engagement without increasing the burden on faculty

 

#2: Strategies to turn data into actionable insights and improve student success

While interoperable edtech can enhance learning experiences, it can also lighten the lift for researchers and administrators who need data to make recommendations for improving student engagement, retention, and success or simply to report out to various funding and regulatory organizations. 

The 2022 Learning Impact will kick off with a half-day workshop for higher education academic and technology leaders to share institutional use cases for collecting and processing learner data, leverage these open processes to drive student success, and collaborate with your colleagues to identify and work on breaking through barriers institutions face when implementing analytics initiatives to drive student success. 

 

#3: Aligning learning outcomes and employer needs

One of the top reasons college students say they want to attend college is to learn the skills and competencies for a successful career. 

We'll take a closer look at a study examining how institutions align and measure learning outcomes with workforce trends and the implications of the findings. Get examples of how other institutions match learned skills with employer needs and implement upskilling programs to help make the cultural changes you want to see in your institution. 

 

#4: Creating meaningful digital credentials to help learners sell their skills

One trend we see is that the traditional transcript no longer communicates everything a learner can do. Digital credentials are quickly becoming an effective solution to that challenge and can help students and professional learners sell their skills to find future success. 

1EdTech is already involved in the work. Our members are ready to share lessons learned, whether you're looking to capture skills gained in and outside of classrooms, help your learners sell their skills, increase the value of your existing digital credentials, want to bring your program to scale, recognize your employees, or are just trying to figure out where to start.

 

#5: Ways to stay ahead of the edtech curve

If there is one thing we know about technology, it's constantly changing, and we need to keep up with it through innovation. While we celebrate what we've accomplished over the past few years, we also want to be sure we continue to look ahead.

Plus, hear from thought leaders like University Innovation Alliance CEO Bridget Burns, who will share her insights on innovative practices to expand access, address costs, and promote completion for students of all backgrounds.

I hope to see all of you in June Learning Impact! You can find the full conference schedule and registration information here.

 

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Tim Clark5 Reasons Why for K-12

Contributed by Dr. Tim Clark, Vice President of K-12 Programs

 

Top Five Reasons for K-12 Districts to Attend Learning Impact

You've all been hard at work these past few years, just trying to make sure your students don't fall through the cracks. While it's been stressful, exhausting, and a little scary, we're seeing some significant innovations as a result of your efforts—many that can benefit everyone.

This is why I'm looking forward to reconnecting with all of you at the 2022 Learning Impact Conference, June 13-16, in Nashville. I hope we can use this time to reflect, share, and look to the future, with all of us engaging in the conversation.

If you haven't had time to check out our program, or you're on the fence about whether to attend, here are our five favorite reasons why you should join us, courtesy of the 1EdTech→1EdTech K-12 and Statewide Programs team.

 

#1: Learn valuable lessons from districts creating innovative digital ecosystems that align with their curriculum

If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that there is no escaping the need for technology that educates and engages students in classrooms and at home. One key to success is aligning the mission of the academic and curriculum departments with the technology teams.

While some districts are creating digital curricula, others are still trying to decide where to start, and even more fall somewhere in the middle. Regardless of where you are on your journey to creating a digital ecosystem for your district, there is no reason to start from scratch or repeat the challenges others have already faced.

At Learning Impact, you'll see how district leaders are improving teaching and learning through:

  • Customizable and embedded lessons and assessments
  • Ensuring digital tools align with academic standards
  • Creating systems that allow teachers, students, and families to track a learner's progress together

 

#2: Get clarity on how educational technology can help address equity gaps in your district

We know that to have a truly successful curriculum, it must fit the needs of all students and address equity gaps in our districts.

Digital apps and resources provide a unique opportunity to create rigorous, engaging, and culturally relevant curricula in all academic spaces and will be a key focus of this year's Learning Impact Conference.

We will hear from none other than Gloria Ladson-Billings, the go-to expert on culturally relevant instruction.

Conference-goers can also attend panel discussions with institutional leaders who are already addressing the equity gap with exemplary digital curriculum models, hear from one state department of education that is addressing inequities with a long-term plan using 1EdTech standards, and find out how districts are using standards to adapt their curriculums to meet constantly changing learning standards for diverse populations of students.

 

#3: Find innovative edtech to help you achieve your strategic goals (and meet the supplier partners who can help you get there)

When tackling major systemic challenges, you want to be sure your changes and the systems you put in place are actually making a positive impact on your students' education.

