August 8, 2012

Formats and Standards Educators Should Know About

This text was initially published by Vitrine technologie-éducation under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 licence, before Eductive was launched.

Formats and standards make many things go smoothly in our daily lives. In fact, when standards work, we don’t even notice them : banking machines around the world will read your debit card,  your USB key will fit in any computer, you can replace a burnt lightbulb with one manufactured by any company.  Formats and standards exist in education as well (the cote R, for instance), but as technology’s presence is increasing in institutions, formats and standards that were once obscure and known by a few people in IT are it is to our advantage to know more about them.

In an earlier VTE Lab about e-books, we discussed the publishing industry’s difficulty to agree on a standard format (ePub seems to be the closest to a standard for now). As you may have experienced yourself, such uncertainty has consequences : not being able to access content, or being shackled to a format, is deeply frustrating and can turn away users.  In an educational context, accessing easily to activities and instructional material is crucial to success and motivation. If you are designing learning resources for online use on websites, LMS or electronic portfolios, you should be aware of the following standards and formats.

  • ePortfolios : Leap2A
  • Learning management systems : SCORM
  • Video and animation : Flash and others
  • Audio : MP3


Painful surprises can be avoided by verifying if a technology is compliant to a standard, or by making a resource available in adequate formats.

Photo credit : By Maximilian Schönherr (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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