Anatomy of a Common Cartridge (Course Cartridge)

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A Common Cartridge can be exported by a Learning Management System for

  1. Archiving of course/group resources
  2. Importing resources into the same or different LMS

This article will explain how you may access the contents of a common cartridge. It is not necessary for importing the common cartridge into another Learning Management System.


Contents of a Common Cartridge

Contents of a Common Cartridge

When downloaded a common cartridge will have one of two file extensions.

  1. .imscc
  2. .zip

The file extension can be changed from .imscc to .zip for easy access to the contents of the common cartridge. However a simple zip file cannot simply have the extension .imscc added in order to create a common cartridge.

How to have your zip and cartridge too.

How to have you zip and cartridge too.

The following steps are recommended to avoid accidental loss of a useable common cartridge.

Duplicate or copy the file.

There are several ways to duplicate or copy a file on a Mac or PC depending on the Operating System some options include:

  • CTRL+ Mouse left click (Mac} to open options menu choose duplicate or copy and then paste
  • Mouse Right Click (Mac/PC) to open options menu choose duplicate or copy and then paste
  • ALT/Option + Drag  (Mac) drag copy
  • CTRL + Drag (PC) drag copy


Once a file is duplicated it can be renamed.

Selecting the file name once and then again slowly (not a double click) will open the name to editing.

Opening the option menu for a file will allow Get Info (Mac) or Rename (PC) to be selected.

Change the extension from .imscc to zip and hit Enter/Return to confirm the change.

If a mistake is made before hitting Enter/Return, simply hit the Esc key on the top left of the keyboard. This will escape from the edit and allow the user to start over. If Esc doesn't help, then the reason for duplicating the file first should be obvious.

Changing a file name with Get Info on Mac

Changing a file name/extension with name click and select on a Mac

The Mac will ask for a confirmation when an extension changes.

Changing a file name/extension with name click and select on a PC

Known extensions may be hidden on the PC. After changing the extension to .zip the extension my disappear.

The Mac should expand the .zip into a new folder and leave the original .zip as well. Which will result in 2 files and a folder. The user may choose to keep the zip file or delete it. Again a reason to duplicate the original before starting the process. An accidental deletion can ruin a user's day.

Window's XP and up should allow the user to simply open and explore the zip file without any need to expand it. In this case there will only be the .imscc and .zip file. No file deletion should take place.

Contents of the Common Cartridge

Contents of the Common Cartridge

The Common Cartridge will have nested folders. Nested refers to a folder inside another folder.

Depending on how the resources where organized there can be any number of files in each folder.

  1. Files can be removed or copied from the expanded common cartridge zip for use elsewhere. An edited file should not be replaced into the .zip and expected to work in a common cartridge import.
  2. imsmanifest.xml is the instruction file for importing a common cartridge into an LMS. It can be opened using a text editor or any web design software. The average user will have no need to open the .xml file

For the curious user that is not curios enough to open the file, this screenshot shows the basics of what can be found.

Next Article How to export Course Cartridges from myCIA Learn (eLearning)
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