One benefit of an interoperable digital ecosystem is that the data is there and accessible for you to use. Hear from your peers on:

  • The importance of and how to create robust data cultures to move your strategic plans forward
  • How to turn the data you collect into actionable insights
  • Ways to use data to drive curriculum innovation, identify areas of improvement for individual schools, and understand the environmental factors impacting student learning
  • Measuring financial and academic returns on investments in digital learning products

Plus, learn how districts created their ecosystems through partnerships with suppliers and find the suppliers that will best fit your needs.

 

#4: Prioritize protecting student information

One of the main concerns in moving teaching and learning online is how to keep personal information safe.

The number of digital tools available for teachers to choose from continues to grow, and sometimes it's difficult to know if a tool is set up to both educate and protect students. Add to that a district's need to collect information in order to ensure its effectiveness, and it can feel overwhelming.

To address those concerns, we're making sure that protecting learner information is a consideration in all of our standards as student information moves from one platform to another. In addition, we have our TrustEd Apps certification that makes it easy for educators to identify tools that adhere to standards specifically designed to protect student data privacy.

Still, as technology advances, so does the need to stay on top of learner privacy. That's why attendees have the opportunity to learn about existing 1EdTech standards and tools and make their own voices heard as we consider new recommendations and standards for the future.

 

#5: Network with other forward-thinking leaders, and get ahead of the edtech curve

Rob Abel likes to say, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

At Learning Impact, we'll hear expert views on where edtech is going in the next 1-5 years, take a closer look at the trends that are determining how we assess student learning, and how best to leverage open standards to move the needle toward our future goals. You need to be part of this.

I hope to see all of you in June Learning Impact! You can find the full conference schedule and registration information here.

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1EdTech CEO Rob AbelRob Abel, Ed.D. | March 2022

 

 

 

1EdTech: Accelerating Four Educational Leadership Imperatives for Our Times

In this third of a series to introduce the coming 1EdTech brand out of the evolution of the IMS Global Learning Consortium, I want to discuss the future we hope to create together.

1EdTech logo with Power Learner Potential taglineIn the first post of the series, I discussed the simple idea behind the brand, namely a community united toward an open edtech ecosystem that accelerates innovation in education. In the second post, I enumerated the "pillars" that our community has excelled and upon which the brand relies, culminating in the brand promise of lifting every learner: Together, we power learner potential.

1EdTech is a forward-looking collaboration. It is about establishing the foundation for the next generation of education and learning.

Over more than two decades of experience, we have learned that getting ahead of the future also benefits us all greatly in the present. As "together" is by far the most important concept that enables our progress, I offer here a brief summation that reflects what we see in our members' works and forward directions. We have purposely used wording for educational leaders to understand our community's impact on some of our most noteworthy educational (HED, K-12, lifelong) leadership opportunities to invent a better future. Most importantly, our community has a direct impact on making these possible. Our community engagement aims to accelerate your strategies toward these ends for educational leaders.

Leadership imperative #1

Transformative digital learning

There is some excellent work and leadership on digital transformation these days, especially from our close partner, EDUCAUSE. There are many aspects of transformation that our work helps enable, ranging from seamless access to blended delivery to better agility to more accessible data to ensuring a trusted ecosystem of educational apps.

At the core, our members are leaders in enabling learning experiences that rise above the norm. Our members have thoughtful and purposeful designs that align the tech (IT) with the mission (academics). Every day, we see it in our members doing a fabulous job applying technology to create impact by working across academic (instruction, curriculum, faculty) and IT leadership. Most importantly, the combination of alignment with agility enables an organization poised for the future, as implied by the following imperatives.

Leadership imperative #2

Personalized learner journeys

We've been exchanging great ideas for many years on what tech can mean for enabling a virtuous cycle of data-informed, adaptive learning and instruction to help each learner succeed. 1EdTech members are leaders in designing and implementing personalized and student-centered learning. The fundamental challenge is a program design that provides the rigorous core of aligned instruction plus the options required to create or tailor relevant learning experiences for diverse learners with diverse goals.

