Forum .LRN Q&A: Using .LRN and LAMS as an online framework for K-12 schools...

To the .LRN and LAMS community,

We are the Center for 21st Century Skills (operated by an agency of the Department of Ed.) based in Connecticut, USA and seek advice, comments, and case information that can assist us in selecting a framework for designing and delivering online courseware for K-12 school districts. If any members of the the developer or user community can comment on the efficacy and suitability of the .LRN open source product to support learning and research communities, please give us the benefit of your experience. We are searching various OSS communities for products that we can pilot in actual projects in July '05.

Also, if any developers or users have experience with LAMS, we would appreciate your comments as well. Finally, your thoughts regarding the activity of the support community in assisting new users in the deployment and development process are appreciated.

Stephen Wilmarth
Project Manager
Center for 21st Century Skills
An Education Connection Program
Tel: 860-227-1225

Hi Stephen,

Yes, LAMS and .LRN have something in common: the LAMS Community (

The LAMS Community has several educational and technical communities where LAMS users, using all the .LRN interactive tools, are able to share their views on latest's developments of LAMS and learning design as well as sharing their sequences with others at a global scale. So teachers from many disciplines would collaborate on-line to further improve of learning design and the features of LAMS.

A very simple integration between LAMS and .LRN has been done so LAMS' teachers and administrators can seamlessly login into the LAMS Community, which runs .LRN. Each teacher when they login into LAMS for the first time are presented with a registration form to register into the LAMS Community. They can opt for login in (if they have already logged in before) or register. Once they have logged in or registered, next time they login into LAMS they would be automatically logged in in the the LAMS Community.

Note that LAMS is *not* an LMS and does not pretend to be one. LAMS works well authoring, monitoring and running sequences of learning sequences (units of learnings). That's its forte. In addition, .LRN is a full-on LMS and a proper module for integrating the two will be for sure very much welcome (and beneficial) in both communities.



Further integration of LAMS and dotLRN would be fantastic. Short of allowing LAMS to call dotLRN components directly in its authoring environment (which I suspect would be a very significant, though very worthwhile, endeavor), here are a few ideas for next steps:

  • Integrate LAMS authoring and display with the dotLRN portal so that LAMS activities can show up within the dotLRN course environment.
  • Build a bridge to allow the student outcomes from a LAMS sequence to show up in a dotLRN class gradebook.
Together with Ernie and someone in my group we plan to look into this integration next semester.
Ernie is the technical Lead in LAMS, so I expect excellent intregration!


"Ernie is the technical Lead in LAMS..."

Ernie, you stud! This is terrific news.


Terrific! I’d like to know how I can help. Also, we need to develop a “support” model if we’re going to gain a deployment opportunity in our State's school districts over the next couple of months.

Steve Wilmarth
New School Curriculum Group

Sorry for the delay. I just flew in from Madrid. We had a great conference there. People from all over... and a lot of great ideas.

One of the great things about this project is that there is quite a number of companies offering support around openacs/dotlrn. Out of the 60 people in the conference 1/4 were consultants, 1/4 managers, 1/4 teaching staff, 1/4 researchers (of course most would fit in more than one box). I think no other open source around elearning has as many companies, check out:

I think LAMS support will be provided by their creators. Ernie should be able to provide you with more information.



Who is working on this LAMS/dotLRN integration?. We where thinking about doing something like the assessment/lors integration to support SCORM, but with the evaluation(gradebook)/lors packages to support IMS LD (, but if someone else is working on the integration of LAMS/dotLRN, may be we could just use/re-use that, or help out with something.



Jose Pablo
Someone in my group was going to work on this, but I am now more inclined to have him help in the QA for the next release of dotLRN
If you are taking this on board please keep us informed.
BTW, have you seen the work by Alfanet integrating IMS LD to dotLRN?

We are also using IMS LD in the integration with Fllsh Collab server (code named 'beehive')



Jose Pablo,

I think the way Michael (see his posting above) is suggesting to integrate LAMS and .LRN make good sense as you will be basically getting the most out of both systems, and therefore more out of the integration work.

