A Brief Primer on Learning Tools Interoperability Conformance for End-User Institutions, Faculty, and Buyers of Third-Party Services and Tools for integration into Learning Platforms

 

 

The IMS Learning Tools Interoperability specification establishes a standard way of integrating rich learning applications and content (often remotely hosted and provided through third-party services) with web-based platforms like learning management systems, portals, or other educational environments.

Basics: Tool Consumers, Tools Providers, and Learning Tools Interoperability Versions


Learning applications and external content are called Tools (delivered by Tool Providers) and the LMS, or platforms, are called Tool Consumers.
The basic use case behind the development of the LTI specification is to allow the seamless connection of web-based, externally hosted applications and content (from simple communication applications like chat, to domain-specific learning environments for complex subjects like math or science) with platforms that present them to users. In other words, if you have an interactive assessment application or virtual chemistry lab, it can be securely connected to an educational platform in a standard way without having to develop and maintain custom integrations for each platform and tool.
The Learning Tools Interoperability version number to which the tool provider complies is very important as it prescribes that the learning platform must support that specific version of Learning Tools Interoperability to take full advantage of the functionality it offers.

The reason there are multiple versions of learning tools interoperability conformance is that the specification is evolving over time to support more functionality, much in the way that other digital formats evolve over time (PDF, Microsoft Word, etc). Higher version numbers indicate support for any earlier releases as well as additional features beyond the lower numbered versions.

To determine if a tool will run in a learning platform, it is simply a matter of matching the version number on the tool with the version or version supported by the conformant platform.  So, for example, if tool is designated as conformant to version 1.1 of  learning tools interoperability, it must be run in a platform that also conforms to version 1.1 (although it may also run in a version 1.0 platform with reduced functionality). Many platforms support more than one version or all of the versions of learning tools interoperability. IMS provides a list of the platforms that have achieved conformance. The list includes the versions of common cartridge supported: see imscert.org


Support for Learning Tools Interoperability Version Features

IMS also provides a table that indicates and compares the features of each version of the Learning Tools Interoperability standard.

Table 1. Learning Tools Interoperability Features

Features

Details

Feature Available in LTI v1.0

Feature Available in LTI v1.1

Feature Available in LTI v1.1.1

Support by Compliant Tool Consumers

Launch Request

Basic Launch Request 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Required

LTI Version Information

Version Information

Yes

Yes

Yes

Required

Resource Link ID

Resource Link ID

Yes

Yes

Yes

Required

Resource Link Title

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Resource Link Description

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

User ID

Unique identifier for user

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

User Image

URI for an image of user

Yes

Yes

Yes

Optional

Roles

Comma separated list of values for roles

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

User name and email address

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Context ID

Identifies context that contains link being launched

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Context Type

Identifies type of context

Yes

Yes

Yes

Optional

Context Title

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Launch Presentation Locale

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Launch Presentation Target

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Launch Presentation Width & Height

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Launch presentation return URL

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Tool Consumer Instance

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Tool Consumer Instance Description

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Optional

Tool Consumer Instance Contact Email

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recommended

Custom Values

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Required

Outcomes service

 

No

Yes

Yes

Required for LTI v1.1 and LTI v1.1.1

List of user IDs of mentees

  No No Yes Required for LTI v1.1.1

In viewing the features supported, it is important to note that even though a tool consumer or tool provider may be designated to be a specific version, it is not required to contain all of the features.  If you have special requirements you should ensure that a supplier supports your requirements.

LTI & Common Cartridge

Learning Tools Interoperability v1.0, v1.1 and v1.1.1 application links are be supported in Common Cartridge v1.1.  LTI provides a standards-based way to launch web applications that appear seamlessly integrated in the learning platform. A learning platform receives a separate conformance mark in addition to the Common Cartridge conformance mark for achieving LTI conformance. This is because platforms can launch LTI applications that were brought into the system via a Common Cartridge (if the platform is Common Cartridge compliant) or installed independent of a cartridge. Common Cartridge v1.1 provides a very convenient "deployment package" for LTI links alone or LTI links intermingled with other content resource types.
 
Requiring Learning Tools Interoperability Support in Requests for Proposals (RFPs)

When issuing an RFP for tools or a learning platform that you wish to support Learning Tools Interoperability, you simply designate the version or versions of Learning Tools Interoperability that you wish to have supported, along with the features. You do need to consider both content and platform acquisition requirements – as these need to support the Learning Tools Interoperability features you desire.

Procuring tools:

  1. If you already have a conformant learning platform, determine what version your conformant learning platform supports by looking it up in the http://www.imscert.org or by verifying its conformance registration number.
  2. Click on the product name in the listing to see if your conformant learning platform has any approved exceptions.
  3. Ask your supplier(s) to provide Learning Tools Interoperability conformant  tools in the same version that your platform supports. Only Learning Tools and Platforms with verifiable conformance registration numbers are IMS conformant.
  4. You may also wish to require specific features of the Learning Tools Interoperability are used in content you procure. If so, specify which features from the table 1 above you desire.

Procuring a learning platform:

  1. Include in the RFP a requirement for an IMS Learning Tools Interoperability Compliant platform.
  2. Look at the features of the various Learning Tools Interoperability versions above in table 1 to determine which versions of LTI tools you would like the platform to support. Indicate in your RFP requirement which versions of LTI  you would like supported.
  3. Indicate that a Conformance Registration Number must be provided in the proposal (Check the registration numbers online when you receive the proposals) .

LTI 1.0 used to be known as Basic LTI.