Published on:
February 19, 2021

Guide to LMS Interoperability

Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) is a learning technology specification that defines how a Learning Management System (LMS) should communicate with external systems. It was developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a non-profit collaborative that scales and improves educational participation and attainment.

Technology is constantly changing and the elearning subset has not been left behind. As elearning grew and developed, learning management systems (LMSs) were introduced to help content creators deliver content to their learners.

These content creators can be teachers, instructors, academic publishers, and other trainers. They may choose to use a dedicated LMS or a combination of LMSs to provide learners with the necessary materials needed to successfully complete online courses.

Therefore, for instance, if a publisher provides content in one or many forms of distribution, a teacher can only provide their learners with content formatted in the way that the publisher intended. Hence, educators felt restricted since they did not have choice for formats.

To add, depending on the institution they attended, learners had to log in to multiple systems and memorize many passwords to access learning material. Evidently, the result was a frustrating and ineffective learning experience.

A solution had to be found. Enter Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI).

What is LTI (Learning Tool Interoperability)?

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What is LTI (Learning Tool Interoperability)?

Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) is a learning technology specification that defines how a Learning Management System (LMS) should communicate with external systems. It was developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a non-profit collaborative that scales and improves educational participation and attainment.

This standard outlines an easy and secure way to connect learning tools and applications with learning management systems. It also allows you to connect these tools with learning object repositories in a cloud on your premise, and portals in a standard and secure manner.

Initially, it was known as the IMS LTI or BasicLTI, an open-sourced specification developed for seamless connection of external tools. These tools are often remotely-hosted and provided through third-party services and learning management systems (Tool Consumers). LTI is supported by most virtual learning environments

You don’t need costly custom programming. With LTI, for instance, if you have a virtual chemistry lab or an interactive assessment application, all you need are a few clicks, and these applications will be connected to your LMS.

LTI comprises a central core and optional functions to add optimal features and functions. The core ensures there is a secure connection and that the tool is authentic. The extensions add features such as the exchange of assessment and grade data between your assessment tool and LMS gradebook.

LTI is increasingly becoming important especially because of the advancements in the elearning industry over the years. Indeed, it is impossible for a single vendor to design and provide all the tools needed by educational institutions and corporate businesses.

Therefore, there is the need to ensure that learning systems and the multiple learning tools in the market can effectively integrate. In fact, it is becoming a requirement for vendors of these tools and learning systems.

LTI has been massively adopted by many large learning content providers such as McGraw Hill and Pearson. It is also mostly used for academia and higher education.

An LMS may host content using LTI and use other tools created by third parties on a website without requiring the end-user to log in separately on the external systems. In this case, LTI carries the learner’s information and the learning context shared by the LMS with the external systems.

LTI Version 1.3 is the current version of this specification. Communication between tools and learning management systems is done using OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, and JSON Web Tokens. LTI also supports single sign-on.

OAuth 2.0

OAuth2 is the preferred means of authenticating access to API (Application Programming Interface). It allows authorization to external applications without these applications getting a user’s credentials. Instead, the external application gets an authorization token to access the user’s account.

OpenID Connect

This is a simple identity layer on top of the OAuth 2.0 protocol. It allows users to be authenticated by an end-user system based on the authentication performed by an authorization server. It also collects the end user’s basic profile information.

JSON Web Tokens

This is an internet standard for creating data that defines a self-contained and compact way of transmitting information securely between two parties as a JSON object.

Features of LTI

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Features of LTI
  1. External tools can be written in any coding as long as they are web-based.
  2. External content can contain games, social interactions, and simulations.
  3. Instructors can use different tools as long as they are applicable to their programs.
  4. There is less risk posed by LMS upgrades since the tools are hosted externally.
  5. LTI features detailed analytics and reporting. These are provided by the external tools and are not constrained by the LMSs or static data models.

IMS Overview and History

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IMS Overview and History

The IMS Global Learning Consortium is a not-for-profit worldwide member organization that was created in 1995 to promote technology growth in the education and corporate sectors. The organization has published and approved more than twenty open interoperability standards currently in use globally.

All standards by IMS GLC are available free-of-charge through their official website and are freely used without royalty. They include content packaging, metadata, common cartridge, common test, enterprise services, sequences, access for all, competencies, learner for all, vocabulary definition, learner information, learning design, among others.

