Plug & Play: All About LTI

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Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) is an open standard which was created by the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

The standard was developed to enable an easier, less complex integration of education applications with the institutional enterprise. By building learning technologies and digital content around these open standards, educators and IT departments no longer need to worry (as much!) about whether the different technologies they use will work together.

Previous to the LTI open standard, connecting external learning tools and applications with an LMS (Learning Management System) or other campus platform, required a developer or specialist integrator. Often this could take up to several months to complete, with further work required each time a new version was released. The LTI open standard, however, means that learning applications and LMS platforms which conform to the LTI specifications are comparatively easy to interoperate. And what does that mean for educational institutions? A much shorter, less-fuss integration time.


Typically, LTI is used to integrate learning tools into the LMS of a campus. This may, for example, include authoring, assessment, homework, plagiarism detection, grading, or library resources tools. LMSs usually offer APIs (Application Program Interfaces) that allow third-parties to integrate other applications within the platform. However because LMSs are unique, a separate integration effort is required for each additional external application. LTI largely reduces the need for separate integration processes. A much more timely and rapid deployment of learning applications is possible when using applications that are compliant to LTI, through the introduction of common integration processes for vendors.

Today, more and more universities and colleges are using LTI-compliant technology to shorten their integration processes. Engaging with LTI at this strategic level ensures a timely development cycle; getting the learning tools required up and running more smoothly than in the past. This essentially means that organizations can provide the best quality learning experiences possible.

One of the key barriers to providing learners with engaging learning experiences to date is the difficulty getting new and innovative technologies into widespread usage. There is no doubt that impressive new levels of education technology have been reached through the development of applications that battle a wide variety of learning challenges  â€“  from engagement levels to deeper learning disabilities. However, without widespread adoption, they are of limited use to those who need them.

A collaborative effort is required between application developers, IT administrators, and indeed teachers to ensure that such new and innovative technology reaches those who need it most. LTI helps overcome this challenge. Using LTI can provide developers and system administrators with a standard mechanism for integrating learning applications with existing systems (such as a virtual learning environment) and allow teachers greater freedom to select applications which best meet their pedagogic needs.

LTI is a problem solver. The specification not only is powerful, but its simplicity means that it’s incredibly useful on a wide scale. LTI solves the frequently experienced problems that IT administrators have faced for many years, opening up the learning opportunities for educators and students worldwide.

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