The 1EdTech community has already enabled an unparalleled ecosystem of partnerships, platforms, tools, and digital resources to configure an ecosystem that enables personalization at many levels. We have many examples of how this was accomplished at a fraction of the cost we could have imagined even a few years ago. One of the most powerful application examples is improving curriculum equity by enabling access that is not only inclusive but also enables schools, programs, and faculty to tailor to their needs. We see additional growth of the ecosystem and more collaboration on curriculum equity across our membership into the future. Emerging competency-based outcomes frameworks and verifiable digital microcredentials will work in tandem with curriculum alternatives to increase the pathways available to learners of all ages.

Image showing the four 1EdTech educational leadership imperatives

Leadership imperative #3

Achievement, opportunity, and employment

Receiving a diploma is an important accomplishment. However, the shareable official record of that diploma, the transcript, is not typically that useful in terms of helping the learner tell their story in a way that connects them to opportunities. Today, the overwhelming majority of employers do not even consider transcripts in the sorting or decision process.

1EdTech members are leaders in helping learners capture their achievements and competencies to go way beyond the traditional transcript in helping each student tell their story. They are doing this by leveraging a revolution in digital microcredentials, and learner-owned lifelong achievement records developed and supported by the 1EdTech community. By leading this revolution, educational institutions are enabling new connections between the world of work and the world of education. The 1EdTech community is leading the practical application of these ideas in ways that enhance learner opportunity, institutional brand, and lifelong relationships between institutions and learners.

Leadership imperative #4

Learner success, retention, and outcomes

Certainly, this is a major focus for all educational leaders today. So, why include it in the forward-looking leadership imperatives? The reason is that establishing new levels of achievement and greater personalized learning pathways enables new opportunities for defining student success. Strategies for aligning tech with the academic mission, personalized pathways, and recognizing achievement lead to the need to "design in" the "smart data" that all stakeholders can use to understand if the strategies are working. The future of data-informed learning and education is going to be much more precise than it is today. Improving student success in the future is about having the right information that helps to validate and improve the design.

The 1EdTech community is working together to ensure that data access is built into the ecosystem. Effective use of data in education will require real-time availability and analysis of big data from many sources used in conjunction with small data exchanged among just a few systems that faculty and students rely upon. 1EdTech members are getting ahead of this rapidly evolving field through deep collaboration on harnessing the power of data. It is a collaboration on making the best use of the data we can get today while working on a better data future for all educational stakeholders.

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1EdTech Chief Architect Dr. Colin SmytheIMS Global TECH TALK

Contributed by Dr. Colin Smythe, IMS Chief Architect

 

Digital Assessment in IMS Ecosystems: The Set of IMS Specifications Making Online Assessment a Reality

In June 2000, IM published version 1.0 of the Question and Test Interoperability® specification—or QTI® as we all know it. This specification described a structure for exchanging tests and questions to enable the authoring and distribution of online assessments. The following 36 months saw several new versions resulting in the publication of version 1.2.1 in March 2003. This version was later included in the IMS Common Cartridge® 1.0 specification. Our work from 2004 to 2015 resulted in QTI versions 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2. Between QTI 2.1 and 2.2, IMS released the Accessible Portable Item Protocol® (APIP®) 1.0, which added new accessibility features to the core QTI specification. In September 2015, the IMS Technical Advisory Board (TAB) authorized the Charter for QTI version 3.0 and, in July 2020, made available the Candidate Final Public documents for public review.

The longevity of the QTI specification is based on the early research undertaken by long-time IMS Contributing Member ETS and published as the Four Process Architecture. The four-process architecture gives rise to two of the key QTI structures: Assessment and Item. Notice that we use the term ‘Item’ instead of ‘Question.’ This is because an Item includes more than just the actual question: for example, the response processing rules for determining the correctness of the learner’s response (their answer); alternative content to reflect accessibility needs; and much more. An assessment, test, or quiz is the combination and organization of a set of Items. QTI also defines Section. A Section is a collection of Items and Sections. Sections enable the creation of flexible and adaptive assessments to reflect the assessment pedagogy being used and ease the management of the assessment structure. An Item is based upon one or more Interactions. QTI has nineteen predefined interactions to support the most typical question types, e.g., multiple-choice, hotspot, etc.