LTI was originally known as IMS LTI or BasicLTI. It was developed in 2008 as a Google Summer of Code project. In 2010, version 1.0 of the standard was finalized. In August 2012, LTI v1.1 was released and it added a feature that allowed external tools to pass back grades to the invoking system.

IMS LTI allowed links to a secure tool from inside an LMS (Tool Consumer) to activate plug-and-play functionality into any learning management system that is IMS certified. These tools range from domain-specific learning environments to simple features such as chat apps.

This mash-up solution also facilitated SaaS (software as a service), evidently, one of the fastest-growing sectors of elearning technology.

Later updates of LTI came with loads of features. For example, a user had the ability to provide Tool Consumer outcomes. This allowed students to get their scores and grades from an interaction with a learning platform. A later version, LTI v2.0 allowed phased introduction of interactions and richer services as the online learning market grew. 

LTI v2.0 was released in January 2014. It provided REST-based two-way communication between the external system and the invoking platform. During this time, a subset of version 2.0 was released. This was a stepping stone between versions 1.1 and 2.0.

The adoption of v1.2 and 2.0 was slow due to complexity and security concerns. As such, IMS GLC declared them to be ‘legacy’ specifications.

In May 2019, version 1.3 was published. It was based on the OAuth 2.0, OpenID Connect, and JSON Web Tokens. Consequently, versions 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, and 2.0 were all deprecated.


LTI Standard Objectives

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Some of the objectives include the following:

  • To come up with a simple mash-up style deployment model that consists of a URL, key, and secret. These three components are used by course instructors and LMS administrators.
  • To detail the protocol of launching external applications from LMSs in a way that supports single sign-on and that preserves user roles in that context and their learning content.
  • To make portable external application links by defining components that can be embedded in IMS Common Cartridges. A common cartridge is a specification that defines the format for creating and sharing primarily educational content.

How LTI Works

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Today’s elearning scene is characterized by a myriad of systems that enhance training and learning. The tools range from general communication tools such as virtual classrooms to domain-specific learning engines for complex subjects like mathematics and history.

Ideally, any learning management system should provide access to these external applications. Still, there are vendors who have developed simple ‘plug-and-play’ applications that make interoperability possible.

Therefore, educators and learners navigate through these learning applications by moving through a network of hyperlinks and data flows between interconnected systems. All these happen with the help of custom communication protocols.

Yes, these proprietary services work seamlessly. However, they are expensive to acquire since every learning application/LMS pair requires the reinvention of point solutions. Every integration is unique.

This is where LTI comes in. It delivers a single framework for integrating any LMS with any learning application. The architectural principles and conceptual foundations that underlie the LTI standard are discussed below.

Workflow for LTI begins when an LMS administrator gains access to an external learning tool. The LMS administrator receives the URL, key, and secret from the tool administrator. In the case of the instructor, they will use the LMS control panel to add the LTI tool into their course structure as a resource link.

The instructor enters the URL, secret, and key as metadata for the resource link. When learners select the tool, the learning management system uses the URL, key, and secret to seamlessly launch the tool into an iframe or new browser instance.

In the case of the administrator, they add a ‘virtual tool’ to the learning management system by entering the URL, key, and secret. At this stage, the instructor will see that a newly configured LTI tool or a new activity needs to be placed as a resource link in their course structure.

Both the instructors and the learners will not know that the tool that they are using is running outside of their LMS. All they need to do is select the tool like any other tool built into their LMS.

In both cases, a launch request that includes the user’s identity, course, and role information, the key, and signature are sent to the external tool. The launch information is sent using a form developed from the user’s browser.

The LTI data elements are also sent in hidden forms that are automatically submitted to the external tools using JavaScript. The data contained in the HTTP form is authenticated using the OAuth security standard. This allows the external tool to verify that the data was not modified between the time the LMS sent the request and the time the tool received the data.

After the whole process is complete, the external tool can decide to redirect the user’s browser to another URL. It may also choose to render the user interface altogether.

Basic LTI Function Terminology

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Here are some basic terminologies that will help you understand LTI and how it works:

Tool Provider

This is the element that exposes a learning management system to one or more tools. The Tool Provider can be seen as a wrapper around a tool. Hence, the Tool Provider represents an entire system of tools and its interfaces.

