IAF - Overview
The IMS Abstract Framework (IAF) is a device to enable the IMS to describe the context within which it will continue to develop its eLearning technology specifications. This framework is not an attempt to define the IMS architecture, rather it is a mechanism to define the set of services for which IMS may or may not produce a set of interoperability specifications. In the cases where IMS does not produce a specification then every effort will be made to adopt or recommend a suitable specification from another organization.
IMS Abstract Framework
This Abstract Framework document describes the general architectural assumptions that underlie IMS specifications and other technical documents. This is a living document which is likely to evolve and be extended to include areas not covered in the current version.IMS Abstract Framework Web Site
|Since its incorporation, the IMS has released a unique set of interoperability specifications within the eLearning technology community. During that period the various eLearning technology development activities have begun a slow convergence that has been the result of extensive work behind the scenes by IMS and other organizations. It is now apparent that the current set of IMS activities and processes need to evolve to tackle the next series of technical issues. As a consequence, IMS has produced its Abstract Framework to be the context within which:
- The next set of IMS specifications are developed;
- The migration from the current to the new specifications can be defined and managed;
- The relationship between IMS and non-IMS specifications can be explained and clearly demonstrated.
|The adoption of the IMS Abstract Framework (IAF) will be based upon the creation of suitable Domain Profiles. Domain profiling is the process that is undertaken to define which specifications and the detailed usage of the data objects within each specification are to be adopted to provide a particular solution.
The IAF document is an abstract representation of the services that comprise e-learning systems in the broadest sense. It describes how a designated set of data models can be manipulated by a designated set of behaviours.
The IAF consists of:
- White paper overview
- Application, Service & Component Descriptions
|The IMS Abstract Framework provides the context for the development of the service based IMS specifications:
- A common language for the development of IMS specifications
- An explicit system context for individual IMS specifications
- A context for the joint development of specifications
- A model of how how it all fits together
|The IMS Abstract Framework (IAF) is a device to enable the IMS to describe the context within which it will continue to develop its eLearning technology interoperability specifications. This framework is not an attempt to define the IMS architecture, rather it is mechanism to define the set of interfaces for which IMS may or may not produce a set of interoperability specifications. In the cases where IMS does not produce a specification then every effort will be made to adopt or recommend a suitable specification from another organization. The IMS Abstract Framework is so named because:
- It is an abstract representation of the services and their interfaces that are used to construct an eLearning system in its broadest sense;
- It is focused on the support of distributed electronic learning systems;
- It is a framework that covers the possible range of eLearning architectures that could be constructed from the set of defined services and interfaces.
|It is the intention of IMS that this Abstract Framework and the associated IMS specifications will be used as the starting point for the definition of many different eLearning systems. Each eLearning system will only adopt those parts of the IMS specifications that are of immediate use. This process is called the Profiling of the framework to define an architecture or reference model for a particular implementation domain; the process of profiling a particular specification is similar to refining the best practice to produce mandatory facets for an implementation domain. The Profiles can then be used to support conformance testing, based upon a particular conformance-profile for that domain, to ensure compliance to a particular requirement.
The IAF and the associated IMS specifications are set of closely related documents:
- The IMS Abstract Framework: WhitePaper [IMS, 03a] - the definitions of the key terms used throughout the ALF and the associated specifications;
- The IMS Abstract Framework: Glossary [IMS, 03a] - the definitions of the key terms used throughout the ALF and the associated specifications;
- The IMS Abstract Framework: Applications, Services, and Components [IMS, 03b] - the identification of the set of applications and services and their corresponding implementation components which can be used to support eLearning system interoperability (the separation of the detailed descriptions of the applications, services and components allows the details of this white paper to focus on the abstract representation itself);
- The IMS Learning Activity Model (LAM) - description of the underlying content model and the learner design mechanisms to be adopted for the provision of learning content (this document will not be available until mid 2004);
- The IMS Use Case Portfolio - the collection and collation of the core set of use cases that reflect the interoperability needs within eLearning systems (work on the collection of these use cases is underway);
- The IMS Specification Development Methods and Best Practices [IMS, 03c] - the identification of the methods and best practices that must be used when developing and documenting IMS specifications.
