To follow up on Ray Henderson’s blog post earlier today
I’ve been at the IMS Quarterly Meeting in Lone Star College in the Woodlands, Texas this week. My Blackboard colleagues and I have been showing off our progress on IMS Standards. We are finishing testing of two technologies in our Blackboard Learn product: IMS Common Cartridge and Basic LTI. We’ve taken our integration of Common Cartridge and Basic LTI into the Bb Learn core and included support for BLTI links inside a Common Cartridge Package. I’m also pleased that we will include both Import and Export of Common Cartridge within the core platform. This will do a lot for learning object repositories and sharing.
The Blackboard approach to Basic LTI actually extends Building Blocks technology in a powerful new way. We’ve made it possible to define a BLTI link within the bb-manifest.xml file which means that Basic LTI links can be used within a number of workflows in the application. As far as I know we are the only vendor to allow these more complex link placement options. We also make it possible for administrators to define trusted tool providers and enable course builders to create links to these providers as easily as one would put in a URL. Finally since we’ve integrated Common Cartridge and Basic LTI a CC package that included BasicLTI links can be used to define placement of tools within the flow of course materials. For example one could build a module which ended with a link to a simulation after providing some local training activities.
Blackboard is also making progress on Shibboleth. We’ve joined the InCommon Federation and hope to setup Blackboard as an identity provider. We are working with a handful of customers to work through a few key use cases involving SAML user provisioning and synchronization and sharing courses between institutions.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on our new SCORM partnership, but I think we’ll see that our player improves dramatically as we move to the RUSTICI player.
Finally I know that system admins and managers want to see better integration between the Blackboard Learn and other campus systems. The administrative systems need to work better. I’ve been on the LIS working group now for several years within IMS and so I’m happy to report a couple of items. First the working group has finally finished key elements of the core profile. We’ve worked to refine and simplify the API so that it will meet the needs of integrating administrative and vle systems in both real time and batch scenarios. This newly simplified profile was the last hurdle preventing us from completing our implementation. We’ve been working closely with SunGard in the last few months and I’m optimistic we will have something to show at the next IMS meeting in January. Now we’re still a bit of a way from shipping LIS. The workgroup still has some issues to work out in the Outcomes (grade exchange) profile and with authentication. The timeline for the LIS workgroup is that the workgroup will be doing testing of all profiles but outcomes by the end of January, and then plan to publish and finalize the grade exchange and hopefully be done with the specification by Learning Impact. I’m cautiously optimistic that we will meet these timelines. There is a lot of work left though within the workgroup. In addition to authentication and grade exchange there is a set of fairly complex certification tests which we(the workgroup and IMS) will need to complete, test and review. Still it seems like as an industry 2011 will be the year that IMS LIS is finally ready.