This is the final post of a 3-part series on Open Standards for Newbies.
In the same vein as my previous post, from Betamax to Common Cartridge, reflecting on childhood memories helps me understand the importance of support for open standards. I spent my formative years growing up in Germany, where I was introduced to the need for voltage converters. My dad purchased the family Betamax during his one year stint in Newport, Rhode Island, before taking us back to Germany. This was also the year I got my first boom box…the dual cassette deck kind so I could start making my own mixed tapes!
In addition to that family Betamax, my brand new boom box needed a 110 to 220 voltage converter before I could listen to any of my new tapes and make new friends in our new neighborhood (clearly winning them over with my new Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston and Madonna tapes). Without this standard converter, our investment in electronics would have been for naught.
That 110 to 220 converter is how I think about Basic LTI. Another standard developed by the IMS, Basic LTI provides a single framework or standard way of integrating learning applications with platforms like learning management systems.
I like to think of Basic LTI as that converter for my preferred tools or content. Similar to my Common Cartridge analogy in my previous post, the educational technology tools that I use in my online course are important to me. And I want to be able to use those tools no matter what learning management system I am tied to. If the tools are designed to work with learning management systems, I expect to be able to use them.
I will caveat this and admit that I am oversimplifying things. Basic LTI requires a commitment to the standard from both the learning management system and the tool provider. However, as an end user, Basic LTI serves as that converter. For example, if I taught a music course today and wanted my students to be able to annotate their own music using a tool like Noteflight, I would be able to provide seamless access for my students from my course in the Blackboard Learn™ platform to the online music writing application. That’s because both Noteflight and Blackboard Learn support the Basic LTI standard. If the tool provider supports the standard and my learning management system supports the standard, then we are in business.
And for those of you who were worried that I wasn’t able to listen to Madonna, here’s how it applied with my voltage conversion scenario:
Our house in Rhode Island was like a learning management system. It came with all the tools and appliances we needed but we had a few add-ons that we wanted to plug in based on our individual preferences. Of course, my dad had his Betamax and I had my boom box. Then the time came for us to move from that house in Rhode Island to a different house in a different country, where things were configured differently. That house came with a similar set of tools and appliances but we still had our add-ons that we wanted to plug in. Thanks to the 110 to 220 converter, I was blaring Madonna while unpacking boxes in no time.