I'm not so sure if I understand the integration suggestion you propose and how that fits with SCORM. If I can be of any help, please let me know.

In the next day or so, LAMS is announcing a major integrations with a few LMS, one of them a open source -but unfortunately, not .LRN now 😟. However, the documentation and scope of the open source LMS integration is also going to be available. I think once those integrations are on their way, building one for .LRN would be -in principle- not so complicated 😊



Yes indeed, we are thinking about something like what Michael says. We mentioned SCORM and LORS becase we want to do something like what is already done in the assessment package (if you upload a SCORM course with an assessment inside of it - QTI, then LORS recognizes it, calls the QTI parser of the assessment package and the assessment is treated just like any other assessment you upload using the assessment package UI).

We want LORS to recognize the learning units (IMS LD) and call the appropiate parser (we where thinking about doing it in the evaluation/gradebook package) and fill out the evaluation tables with the learning activities. Of course, we would have to do some changes in the evaluation package, and the final phase would be to do a web based IMS LD editor (BTW, this is a brief explanation of what we intend to do, if we decide to do it we will post the specification and ask for feedback, but I hope you get my point)

That is our main idea, but we don't want to do all of that work if something similar/better is already being developed. We would prefer to collaborate somewhow, and that is why we are asking for help/comments/sugestions :)


Jose Pablo

I hope you understand my english! :-p

We want LORS to recognize the learning units (IMS LD) and
call the appropiate parser (we where thinking about doing it
in the evaluation/gradebook package) and fill out the
evaluation tables with the learning activities.

Unfortunately, IMS LD is not quite simple as other IMS specs -where you can take the XML in the manifest and the content and run with it.

Although you would be able to parse IMS LD and identify activities, you could potentially find it difficult to map the activities to .LRN modules or LAMS activities, or Reload Player for that matter.

IMS LD interoperability is still a pending issue for the spec. There are numerous people currently working on ways to do this. For instance, if I understand it properly the Alfanet fellows ( have created templates that would accommodate for activities that you can run on .LRN. LAMS has a new Tools Contract and Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) fellows ( are proposing extensions to IMS LD to accommodate for some of these limitations.

In the Alt-I-LAB IMS Conference ( in Sheffield this month, there's going to be a Learning Design workshop so hopefully some of these issues are going to be put forward and (again, hopefully) addressed.

.LRN has a good start, as we have done a mapping of weird Blackboard and WebCT course packages into .LRN... so I imagine similar mappings would have to take place to truly make IMS LD interoperable. And by interoperability I mean, a learning design (or unit of learning, or learning sequence -yes, we have ambiguity on terms too 😉 created in elive LD suite can play in Alfanet/.LRN implementation or LAMS... that'll be really cool.

However, maybe it wouldn't be quite the same as the tools in each system might be slightly different and some pedagogical aspects of using one tool from a particular implementation, might not be able to map to a tool of another implementation... defeating the purpose of interoperability.

So, yes, Learning Design is rather complex, but I guess it's its own nature as we are not only dealing with content but with activities, groups, roles and people... so quite a few other things that are brought to the equation.


As mentioned yesterday or the day before, LAMS has now announced plans for integration with Australian Moodle, another big open source LMS. See:

The technical documentation shows the 'hooks' that can be used for integration. These are based on SOAP/XML-RPC, so a future integration with .LRN shouldn't be difficult.



So Ernie...what are the politics here? LAMS is integrating with Moodle because both are Australian? :)
Hi Al,

Well, it's not just politics but business. The Department of Education of New Zealand has paid for the integration work. Have a look at the press release (

The lead architect from Moodle, Martin Dougiamas, is from Perth, Australia, but actually most of the users/developers of Moodle are actually in Europe and the US (

Nevertheless -and as I mentioned above, since this is an open source integration, it makes it waaay easier for anyone that's willing to do the integration, as all the specifications and all are public.