|At the current time only the Glossary and the Application, Services, and Components documents are available as support to the white paper. During the next twelve months the other documents will become available and consequently new releases of the IAF may be required.
|The IMS Abstract Framework: WhitePaper
This white paper is constructed in three sections:
- Basic structure of the IAF - definitions of the requirements and the corresponding overall structure of the IAF;
- Abstraction to implementation - the process through which the IAF can be used to define an architecture for implementation;
- Detailed background information - a series of appendices that contain the detailed technical information that forms the background to the IAF.
|The structure of this document is:
- 2. Requirements Definition - The definition of the requirements in terms of the underlying principles, scoping and use cases that define the context within which the abstract framework was developed;
- 3. The Abstract Framework - The definition of the overall structure of the abstract framework. This shows the relationship between the various sub-structures within the framework;
- 4. Applications, Services, and Components - The description of the ways in which the requirements and capabilities of applications, services and components can be defined;
- 5. Infrastructure layer - The detailed description of the Infrastructure Layer within the abstract framework. This includes the definition of the sub-layers and the identification of the core technologies that can be adopted to realize the corresponding functionality;
- 6. Service Bindings - A description of the different service bindings of the abstract framework and the implications for implementations based on these bindings;
- 7. Profiling and Conformance - A review of the profiling of the abstract framework and the accompanying IMS and other specifications to support a particular application, to define a specific architecture and to enable conformance;
- Bibliography - The set of documents that are referenced within this document or which provide context to the contents of this document;
- Appendix A - List of Acronyms - The list of acronyms used throughout this document;
- Appendix B - IMS Specification Roadmap - A visualization of the development roadmap of the set of IMS specifications released and under development and their relationship and adoption timeline by other specification and architecture definition initiatives;
- Appendix C - eLearning and Related Architectures & Models - Brief descriptions of each of the architectures and models currently in use or under development within the eLearning domain.
|The IMS Abstract Framework : Applications, Services, and Components
The IAF is a layered framework consisting of the Applications, Application Services, Common Services and Infrastructure layers. This document addresses the set of applications and services that are included within the scope of the Applications, Application Services and Common Services layers.
The list of these applications and services is not exhaustive so it will be continually developed and as such they will form the basis of the pecification development work programme to be undertaken. Not all of the services and components listed will undergo specification by IMS.
The structure of this document is:
- 2. Application Layer - The brief description of some of the possible eLearning Applications;
- 3. Application Services Layer - The detailed description of the Application Services. This includes the definition of the different services including identification of the core application service components, interactions between the application services, interactions with the common services and the interactions with the applications layer;
- 4. Common Services Layer - The detailed description of the Common Services. This includes the definition of the different services including identification of the common components, interactions between the common services, interactions with the application services and the interactions with the infrastructure layer;
- 5. Components - The set of components that must be specified to support the identified set of application and common service;
- Appendix A - OKI APIs - The set of APIs that have been developed under the Open Knowledge Initiative.
|The IMS Abstract Framework: Glossary
Extensive experience in the development of the current IMS specifications has shown that agreement on key terminology is an essential component for success. The current set of IMS specifications are a rich source of agreed key term definitions within the IMS context but so far no single record of those definitions exists.
This glossary is an attempt to create a single common record of all of the key words to be adopted within IMS documentation. It is stressed that the following terminology is not an attempt to create a normative set for the eLearning industry as a whole. Its normative context is limited to usage within the IMS Abstract Framework and the derived specifications, white papers, etc.
The structure of this document is:
- 2. List of Acronyms -The list of acronyms used throughout the IMS specifications;
- 3. Glossary of terms -The definition of the keywords;
- 4. List of Reserved terms -The list of terms that should be used with caution within the context of the IMS specifications;
- 5. Maintenance of the Glossary -The process undertaken to ensure that the glossary reflects current practice within IMS;
- Bibliography -The list of references and sources for the enclosed definitions.