Stephen P. Vickers is the Technology Enhanced Learning Manager at The University of Edinburgh. Please join him, along with Simon Booth from the University of Stirling, during their presentation, “A Plug and Play Learning Application Integration – Seamlessly Connect to Learning” on Thursday, July 14, 2011 from 10:15AM-11:10AM in Titian 2205.

Many go to Vegas in the hopes of a big win.  Well come to Vegas next month and I can guarantee you a win-win-win.  The IMS Basic Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) specification truly delivers a win-win-win.  It is a win for teachers and learners.  It is a win for Blackboard system administrators.  And, it is a win for developers of elearning applications.

One of the great things about the second week of July is that thousands of people with a common goal all come together in a single place.  The common goal is enhancing the student learning experience.  This year promises to be even more exciting.  Not only do we have OSCELOT Open Source Day 6, DevCon and BbWorld, but also the Blackboard Collaborate Connections Summit. This breadth of activity is perfectly mirrored in the impact of Basic LTI on the eLearning community.

As a teacher have you ever found a really cool, new tool on the web and wanted to use it in your teaching but it is was just all too difficult? Well, now just ask the provider “do you support Basic LTI?” and, if so, it will make it hard for your system administrator to say “No.”  Of course, if your system administrator is also really cool, then they may have configured your Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1 installation to allow you to integrate other applications into your course without needing to involve them!  To find out more and see a demonstration of how easy it all is, drop into the “A Plug and Play Learning Application Integration – Seamlessly Connect to Learning” session at BbWorld.

For the developers among you, come to the “Adding LTI Support to Learning Applications” presentation at DevCon (Monday, July 11, 2011 from 11:15AM-12PM in Titian 2301B) to see how simple it can be to make your elearning applications available to whole new audiences without the need to learn yet another API and maintain code across different versions of these APIs.  Basic LTI is truly emancipating for the developer.  Just as it allows teachers to focus on adopting the most appropriate tools to fit their needs, so developers can now focus on building the functionality of their tool rather than worrying about how to integrate it into different LMSs.

And Basic LTI is just a precursor to Full LTI which, promises to deliver even deeper levels of integration between tool consumers (such as LMSs) and tool providers.  It is great to see Blackboard recognise that LMSs are at the centre of a much wider learning ecosystem and that support for technologies such as Building Blocks and LTI are essential to enable customers to deliver services to their users.  The day is coming when all users (learners, teachers, system administrators) will find it virtually impossible to distinguish between a tool built into the LMS and an external tool which has been integrated using common standards.  This is the subject of a JISC-funded project named ceLTIc: Creating Environments for Learning using Tightly Integrated Components which engages several examples of elearning tools, both open source and commercial.

So the next time you talk to a tool provider, please make sure they are aware of LTI.  And the next time you see Ray Henderson (President, Blackboard Learn) please thank him for delivering on his promise of LTI support made at BbWorld 2010.  I hope to see you in Vegas.

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