Ecosystem of Learning Platforms, Apps and Tools Ecosystem of Learning Platforms, Apps and Tools

Many higher education institutions and K-12 school districts are the largest employers in their region, but as pointed out by in this prescient paper on the future of educational information technology even the largest institutions lack sufficient resources to invest adequately in instructional technology innovation. The bottom line is that collaboration among institutions is required to address the daunting challenge of creating the future of teaching and learning and the required supporting technologies.

What type of collaboration will advance innovation while reducing unnecessary costs?

Education needs to leverage the power of a common architecture built on open, community-governed standards that allow an institution to quickly and easily customize their edtech environment, thus creating an ecosystem that enables and supports creativity. Such a platform would reduce investment on repetitive integrations, lower barriers to entry, and focus investment on educational innovation.

This cannot be a single platform provided by one company or evolved by a single institution or supplier, due to the required diversity and inclusion of education. As described in the breakthrough article, A New Architecture for Learning, this architecture must be achieved via an educational community (institutional and supplier) collaboration and based on open standards. No one contributor owns, but all contribute.

The IMS Global community is leading the definition, development, adoption, and evolution of this architecture and resulting business ecosystem for the purpose of advancing educational innovation.


For most school districts there is a compelling need to enable easy access to a wide variety of digital curriculum assets that are thoughtfully curated. IMS standards such as  LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability), Thin Common Cartridge and OneRoster have revolutionized the time, cost and agility by which a rich collection of digital assets can be easily accessed through a variety of single sign-on and authorization platforms such as LMSs (Learning Management Systems), IMSs (Instructional Management Systems), Learning Object Repositories (LORs), mobile app launchers or portals.

More importantly, IMS institutional members have formed a collaborative leadership effort. Their initiatives include the development of a framework for strategic alignment between curriculum, instruction and information technology that can be used by institutions around the world. These stakeholders are also leading the way in defining what it means to be a center of excellence with respect to enhancing teaching and learning through the effective use of a digital curriculum. In addition, IMS districts and states are leaders in requiring IMS certification from all suppliers, helping to better the edtech landscape.

Single Sign On, rostering, and access to digital resources through integrations such as Thin Common Cartridge are not just IT areas of concern. These are core areas that have instructional impact when they are not implemented consistently with standards. That is why I am happy so many publishers have worked with IMS Global on the plug and play edtech revolution.

Maurice Draggon

Maurice Draggon

Director, Curriculum, Instruction and Digital Learning, Orange County Public Schools

Higher Ed

The IMS HED community is focused on a new generation of leadership in which IT (information technology) and academic leaders make known to suppliers the architectural and business requirements needed for their institution to support a sustainable, cohesive edtech ecosystem. Similar to the IMS K-12 community this type of revolution requires effective collaboration among leading institutions, including what defines a center of excellence with respect to enhancing teaching and learning with effective digital curriculum and tools.  

Although there is a diversity of institution types in higher education, all with differing needs, there is a common “bottom-line”—make it easy for faculty and students to leverage technology in order to enhance teaching, learning, engagement, and student outcomes. HED leadership working together, and with IMS Global, can achieve a common set of interoperability standards that define an EdTech open architecture and enable a vibrant ecosystem of innovative products.


UCF is a strong supporter of interoperability standards and active in developing the kinds of innovations they enable. Participating in a community of like-minded institutions is an important part of disseminating what we have learned and learning from the innovative work of others.

Thomas Cavanagh

Thomas Cavanagh

Associate Vice President, Distributed Learning, University of Central Florida

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