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Community Member

Explaining LTI versus LTI

I have been working with a vendor who says that their product integrates with Canvas. They have been unable to provide me with any explanation of how the integration works, except to keep insisting it would “add a link to the student’s main page” in Canvas. When pressed as to whether this meant the Dashboard, they said yes. They provided me a key and secret, and I configured the app, but it does nothing. I am beginning to suspect that I’ve had a gross misunderstanding with them. What I THINK is happening is that they’re unaware that they have to develop an LTI external app, instead assuming that by giving us the key/secret to allow Canvas to talk to their system, that it will magically put a link somewhere.

 

Since I’m not a developer, I feel like I’m lacking the proper language to explain this to them. If you had to explain to someone the difference between using LTI as SSO, and actually building a tool that uses the LTI framework to communicate with Canvas, what would you say? And if they were ignorant of the app-building process, where would you direct them?

I'm putting this in the Canvas Admins‌ groups, and tagging the Canvas Developers‌ as well. Help! :smileyconfused:

22 Replies
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Community Member

I don't have the technical answer, but I've dealt with this challenge myself. Too bad the vendors don't take time to test, show screenshots or a video, etc, before claiming "it integrates into Canvas" without knowing what they are really delivering...

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Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Did they provide a copy of their configuration xml file to setup the app? I think that XML file can tell you what the app is supposed to be doing. For example, if the xml file had a line that says:

<lticm:options name="course_navigation">

Then you would know that the app is supposed to put a link in the course navigation area where the links for Syllabus and Assignments and stuff are.

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Community Member

All they gave me is a key, secret, and URL. 

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Surveyor

How did you configure the app - what did you use for Configuration Type.

Did you add it as "Manual Entry" or "By URL" or "Bt LTI 2 Registration URL"?

If they did not specify how to add the app, this might be the first thing to clarify with them. 

You would usually expect to have some instructions on adding the tool.  With none, and no configuration XML information, and expecting it to show to students, I'd try By URL first.

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Surveyor

Hey there tdelillo@alamo.edu, great question.

I would first ask them what their application does, which you have undoubtedly done.

Based on the features they provide, I would look at how those features feed information back into Canvas, and test it.

For example, if they are a test engine, and they say they integrate, then I would expect to be able to create an assignment that is of type "External Tool" that would launch their test interface.  And, when students complete the test I would expect their application to push those grades back into the Canvas gradebook.

Or, if they were a plagarism app, I would expect to create an assignment typ of "External Tool", and when a student submits their a paper it gets automatically pushed through the plagarism detection.  Perhaps in this case you would have access to an instructors report, or the custom assignment would display the plagarism results.

Pearson is a good example, their e-Books are capable of pushing assignments and grades directly into the Canvas.

If I had to sum it up in one sentence:  LTI allows an institution to integrate multiple applications to create a seamless user experience, where the user has a single login to a single system to access all of the tools they need.

If all they have is a link that takes the student outside of the Canvas environment, then they really are not integrated with Canvas.  That is not LTI.

Wikipedia gives a pretty good high level definition of LTI:

Your tool privder would be more interested in IMS Global for more technical details:

Hope that helps Smiley Happy

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Surveyor

It is possible to load the XML by URL, so not ruling out LTI just yet.

Have you put the URL in a browser?

Does a bunch of XML get displayed?  

Or do you get a proper web page?

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Community Member

On the subject of LTIs, I’ve been really underwhelmed by many applications and their use of LTI integration. Even the big names, who you’d expect to test usability across the top LMS platforms they say they are supporting.

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Learner II

We are cautious about adding integrations, being concerned with security, sustainability, and scalability, as well as technical feasibility.  In our general practice, if the vendor cannot explain to us what they are doing, we probably wouldn't do the integration.  YMMV, of course.

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Community Member

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions. I was finally able to clarify that they "utilize LTI solely for single sign on". They kept insisting that add their key/secret/URL would make a link magically appear on the "course page", but I'm pretty sure they were making assumptions based on what they had gleaned from the interwebs. They definitely do not have an app. 

The moral of the story is, do not assume that a vendor who says "our product integrates with Canvas" has developed a tool. Technically, the LTI framework means ANYTHING can integrate with Canvas.

 

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