IMS Broadens International Scope and Signs-On Australia and Singapore as Investment Members

Publication: Business Wire
Date: Tuesday, December 8 1998

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 8, 1998–IMS, a coalition of corporate, academic and government organizations dedicated to growing a robust distributed learning market through widespread adoption of standards for learning content and systems, today announced that it has obtained investment support

from two additional countries-further broadening the reach of IMS’s global specification effort. Joining IMS’s current membership base throughout North America and Europe, the countries of Singapore and Australia have signed on as the newest global investment members in the effort.

Singapore’s Center for Learning Technologies will operate a newly formed IMS Asia Center working to expand participation throughout the region. In Australia, the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs is currently coordinating national participation in the development and use of IMS specifications and prototypes.

According to IMS Director, Mark Resmer, the support of Singapore and Australia for the IMS standards effort points to the global focus and interest of the IMS specification. “From the beginning, the core strategy of IMS has been to create a global consensus around the creation and adoption of specifications that help standardize distributed learning programs. IMS is committed to fostering the development of a worldwide learning economy,” stated Resmer. “For the past year, IMS has operated a centre in the UK, in partnership with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the University of Wales at Bangor, and the Open University. We have also collaborated very successfully in Europe with the EU-funded ARIADNE project in the development of common standards that represent a range of international requirements. The addition of Singapore and Australia to our membership is evidence of further progress toward the IMS goal of creating a global market for learning.” he added.

Australia and Singapore join more than 30 organizations representing education, corporate and government organizations that have invested significantly in the initiative. Each of the investor organizations has a seat on the IMS Advisory Board, which addresses policy issues, and has a vote on the Technical Board, which makes recommendations about scope of specification efforts, as well as decisions about the release of the draft and final specifications. This cooperative effort draws on the perspective of customer stakeholders in charting the course of distributed learning.

According to Desmond Kee, manager for the IMS Asia Center, one of the key projects under Singapore’s masterplan for information technology in Education is to establish digital media repositories that provide multimedia resources for resource-based learning. “These resources come from myriad parties such as publishers, teachers, schools and institutes of higher learning, and thus, interoperability of course contents and instructional systems becomes a vital success factor,” stated Kee. “IMS standards and specifications help make this effort possible. The IMS Asia Center will work hand-in-hand with the academic institutions and relevant industry to achieve this vision,” he added.

In Australia, broad-based interest in the IMS coalition is being led by the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA). The Australian education community is increasingly aware that the growth and viability of distributed learning on the Internet is dependent on the development of specifications and software which conform to universally acceptable standards, yet are broad and flexible enough to encompass local requirements.

The participation from countries such as Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom offers clear advantages to the success of the standardization effort. Greg Baroni, a partner at KPMG Peat Marwick, who works closely with many of the IMS commercial and academic investors, explained, “We are excited by this opportunity for IMS to expand its presence to these regions. It is essential to the success of IMS that it gets substantial participation on a global scale because the Internet-based learning marketplace has no boundaries.”

About Distributed Learning Standards:

As the Internet continues to connect all classrooms, campuses and corporations to each other, learners become mobile, and learning content finds its way into multitudes of concrete and virtual learning environments. The idea of learning software that runs on only that vendor’s server or assessments that communicate only with that vendor’s student record system or indexing schemes that apply only to one repository of material becomes untenable as a product strategy. Finding relevant, valuable, and interesting information on the Web is a difficult process because there is no inherent structure or standards for describing available content.

Increasing access, improving quality, and reducing costs of learning environments requires the development of a substantial body of instructional software. The development of such software and its integration into the learning environment, however, have been impeded by a lack of standards that would permit sharing across institutions and across a wide range of technical environments. To address this need, IMS was formed by Educom (which recently merged with CAUSE to form EDUCAUSE), a non-profit consortium of colleges and universities and corporate associates seeking to transform education through the use of information technology.

About IMS:

The IMS coalition is part of EDUCAUSE’s National Learning Infrastructure Initiative with staff drawn from California State University, from the COLLEGIS Research Institute, and from other member organizations. Blackboard Inc. is developing specifications and example implementations under contract in collaboration with other project members. Working together with members of the education, government and corporate sectors, IMS is driving the widespread adoption of a technical specification for management tools and learning content for the Internet. Additional information on the IMS project can be found at http://www.imsproject.org.

IMS Investor Organizations:

Thirty-four organizations have made substantial investments in the IMS project and continue active involvement in the technical work. IMS investment members are: Apple Computer, Asymetrix, AT&T Learning Network, Buena Vista University, The California State University, The Centre for Learning Technologies, Singapore, COLLEGIS, COLLEGIS Research Institute (CRI), Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), Department of Education Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA) – Australia, Educational Testing Service, Empower Corporation, Farance, Inc., George Mason University, IBM Education, International Thomson Publishing, Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, Macromedia, Miami-Dade Community College, Microsoft, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Oracle, PeopleSoft, Simon & Schuster, Sun Microsystems, UNISYS, University of California, The University of Michigan, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA), Virginia Tech, @learning.