If I get someone interested in doing an integration for .LRN, would you be willing to help out?



I don't know whom did you mean with "If I get someone interested in doing an integration for .LRN, would you be willing to help out?", but as I told you, we *will* work on an integration with IMS-LD with for .LRN, and if we know that someone else is working on that, we would, or at least try to, work toghether somehow

(I'm still waiting for the people of aLFanet to show me the code and what they have already done, but we can't wait any more, we plan to have the specification ready for the end of the next week, and start coding after that)

"If I get someone interested in doing an integration for .LRN, would you be willing to help out?"

Ernie, thank you for the offer and your continued leadership with this great project. The answer is yes. The "you" here, however, would be the .LRN consortium and any other interested parties in OpenACS community. Jose is from UC3M, which through Project ELANE is part of the consortium. Let's discuss how we can best coordinate this.

Jose, is the work that you are doing part of E-LANE? "We plan to have the specification ready for the end of the next week, and start coding after that." Would it make sense to post your specifications in the form of an RFC before you begin coding?

Would it make sense to post your specifications in the form of an RFC before you begin coding?

Of course, no problem. We will post the specification in order to hopefully get some feed back and then start coding ;)

Sorry, about the other question: is the work that you are doing part of E-LANE?, the answer is yes, it is part of E-LANE

Sorry to come in late in the thread. Just to add a few more data regarding the work we plan to do at UC3M/E-LANE for supporting IMS-LD within .LRN.

We are exploring the best way to capitalize on the other developments that already happened. Almost all of them have been mentioned in this thread:

* Benefiting from the work LAMS has done
* Benefiting from the integration in alfanet
* Provide a spec strictly oriented to a OACS/.LRN implementation.

The first idea is to provide support within .LRN to interpret and "execute" activities described and organized with an IMS-LD description.

We are aware of the complexity derived from (should I call it) "activity mapping" since the spec is far away from each concrete platform. We will be proposing a solution to that issue to get your feedback. The idea is to provide a solution that may accomodate IMS-LD produced with a wide variety of tools outside .LRN.

As José Pablo mentioned earlier, we will post the spec for everyone to comment. Also, the plan is to post regularly on the progress and issues that will be appearing.

Just another suggestion that I guess it would improve the information flow. How about creating a thread with a more explicit topic name? Something along the lines of:

IMS-LD support in .LRN

I believe, the interest around this issue is growing and with a more explicit title anyone stopping by and interested on this issue may find the discussion immediately.


My name is Olga Santos and I have been working at UNED (specifically at aDeNu Research Group) for 'aLFanet: Active Learning For Adaptive interNET' Project (IST-2001-33288) from the very beginning. We have seen that dotLRN community is looking forward to getting the doc and code of the developments we have done in dotLRN for aLFanet project. We are providing it in July.

I have just posted a message at the .LRN Consortium community where I briefly describe the work done in dotLRN at aLFanet:


Hi Olga,

Thanks very much for your posting.

I have just posted a message at the .LRN Consortium
community where I briefly describe the work done in dotLRN
at aLFanet:

Unfortunately, it seems that I don't have access to the lrnconsortium forums. Would you be able to post it on another forum? Or is there a way to subscribe to the lrnconsortium community?



Jose Pablo, Abelardo,

I'm really glad to hear that E-LANE is bringing learning design into .LRN. Kudos E-LANE.

If there's anything that I can be of help, please let me know. There has been some very interesting developments at Alt-I-lab and at the latest UNFOLD meeting in Portugal and hopefully a new work on IMS LD services will come out soon.

Regarding LAMS, given my involvement in that project, I'll support in with all I can the implementation with .LRN.



Hi Ernie,

here you have the message I posted there. It is just a quick overview. The 'good stuff' will be availble soon.

aLFanet addresses adaptation in LMSs following educational standards (IMS-LD, IMS-QTI, IMS-LIP, IMS-CP, IEEE-LOM/IMS-MD) in the full cycle of course creation, usage and maintenance (see Thus, the goal of aLFanet was not to develop on dotLRN, but we integrated this suite as a service in charge of providing the collaboration part of this iLMS.