Tool Consumer

Mostly, instructors and learners access external learning tools using activating tools inside the LMS. However, the LTI supports other launch scenarios. For instance, a user may want to launch the tool from another website such as Google or Facebook.

Hence, any system that allows access to these external tools is known as a Tool Consumer.

Resource Link

The Tool Consumer uses Resource Link elements to create clickable links within its user interface. Every Resource Link has a title that details how the text should appear in a clickable link.

There is also an optional description that should appear alongside the link.

Context

The links for external tools appear in the context of some online courses. They may also appear within other types of groups. For instance, the links might appear within the context of a student club, study group, or student organization.

Since the tools may be launched from many types of contexts, LTI rarely uses the term ‘course.’ instead, the term ‘context’ is preferred.

Learning Technology Integration Standards

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Learning Technology Integration Standards

The most common standards in learning technology integration include SCORM, AICC, xAPI, and CMI-5. These are discussed in the following sections:

What is SCORM?

SCORM stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model. It is the most common elearning standard in use today. It is a collection of standards that define communications between client-side content and a host system that is supported by an LMS.

SCORM was developed out of the need to have a means of sharing learning content. In 2000, ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) created this standard. To understand SCORM, the analogy of a good teacher is presented.

In this analogy, it is required that a teacher learns how to communicate effectively with their students. But this can’t happen if the teacher and the learners can use the same language. Also, if the teacher sends mixed signals, such as smiling when they are mad, clearly miscommunication sets in.

Hence, communication is all about sharing basic assumptions about how to communicate.  Using this example, SCORM is like a good teacher and is a basic set of assumptions that allow courses and learning management systems to communicate.

SCORM is made up of two parts, ‘Shareable Content Object’ and ‘Reference Model.’ Shareable content means that this learning standard is all about sharing content across different systems.’ SCORM defines how Shareable Content Objects (SCOs) can be used over and over across different learning contexts and systems.

There is much more freedom if a course is shareable. It can freely be used in an organization. For instance, you can take it from one system to another without ever modifying it. You can also share it with other users to use on their systems.

Lessons in a SCORM course are called objects. They are similar to sections in a textbook. Your course can have any number of lessons. You can set rules for each of these lessons. For example, you can set a rule where learners have to go through and understand one lesson before moving to the next.

SCORM was not invented from scratch. Instead, it combines borrowed ideas from existing standards such as AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee), a framework previously developed by the aviation industry.

SCORM borrows from these older standards and improves their features. In fact, it is for the same reason that it was developed; to take care of the inefficiencies of these older standards. 

It was also introduced to define how these standards can seamlessly work together and dictate to developers how these frameworks can properly be used together.

SCORM is a collection of lessons packaged with instructions that are easily understood by learning management systems (LMSs).

For more in-depth information about SCORM, visit this page.

LTI and SCORM

LTI retains the user experience of the LTI Tool Provider. The beauty of this aspect is that content creators can craft unique learning experiences using their own tools and can also share these learning experiences with other learning platforms using LTI.

In most cases, LTI is used in academia and higher learning contexts.

The most significant difference between SCORM and LTI is that while SCORM is created for system-to-user connection, LTI is meant for system-to-system connection.

For instance, let's say all the progress and personal information of learners are stored on your LMS and then all your courses are saved on an external system. Setting up an LTI ensures that when your learners log into your LMS, the courses stored in the external system are automatically called into the LMS and loaded.

Using LTI, content creators can develop courses and connect to other LMSs without using processes such as creating a ZIP file. In this case, your LMS just sends information to the other system and waits for feedback.

In the case of SCORM, your LMS communicates with the user. Courses are downloaded from the LMS onto the user’s computer. Information relating to the user is then sent back to the LMS for tracking purposes. No other websites are involved in this case.

To add, while both LTI and SCORM were designed for diverse applications across learning management systems, the below are some unique differences:

  • For SCORM, you have to place an entire app inside a downloadable package e.g. a ZIP folder. The package has to follow a standard way of organizing content inside that package.
  • In the case of LTI, your web application can operate normally. You don’t have to place an app inside a downloadable package. However, the only difference is that your app must support the LTI protocol so that other apps, like your LMS, can connect to it.

