Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) integration

This article explains what the Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI Tool integration does and why you would want to use it in a number of different learning management systems.

Introduction

Learning Tools Interoperability is a standard developed by IMS global which specifies how a conversation between two systems should be carried out. The specification defines a set of parameters that should be passed between the two systems and a method for doing this.

In the LTI jargon, Talis Aspire Reading Lists is a tool provider and your learning management system is a tool consumer.

The Talis Aspire Reading Lists (TARL) LTI Tool allows an instructor on a course to link to specific reading lists or sections of a reading list. It also allows the linked section to be shown to users from within the learning management system.

This article covers the following topics.

The Talis Aspire Reading Lists learning tool is now on general release. There are a number of things which are important to work through, so we have pulled these together into a mini project which gives you the starting point for planning to implement the TARL LTI Tool in your institution.

Benefits of using this LTI based tool

There are a number of benefits for the student and the academic.

  • The academic gets to choose which list or section of a list they want to link to.
  • The student is presented with relevant content as directed by the academic, but the student can still navigate to the full list.
  • The LTI tool will try to ‘best guess’ which list the student will see even if the academic hasn’t chosen a specific list.
  • The list content can be embedded within the learning environment, though the exact method for this varies depending on the way that different virtual learning environments embed external tool content.

Overview of functionality

Talis Aspire Reading Lists has an LTI tool which allows academics to link to either whole reading lists or sections of reading lists. The LTI tool is passed a context_label and context_title for the module or course that the tool link is being created from.

A video demonstrating how this looks in Blackboard

There is no sound in this video.

A video demonstrating how this looks in Moodle

Note that this demonstration uses an additional Talis Aspire Activity Module plugin to ‘smooth’ the edges of Moodle’s LTI implementation. You can read more about that in the Moodle set up guide. There is no sound in this video.

A video demonstrating how this looks in Canvas

There is no sound in this video.

Instructor workflow

In whichever learning management system is being used, the instructor will be able to complete the following steps to embed a list or part of a list in their course content.

  • Choose to add an external tool link to their course content as many times as necessary.
  • Click on the newly created link to initiate the choice of specific list or list section.
  • A list is automatically matched using information in the following precedence:
    1. If we have a module code, try to find all lists associated with that module
      • try with value from the context_label
      • will then try with value from the context_title
    2. If step one fails we then try to find lists based on a search.  This is using the same search mechanism as the homepage search.
      • try with value from the context_label
      • will then try with value from the context_title
    3. Finally we filter by time period (if given)
      • We offer the instructor a reading list or selection of reading lists to choose from.

Student workflow

  • Student will click on the link and see the list or list section that the instructor has chosen for that link.
  • If the instructor has not chosen a specific list or list section, the tool will either choose a best fit list (based on course code and teaching time period) or present a search page for the student to search for the appropriate list.
  • A list is automatically matched using information in the following precedence:
    1. If we have a module code, try to find all lists associated with that module
      • try with value from the context_label
      • will then try with value from the context_title
    2. If step one fails we then try to find lists based on a search. This is using the same search mechanism as the homepage search.
      • try with value from the context_label
      • will then try with value from the context_title
    3. Finally we filter based on time period if given.
      • If one reading list is found students get directed to that.
      • If more than one list is found, students get directed to the search results page.
      • If no results are found, students get directed to the reading lists home page so they can do their own search.

Note about embedded content

Different learning management systems allow for embedded content in different ways. Some show as an iFrame (a webpage within a webpage) within the content and some hide navigational menus. In others you get a choice as to how the content should be embedded. This is not something that can be controlled by the TARL LTI tool directly. You are encouraged to try out list and section embedding in your learning environment to find out what it is capable of.

Some definitions of core concepts

Roles and logging in

Several systems involved in setting up LTI have ‘roles’ which could be confusing. There also may be a number of authentications systems involved and this section aims to clarify what is what.

  • Talis Aspire Reading Lists has roles which relate to what a user is given permission to do.
  • LTI has roles which are generic. The two key roles that Talis Aspire Reading Lists understands are Learner (a student) and Instructor (someone who is responsible for making some sort of decision about the content made available via LTI.
  • Learning Management Systems also have roles which determine what users can do in those places. Most learning systems will automatically decide how their Learning Management System roles map to LTI roles. Talis only makes use of LTI roles passed to them in the LTI conversation.

When an LTI request is made the consumer key and secret are used ONLY to decide if the request coming from the Learning Management System is valid and authorised.

A Learning Management System will not know the persistent identifier that a user profile in Talis Aspire is associated with. This means that we cannot know who the user is just through the LTI conversation. We will require an additional authentication step for activities that are linked to a user’s profile. For example if an Instructor is trying to make a new link, or if a student chooses to add a reading intention or study note.

You are advised to use a single Single Sign On system for your learning management system, your TARL tenancy and any authentication proxies that you might use (e.g. ezProxy). This will ensure that students have seamless access to resources in each system involved with displaying the content to the student. Where you have multiple authentication systems in use, you should expect more than one login prompt to be shown to a user in one session.

Requirements

Applies to all learning management systems

In order to setup the TARL LTI tool in your Talis Aspire Reading Lists tenancy you will need the following:

  • You will need to complete a mini-project which is described here: Talis Aspire LTI Tool - Mini project
  • You will need a learning environment!
    • Moodle 2.6 Stable and above (versions below this will only work if you use our additional plugin, because the core mod/lti implementation in Moodle is broken in these versions)
    • Blackboard Learn SP 13 and above.
    • Canvas version (awaiting clarification of version)
    • Other LTI compliant learning management systems should work but unless listed here have not been directly tested by Talis. If you can vouch for a particular software or software version, then do let us know, and we’ll update this list accordingly.

Blackboard Learn Setup

Specific notes on starting to use the TARL LTI tool with Blackboard Learn. This includes important information on compatibility of existing non-LTI TARL integrations with HTTPS. Blackboard and Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI tool set up.

Moodle Setup

Specific notes on starting to use the TARL LTI tool in Moodle. This includes important information on the compatibility of existing non-LTI TARL integrations with HTTPS. Moodle and Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI tool set up.

Canvas Setup

Canvas and Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI tool set up.

Have more questions? Submit a request

0 Comments

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Powered by Zendesk