A complete guide to Learning Tools Interoperability


Whether you accept it or not, the education landscape is fast evolving. In this new perspective, learning and training journeys are more and more reliant on online initiatives than ever. That’s why educational technology tools and platforms are in high demand. But not just any learning tool. Those that are interoperable and can seamlessly integrate. This is where Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) plays an influential role. LTI is a standard protocol developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. It easily enables better integration of educational applications and systems. Here we will explore in-depth what LTI is, what are its benefits, implementation challenges, and future implications. We will draw insights from various sources to provide a comprehensive guide to LTI and its impact on the education sector. So fasten your belt and keep reading!

What is LTI?

In short, Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) is a standard protocol. Learning management systems (LMS) can integrate with external educational applications. It was created by the IMS Global Learning Consortium, an organization focused on developing standards for educational technology.

At its core, LTI allows different web applications or tools to share data securely within an online learning environment. This means that students or instructors can access different tools or content from one central location. This works hugely in favor of users’ attention spans. How? Using LTI, users won’t need to constantly switch between different platforms, making it easier for them to focus on the material itself.

For example, imagine a teacher who wants to use a particular assessment tool in a course on an LMS. S/he can add the tool using LTI and make it accessible to students. The tool will then be able to communicate with the LMS. It can also provide grades or other information back to the system. And the good news is that it won’t even require students or instructors to go through multiple logins or interfaces. In essence, LTI simplifies the process of integrating educational tools and streamlines the learning experience for students and teachers alike.

How Does LTI Work? 

First Step. After logging in to an external tool, instructors or LMS administrators receive a URL and a kind of key that can be used for integration.

Second Step. Then to access the external tool via their own LMS, they add a link to the course. Here’s where the provided URL and the key come in handy. They put those into the link metadata and make the integration possible.

Third Step. And Ta-Da! Now if a user just clicks the link in their LMS interface, they can access the external tool and enjoy its features and materials. Depending on the tool, the learner may be directed to the same browser window or a new one. The learner may even believe they’ve never left the LMS interface!

What Are Examples of LTI Integrations?

When it comes to LTI, there are so many different examples. Take the use of multimedia presentations or videos in classroom lectures as an example. LTI integrations can be used to connect digital books with learners’ information systems. It can also integrate web conferencing platforms with learning management systems. Integrating a learning management system with an e-book platform, connecting an LMS with a video platform, or linking an LMS with a plagiarism checker tool are all great examples of LTI integration.

Today, there are even more exciting curves to LTI integration. Now, virtual and augmented reality tools can be integrated into the learning process and leave us with a highly immersive experience.

These integrations allow for a more engaging and interactive learning experience. At the same time, the work of teachers and instructors has also been affected. They now have the opportunity to tailor instruction that meets individual student needs and abilities.

What Are the Benefits of LTI Integration?

LTI enables different systems to communicate with each other regardless of their differences in software or hardware. This means that educational tools can work together cohesively and efficiently without hindrances caused by technological differences. Here are some of the main advantages that Learning Tools Interoperability has offered us so far:

Improved Learning Experience

Luckily, LTI improved access to a diverse range of tools and resources. This enhances learning experiences, and honestly, it’s all we shoot for. Thanks to LTI, educators are now able to engage with content more interactively and dynamically. This, in turn, increases their engagement and overall comprehension.

Automated Data Exchange 

Gone are the days you have to go through so many steps just to exchange a few words. Now, with a few clicks, you can make it possible to automate all the data transfer on the different learning platforms you work with. With LTI integration, you can automate data exchange between your LMS and any third-party learning tools.

Saving Time

Without a standard LTI, instructors would need to spend a load of time on manual data management. Instructors probably have to collect necessary activity data and transfer them. Instructors also have to constantly go back and forth between pages to benefit from the services of external tools. This means endless login and log out. It sounds time-consuming and exhaustive.

Saving Money

Being able to offer customized features while saving a few more bucks is a dream. Hopefully, LTI will make the dream come true. Now, developers can create and distribute learning applications that can be easily integrated into various learning environments. This means that through LTI integration, you can access almost any feature you can ask for. And you don’t even have to pay to develop those features within your own LMS.

Greater Flexibility

Maybe the most practical benefit of Learning Tools Interoperability is the flexibility it offers to the users, specifically to learners. By integrating with third-party tools and resources, students can access different sorts of educational materials and tools all in one place.

Secure Data Transfer

While using an LTI integration, you can securely exchange data and information back and forth to your LMS. For example, if the educators take a test on an external tool, instructors can access the results on their LMS – and there’s no need to worry about the safety of that data transfer.

Take Away …

Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) facilitates the integration of digital learning resources with Learning Management Systems (LMS). LTI enables different tools and systems to communicate with each other through a standard protocol. With LTI, data transfer between different third-party learning tools and a customized LMS is easier than ever.

If you’re about to set up your own course and looking for an LMS with LTI features, then edSPIRIT is your ultimate choice.

As a platform based on Open edX that supports LTI standards out of the box, edSPIRIT does offer many custom or specially developed features related to LTI. Hence, not only will you have access to various features inside the platform itself, but you can also use the integration feature and enjoy infinite tools. You need to sign up at edSPIRIT and enjoy.