The goal of standardization is to improve efficiency of actions and interactions. In more operational terms, a standard is a “formal document that establishes uniform criteria, methods, processes and practices — which may or may not be requirements.” 
There are various levels or degrees of standardization:
- Highly formal standardization documents adopted by bodies such as ISO, IEEE, IEC, ITU, etc.
- Standards like the W3C "Recommendations" or the IETF "Requests for Comments" (RFCs) or the OASIS document or IMS pedagogical standards.
- Any sort of specification, formal requirement made by influential organizations or individuals, e.g. technical innovations.
- De facto standards (usually no formalization at all and often referring to the use of products like Microsoft *.doc files)
The difference between a standard, a technical standard, norms, requirement, technical specification is not obvious. E.g., In large standardization organization such as ISO, a standard is usually more high level, takes longer to complete and requires more votes than a technical specification. Furthermore, there may differences between cultures and areas.
For example, wikipedia, defines a technical standard as “an established norm or requirement in regard to technical systems. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices. In contrast, a custom, convention, company product, corporate standard, and so forth that becomes generally accepted and dominant is often called a de facto standard.”. The definition of software standard (July 2018) reflects acceptance of more informal practice: “Software standards consist of certain terms, concepts, data formats, document styles and techniques agreed upon by software creators so that their software can understand the files and data created by a different computer program. To be considered a standard, a certain protocol needs to be accepted and incorporated by a group of developers who contribute to the definition and maintenance of the standard.”
Standards can be open or propriety. Open means publicly available, not necessarily free.
Standards in educational technology
This is a short, somewhat chaotic overview for now. See also:
- educational modeling language that deals in more depth with the question of modeling learning materials and activities
- Learning object standard that attemps to provide a big overview table of the most important standards.
There are many rationales for adopting standards in education, e.g. sustainability of assets and other information or the possibility to exchange. For the latter, Gartner's (2016) report on Top 10 Strategic Technologies Impacting Higher Education in 2016 coins the exostructure strategy concept to describe a strategy to insure that external collaboration can be leveraged and cites examples like as Open Badges, Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), Caliper Learning Analytics Interoperability Framework, Question and Test Interoperability (QTI), Accessible Portable Item Protocol (APIP), eduPerson, MLO and Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) transcripts.
There are no real general standards, but the closet things are
- Rather formal Instructional design methods like MISA who do make a few minimal assuptions about good pedagogy
- Data standards like IMS Learning Design or IMS Simple Sequencing do rely or support some classes of instructional design models. Even IMS Content Packaging default organisation section can be considered a pedagogical standard if one considers that "shovelware" or "page turners" are a standard pedagogical design ;)
- In some countries there are quite precise curricula standards, e.g.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS, 1993) Benchmarks for Science Literacy
- National Research Council’s (NRC, 1996) National Science Education Standards,
- Various quality standards used to evaluate institutions, programs or courses.
Pedagogical data standards
- For an overview table, see the Learning object standard article.
- Assembly and data description
- IMS Content Packaging, a standard for assembly of resources, metadata and sequencing information into a learning object
- IEEE Learning Object Metadata Standard (LOM), a standard to describe artifacts
- Learning Record Store A database format for student tracking
- Modeling languages (see educational modeling language)
- IMS Learning Design and IMS Simple Sequencing, to describe pedagogical scenarios
- IMS Question and Test Interoperability (QTI), a test and testing data standard
- There are many more "local" initiatives, a lot "just" research.
- Combined profiles
- The SCORM 1.2 profile extends IMS Content Packaging with more sophisticated sequencing and Contents-to-LMS communication
- The SCORM 2004 profile includes IMS Simple Sequencing
- Experience API (XAPI), replaces the older Sharable Content Objects (SCOs for SCORM 1.2. Usually connects with a Learning Record Store
- Cmi5, a subset of XAPI for e-learning
- More stuff
- There are more IMS Global Learning Consortium standards, e.g. some related to student data.
- The SCORM specifications define some java-script bindings to insure interroperability of simple interactive contents (that is BTW one of the areas where a lot of systems are not Scorm compatible, even if they claim so ...)
- IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), allows connecting services of platform to those of another, e.g. Moodle with Google Drive.
- IMS General Web Services to allow for interoperability of various systems. This is a fairly new standard (Jan 2006) and is an interesting initiative.
Some technical standards of interest
There are various standardization bodies and procedures:
- For the moment, see the Wikipedia:Internet standard entry for details
This is a list of bodies that create "real" or "de facto" standards
- IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee
- IMS Global Learning Consortium
- ADL - Advanced Distributed Learning (SCORM)
- Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC) - (As of 2018, disbanded, www.aicc.org)
- ARIADNE - Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for Europe (inactive in the area of standards)
- W3C - World Wide Web Consortium (Web standards)
- RFC - Requests for comments (Informal Internet standards, sometimes standardized by an "official body" sometimes not. The most important source for Internet standards.)
(including ICT standards)
- ISO - International Organization of Standardization (many very formal ICT standards).
- CEN - European Committe for Standardization ,featuring a not standards-compliant webpage ;)
- NIST US National Institute of Standards and Technology
- Technical standard (Wikipedia)
- Standardization (Wikipedia)
- Standards in Use in Education, from the Widged wiki.
- Webstandards.org, a grassroots organization promoting use of standards
- CETIS - the centre for educational technology interoperability standards A British consortium that is the best overall resource on standards related to our field.
- Resource-Base - Standards, Architectures and Open Source in Education. Large index (backended with delious so get nice tag clouds).
- Library Learning Objects from the UK e-Learning Centre (Learning Light Ltd.)
(see also the entries for various standards !)
- AICC/CMI CMI001 Guidelines for Interoperability Version 3.4. October 23, 2000. Includes: AICC Course Structure Format, AICC CMI Data Model, Available at: http://www.aicc.org/.
- IMS Content Packaging Specification Version 1.1.2, Available at: http://www.imsglobal.org/
- IMS Learning Resource Meta-data Specification Version 1.2. Includes: IMS Learning Resource Meta-data Information Model, IMS Learning Resource Meta-data XML Binding Specification, and IMS Learning Resource Meta-data Best Practice and Implementation Guide. Available at: http://www.imsglobal.org
- IEEE Information Technology - Learning Technology - Learning Objects Metadata LOM: Available at: http://ltsc.ieee.org/.
- Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)® 2004 3rd Edition, Available at: http://www.adlnet.gov/
- Standard Vs. Specification and Guidance Documents, retrieved July 2018