At the highest level, the differences between SCORM and LTI are:

  1. Content playback: LTI connects LMS learners to elearning content in a standard way. The content is launched on a different platform. SCORM content is uploaded into and played within an LMS.
  2. Application: LTI is mostly used by academic institutions. SCORM is used by government agencies and corporate organizations.
  3. Governance: LTI is created and managed by IMS while SCORM is created and maintained by ADL.

What is AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee)?

AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee) was formed in 1988 by technology-based training professionals. It was created to ensure training material could be developed, launched, and evaluated across the rising number of computer-based platforms at the time.

Initially, AICC developed guidelines for the aviation industry. However, it was later adopted as a learning standard by other sectors including corporates and educational institutions. Hence, it was the first online learning standard in the world.

AICC developed online learning material specifications that were general purpose; not just for the aviation industry. Consequently, AICC was massively adopted since vendors could sell the product to multiple customers. Hence, what was meant to be an aviation learning standard became relevant to other industries.

In 2014, following the decline in membership numbers, AICC was dissolved. Before it was disbanded, AICC was working to make learning content compliant with CMI-5 (Computer-Managed Instruction, fifth attempt).

Eventually, CMI-5 became the successor to AICC. Luckily, CMI-5 conforms to xAPI (Experience API) which is the latest elearning standard.

More on CMI-5 and xAPI in later sections of this article.

After AICC was dissolved, the stakeholders handed over the CMI-5 project to ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning). This was meant to ensure continued access to elearning training content.

AICC is credited for pioneering the standardization of the interoperability of elearning content. For years, the organization has worked tirelessly to create and maintain the technology framework of the standard.

AICC also paved the way for SCORM and xAPI which are learning standards built on top of it.

Yes, the learning standard was discontinued in 2014, however, it is still used by many learning management systems. Technically, it is a dead standard but it is still being used for legacy reasons.

Many organizations still have learning content packaged in AICC. Therefore, having an LMS that supports AICC still has its place in elearning today.

Organizations should invest in LMSs that not only forecast future integration with other systems and tools. They should also look at platforms that can support older content that is still relevant today. Some other older content is valuable since it can’t be sourced elsewhere.

Although AICC is pre-XML (Extensible Markup Language), it is very robust and unambiguous to the extent that it is considered by many to be safer than standards like SCORM. 

LTI and AICC

LTI focuses on connecting management systems in a standardized way. With this standard, a learner logs into an LMS and selects a resource link (LTI Consumer to play a course). The course that the learner selected is then seamlessly launched in a remote tool in a browser or iframe.

Setting up LTI requires an LTI provider to send a URL, secret, and key to an LMS administrator to upload the course into an LMS. Single sign-on is used to authenticate users via OAuth.

The beauty of this process is that LTI preserves the user’s learning experience of the LTI provider. In turn, this presents great opportunities for content creators who can design unique learning experiences using their own tools. Using LTI, they can also easily share these learning experiences with other users on other platforms.

On the other hand, AICC is an almost defunct learning standard while LTI is pretty much alive. LTI also provides a secure way of launching online courses. This is because it uses single sign-on via OAuth to authenticate users. This is not the case with AICC.

Additionally, both standards use HTTP to send requests. However, for AICC the process is much lengthier since it has to interpret feedback messages sent back by the LMS. In the case of LTI, the course does not have to wait for such feedback; the course is launched right away.

What is xAPI (Experience API)?

Before we delve into what Experience API/xAPI is, let us introduce Tin Can. What is Tin Can? How does it differ from xAPI? The answer is simple.

The two are one and the same thing. xAPI or Tin Can is a new elearning technology specification that allows the collection of data about a user whether they are online or offline. xAPI uses a shared format to send and receive data which makes it a unique tool for sharing learning content between systems.

The original Experience API version was developed by Rustici Software as part of an ADL project. The project’s name was ‘Project Tin Can,’ and Rustici Software submitted the project as ‘Tin Can API.’

Later, it was renamed to Experience API or xAPI by ADL. However, by the time the name was changed, there was so much excitement with the name ‘Project Tin Can’ that it stuck and the two names had to be equally recognized side by side.

xAPI communicates with your LRS (Learning Record Store) or LXP (Learning Experience Platform). It gives detailed information on a learner’s activities. For instance, it shows learner engagement through comments, mouse clicks, and on-screen actions.

The API for this specification collects data in a consistent fashion about a person’s learning activities from many technologies. Indeed, very few systems are able to communicate securely by capturing and sharing the many learner activities using xAPI’s simple vocabulary.