The architecture of aLFanet was presented in Madrid at the 'Foro Hispano de dotLRN': Full paper ( and slides (

Since the key issue at this moment at OpenACS forum is IMS-LD integration in dotLRN, I will just explain how this standard has been integrated and used in aLFanet (and also in dotLRN).

First, regarding the Design Phase, ACE Case has developed an LD Authoring Tool, available at This Authoring Tool allows to create IMS-LD compliant courses (levels A, B and C). As a result, an imsmanifiest.xml file is obtained.

At Publication Phase, this imsmanifiest.xml file is imported by an LD Engine and a Collaborative Framework, where the users interact in the Use Phase. The LD enigne is based on Coppercore deveolped at OUNL ( and includes a Course Manager and a LD Interpreter. This means that it is in charge of the activity sequencing, roles management, etc. and rest of features defined in design time in IMS-LD. However, IMS-LD does not especify the platform where collaboration services take place. Therefore, to support the collaboration services, we (UNED) chose dotLRN (because of the good experience we had at Innova Group with ACES). So, we have to publish the imsmanifiest.xml in dotLRN as well. What does it mean?

At Design Phase, we have defined two services, FO (Forum) and FS (File storage) which are the services we are taking into account so far. The FO and FS services defined in IMS-LD are created as forums and filestorage objects in dotLRN. Services defined in environments in IMS-LD are created in subgroups in dotLRN.

Nevertheless, to acomplish the research objectives of aDeNu Group (we work on providing runtime/dynamic recommendations based on the users interactions during the course execution) we need a deeper integration between LD and interactions in dotLRN. This integrations should provide us the ontology (which is the IMS-LD structure) that supports our recommendation process. The recommendation process works by learning objectives (we assume that metadata are used to specify the learning objectives for each learning object, activity and service). Thus, we have extended dotLRN model to store these relationships.

I'm afraid that what we have done in dotLRN at aLFanet is not exactly what you are trying to get done in dotLRN now. Undoubtely, it can be of help. And what is more, our research objectives are moving to focus our developments on dotLRN itself. So we would be interested in collaborating in the integration of IMS-LD in dotLRN, contributing with our experience at aLFanet.

Finally, I think it could be of interest for further discussions to copy-paste here some paragraphs of our paper at the Madrid Conference, where the specific contributions to dotLRN at aLFanet are described:

"Thus, code development has been done to integrate dotLRN functionality as interaction services within the Interaction Module. First, the publication mechanism has been implemented to publish IMS-LD courses in the dotLRN environment. Second, extensions to dotLRN packages have been made to integrate them in aLFanet architecture. Third, new services that interact with IMS-LD elements have been developed (e.g. access to the IEEE-LOM metadata of the Learning Objects). Fourth, the outputs of the services have been generated in XML format, so the Presentation Layer can produce adaptation of presentation of dotLRN outputs."
"Moreover, a new package have been implemented in the Interaction Module extending dotLRN development: the imsld-lo package. This package allows the learner to interact with other learners in relation with the learning material of the course and the two components built upon dotLRN, providing comments and ratings to these materials and also accessing to the comments and ratings done by other learners."
"We think that the main technical contributions to the dotLRN community from aLFanet project are the following:
1. Course publication from IMS-LD to dotLRN. The publication process generates new objects such as objectives, learning objects and metadata, environments (as subgroups) and services (forums, file-storage) in existing or extended models in dotLRN.
2. Access to the information related to the learning objects or the course, as well as the integration with dotLRN functionality, so that users can generate comments and ratings associated to them.
3. Service outputs in XML format to perform adaptation of presentation."

We will provide soon access to a demo site where dotLRN community can try and provide feedback on aLFanet.



Suere, your help would be a great contribution for us =)

We released the specification of the lmsd package in this thread:

So, please tell us if you have any suggestion about anything described in the specification.


Jose Pablo