Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI 1.3) Integration

This article explains what the Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI 1.3 Tool integration does and why you would want to use it in a number of different learning management systems.

You should prefer the LTI 1.3 integration over any other method.

You might also be interested in the Talis Aspire LTI 1.3 FAQ


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 and your learning management system is a platform.

The Talis Aspire Reading Lists (TARL) LTI 1.3 Tool allows an instructor on a course to link to specific published 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 LTI 1.3 learning tool is on general release.

Benefits of using this LTI 1.3 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.
  • When a course is copied in the learning system, the link to a section will not break

Overview of functionality

Talis Aspire Reading Lists has an LTI 1.3 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


A video demonstrating how this looks in Moodle



A video demonstrating how this looks in Canvas


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.

There are two types of link supported by LTI. You are strongly encouraged to use the Deep Link where possible as this is the only link type that supports detection of link reuse and rollover.

Deep Links

A deep link is also sometimes referred to as a 'content item selection' link, as the content is selected before the entry is added to the content area of the learning system. Your should prefer deep link placements in the learning system. This link stores additional information in the learning system which allows Talis Aspire to detect when an existing link is reused in a copied course. This allows us to adapt to rollover situations and keep links connected to current content without manual intervention.

  • Choose to add an external tool link to their course content as many times as necessary.
  • A list is automatically matched using the module code and time period extracted from the learning system's LTI payload.  
    • We offer the instructor a reading list or selection of reading lists to choose from.
    • The academic can then drill into the sections of a particular list and choose one.
    • The academic can search for another list if they need to.
  • The item in the learning system is added after the instructor has selected what to link to. This is a change to the LTI 1.1 behaviour where an additional click was needed after creating an item.
  • If the link is a copied link and the instructor clicks on it, Talis Aspire will detect the copy and check to see if the list or section has been rolled over and send the academic to that content.

Resource Launch Links

These links behave similarly to the LTI 1.1 'Basic LTI Launch' behaviour. We cannot support link copy detection, so these links will not rollover if copied. We recommend using a Deep Link LTI placement if you are adding these links to course content.

This link type does not support linking to sections. It is designed to link to whole lists from a sidebar navigation menu which can be automatically added in Canvas and Blackboard through placements or templating for new courses.

When an instructor clicks on this link type, they will be asked to select the appropriate list.

Student workflow

Deep Link

  • The student will click on the link and see the list or list section that the instructor has chosen for that link.
  • Because the link cannot be created WITHOUT selecting content, there is no need for a best guess mechanism. This is a difference between LTI 1.1 and LTI 1.3.
  • If the link is a copied link, Talis Aspire will detect this and try to link the student to the rolledover copy of the list. A message will show to say this has happened.

Resource Launch Links 

  • 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 the module code and time period extracted from the learning system's LTI payload.
      • 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.
  • There is no copied link detection available here to support a rollover scenario. This is a limitation of the LTI 1.3 standard.

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 1.3 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.

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.


LTI 1.3 supports a better rollover experience when both your learning system and Talis Aspire have rolled over.  To find out more about this take a look at the following video for your specific Learning system.

Blackboard Rollover

This video demonstrates a rollover of both a list and the course in Blackboard, showing both the original and ultra view of the course. It also contains some key comparisons between what is possible in LTI 1.1 and 1.3

Moodle Rollover

This video demonstrates a rollover of both a list and the course in Moodle. It also contains some key comparisons between what is possible in LTI 1.1 and 1.3

Canvas Rollover

This video demonstrates a rollover of both a list and the course in Canvas. It also contains some key comparisons between what is possible in LTI 1.1 and 1.3

Getting Setup


Applies to all learning management systems

In order to setup the TARL LTI 1.3 tool in your Talis Aspire Reading Lists tenancy you will need the following:

  • You will need a learning environment!
    • Moodle 3.9 Stable and above (versions below this have incomplete LTI 1.3 support)
    • Blackboard Learn SP 13 and above.
    • Canvas version (latest)
    • 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. Blackboard and Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI 1.3 tool set up.

Moodle Setup

Specific notes on starting to use the TARL LTI tool in Moodle. Moodle and Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI 1.3 tool set up.

Canvas Setup

Canvas and Talis Aspire Reading Lists LTI 1.3 tool set up.

Brightspace Support

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