Interesting article in today's Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus about a growing shitstorm around learning technology standards.
Per Jeff Young, author of article in question: "The issue centers around a single line of the 53-page grant guidelines for the program, known officially as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants Program: “All online and technology-enabled courses developed under this [program] must be compliant with the latest version of SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model).”
So what's the big whiff?
And then I read a little bit further and all became clear: Dr. Rob Abel, IMS Global CEO, is pitching an absolute hiss over this particular requirement. Why? Because his group supports a different standard.
There is a rich and storied pissing match history that has developed between Dr. Abel and the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative of the US Department of Defense over the past several years, and I am very sorry to see that the stains are going to get all over this exciting new collaboration between the US Departments of ED and Labor.
A bit of perspective -The federal government made a decision 11 years ago to develop SCORM as a specification to serve as a cost-saving criterion for RFP / vendor selection. ADL/DOD have been the keeper of SCORM on behalf of all the Feds. So it seems to me that the US Dept of Labor is well within their rights to adhere to their own government spec. Especially since the SCORM spec is built upon the standards coming from IMS Global, and other standards bodies, including AICC, IEEE-LTSC, and ARIADNE.
Hats off to Dr. Abel, he has done a great job persuading .edu that the IMS Global is the only standard that really matters. I mean that sincerely. IMS's Common Cartridge helps institutions get better value from LMS vendors and publishers. Even the most technically skilled educators don't want to worry about learning technology standards. The tap dances required to get things to interoperate in the old days of LMS ops were excruciating. Common Cartridge is a good thing, and he should be commended for his leadership on offering a solution to the big audacious higher ed problem of content distribution and management.
But CCCT is a whole different initiative, one of several federal projects designed to force issues of openness precisely to have the different conversation. Because the IMS conversation only addresses part of the new opportunities. And the CCCT efforts are about tying education to training, jobs and development. Not the other way around.
(inserted note - SCORM dominates in corporate and government and non-profit learning platform tech as an RFP "checklist" item. IMS dominates in higher ed. They are not mutually exclusive. They are different.)
It is pretty amazing to watch the lines getting drawn. Time to pull up a chair, grab some popcorn and get ready for some great pyrotechnics.