One thing you

Need to Know

Data Ready Apps:

Building a True Ecosystem

Webster's Dictionary defines "ecosystem" as...well, okay, we don't have to start with that freshman essay chestnut. But what comes to mind when you hear the word ecosystem?

In nature, most of us envision not just individual organisms or trees or ponds or such, but an interactive environment of animals, plants, the physical setting they share. The same is true of digital ecosystems—the larger value is not in the individual systems and solutions, but in the interplay between them and the cross-solution business processes that they address. And those solutions are no longer siloed. The data no longer "belongs" to one application or platform but needs to (and does) move freely across all the components that make up the ecosystem.

But because of that increased requirement for "freedom," the data needs to move in a coherent, orchestrated fashion. Interoperability, and the standards that facilitate it, is one component of that orchestration. But ensuring that interoperability standards work together as a whole is the next step toward a truly healthy and sustainable digital ecosystem. When IMS talks about data-ready apps, that's precisely what we mean—leveraging IMS specifications in a coordinated way to maximize the interaction of data between systems.

There are many different ways to plug-and-play IMS specifications and initiatives, depending on what high-level business processes you're thinking about solving. Still, in higher education, one place to start is to look at the symbiotic relationship between the specifications that connect core student and learning data to enable the provisioning of learning and enable the coordination of data. Together, these standards facilitate a deeper understanding of student engagement and outcomes: LTI Advantage, Edu-API, and Caliper Analytics.

"I'm beginning to see a more cohesive ecosystem of standards emerge, and kudos to you and IMS Global for making that work and message clearer to us all."

Mary-Ellen Kreher, Director, Instructional Design & Technical Development, University of California System and IMS Higher Education Leadership Board member

In looking at the diagram (see a larger image below), it's easy to see how LTI's role in connecting learning platforms to tools complements the emerging Edu-API's part in connecting student information systems with platforms as well as with other student-supporting enterprise and administrative systems (which can in turn, then, support the learning platforms and tools): Edu-API provisions the classes and students into the LMS and similar consumers, and LTI leverages that information to launch the learning tools in a personalized way.

Similarly, LTI integrations between tools and platforms, and especially leveraging the LTI–Caliper Connector, works in concert with Caliper-instrumented event streams to capture semantically rich learning events for inclusion in learning record stores, which are then enriched or hydrated with corresponding contextual data from the SIS via Edu-API.

Standards, and IMS specifications, enable an enormous degree of agility, flexibility, and capability when deployed to pull together elements of your digital ecosystem. That capability is increased manifold when you implement them working together. And new IMS offerings like the Core Data Model, providing a common definition for entities in IMS specifications to further enhance and ensure that coordination, and the Student Learning Data Model utility, allowing you to explore the IMS specifications and their interrelationships, are already helping to create the next generation of the truly interoperability ecosystem.

For more insight into data-ready apps and the vision of IMS work going forward, watch "Data Ready Apps: A Fireside Chat with IMS CEO Rob Abel," available on the February IMS Quarterly Meeting Attendee Website.