Through the collection of such information, it is easy to locate where content is making an impact on the learners. This specification also integrates mobile learning. Besides, it allows instructors to personalize, track, and evaluate learner experiences in a more responsive manner.

xAPI is fast becoming a popular standard. In fact, it is believed that it is the replacement to SCORM, though that might not happen just immediately. It is preferred by some educators due to its advanced features such as the ability to track a learner’s online and offline activities.

Earlier specifications had difficulties and limitations. However, xAPI is simple and flexible. For instance, it features mobile learning, gamification, experiential learning, simulated activities, offline learning, social learning, and collaborative learning.

How xAPI Works

People learn through interacting with others. These interactive activities can take place anywhere and can signal an occasion where learning can possibly occur. Such activities can be recorded by Experience API.

If an activity needs to be recorded, xAPI sends secure statements to the Learning Record Store (discussed in the next section). These statements can be in the form of “verbs, nouns, objects” or “I did this.”

The Learning Record Stores record all such statements made. One LRS can share such information with other LRSs. Also, an LRS can exist on its own or be hosted inside an LMS.

Freedoms of xAPI

Statement freedom: The structure of the above statements (nouns, verbs, objects, I did this) allows you to record almost any activity.

Device Freedom: All enabled devices can send xAPI statements. These include mobile phones, simulations, and games. In this case, constant connection to the internet is not necessary.

History Freedom: xAPI allows LRSs to communicate with each other. One LRS can share transcripts and other data with another LRS. Also, your learning experiences can follow you from one LRS to another. The learners can also have their own ‘personal data lockers’ containing their personal learning information.

Workflow Freedom: The tracking of events can start and end anywhere and on whatever device a learner chooses. It does not have to take place inside an LMS. Hence, content is not tied to an LMS.

What is a Learning Record Store?

This is a component at the heart of Experience API. It receives, stores, and returns xAPI statements. To accomplish any task with xAPI, you need an LRS. Any system or tool that sends or retrieves online learning activity must interact with the LRS as the central store.

According to the xAPI specification, an LRS is any server (a system that receives and processes web requests) that is tasked with receiving, storing, and the provision of access to learning records.

Further, the LRS is designed to allow systems to store xAPI statements, xAPI state, and other xAPI metadata from other systems. Having the name ‘store’ for this component means that an LRS’s basic functionality is to make xAPI statements available.

An LRS enables a variety of learning experiences and modern tracking. This includes capturing activities captured in mobile apps, job performance, and real-world activities. The data from these experiences are stored in the LRS and can be shared with other platforms that offer adaptive learning experiences or support advanced reporting.

LRSs have been modified from simply being stores of xAPI data to include features that allow users to make use of the stored xAPI data. These expanded services go beyond the core function of an LRS to support a range of activities such as learning analytics, reporting dashboards, recommendation engines, among others.

When LRSs perform more than just storing xAPI data, they are sometimes referred to as ‘learning analytics platforms (LAPs).’

LTI versus xAPI

These two standards are advanced in their own unique ways. The below are some of their differences.

LTI

This is a standard that provides an extendable way of integrating online learning applications. These applications are web-based and externally hosted. For LTI, outcomes of learning experiences and grading information can be sent back to the LMS.

The downsides of LTI include the following:

  • There is no support for non-web-based applications.
  • Learning data may be distributed across several learning platforms. Hence, this poses a risk in that information can be accessed by uninvited users.
  • Integrating LTI with non-browser applications is too complex.

xAPI

This standard uses experience tracking integration to utilize activity streams. It can also support online and offline activities; session-less communication. Besides, learning content can exist in any system outside of the LMS.

The disadvantages include the following:

  • There is difficulty in distinguishing between actual from claimed experiences.
  • The statements-based approach does not show the scale or context of experiences.
  • Capturing information from systems that don’t support this API is difficult.
  • The issue of privacy pops up since users are tracked in their personal spaces and time.

What is CMI-5?

Currently, the elearning community knows only two standards; SCORM and xAPI. The introduction of xAPI brought forth many opportunities that a new set of rules unique to this standard had to be developed.

This set of rules were named CMI (Computer-Managed Instruction). CMI-5 which stands for CMI, fifth attempt, is a contemporary elearning specification that takes advantage of the xAPI protocol and data model.

