News from the August 2019 IMS Quarterly Meeting

Published on: September 20, 2019
Linda Feng, Software Architect

"Long Beach Harbor by Linda Feng"

The most recent IMS quarterly meeting was held last month in Long Beach, California.  After many years of not being in Long Beach, it was nice to be back - in fact, this year I had two meetings within a few months in Long Beach!  Here are some updates from the week.

Technical Congress Update

The Tech Congress is an annual gathering across all the various IMS groups. The main purpose is to share updates from each of the work group areas and to encourage discussion across groups for areas that may have cross-cutting concerns. This year the theme was “IMS in Action,” with the objective to showcase as many examples as possible of IMS implementations in the field. In the morning, I was one of several presenters who demonstrated the use of different IMS standards "in the wild." My examples highlighted different ways I have seen people use Caliper Analytics, based on large scale analytics projects implemented by Unicon. The afternoon was devoted to IMS staff members providing updates on key cross-cutting initiatives. Highlights of the all-day meeting included the following:

  • Schoology and Infinite Campus gave a live demo of OneRoster with Grades
  • Several organizations showed an impressive array of IMS standards from academic standards (CASE) to rostering (OneRoster) to tool launch (LTI) and finally learner records (CLR).
  • IMS also reiterated their commitment to move towards a global data model with Edu-API

In many ways, it felt like a glimpse of the future when seeing demos from CoreLX and AEFIS. They showed the full student lifecycle flow, starting with curriculum mapped to academic standards, continuing with learning tool usage in the context of an educational event, and ending with the result--a comprehensive learning record reflecting the evidence of the learner’s work. Until now, available solutions managed different portions of this lifecycle, but now with standards like CASE, LTI, OneRoster and CLR, it is possible to complete the full picture from end to end.

Real Ways to Use Edu-API

The next day, I participated in an all-day hackathon for Edu-API. One of the goals of the hackathon was to exercise a draft set of OpenAPI specifications for Edu-API. Many of the participants did just that, demonstrating interoperability connections and identifying issues along the way. It was so great to see more than a dozen participants working on interoperability projects, including the following:

  • Transforming Edu-API input messages into a corresponding set of LIS event messages
  • Batch import through Canvas SIS Import for courses, people and enrollments
  • Retrieving data from BannerODS to support an Analytics dashboard
  • Mapping Edu-API to Sakai Course Management Service
  • Synchronous and Asynchronous implementation of Edu-API for SUNET

For me, the most encouraging aspect was seeing all the different ways people were looking to use Edu-API to solve immediate problems. For now, the primary motivation is to find ways to do what was previously hard and brittle in an easier, more modern way. There is more to do, but as we continue to iterate through real use cases, we can expand coverage of the model.     

Continued Progress on CASE, CASE Network and CLR

I also attended a few additional meetings related to CASE, CASE Network, and CLR.

The Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) specification is now Candidate Final, which means it is available for implementation within the IMS community. The idea is to solidify the spec using real-world implementations. Once at least two members have certified their implementations using the spec, it will proceed towards Public Final.

The combination of the CASE specification, combined with the CASE Network and CLR, has great potential to enable mastery-based transcripts, portable student learning records, unbundled credentials, workforce assessment, and more. It’s super exciting to see IMS moving towards being able to describe the full lifecycle of student learning using all of its standards.

LTI Advantage Update

LTI 1.3 and LTI Advantage are now available for public adoption, and the number of platforms and tools with implementations underway using the latest LTI 1.3 conformance test suite is growing steadily. An important aspect of LTI 1.3 is the adoption of the latest OAuth2 security model, aligned with the latest IMS Security Framework specification, which was published earlier this year.  

Now that the IMS Security Framework has been approved by the membership, the use of OAuth 1.0a is going to be deprecated. To assist organizations with this transition, IMS has issued a security update for LTI 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2, and is rolling out conformance test support for both tools and platforms. For more info on the deprecation schedule announcement from IMS regarding ongoing certifications of existing LTI 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2, please see https://www.imsglobal.org/lti-security-announcement-and-deprecation-schedule-july-2019

The IMS security update provides tool developers with an option to preserve existing LTI implementations (of which there are many out there). If you are a tool developer, now is the time to evaluate what support you will need to provide, based on what is needed for your customer base.

Next Meeting in November

The next IMS quarterly meeting will be November 15-19, in Redmond, Washington. The focus of that meeting will be on Analytics. There are many different topics to explore: what roadblocks are schools encountering, what are common problems with readiness, governance, policies? And what about the use of AI algorithms in student data systems? What is working and what is not? I hope you will join me and others in what I’m sure will be a stimulating set of conversations there. I’m looking forward to an invigorating session, exploring common challenges and potential solutions.

 

Linda Feng photo

Linda Feng

Software Architect

Linda Feng is a software architect at Unicon, Inc., a leading provider of education technology consulting and digital services. Linda has deep experience in student information systems (SIS) integration, open standards, and big data/ learning analytics, most recently as Senior Product Manager for Canvas SIS Integrations and Canvas Data at Instructure. Prior to Instructure, Linda held the position of software architect for Oracle's Student Products Division. In the last several years, she served as co-chair of the IMS Global Learning Initiative Learning Information Services & Privacy Working Groups, helping to bring a new Enterprise interoperability standard to market.