Common cartridge export - why would you want an LMS without it?

Common cartridge export - why would you want an LMS without it?

Is the LMS coming back from the dead?

Common cartridge export - why would you want an LMS without it?

IMS Friends,

At our IMS quarterly meetings we have lots of interoperability demos and prototypes and these often provide a glimpse of the future. Last week at Lonestar College was no exception. However, while many interoperability demos are quite boring, last week I witnessed one that is very exciting for those in education using course management systems.

There's been a lot of talk lately about the "death of the LMS." Perhaps IMS has been an instigator of that conversation with our focus at the Learning Impact conference on the future of the LMS versus personal learning environments (PLEs). No doubt that we are all working to make the future one where our investments in software are about improving learning - and not just learning administration.

But last week at the very end of the last day of the week several of us got to see an early glimpse of the Common Cartridge export that Blackboard has developed and which Ray Henderson, president of Blackboard Learn, says should be shipping soon.

Quite honestly, this is a feature that I want in any Learning Management System that I would use. It sounds simple, but it is really pretty amazing to see that digital content can be imported into Blackboard in Common Cartridge format, added to/remixed, and then exported in the Common Cartridge format. This, of course, is a great victory for open standards. But, more importantly, this is a MUST HAVE FEATURE for educators! Now the LMS is an authoring platform and you can author to a widely supported open format. This means you can take your course with you to another teaching gig or share it with your colleagues. Because it is Common Cartridge, that course can contain a flexible mix of all types of web content, links, test items and tests, LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) links, discussion forums, etc. Wow!

Many interoperability standards are kind of hidden under the covers - they reduce friction in things that, from the end user perspective, look the same as they did before. In this case, however, the Common Cartridge export capability turns the LMS into a viable course authoring platform. Not only no more lock-in, but really valuable new feature.

In other words, the Common Cartridge export makes the LMS - in this case Blackboard - a much more valuable and critical platform in meeting the range of educator and institutional needs. After seeing this demo, I'm telling you - this is a VERY nice feature - you will be impressed.

Perhaps the LMS is not dying a fast as some think ;-)

- Rob Abel