CMI-5 also defines the required components of system interoperability including packaging, launch, credential handshake, and consistent information model.

It is the result of joint efforts by different entities starting with AICC and later to the pioneers of the xAPI community, who released the specification, under the stewardship of ADL. These parties had extensive experience in the elearning specifications authoring space.

In June 2016, CMI-5 was released for production and two parts of a CMI-5 system are now available.

Packaging

With CMI-5 comes the introduction of a ‘manifest-like’ file named ‘cmi5.xml’ which contains XML metadata. This data describes the Course Structure which is a series of containers called ‘Blocks’ and ‘Assignable Units’ (AUs).

The file is stored in a ZIP file or can simply be saved as a ZIP file. It is provided to cmi5-compatible launching systems (LMSs) for import. The AU is the launchable content in this type of package. Also, the content assets may be included inside the package or hosted remotely.

Launch Mechanism

CMI-5’s launch mechanism is pretty much similar to that of existing models. It provides several pieces of information to AUs during launch. An internet browser is a common launch platform. However, simulators, mobile apps, among others are other launch scenarios.

The launch process involves capturing statements from the launching system and the content. It also involves providing an Experience API context template to content to leverage in statement creation, making learner preferences available, and establishing a learning session in general.

Credential Handshake

The AU retrieves credentials from the launching system in a separate request, as part of the launch process. This request allows the credentials to be provided only once which makes them inherently secure than previous credentialing processes.

The credentials should be tied to a specific session, expirable, and should include limited permissions when accessing the LRS endpoint.

Consistent Information Model

CMI-5 includes precise statement categories captured by the launching systems and AUs. These are grouped into two categories; ‘cmi5 defined’ and ‘cmi5 allowed’ statements. CMI-5 defined statements are heavily specified in their use. They are also detailed as to the data they can or can’t include, the order in which they can be sent, how they should be interpreted, and whether or not they must be unique in the session.

CMI-5 defined statements are also specifically designed to capture session details and important elearning elements such as pass/fail, duration, content completion, and duration. They include Experience API activity that makes grouping and recognizing them easy.

CMI-5 allowed statements, on the other hand, is left nearly open-ended. This is what allows cmi5 to maintain xAPI’s well-known inherent flexibility. However, these statements need to include previously-mentioned context templates to allow for their correlation with other related cmi5 session mechanics.

CMI-5 relies on the Experience API framework. Therefore, if your products already support xAPI, supporting cmi5 is very easy. You can find full support in such a case at Rustici Software Products.

Benefits of LTI

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For Creators

LTI allows publishers, instructors, teachers, professors, trainers, and other educators to adopt many LMSs without hurting the learning experience. Also, a publisher can sell more of their content if accepted by many learning management systems.

In perspective, a professor in a university using LTI-compliant can provide a wider variety of content to their learners without any restrictions.

For Learners

LTI allows learners to access diverse content which, in turn, contributes to their learning success. Indeed, LTI streamlines the learning experience and eliminates the need to access multiple platforms. 

Consequently, learners don’t need to memorize dozens of passwords or manage different platforms with different navigational challenges. All they need to focus on is their learning.

Other Benefits

Responsiveness to instructors and trainees

There are a wide variety of applications, content, and learning tools that can be integrated into an LMS and shared across a number of vendor platforms.

Increased efficiency

The number of custom integrations needed by IT professionals and product developers is reduced since every application interfaces in the same way.

Exchange of outcomes data

The outcome data and learning analytics from a variety of learning tools and applications can be returned to the LMS for immediate use.

Encourages creativity

The friction that sometimes persists between developers of learning applications is reduced by LTI. Therefore, niche product developers can create web-based learning tools that can be automatically integrated into a number of learning platforms. Consequently, this encourages developers to be creative instead of conforming to strict guidelines.

Greater functions at an affordable price

Training organizations can use tools developed out of their communities and leverage on their functionalities all at reduced costs and labor.

Greater productivity

Educators can purchase technologies and tools that can be integrated into any platform leading to greater productivity across these systems. The restrictions in terms of compatibility common with stand-alone technologies are eliminated.

Reasons Your LMS Should be LTI-Compliant

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As a product developer, you will be selling your systems to one of two categories; educational institutions and corporate entities. If you are a developer in the EdTech (Educational Technology), it might be obvious that you have heard of LTI.