IMS was an early adopter of the use of XML for data exchange. Document Type Definitions were used for the 1.x versions of QTI to validate the QTI XML instances, but XML Schema Definitions (XSDs) are used for all later versions. Certification of compliant products is an essential aspect of the IMS specification support process. For XML-based specifications, IMS uses a proprietary online XML validator for certification. Unlimited access to this validator is available to all members, and many make extensive use of this benefit as part of their content development validation process. For QTI versions 2.1, 2.2, and 3.0, the specification is composed of several individual specifications:

  • QTI Assessment, Section & Item (ASI) – the core definition of the QTI structures and their representation in XML

  • QTI Metadata – the QTI-specific metadata to be included in the accompanying content packaging manifest file

  • QTI Results Reporting – the information used to represent the exchange of the results awarded to a learner as part of the response and outcomes processing as defined in the core ASI

  • QTI Usage Data & Item Statistics – the information used to describe the usage of the QTI Items in terms of a variety of standardized statistics

Several more IMS and non-IMS specifications are used to provide the complete QTI interoperability capability:

These specifications are combined at the level of the XML binding to create a single zip file as required in the QTI Profile of IMS Content Packaging.

Actionable e-Assessment is an important aspect of IMS Ecosystems. While QTI is the keystone specification, many IMS specifications can be combined to support an extensive range of assessment processes and workflows.

This broader set of specifications is:

As can be seen, IMS has a thriving specification development activity in e-Assessment. We will continue to improve how our specifications can be combined to support your assessment processes and workflows.

 

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1EdTech CEO Rob AbelRob Abel, Ed.D. | February 2022

 

"Out of many, one. Out of one, many."

 

The Foundations of the New 1EdTech Brand

I'm following on here from my last post about the upcoming transition from IMS Global Learning Consortium to our new 1EdTech brand.

Experts say that a "brand" is the experience that customers have with an organization and its products. In 2019, IMS hired a well-known marketing firm to help develop a brand that fits the experiences of the members. The process involved countless interviews and feedback sessions, including several in-depth sessions working directly with the Board of Directors.

Out of this work came a set of "brand pillars" and a "brand promise."

The brand pillars are what some might call core competencies that are at the root of the member experience. These are the things that the organization does well, and it comes through in the experience of our members.

While we have detailed summaries of each of the brand pillars for 1EdTech, I'll give you a high level here, including why we decided on these as the best fit for what we do and what we value.

1EdTech Brand PillarsInspiring breakthrough collaborations

Our community is very unique and influential because we are collaborating across boundaries (e.g., supplier/institutional, K-12/HED/corporate learning, IT/instruction/academics, bridging across walled-garden ecosystems, collaboration across regions) to create the technical work that sets expectations for the future of the edtech ecosystem. We bridge across and break down these boundaries every day. Anyone who has experienced our community knows that we represent the best and brightest in edtech.

Advancing ecosystem connectivity

We produce open standards that provide the connectivity for an open edtech ecosystem of products that work together for better user experiences and better insights to inform learner success. Because of the extent of our membership collaboration, there is more investment in integrations using our standards than any other approach. So, the open edtech ecosystem is the fastest way for suppliers and institutions to get to innovation at scale.

Accelerating digital learning transformation

Our member organizations design and adopt scalable, sustainable, and responsive digital innovation by adopting the open technical foundation and the collaboration from close partnerships developed via the member experience. Educational institutions and suppliers have an unparalleled network of partnerships with other members that have shown over and over to accelerate their efforts to implement best-in-class digital learning.

Enriching teaching and learning experiences

For years we have called this effect of our combined activities "Learning Impact" and have challenged our community to provide evidence of impact through our annual Learning Impact Awards. Our members individually design and implement the products that support better experiences. At the same time, collectively, we enable what is available to practitioners and how they use and take advantage of the ecosystem we are creating together.

The "brand promise" is, as it sounds, both the synthesis and the heart and soul of the brand experience. It's our call to action now and into the future. We believe we're capturing that promise in the simple phrase: Together We Power Learner Potential

 

That brand promise is the headline of the 1EdTech Mission statement.

Together we power learner potential.
The 1EdTech community provides collaborative leadership that shapes the foundation of an open edtech ecosystem now and into the future to enable unlimited potential in every learner. 1EdTech member organizations shape the future, foster lasting partnerships, and accelerate digital learning by leveraging unparalleled cooperative investment across the ecosystem.

 

Every day, our staff, members, and I are inspired by what they have achieved as individuals and collectively. It's inspiring that edtech leaders can get a high return on investment in their time for their organizations while contributing to the greater good. There may be another organization out there that has done more to shape edtech (I don't know of one), but I'll say that we can all be very proud of what our community has achieved and the potential we have created for the future.

