About IMS Global Learning Consortium

From Innovation to Impact

The mission of the IMS Global Learning Consortium is to advance technology that can affordably scale and improve educational participation and attainment.  To ensure that the “Learning Impact” of technology-enabled innovation is achieved around the world, IMS’s influential community of educational institutions, suppliers, and government organizations develops open interoperability standards, supports adoption with technical services, and encourages adoption through programs that highlight effective practices. 


The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) is a global, nonprofit, member organization that strives to enable the growth and impact of learning technology in the education and corporate learning sectors worldwide. IMS GLC members provide leadership in shaping and growing the learning industry through community development of interoperability and adoption practice standards and recognition of the return on investment from learning and educational technology.

IMS Global is supported by over 250 organizations – the world’s leaders in educational and learning technology, including leading learning technology product suppliers and publishers, leading institutions of learning and training, and leading government and professional consortia. The breakdown of members is 58% leading corporations, 24% leading institutions of learning or school districts, and 18% consortia and/or government organizations. Currently, 47% of member organizations are headquartered outside the United States.

IMS GLC has approved and published some 20 standards that are the most widely used learning technology standards in the world. Widely-used IMS GLC standards include meta-data, content packaging, common cartridge, enterprise services, question & test, sequencing, competencies, access for all, ePortfolio, learner information, tools interoperability, resource list, sharable state persistence, vocabulary definition, and learning design. These standards have been used widely in higher education, K-12 education, and corporate education in regions around the globe. All IMS GLC standards are available free of charge via the IMS GLC web site and can be used without royalty.

Much of the investment in IMS GLC comes from the global higher education segment. In the decade or so since the rise in the use of the Internet to support learning, higher education has emerged as the segment that is leading in research and development expenditures in learning and learning technologies. However, in recent years IMS GLC is seeing greater support and participation from the K-12 and corporate training segments. The IMS GLC Board of Directors are committed to supporting lifelong learning across all segments.

For more information, including the world's most comprehensive set of learning technology interoperability standards, information on the annual Learning Impact conference and awards program, and free community resources for learning technology leaders, visit www.imsglobal.orgCurrent Members of IMS GLC are listed at http://www.imsglobal.org/membersandaffiliates.html


In 1995, IMS came into existence as a project within the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative of EDUCAUSE. While IMS got its start with a focus on higher education, the specifications published to date as well as ongoing projects address requirements in a wide range of learning contexts, including of course K-12 schools and corporate and government training.

The scope for IMS specifications, broadly defined as "distributed learning," includes both online and off-line settings, taking place synchronously (real-time) or asynchronously. This means that the learning contexts benefitting from IMS specifications include Internet-specific environments (such as web-based course management systems) as well as learning situations that involve off-line electronic resources (such as a learner accessing learning resources on a CD-ROM). The learners may be in a traditional educational environment (school classroom, university), in a corporate or government training setting, or at home. For example, the IMS Learning Resources Meta-data Specification (www.imsglobal.org/metadata), benefits the learner looking for information with a meta-data aware search tool both when the search is of web-based resources and when she or he is searching through a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM encyclopedia in their computer at home. Content developers who have implemented the IMS Learning Resources Meta-data Specification will have made it much easier for the people doing the search to find the resources they want in a much more efficient way, since meta-data allows users to be much more specific in the search terms they can specify.

The IMS Specification Development Process

IMS has undertaken a broad scope of work. We gather requirements through meetings, focus groups, and other sources around the globe to establish the critical aspects of interoperability in the learning markets. Based on these requirements, we develop draft specifications outlining the way software must be built in order to meet the requirements. In all cases, the specifications are being developed to support international needs. Once the specifications are finalized internally and have been proven tested through interoperability trials that usually involve both Contributing Members and Affiliates participants, the draft specification is formally approved by the IMS Technical Advisory Board and then released to the public. IMS specifications are made to the general public, regardless of whether or not they are members of IMS, once the Technical Advisory Board approves their release. We also submit to standards accrediting groups in order to contribute to the recognition and adoption of a world-wide base of technical standards for distributed learning.

The Name

The formal name for IMS is IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc., also sometimes referred to as IMS GLC. The original name, when IMS first started in 1997 was the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) project. Over time, it became clear that the term "instructional management system" raised more questions than it answered as different terms were used to describe the same thing, such as course or learning management system, learning server, CBT system, or even an integrated learning system. IMS is concerned with establishing interoperability for learning systems and learning content and the enterprise integration of these capabilities. So please, just call us IMS.