For the last 18 years, some of the most important work we’ve done at Rustici Software has been the standards-based efforts we’ve worked on with the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL). Over the years, our folks have participated in the working groups for, and the development of, standards as ubiquitous as SCORM, as forgotten as RTWS, and more recently xAPI. In 2010, we were awarded a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) from ADL to modernize SCORM Communication, an effort that became known as Project Tin Can, and ultimately xAPI. In 2016, we conducted further research for updating the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1322.26.

At Rustici, our software is primarily responsible for helping eLearning organizations achieve “interoperability.” We all know this can be difficult and more than a bit messy. We’ve all sat head in hands frustrated by the number of SCORM systems that seem to work just a bit different from each other. In truth, achieving real interoperability has to be done through conformance testing which is why we’re so excited to announce that we’ve been awarded a contract for the ADL Initiative cmi5 Player and Test Suite (PTS) Prototype Project.

Since cmi5 was first released in 2016, there’s been a missing piece that has slowed its adoption. From development to procurement, tools are needed to support adoption of cmi5 and xAPI within the DoD to meet distributed learning policy (DoDI 1322.26) related to learning analytics and interoperability. Most importantly, there has not been an authoritative source or governance of the cmi5 specification as we had with the SCORM conformance test suite.

This week, we are kicking off a 12-month project to develop and deliver a cmi5 Conformance Test Suite (CTS) and supplementary tools and resources, including an open-source cmi5 player, to support the adoption of cmi5 and xAPI within the DoD.

The result of this project will be twofold:

  • Provide the DoD with the fundamental capabilities to both launch cmi5 content via the open source cmi5 player and tools and templates to facilitate the conversion of legacy SCORM content into the more modern cmi5 specification
  • Deliver to ADL a CTS application that will act as the authority to verify and validate that both content and any launching application conform to the cmi5 specification, similar to the SCORM conformance test suite

This initiative will remove the barrier to entry and obstacles that the DoD and many organizations face when adopting xAPI and cmi5.

This work also ensures that our customers are able to count on Rustici to provide a solution that helps their products conform to the standards necessary to go to market. Through hundreds of existing customers, Rustici Software is able to make large strides in cmi5 adoption without requiring every vendor to understand and implement the specification on their own. While we’ve incorporated cmi5 in our products, stakeholders still need a way to confidently implement and verify cmi5 conformance. More importantly, we’ll be working to enable the entire eLearning community to adopt cmi5 through resources, conformance tools, open-source software, and technical how-to guides.

Lastly, we’re hiring several positions to help support the project, so if you want to be part of our efforts check out our open positions. Or join in the cmi5 working group and become part of the weekly conversation.

TJ is the Chief Technology Officer at PeopleFluent, another Learning Technologies Group company, though he used to be CEO here at Rustici Software. He is passionate, expressive and has the most distinctive laugh you’ll ever hear.