Implementing Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) for E-Learning
Our client is a global provider of cloud-based learning management systems (LMS) for millions of students and teachers worldwide. They also provide educational institutions with a range of technical services, from one-off training sessions through to full-scale system implementations.
LMSs are digital platforms that enable educational institutions to design, develop and host e-learning courses, giving learners on-demand access to their content and allowing institutions to better analyse their students’ learning outcomes.
When teachers create courses, materials used may include content licensed from educational publishers and exercises developed with third-party tools. To integrate these different applications and tools into an LMS, it generally needs to be LTI compliant.
The LTI standard was developed to facilitate data exchange between LMS platforms and the vast range of external learning tools on the market. Put simply, LTI enables educators to use the tools of their own choosing and put together a customised e-learning environment.
As the client's LMS was not yet LTI compliant, we were tasked with developing the integration of the LMS with a variety of tools, content and courses. Additionally, the associated metadata packages needed to be imported cleanly into the LMS, while avoiding downtime.
Arcadia’s team started by carrying out a comprehensive review of the company’s requirements, examining the client’s LMS in detail. It identified a number of challenges, including the following:
- A variety of different versions of the LTI and Common Cartridge specifications in use
- A number of third-party LMS versions that would need to be parsed and imported into the client’s LMS
- The size and structural complexity of the packages imported, at around 1 GB each
- A wide range of module localisations expected
After completing the analysis of the LMS, our team implemented an LTI services infrastructure, giving it the ability to work with LTI elements.
We also developed a custom web-based module and UI, used to create and modify metadata for LTI elements and import them to the LMS. The new module is able to work with the following package formats:
- CC v1.0/1.1/1.2/1.3/1.3 (thin)
One of the main challenges of the project was the sheer quantity of data expected to be transferred from other LMSs. In order to better handle it, a decision was made to optimise the database structure of the client’s LMS.
The teams scheduled daily check-ins, discussing any issues quickly and effectively. As a result of their proactive communication and work, our developers successfully completed the challenge within the tight timeframe available and within the client’s budget.
By implementing LTI 1.0 and 1.1 standards (these versions were in use at the time when the project was done), the client’s LMS is now an LTI tool consumer, allowing teachers to embed and deliver teaching materials from other platforms through their LMS.
There are several benefits to this LTI integration:
- Students can seamlessly navigate from one learning platform to another without having to log into each one separately
- Teachers can include third-party applications in their courses
- Developers can develop a single interface or method for interconnection with various tool consumers and providers, which saves the time they would have previously spent on writing new code for each additional application
- Administrators can integrate, control and monitor the external tools integrated with the LMS effectively.
- This means that the client’s LMS is now equipped to provide some of the best quality learning experiences on the market.
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