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tdelillo
Community Champion

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
kbickell
Community Contributor

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...

myerdon01
Community Champion

I am dealing with one right now and each time I get a different set of directions, clearly nobody on their end tested the integration to Canvas. I am being generous taking (now three weeks of) my time to put THEIR product into OUR Canvas and I am about ready to tell them I am done and our students will not be using their services. Smiley Sad

MattHanes
Community Champion

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.

tdelillo
Community Champion

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

garth
Community Champion

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?

pklove
Community Champion

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.

garth
Community Champion

Hey there  @tdelillo , 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

mvandevelde
Community Contributor

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.

emily
Community Champion

Yes - what vendors mean by "integration" usually falls far, far short of what I think of as "integration."

rake_9
Community Champion

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.

tdelillo
Community Champion

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.

 

243836_Assume-Nothing.png

abunag
Community Champion

Still waiting for an integration between Canvas and Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.

kbickell
Community Contributor

<lticm:options name="creamy_not_crunchy">

tdelillo
Community Champion

Redirect tool will get you kind of there Smiley Wink

243837_PBJLTI.jpg

Good learning exercise, eh? 

garth
Community Champion

 @tdelillo  we had fun talking about this issue over pizza in Keystone, i.e. InstructureCon 2017

Sorry you couldn't make it  Smiley Happy

243831_pastedImage_2.jpg

tdelillo
Community Champion

*Sniff*

I would have definitely preferred discussing it over pizza than having to be here living it Smiley Wink

We missed having you here with us,  @tdelillo ‌--but your ears must have been ringing, as this was a hot topic of conversation (over hot pizza, heh).

Chris_Munzo
Partner
Partner

Hey,  @tdelillo ‌!  If you ever feel uncomfortable about what you're hearing from a vendor, reach out  @dnelson1 ‌ who manages Partnerships for Canvas.  He can be very helpful, especially if the vendor has some level of partnership with Instructure.  He can give you the TL;DR.

We'll miss you here in Keystone!

Thanks,  @Chris_Munzo ! Great advice, and thanks for tagging Dave. I will definitely keep his name around for the future.

bdalton_sales
Instructure
Instructure

One thing you can always do if it is a "Configure by URL" is load the URL into your browser.  It will be a URL that usually ends in something like "/lti/config.xml" or similar.  This is the LTI configuration XML and you should be able to see the placements in there.

What it sounds like is they have given you the Launch URL with no configuration information or XML which you need to be able to enable the placements.  Its really frustrating sometimes when vendors dont understand even the basics.

Chris_Munzo
Partner
Partner

Here is an idea for the Community.  Instructure is in the process of launching a new Partner Portal.  It would be great if someone would suggest that there be a section for each partner describing "Level of Integration with Canvas."  We take our integration very seriously and have spent a lot of effort with automatic filtering for sub-accounts, so we'd love to be able to put that out there.