 

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1EdTech CEO Rob AbelRob Abel, Ed.D. | January 2022

 

"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." —William Shakespeare

 

IMS Global is Rebranding to 1EdTech in 2022

Many of you may have already heard this exciting news. This year, we are transitioning to a new brand to better capture the essence of our groundbreaking community and add even greater energy to our cause as the need continues to grow around the world.

Yes, the IMS Global brand is well known and greatly respected among those involved in standards development. Not to mention the IMS community is (and has been) growing at an impressive rate.

However, in 2018 the IMS Board of Directors concluded that the name, IMS Global Consortium, was not reflecting the primary value that the organization provides. Namely, our value is helping the educational and learning technology ecosystem converge toward the future through the leadership and collaboration of dedicated end-user and supplier organizations. And that not only the name but the overall messaging and positioning of the organization needed a refresh.

Thus, in 2022 we are transitioning to a new brand: 1EdTech.

The new name and the brand messaging reflect both our aspirations and the value we are already providing to the worldwide education technology sector.

1EdTech signifies a united commitment to achieving an open and inclusive education technology ecosystem that serves the needs of every learner, every educational institution, and every edtech supplier. This united ecosystem is owned by all education participants and stakeholders, enabling both public and private good. Together we are accelerating educational innovation to lift every learner.

1EdTech New Site Hero Example

We are purposely communicating the brand transition gradually. IMS members have been providing feedback on the rebranding strategy since it began in earnest towards the end of 2018. But we are still listening for input as we talk with our many partners worldwide. In 1EdTech, just as in IMS Global, the community shapes the organization.

Over the first half of 2022, you will see incremental updates to the website that reflect messaging that is more aligned with 1EdTech, and, yes, there will be an update to the logos and other brand imagery as we go. We will be highlighting stories that help all stakeholders understand better how our members are creating the future of education by shaping an edtech ecosystem that powers learner potential. I will be creating blog posts every couple of weeks to provide some perspective on the new brand.

I hope you will be able to join us as we celebrate the new brand at Learning Impact 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee, from 13-16 June! Be on the lookout for registration opening soon.

 

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1EdTech Chief Architect Dr. Colin SmytheIMS Global TECH TALK

Contributed by Dr. Colin Smythe, IMS Chief Architect

 

Creating IMS Specifications Using a Model-Driven Specification Approach

Background

In 1999, IMS published its first two eLearning interoperability specifications: IMS Metadata and IMS Enterprise Data Model.

In 2000, IMS Content Packaging and IMS Question & Test Interoperability specifications followed.

These specifications were developed and documented as Microsoft Word documents with tabular-based descriptions of the data models. For all of them, the actual interoperability was based upon the exchange of XML files. Initially, we created Document Type Definition (DTD), then XML Schema Definition (XSDs) files to provide machine-enabled validation of the XML files. Eventually, the IMS specification development process was based on creating the relevant Information Model, XML Binding and the Best Practices and Implementation Guide documents, and the accompanying DTD/XSD files. The documents were created using Microsoft Word and published as PDF documents. The DTD/XSD files were created using early versions of XML authoring tools (we are still in the 2001-2003 period). Many other standardization organizations had similar approaches and used similar toolsets. In 2004, IMS started work on their first service-based specification (Enterprise Services). Once again, the interoperability technology was XML-based but now requires SOAP messages with Web Service Description Language (WSDL) files used to provide a machine-readable version of the API. Again, we created MS Word documents with lots of tables.

In early 2006 it became clear that our specification development approach had limitations:

  • The information model and XML binding documents and the accompanying DTD/XSDs were being created through three separate manual processes and, no surprise, there were many discrepancies between them, many of which were trivial, but some were significant and caused a lot of confusion and implementation problems;
  • The specifications were becoming increasingly complex, so the tabular-based descriptions were large and difficult to understand. Also, the number and significance of the discrepancies was increasingly problematic;
  • The creation and maintenance of new versions were becoming difficult. The combination of increased complexity and maintaining consistency across the different, manually produced, and changing artifacts was resulting in unacceptably error-prone documentation;
  • The inclusion of service-based specification development and the accompanying new set of binding technologies was proving difficult to define and describe with the required precision and accuracy using MS Word documents;
  • There was increasing awareness that conformance testing and certification of products—with respect to the specification—would be essential so the corresponding conformance test systems had to be created and maintained.

