Practice Labs was recently awarded LTI Advantage Complete Certification by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. But what does that mean on a daily basis to our partners and customers? Our Customer Care Manager Dave Bennett interviewed Full Stack Developer Matt Lindsay to find out:
Dave: Matt, I know you were one of the people working directly on this project and many congratulations to you and the dev team on achieving certification. My understanding is that LTI Advantage Complete is the highest possible Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) certification to be awarded by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. Is that correct?
Matt: Yes, that’s right. It’s very comprehensive and we’re one of the first live-lab providers to achieve it so we’re really chuffed.
Dave: I’ve had a look at all the requirements we had to meet to be certified, but wondered if you could expand on those so our customers can get an understanding of any impact it will have on them. What, in your view are the most important differences?
Matt: First and foremost is the enhanced security that the LTI 1.3 provides, which has moved on in leaps and bounds since LTI 1.1 and 1.2. It’s like a secure virtual handshake between our platform and the Learning Management System (LMS) or other Application Programming Interface (API) used by a customer to interact with our platform. The user won’t be aware of this, because it happens so quickly, but as they log into the Practice Lab Environment the two systems do an identity check to agree that they know and recognise one another and can share authenticated data safely and securely.
LTI Advantage Complete also recognizes Practice Labs as a certified OAuth 2.0 provider. OAuth is an open-standard authorization protocol that gives applications the ability to achieve ‘secure designated access’ by using authorization tokens to prove an identity rather than passwords. For example, you can allow Facebook to connect you to a service or a website, without sharing your Facebook password. We’re really excited about the future opportunities this will open up to improve our customers’ experience even further. Ultimately, as our customers move over to OAuth 2.0, their users will be able to log in directly from the customer’s chosen platform. This might be via an OAuth 2.0 authorized LMS or API, or a more generic OAuth 2.0 platform such as Microsoft or Google.
Dave: That sounds brilliant – we’ll make sure to keep everyone posted about developments on that front. Are there differences that will be more obvious to customers than those enhanced security aspects?
Matt: Absolutely. In terms of other differences, ‘Assignments and Grades’ is the next biggest improvement from a customer perspective. Gradebooks are typically part of a customer’s LMS and store all information about each individual learner’s progress through a course. In the past via previous LTIs we have been restricted by the level of data we could push through, but this is now hugely improved. We now have the ability to pass back a much greater number of completion phases, such as ‘in progress’, ‘partially completed’, ‘completed’, ‘submitted for grading’, ‘requires instructor approval’ and more. The level of data is far more granular, which will be useful for instructors who need to monitor the progress of multiple students. Comments can now be sent back to the gradebook too, which is something that wasn’t possible previously using LTI 1.1 or 1.2.
Another aspect our customers will find useful are the improvements to ‘Deep Linking’. This has enabled us to evolve the user interface and functionality of our Product Selection Tool. In the past, an administrator wanting to allocate lab access links to a user would do that one lab at a time, but now admins can specify multiple labs and pass on a group of links all at once. It’s a welcome change (see screenshot below) and should help to make life easier for busy instructors and administrators!
Dave: So all in all, lots of reasons why any of our customers who aren’t already using LTI 1.3 should consider making the switch to that or to OAuth2 so they can benefit from all these enhanced features.
Matt: That’s right. And, as always, we’re more than happy to help with the transition in any way we can.
To read the associated press release about our IMS Global LTI Advantage Complete certification follow this link.
To view our LTI Advantage Complete certification on the IMS Global website, click here