LTI Advisory: Putting the Pieces Together

Published on: February 3, 2020
Kate Valenti, Vice President Operations

In my 20 years in consulting, I’ve worked with a lot of clients in the start-up stage of a project. In fact, about 15 years ago, a colleague and I developed a methodology for Implementation Planning - a methodical approach to starting a new technology endeavor, complete with defined goals and success metrics and getting stakeholders in the room - that we still use today here at Unicon. Project start-up is an exciting time, thinking about all of the potential ahead. But, it can also be a little like getting a new toy for your birthday that comes out of the box in pieces - what do you mean I have to put the pieces together? What do you mean I have to slow down and read the instructions?  And who made these pictures so small?

Even for a time-tested and popular integration standard like IMS Global Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI), we often see clients in the project start-up stage having a hard time… getting started. Five years ago, clients embarking upon an LTI integration would call us to develop the integration and hand it over to them. At that time, LTI was a special case and often a differentiator for an ed tech product’s adoption. Rather than build the knowledge in house, many ed techs contracted experts like Unicon to swoop in, develop the integration, and transfer ownership to the team. Fast forward to the present … LTI’s ubiquity in learning tools means many ed techs have developed skills in house to perform and manage LTI integrations. No longer is LTI a special case - it’s now a first-class requirement and knowledge of LTI has spread to the engineering teams responsible for product development.

The impact on us, as a consulting and services organization, is that the nature of the work has changed. Over the past 12-18 months, we’ve seen a distinct shift in need around LTI integration. As ed tech engineering teams have embraced the standard and upskilled accordingly, the ways in which clients use Unicon’s expertise have changed. We are now looked to as the expert to navigate the complexities of the next generation of LTI integrations - the ones that fully implement LTI Advantage and its many options. The need now is for advice and guidance rather than hands-on development. We’re seeing a lot of caution from clients who are ready to move their LTI implementation forward and are seeking help at the project start-up stage to make sure they set out on the right path.

We developed our LTI Advisory Service in response to the changing needs of our clients. LTI Advisory is designed to help our clients navigate the LTI specification, with the ultimate goal of being able to implement the spec internally, with support from our team. The service is part history lesson, part training, and part implementation planning. We also hand over reference materials - a sample tool and library that clients can use to build their own integration. In addition, we provide a bucket of hours that clients can use for whatever help they need, be it design meetings and review of the client team's integration design, implementation support for LMS integration scenarios, or navigating the IMS LTI Certification process.

Unicon is no stranger to being behind the scenes help for our clients. We love when the experience we’ve gained helps our clients avoid obstacles and potholes during project start and execution. Just think of us as the helpful older sibling - when you open that LTI engineering set for your birthday, you have someone to call to help you put the pieces together.

Kate Valenti photo

Kate Valenti

Vice President Operations

Kate Valenti is the Vice President of Operations for Unicon, a leading provider of education technology consulting and digital services. Kate has more than 20 years of consulting experience focused on enterprise application integration and deployment. In recent years, she has been engaged in strategic client management roles where she developed and led third-party integration services programs, and also defined strategies, built teams, and delivered dozens of integrated solutions to the market. She has extensive experience in facilitating implementation planning sessions, as well as defining, building, and leading professional services, software development, and quality assurance teams. Kate has also participated in the standards community through her teams’ active use of IMS LTI, IMS Caliper, and Ed-Fi.