Learning Impact Blog

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.




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.