LTI for Groups, Grading, Privacy, Analytics, and More!

Mary Gwozdz,
Software Engineer

1edtech_logoWhile at the 1EdTech Digital Curriculum and App Innovation Summit, it was very exciting to hear about all of the great progress that has been made in the advancement of interoperability between educational tools and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) through 1EdTech’s Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) specification over the past year!

LTI is a 1EdTech standard that provides a secure way for a user to seamlessly access educational tools like TurnitIn, from within their LMS, such as Canvas, Blackboard, D2L, Moodle, or Sakai. Additionally, 1EdTech also wrote specifications for three initial LTI Advantage services: Assignments & Grades Service (AGS), Names & Roles Provisioning Service (NRPS), and Deep Linking. These three services allow for educational tools to create gradebook columns in the LMS, submit scores for students to the LMS, fetch the class roster from the LMS, and provide a custom content selection menu to instructors in order for them to choose which LTI links to insert into their course in the LMS. 

Beyond this, 1EdTech has continued to identify interoperability needs between educational tools and LMSs with the addition of the Dynamic Registration specification and the specifications for the 3rd party cookie solution. Looking even further into the future, 1EdTech has formulated a few more new specifications to assist with these interoperability needs, which were highlighted at the 1EdTech Digital Curriculum and App Innovation Summit this fall. These specifications include the Course Groups Service, Submission Review Service, Data Privacy Launch, and Caliper Connector, all of which are currently only available to 1EdTech members.

Course Groups Service
For educational tools that need to know what groups of students the instructor has created within the LMS, this service provides that capability. The Course Groups Service follows the same model as AGS and NRPS. When the LMS supports any of these three services and the institution administrator has enabled the service, then when users click on any link to the tool in their LMS, the token that the LMS outputs to the tool during the LTI flow contains a URL that the tool can use at any time to fetch all of the groups within the user’s class. This can allow for students to work on activities or assignments within the tool in teams, opening up additional opportunities for gamification.

Submission Review
This specification is for educational tools which include features that require instructors to login to the tool to manually grade or review students’ assignments. It provides the ability for the instructor to click on an assignment from within the LMS gradebook and be directed straight to the tool’s grading interface for the corresponding assignment. The Submission Review specification follows the same model as the Deep Linking specification, indicating to the tool that the user is on a flow for this particular user interface from within a message type inside the token, which is received when the instructor clicks on the link. For these tools, implementing this specification means that instructors would no longer have to go directly to the tool in a new tab to grade assignments, as they can stay within the LMS for this whole process.

Data Privacy Launch
For tools and LMSs looking to improve their compliance with GDPR, the Data Privacy Launch specification allows for a flow that LMS administrators can use to aid in deleting students from tools for their right to be forgotten, as well as if a student requests a copy of all of the data that a tool has saved on them, or if a student requests that the data a tool has on them be transferred to another context. The Data Privacy Launch specification also follows the same model as the Deep Linking specification, indicating to the tool to display its data privacy user interface by sending a specific data privacy launch message type inside the token that is received when the user clicks on a link to the tool within the LMS administrator UI.

Caliper Connector
Caliper is a 1EdTech specification similar to xAPI that has been implemented by most of the major LMSs which captures massive amounts of data regarding how users are interacting with the software. Once users have clicked on an LTI link within an LMS, this leaves a hole in the Caliper data that the LMS has as they do not have a way to monitor the user’s interactions with the tool in a meaningful way. For continuity of this Caliper data capture as users navigate from within LMS to a tool, the Caliper Connector specification provides the means for the tool to send their Caliper data to the LMS so that institutions can see the whole picture of how students are using both the LMS and their LTI tools when reports are run on this data. The Caliper Connector specification also follows the same model as AGS and NRPS. When the LMS supports any of these three services and the institution administrator has enabled the service, then when users click on any link to the tool in their LMS, the token that the LMS outputs to the tool during the LTI flow contains a URL that the tool can use at any time to send their Caliper event data back to the LMS.

More to Come
1EdTech has not stopped here in outlining solutions for edtech tools and LMSs to work together as seamlessly as possible. Looking forward into the next couple of years, they are currently working on a handful of additional specifications to allow for the insertion of individual quiz questions into LMSs, add the ability for tools to immediately identify when a user is clicking on a generic course level link as opposed to a link for a specific content item, add a flow for tools to process assignment attachments, add the ability for the LMS to send messages to tools such as when a course is copied, and add a service that allows tools to create, read, update, and delete their links that were added to the LMS via Deep Linking.

If you are particularly passionate about ensuring that these specifications become widely available and adopted, you can join us as 1EdTech members in working with them to fast-track this process. Additionally, if you are interested in being at the forefront of adoption of these new LTI services or if you are just getting started with LTI, Unicon can help!

Mary Gwozdz

Mary Gwozdz

Software Engineer
Mary Gwozdz is a Software Engineer who has been with Unicon since 2017. While at Unicon, Ms. Gwozdz has impacted numerous learners by designing and developing software solutions for the California Community Colleges (CCC) Applications, Cisco Networking Academy, Lumen Learning, and others as well as assisting with SIS integrations to Instructure products such as Canvas. Ms. Gwozdz specializes in the LTI (Learning Tool Interoperability) specification from 1EdTech and is also knowledgeable in AWS architecture, Spring Boot REST web services, and other 1EdTech specifications such as Common Cartridge and OneRoster.
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