What is it?
LTI (developed at IMS Global) is a specification or language that allows two different applications to securely communicate. In LTI language, the two different applications are called the Tool Consumer and the Tool Provider. The Tool Consumer is the Learning Management System (LMS). The Tool Provider is the application that would like to communicate with the LMS. LTI facilitates communication and authentication between the LMS and the external tool.
Why is this important?
LTI provides three major benefits when compared with the challenges of working within a Learning Management System.
Grade Passback: The first benefit is LTI allows instructors to use external tools to assess student learning and, through LTI, report a score back to the LMS. This means if you are not satisfied with the current quiz system in your LMS or if you want to use another assessment system, LTI will facilitate this process. A student will see a special link within the LMS that looks like a normal link (but is actually a LTI launch link) that they can click on to be authenticated (behind the scenes) into the quiz system and can then take a quiz.
Authenticate Students: The second benefit of LTI is tracking student interactions in learning environments beyond the LMS. A lot of learning does not occur within the LMS, and there is not an easy way to track this information. LTI authenticates students into external tools (e.g., a quiz system) which means as long as you can get access to the quiz system data, you will have more information on student activity than you previously had. This is not always possible (hence the need for other interoperability standards such as xAPI or CALIPER), but at least the data can potentially be tracked and accessed.
Seamless Integration: The third benefit of LTI is it allows a separated and disjointed collection of learning applications to be combined into a seamless learning experience. LTI tool providers, or external tools, can be loaded directly within the LMS or launched in a separate window. In addition, the LTI launch link will take a student directly to the resource so they don’t have to search through the resources within the tool provider.