Assessment, Packaging – where, why and what is going on?

Steve Lay (CARET, University of Cambridge) hosted the joint Assessment and EC SIG meeting at the University of Cambridge last week. The day provided and opportunity to get an update on what is happening in the specification world, particularly in the content packaging and assessment areas and compare that to some really world implementations including a key interest – IMS Common Cartridge.

Packaging and QTI are intrinsically linked – to share and move questions/items they need to be packaged – preferably in an interoperable format:-) However despite recent developments in both the IMS QTI and CP specifications, due to changes in the structure of IMS working groups there have been no public releases of either specifications for well over a year. This is mainly due to the need for at least two working implementations of a specification before public release. In terms of interoperability, general uptake and usabillity this does seem like a perfectly sensible change. But as ever, life is never quite that simple.

IMS Common Cartridge has come along and has turned into something of a flag-bearer for IMS. This has meant that an awful lot of effort from some of the ‘big’ (or perhaps ‘active’ would be more accurate) members of IMS has been concentrated on the development of CC and not pushing implementation of CP1.2 or the latest version of QTI. A decision was taken early in the development of CC to use older, more widely implemented versions of specifications rather than the latest versions. (It should be noted that this looks like changing as more demands are being made on CC which the newer versions of the specs can achieve.)

So, the day was also an opportunity to reflect on what the current state of play is with IMS and other specification bodies, and to discuss with the community what areas they feel are most important for CETIS to be engaging in. Profiling did surface as something that the JISC elearning development community – particularly in the assessment domain – should be developing further.

In terms of specification updates, our host Steve Lay presented a brief history of QTI and future development plans, Adam Cooper (CETIS) gave a round up from the IMS Quarterly meeting held the week before and Wilbert Kraan (CETIS) gave a round up of packaging developments including non IMS initiatives such as OAI-ORE and IEEE RAMLET. On the implementation side of things Ross MacKenzie and Sarah Wood (OU) took us through their experiences of developing common cartridges for the OpenLearn project and Niall Barr (NB Software) gave an overview of integrating QTI and common cartridge. There was also a very stimulating presentation from Linn van der Zanden (SQA) on a pilot project using wikis and blogs as assessment tools.

Presentations/slidecasts ( including as much discussion as was audible) and MP3s are available from the wiki so if you want to get up to speed on what is happening in the wonderful world of specifications – have a listen. There is also an excellent review of the day over on Rowin’s blog.

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