Home' Campus Technology : February 2014 Contents CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | February 2014
Angel software several years ago, according to Terry
O'Heron, interim senior director for teaching and learning
with technology, building an IMS-certified LTI-compliant
interface before Blackboard itself did.
Penn State has used LTI to integrate a range of third-
party applications with Angel, including Panopto; the dig-
ital storytelling and collaboration app VoiceThread; anti-
plagiarism software Turnitin; and an asynchronous learning
tool called YouSeeU that can be used for online student
presentations and discussions.
And, as O'Heron pointed out, when Penn State eventu-
ally moves from Angel, the fact that its next LMS will cer-
tainly be LTI-compliant will ensure a much smoother roll-
out. Courses in Angel using LTI-integrated third-party
learning tools can be moved to the new LMS without
needing new software connections built by IT. "It will make
the migration much less resource-intensive," O'Heron
said, "and much more seamless."
It's a similar story at the University of Central Florida,
which moved from WebCT Vista to LTI-friendly Canvas in
2012. According to Associate Vice President Thomas
Cavanagh, LTI compatibility wasn't specifically behind the
move, but some method of easy integration between the
LMS and outside applications was an absolute must.
His programming staff finds LTI useful for "a variety of
integrations we want to do, whether it's a publisher's con-
THE PATH TO WIDE ADOPTION of a standard is a delicate
balancing act requiring agreement among competitors, each
of whom must see an advantage for themselves in adoption.
In the case of LTI, first LMS vendors, then tool and content
providers, and now institutions are gradually seeing the light.
The idea of a standard that would allow the LMS to connect
easily with outside tools and content began perhaps 10 years
ago with WebCT and its Tools Interoperability function,
according to Rob Abel, CEO of IMS Global Learning Consor-
tium, the group that has built and nurtured the LTI standard.
With WebCT's purchase by Blackboard in 2006, the stan-
dards idea inched along, then lurched ahead when the open
source Sakai and Moodle LMSes made their appearance in
2007. At that point, Abel said, LMS companies began to
accept that having a standard, open way to integrate tools
with the learning management system would benefit everyone.
A key argument: Strengthening the LMS with open connectiv-
ity could help ensure that it could be an institution's primary
integration platform, rather than the student information sys-
tem or a portal.
Charles Severance from the University of Michigan, previ-
ously the first executive director of Sakai, furthered the vision
of a learning tools standard in 2009 and beyond, working
among the leading LMS providers to find common ground for
a standard. That basic subset of commonality was eventually
shaped into Basic LTI.
When Desire2Learn announced in 2010 that it would sup-
port LTI, becoming the first LMS to do so, the floodgates
opened. Over the next two years, virtually every LMS provider
jumped on board, followed by tool providers, which benefit
immensely from the time savings in building to a single stan-
dard. "Before, [tailoring a tool to] every platform might mean
six months of engineering time" before a tool provider could
release a product, Abel said. With LTI, interoperability with
every LMS can be done in just weeks.
"Most standards take a long time to catch on," Abel said,
"and then all of a sudden the market is ready. It's fascinating
how it works."
Institutional adoption is the final frontier for LTI, since col-
leges and universities themselves, as buyers and users, are
the ultimate drivers of a standard. With LMSes firmly in place
and tool vendors not far behind, "the word is getting out
there," Abel said. "I think [institutions] are starting to under-
stand its value." The more schools understand and ask for the
standard, the more suppliers are willing to build to it --- a self-
reinforcing cycle that will strengthen the LTI standard.
Eventually, those schools with large IT shops will begin
building to the LTI standard themselves as they integrate their
own tools to whatever LMS they are using. Some large institu-
tions, like the University of Michigan and Western Governors
University (online), are already building to LTI standards.
As a successful standard developed within higher educa-
tion, LTI may be a crucial step in the open standards move-
ment in education. "This is the first [open standard] that has
become ubiquitous," according to Abel. "It shows higher ed
that they can drive their own architecture needs in the future."
THE EVOLUTION OF A STANDARD
Links Archive January 2014 March 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page