The Process of Developing QTI 3 in the IMS QTI Working Group

We’re excited to congratulate Thomas Hoffmann, Director of Product Strategy & Solutions at Open Assessment Technologies on his recognition as a recipient of the IMS Technical Leadership Awards for his work in helping to develop the QTI 3 standard. This award is given to recognize leaders who participate in the IMS Global Learning Consortium “Working Groups” — the folks that do the technical work for creating usable standards in the EdTech industry. 

Recently, we caught up with Tom to discuss the award and the QTI 3 standard, including the implications it has for online assessments. Check out our conversation to learn more about the process the QTI working group went through to transform QTI 3 from an idea into a fully developed standard. 


OAT: What is the function or goal of the IMS QTI working group?

TH: The QTI working group brings e-assessment leaders together to create an assessment standard that meets the needs of the international assessment industry. We have participation from vendors across the world, and get input from end users to validate our proposed approaches. Moving forward, we identify possible bugs or oversights, and make changes based on the needs of an ever changing industry.

OAT: How do the working groups determine which standards to work on? 

TH: The IMS includes members that include vendors and consumers and actively seek advice as to what are the most important areas to focus on now and in the future. For assessment, they have a separate Assessment Product Steering Committee – a non-technical group that guides the working groups and the IMS on what areas need to be addressed or emphasized.

OAT: What was the catalyst for developing QTI 3? 

TH: The goal of the QTI 3 project was to find a means to integrate the extensions introduced with APIP (Accessible Portable Item Protocol) into QTI. There was some confusion about QTI and APIP.  Are they the same standard? Can you do APIP without QTI? (You can’t!) We also got feedback from the industry that we needed better ways of ensuring content showed up similarly across platforms, and to better enforce the conformance requirements to reduce the many variations of QTI used across the world.

OAT: Why is QTI 3 so Important? How is it different?

TH: QTI 3 will enable better accessibility, and the new catalog data model for accommodation content is much easier to author and implement than the more rigid XML used in APIP.  

  • We introduced QTI “shared vocabularies” to help with presentation expectations.
  • The XML was also changed into more web-component friendly markup to decrease the development effort for implementers.
  • We spent a lot of time improving the documentation for QTI by expanding the descriptions of the many features, and getting feedback from new vendors implementing QTI for the first time. We introduced a new “Beginner’s Guide” and “APIP to QTI 3 Migration Guide” to help these new vendors.
  • Finally, the new conformance and certification program was overhauled and where there used to be vague descriptions of features we have detailed definitions and acceptance criteria. The IMS has also introduced an audit of vendors submitting for certification. It will help make interoperability of assessment content a reality rather than a goal.

OAT: What does it take to transform an idea that addresses the concerns of the market to a complete standard?

TH: More time and patience than you can imagine! It takes committed organizations, who are normally competitors, to work together over several years. It’s not always easy but it is worth the effort, and I believe it is better for the education field to use these standards than getting stuck with proprietary solutions. Then you need to stay engaged to keep the standard healthy by resolving inconsistent uses of the standard and iteratively fixing and improving the standard to keep it relevant for today’s and tomorrow’s technology.

IMS interoperability standards are crucial to ensuring your content remains robust and accessible between systems. Proprietary assessment platforms lock your content away, preventing you from monetizing your work. A QTI certified system like TAO that is built on open standards can guarantee your test, content and student data connects seamlessly, saving you from further investments in time, operations and costly format transformations. Click here to learn more.

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