Course Management System Content Conversion Tools wikipage

One of my main gigs is running a repository service to help faculty here in BC share online course content. As I have likely lamented far too many times, the bane of my existence is the uneven support for content interoperability across the various course management systems. At last count we had at least 6 flavours in the province in which ideally the content would work, and certainly would love it if it’d work with others too. So while I personally believe CMS are increasingly bankrupt as a model for online education and continue to work with others to demonstrate new ways of teaching and learning online, my reality is that the content I am asked to help share is almost exclusively CMS-based, and moreover built directly inside the CMS, thus somewhat reliant on the vendors to provide easy and open ways for getting it out. Yeah right.

We come at this issue from many different directions trying to improve it. We built a “best practice” wiki to encourage people in the province to share their tricks and tips on how to work with CMS and still get content out “cleanly.” We are looking at some content “convertors” as part of the repository framework to clean up some of the exports into better formats (a dicey proposition at best). We’re experimenting with a “harvestor” that will grab CMS content not through the API but by spidering course sites.

Along these lines, I have put together this wiki page to collect together whatever CMS content export/conversion tools I can find, mostly for the CMS flavours at play in the province, but not totally limited to.

And I’d like to invite you to play. There are multiple ways to contribute to this – if you have a wikispaces account, I will gladly add you to the site. If instead you are a user, simply tag any resource you think appropriate with “cms_migration” (or even just send it my way with the “for:nessman” tag). Am I duplicating effort here? Please tell me if you know of another good collection of CMS conversion tools. I have no need to re-invent the wheel here, just trying to give people as many options as possible. Please also tell me if I am barking up any wrong trees with my assessment of what CMS already work well (or not) with each other – I get sporadic access to any of these, and the situation often changes with versions etc. If you can think of a better way to do this, I’m all ears for that too. – SWL

7 thoughts on “Course Management System Content Conversion Tools wikipage”

  1. Hi Scott

    On the Wiki, you say that the Moodle Book module will export IMS CPs

    Could you please explain for the uninitiated what IMS CPs are?

    Thanks for that!


  2. Sorry Kerry, for sure. IMS CP stands for “IMS Content Packages” ( This was one of the earliest specifications proposed for a packaging format that could contain course content along with an XML “manifest” file that described the structure and relationship of the content independantly from the specific course management systems. It served as part of the basis of what became SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), a widely adopted standard for packaging and tracking single-learner focused training content between learning management systems that came out of the American miltary.

    IMS CP is the most commonly implemented content interoperability specification in the higher-education course management system world. But unfortunately, as I mention, support is a bit “uneven” for a lot of reasons. Some have to do with how vendors have chosen to extend the spec to accommodate their own needs (often in ways that technically comply with the spec but cause other systems to choke on the packages). Other times it is the inadequeacy of the specification itself, for instance, it really does only deal with the most basic of sequencing and single learner models, and also tends to focus specifically on “content”. Clearly when we start talking about “courses” (which is the particular issue I need to deal with) there is much more than just straight content involved in a course, and many ways in which content and tools, and content and learners, can be organized. Hence more recent efforts towards “learning design” and “common cartridge” to work at higher levels of aggregation and more complex models. However, right now these aren’t implemented widely at all, and I’d be happy to get whatever limited interoperability promised by IMS content packaging actually working.

    Hope this helps. IMS Content Packaging is one of those things you hope educators (let alone students) never have to actually hear about. As I like to argue, Content Packaging (as well as “repositories”) are an answer begged by the question the existence of Course Management Systems poses; now that we’ve gone down that road, we seem stuck trying to make them work, yet time and time again we are seeing elsewhere content moving easily between systems through the use of lightweight methods like RSS and general web-based standards.

  3. Hi Scott —
    Have you seen the Epsilen announcementm and their partnership with the NYT? (I’ll bet the Times has been watching the Washington Post and Kaplan pretty closely.)
    Anyhow, take a look at the Educase article describing the Epsilen design. I think this may well be the next generation of eLearning system.

  4. Hi Scott,

    I just wanted to make sure that you were invited to our education “Blogger Summit”. We hope you can make it and feel free to share this invitation with any other bloggers in the area that might be interested. The invitation is attached below.

    ED In ’08 Blogger Summit


    Strong American Schools is excited to announce the ED in ’08 Blogger Summit. Conference details are as follows:

    May 14th – 15th
    Palomar Hotel, Washington DC
    Registration is Free!

    An opening reception is scheduled on the evening of Wednesday, May 14th. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served before the screening of a new documentary film on education, Two Million Minutes. A Q&A session with the filmmakers is set to follow.

    Then join us for an all-day conference on May 15th. Nowhere else will you have an opportunity to meet and network with fellow education bloggers, participate in panels, attend workshops, and help tackle some tough questions on the state of education in America.

    Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP today!

    Register at

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