However, if your products are developed mostly for corporate clients, chances are that you might not have heard of LTI or even know how it can help you enhance your learning product.

For many years, learning professionals in educational institutions such as higher learning have been using LTI-conformant tools and applications to connect their learners thus allowing them seamless access to learning content.

If you are building a learning platform and LTI is not on your roadmap, or you are still weighing the value, below are some reasons you should consider making your LMS an LTI Tool Consumer:

Better User Experience

LTI is based on a single sign-on portal built right into the LMS. This ensures that users don’t navigate away from your platform to access LTI content. LTI content is kept in one place, and data and results are synced to the LMS.

For LMS admins, implementing new extensions and tools is easy since no custom integration work is required.

LTI Was Not Just Built for the Classroom

Enterprise-level businesses and corporations use LTI’s secure single sign-on function to administer and manage elearning across a variety of organizations. In fact, multinationals such as Google, Microsoft, Zoom, Box, and many more develop LTI-focused LTI tools.

Clearly, this standard is not just for the EdTech space. Hence, if you are trying to enter a new market or make a future-proof system, LTI adoption is on the rise and here to stay.

Adding LTI Support into Your LMS is Easy

Organizations such as Rustici Software have made support for LTI-compliant platforms easier. Indeed they have been experts in standards such as SCORM, xAPI, AICC, CMI-5, and now LTI. Evidently, this is a company with the technical know-how needed to provide top-notch support.

As LTI gets updated with new features and functionalities, your Rustici Engine-powered LMS also gets upgraded. The company’s elearning standards expertise will save you valuable development time allowing you to concentrate on your product’s unique features.

Tips to Leverage Learning Tools Interoperability

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Tips to Leverage Learning Tools Interoperability

For elearning developers, when building an education application, you should consider LTI support. Whether it is an authoring tool, educational game, or learning management system, the adoption of your product will be highly dependent on its ability to support LTI.

These tips will help you as you begin leveraging LTI:

Tool Consumer versus Tool Provider

A Tool Consumer is an application that authenticates end users and grants them access to multiple applications and content. An LMS is a tool consumer. 

A Tool Provider, on the other hand, is an education application. Examples include animations, games, and quizzes. Tool providers implement LTI standards to allow Tool Consumers to connect to them.

Difference Between LTI and SCORM

Both LTI and SCORM were developed to help users launch different applications across learning management systems. However, the two have these unique differences:

  • SCORM requires you to place an entire app into a downloadable package (a zipped folder). This package has to conform to a standard that defines how content is organized inside the package.
  • LTI apps don’t need to be downloadable since your web application can run normally on your website, similar to Facebook apps. The only difference is that the app must support the LTI protocol so that other applications such as LMSs can connect to it.

Connections

In most instances, both the Tool Consumers and Tool Providers are web applications. They communicate with each other by making connections using LTI standards. These connections are HTTP requests and responses. In this case, data is exchanged in common web formats like JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data).

Tips for Implementing LTI

  • Ensure you know the version of the LTI standard you are using and follow it.
  • Consider how your application will look and function when embedded in a Tool Consumer such as an LMS.
  • Test your Tool Provider with multiple LMSs. If you are building a Tool Consumer, test it with various Tool Providers; the more, the better.

Besides, while it is important to implement the functionality of an application when developing an education application, you should also consider how your application will be integrated with other applications and systems.

If the application that you are developing will directly be used by teachers and students, you need to integrate it with other tools as soon as possible.

Conclusion

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LTI Conclusion

Unlike other learning standards, LTI provides a secure way of accessing elearning content. Multiple systems can seamlessly integrate and share information. For both educators and learners, it provides a hustle-free way of delivering and accessing learning content without the need to memorize credentials for every system in use.

Talk to your vendor today and inquire about the LTI capabilities of their platforms. You can also contact us today and we will provide you with insightful information regarding learning tools interoperability and how to choose an LTI-compliant learning management system.

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Author:
Kevin Kimani

Kevin Kimani is a technical writer for Tovuti. He is skilled in technical research and is always updating himself with the latest in information technology. He is also skilled in web content management and strategy. Kevin is passionate about space exploration and hopes to spot a UFO one day! He also likes to track the ISS and other man-made satellites. He also likes to spend time with his two lovely daughters and teach them tech stuff!

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