Transition

In 2006, we decided to move to a Model-Driven Specification (MDS) approach. The primary objective was to create a process by which the definition and description of a specification were entered into a machine-readable format (the model) once, and from that model, ALL of the artifacts would be produced using auto-generation transformations. Therefore, in the worst case, any error would be consistently present in ALL of the artifacts. This has the benefit that any error identified in one artifact can be used to fix that same error in all of the artifacts. In 2005, the IMS Enterprise Service 1.0 and a new version of the IMS Content Package specifications developed using the IMS MDS approach were published. All of the required benefits were achieved, but we also confirmed some drawbacks:

  • The design of the specification required a more abstract approach for the creation of the model and the actual implementation details only became evident once the binding information was autogenerated;
  • The modeling was based upon the use of Unified Modeling Language (UML); the new transformation toolkit and the learning curve for these were difficult and time-consuming.

Summary

Many engineers from IMS Contributing Members did not have the time or skills to understand the details of this new approach or use the new toolkit. There was more significant dependence on the IMS technical staff to facilitate the development of the specifications. This made understanding the proposed specification and consensus-building more difficult.

Over the following decade, the IMS MDS approach underwent considerable evolution and refinement. The tooling remained based on UML using the Eclipse hosted open-source Papyrus tool, the corresponding IMS profile of UML to enable the IMS MDS approach, and the set of proprietary transformation tools. The currently supported artifacts include HTML documents, XSD and WSDL files, OpenAPI and JSON Schema files, JSON Linked Data files, and the set of PHP files used to support the conformance testing of the implementation of a service provider for the corresponding IMS service specification. The MDS approach also supports the definition of Profile of an IMS base specification: a Profile enables the adaptation of a specification to fit the specific requirements of a market, geographic, etc., communities.  

In 2018 we undertook an internal review of the specification development activities in the context of the next generation of MDS. That review identified several key objectives for that next generation:

  • The use of combinations of specifications was becoming more common, so more effective visualization and interaction with the specification documentation sets were required. This leads to the Student Learning Data Model and the IMS Common Data Model;
  • Reusability of data models was becoming important. Using the same data model improves integration between specifications, but this requires the definition of the data models to enable tailoring at the point of inclusion into a specification to avoid unnecessary bloating of a specification. This is accompanied by the application of a set of frameworks that define common patterns to be used across the IMS specifications (the IMS Security Framework is the first of these frameworks);
  • Contributing Members required better integration of the materials without curtailing their types of input (currently supplied using Google docs, markdown, MS Word, etc.). A process by which CMs can amend and then review the changed model and artifacts needed to be introduced;
  • The codebase for the XSLT was aging, and a complete rewrite was required. The range of target artifacts was still increasing, and so the full UML-based approach needed to be revised;
  • More agile specification development requires the use of a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) process to link the IMS GitHub repositories with the IMS Tech Forums, Website, and PURL server so that a single change to the underlying model can result in rapid update and deployment of all of the associated artifacts;
  • The MDS approach must create a new set of common libraries that will be reused to develop the corresponding conformance tests systems, reference implementations and support the Compatibility Check.

Looking Ahead

For the past three years, the IMS technical staff have worked on all of the above objectives. In the past 12 months, several changes in the IMS specification development process have become evident. The EDU-API, Comprehensive Learner Record 2.0, and Open Badges 3.0 specifications are prototyping many revised MDS approaches. In the next 12 months the following changes will be delivered:

  • The IMS Common Data Model visualization technique will be extended to include support for the wide range of IMS service operations and the realization as REST/JSON-based endpoints;
  • All of the HTML-based documents will be rendered in the IMS profile of Respec. This includes those documents that are autogenerated from the MDS approach and those that are created manually;
  • The Versioning, Extensions, and JSON API frameworks will be completed, and as new IMS specifications and new versions are produced, support of these frameworks will be included;
  • The modeling approach will be extended to include support for the Publish/Subscribe-based service bindings;
  • The set of specification documents and artifacts will be published through the new MDS-integrated CI/CD process.

The focus will move to the conformance and certification, reference implementations, and Compatibility Check aspects of the IMS specification development process in the longer term. Conformance & Certification are an essential part of the IMS process. We must continue to improve the quality and reduce the time taken to establish these for our specifications. This will reduce the effort and time taken to create conformance and certification of Profiles of the IMS specifications and make it even easier to create, manage and maintain IMS ecosystems.

