Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI tool - mini project

While we have tried to keep this document as easy to use as possible, there are some aspects which cannot escape being technical!


Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) is a standard for describing a conversation between your learning management system and Talis's products.

Talis have a Talis Aspire Reading Lists (TARL) LTI Tool which can be used to embed reading lists in other systems that Support LTI. The TARL LTI Tool is available to all customers, but is not enabled by default as there are a number of critical steps that need to happen before Talis will enable the tool.

Setting up your learning management system to use the TARL LTI Tool involves a number of teams in the university. The critical steps must be followed in order to make sure that your use of the integration is as seamless as possible.

When our TARL LTI Tool is being used in your systems, it is usual for this to be embedded within the 'host' system.  For example a reading list will be visible to users embedded inside some part of your learning management system's course display areas. The mechanism for embedding the reading list is via an iFrame, you can think of it as a webpage within a webpage.

Project Team

This mini project will require input from people in your university who know about:

  • How your learning management system is configured.
  • How your user authentication is configured
  • How to communicate effectively with your academics.

Requirements for using the TARL LTI Tool

Your learning management system is almost certainly being 'run' over a secure connection using HTTPS. because of this, in order to enable content in any iFrame to be shown within your learning system, it too has to be run over a secure HTTPS connection.

HTTPS — All requests to your Talis Aspire tenancy will be forced to use HTTPs. 

Insecure Content — All content that is served from your Talis tenancy or from any authentication systems and other third party systems which might be accessed from within the iFrame that the TARL LTI Tool is contained within must serve all their content over HTTPS. This is especially true of any user login pages showing university logos or other images. Where third party content doesn't link to an HTTPS site, we have options for forcing these links to open in new windows. Read more about auditing your systems for insecure content.

Local caching proxies — If you have any local proxies which are caching requests made to external systems, including the TARL LTI Tool, this is likely to break our use of 'use once' requests, and your users will see errors saying that they are not authorised to view some piece of content.

Third Party Cookies — All browsers that you are likely to use are required to support the setting of cookies from within an iFrame. Talis Aspire and your university's Single Sign On service will need to set cookies. Internet Explorer will block any cookies which are set from websites which do not have a Platform for Privacy Policies (P3P) header in each response. Therefore you will need to ensure that your Single Sign On service sets appropriate P3P headers. Read more about auditing your systems for P3P headers

Project steps

The project steps marked critical are things which Talis will ask you about when you ask for the LTI Tool to be enabled for your tenancy.

  1. CRITICAL: Audit your authentication Identity Provider (IDP) for any insecure content.
  2. CRITICAL: Audit your IDP to make sure that it uses Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) headers in all responses.
  3. CRITICAL: Audit your learning management system to identify:
    1. What the current learning management system is and its version.
    2. If there are any existing Talis Aspire Integrations installed.
    3. What versions of any existing Talis Aspire Integrations are installed.
  4. IMPORTANT: Please let us know how you rollover your courses in your learning system. You will also want to read this article on LTI and Rollover.
  5. Ask Talis to enable the "integrations menu" in Talis Aspire to enable you to authenticate your systems with our Talis LTI Tool.
  6. Setup the LTI tool on a test system. Your IT team should familiarise themselves with configuration of the LTI tool for your specific learning management system. It is safe and recommended to point your test system at your live Talis tenancy.
  7. Review the test system to familiarise yourselves with how the tool operates.
  8. You may choose to have the Headers and Footers of your TARL tenancy hidden when showing the reading lists. You will need to ask Talis to do this for your tenancy.
  9. You may choose to have all links to external content open in either a new window/tab or to replace the existing browser window. You will need to ask Talis to do this for your tenancy.
  10. Plan when you are going to launch to your users.
  11. Plan how you are going to communicate this tool's availability to your users.
  12. Setup the LTI Tool on your live system and test again.
  13. Execute your plan from steps 10 and 11! 

Further reading


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