Moodle and Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI Tool setup

This article applies to LTI 1.1 only


  • 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)

Set up in Moodle

The setup could be completed within between 20 - 30 minutes.

  1. You should only setup the TARL LTI Tool if you are working through this mini-project
  2. Make sure you have setup an integration key and secret in Talis Aspire Reading Lists
  3. Go to
    • site administration >> Plugins >> Activity Modules >> LTI
    • or in newer moodle versions this will be site administration >> Plugins >> Activity Modules >> External Tools >> Manage Tools
  4. Click either Add external tool configuration or in newer moodle versions configure a tool manually
    • Tool Name — will be visible to users selecting this tool
    • Tool Base URL — will be your tenancy’s HTTPS URL including the /lti/launch path for example: https://<tenantshortcode>
    • Consumer Key — Enter your integration Key from Talis Aspire Reading Lists.
    • Shared Secret — Enter your integration secret from Talis Aspire Reading Lists.
    • Custom parameters — Enter these here. You will almost certainly need to read this article about custom parameters
    • Tick Show type when creating tool instances (if you don’t do this no one will be able to select this tool!) This option is not present in newer versions of moodle.
    • Tool configuration usage — Select show in activity chooser and as a preconfigured tool
      This option is only present in newer versions of moodle.
    • Default Launch Container — Choose how you would like Moodle to embed the LTI tool.
    • all other settings can be left at their default values
    • DO NOT enable the Supports Deep Linking Content-Item Message check box. 
  5. Now you and your academics can go to a course or module and with editing turned on, add a new external tool activity to any section where an activity can be added. Just select the Tool Name that you used earlier from the list of available tools.
  6. (Deprecated) At this point, you could also install our Moodle activity module plugin to streamline the use of the TARL LTI tool for academics. You will also need to configure the activity module settings at this stage - these should be self-explanatory.  A demonstration video of this experience can be found in the LTI integration article.

Note: Beware if your browser auto populates your Moodle username and password when adding a new External Tool link to your Moodle content. In testing, we found that the browser will auto-populate the hidden key and secret which should be left empty. If this is happening you will get a ‘not authorised’ message from Talis Aspire Reading Lists.

About the Moodle 2.x Activity Module (Deprecated)

The Moodle 2.x Activity Module was originally written to refine some of the rough edges of the core Moodle LTI integration.  However the native Moodle LTI configuration has developed and matured in recent years and we would recommend considering the native experience over the plugin as first choice.

Whilst we don't currently have dedicated plans to retire the plugin, it is unlikely to be developed further going forwards.

That being said, the plugin is still available should it fit your needs, and adds the following functionality:

  • The "course resource list" can be chosen as a specific resource type from the add activity or resource menu.
  • Fields that an academic does not need to worry about are hidden from the external tool screen when adding a course resource list.
  • An additional option to add the resource 'embedded inline' in the course content areas.  PLEASE NOTE: This will impact your stats in your reading list analytics dashboard - every time a list is embedded in the screen it is counting as a view of the list. In Google Analytics these are recorded against each section because each section is loaded using its own URL and not the URL of the parent list. Hence the figures that you see in Google Analytics for the list itself are lower because the section views are separate.

Roles in Moodle and LTI roles

There are 'roles' defined in the LTI specification which describe a typical role a user might have.  The TARL LTI Tool supports Administrator, Instructor and Learner roles.  You can read about the different workflows these users will see in the overview.

Moodle only supports three of the LTI roles, and the mapping is predefined by Moodle.

  • If a user is the Moodle site Administrator, their LTI Role is Administrator - TARL LTI tool will treat them as an Instructor
  • If a user is associated with a course and can manage activities on that course (capability: moodle/course:manageactivities), their LTI Role is Instructor
  • If a user is not associated with a course but has the capability mod/lti:manage, their LTI Role is Instructor
  • If none of the above, their LTI Role is Learner. This role is typically a Student, but other custom roles in Moodle will default to this role if they don't have the capabilities outlined above.
Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.