 

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1EdTech CEO Rob AbelRob Abel, Ed.D. | November 2021

 

"We're all in this together. It's so easy to see." — Walter Trout

 

Renewing (Y)Our Commitment to Shaping the EdTech Ecosystem

As we approach the end of 2021, IMS Global is energized from our recent K-12 Leadership Retreat held in person in Denver—the first IMS in-person event since late February 2020. We're also energized by the dramatic growth in IMS membership, as we started the year with less than 590 and are now approaching 700 member organizations. All of the IMS key initiative areas are gaining momentum across HED and K-12.

Yet, as I mentioned in my last post (Clarity), I've never been more enthusiastic and, at the same time, more concerned about where the edtech sector will go from here. A confluence of factors may distract us, not the least of which is "the great resignation." I sense that 2022-23 will be a test of leadership like no other we have seen in terms of each institution, district, state, and supplier setting a path based on the perceived lessons learned from both before and during the pandemic. Where will the leadership come from?

Well, it may come from many places. Still, I know with 100% certainty that the IMS community will once again bring extraordinary leadership in defining "the next leg up" in the growth of the edtech ecosystem. Our recent K-12 Retreat was a reminder of the power of in-person collaboration. We know we can expect big things in 2022 from our annual Digital Credentials Summit in Atlanta, 28 February through 2 March, and the Learning Impact 2022 conference in Nashville, 13-16 June.

1EdTech Learning Impact Conference 2021 information header

Much of what happens in the IMS community I can't predict, but here are some of the themes to engage with going into 2022:

  • Curriculum Innovation and Equity: We have seen extraordinary leadership from IMS members in accelerating the deployment of innovative products while enabling new designs for leveraging digital to achieve greater equity and accessibility. It's time to spread these great ideas from both suppliers and institutions to create our future.
  • Ensuring Real-time Grades, Scores, Data Across Applications and Platforms: It's time to take full advantage of LTI-Advantage, OneRoster, and Edu-API to enable seeing the right data in the right place to improve user experiences. We've got the foundational standards—but we need more purposeful design and implementation.
  • Designing and Connecting Credential Ecosystems: There is nothing the IMS community is more passionate about than shaping the educational ecosystem to enable better recognition of student achievement that opens opportunities for students of all types and ages. The foundation provided by the Open Badges and Comprehensive Learner Record standards, including new work to take advantage of other new and evolving standards, will undoubtedly take us where the leadership from IMS higher education and corporate learning leaders will take this undeniable trend.
  • Enabling Embedded and Balanced Assessment: In 2022, the breakthrough QTI 3.0 will be hitting the market in a big way, but the question is how to leverage digital assessment innovation across products and between state and district level systems to enable new models for embedded assessment. QTI 3—and what it can enable—should be on every edtech product company's roadmap. I expect to see robust and collaborative leadership on new models that will prioritize the many available features.
  • Foundational Data and Analytics Architectures to Support Educational Design: In 2021, IMS began work on the application of IMS standards coupled with next-generation data architectures to support the understanding and effective usage of learning platforms, learning tools, and curriculum resources.
  • Defining and Ensuring a Trusted Edtech Ecosystem: After more than a decade of breakthrough work in enabling connectivity among teaching and learning products, the IMS community is leading the definition and deployment of TrustEd Apps across K-12 and HED. The IMS community is where the leadership on what information is needed and how to get it to the range of "users" that set up and touch an institution or state's ecosystem.

Hopefully, you will note that none of the above areas of leadership are just "nice to have." They are all calls to action for collaboration because it is literally impossible to expect one or a small group of organizations to accelerate widespread progress in any of these.

Our purpose in IMS at every one of our over 500 meetings a year, especially at our in-person events, is to design and facilitate the community collaboration that will shape the future of the edtech ecosystem. It is a future filled with greater diversity, innovation, and personalized experiences.

By working together, we achieve a better understanding of our options, better support from building lasting partnerships, and thus become much more effective leaders.

And, by producing connectivity that we can all leverage, we are building the capacity for change via an unparalleled shared investment. It's a formula that has worked well and will continue to work well for those that engage and are active in our community. As we go into 2022, with all the leadership challenges that will be out there, IMS members must take this to heart and benefit from the amazing progress and resources that we produce together.

I wish you all the best for the holiday season and look forward to seeing everyone in 2022!

 

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