IMS Basic Learning Tool Interoperability - Overview

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These contents have been obtained from the IMS Global Learning COnsortium official Web site and edited for presentation. Please refer to the IMS official Web site for additional information on terms of use.
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IMS Global Learning Consortium
IMS Basic Learning Tool Interoperability (IMS BLTI) is a subset or profile of the full IMS Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) v1.0 specification. IMS BLTI gives developers experience using the core concepts and provides a preview of the more advanced feature set of IMS LTI v1.0.

IMS is developing Learning Tools Interoperability (IMS LTI) to allow remote tools and content to be integrated into a Learning Management System (LMS). This document brings a subset of that specification forward for standardization. This document precedes the full IMS LTI v1.0 specification set.

The key differences between IMS BLTI and IMS LTI v1.0 are the following ones:
  • IMS BLTI exposes a single destination in the Tool Provider system. The procedure for establishing a link to this single destination is very simple, but limited. There is no provision for accessing run-time services in the Tool Consumer and only one security policy is supported.
  • IMS LTI v1.0 defines a formal, negotiated deployment process whereby the Tool Consumer and the Tool Provider reach an agreement about (1) the run-time services that will be used to support tight integrations between the systems, (2) the security policies that will apply, and (3) the set of destinations within the Tool that can be launched from the Tool Consumer system.
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Throughout this specification, a specific terminology to describe the two main pieces of software involved in LTI is used. What is traditionally known as the "Learning Management System" (LMS) is referred to as the "Tool Consumer" (TC) as it "consumes" the tool. The external tool or content is called the "Tool Provider" (TP) as it "provides" the tool for use in the Tool Consumer. Example Tool Providers might include an externally hosted testing system or a server that contains externally hosted premium content.

Basic LTI uses the OAuth protocol (http://www.oauth.net) to secure its message interactions between the TC and TP. OAuth requires a key and shared secret to sign messages. The key is transmitted with each message, as well as an OAuth-generated signature based on the key. The TP looks up the secret based on the provided key and re-computes the signature and compares the recomputed signature with the transmitted signature to verify the sender's credentials.

As a best practice, the TP should isolate data based on the key. The TP must decide exactly how the key is used to isolate data. For example, the TP might maintain a table which maps multiple keys into a single data silo. Or, the TP might arrange to use the same key repeatedly in all cases where data are to belong to the same data silo.

The TC can make choices as to how it manages credentials (keys and secrets) within its system. Basic LTI has three patterns for the credentials: (1) the TC-wide credential for a particular TP domain which is set by the TC administrator and used for all launches to a particular TP domain, or (2) the TC-wide credential for a particular TP URL which is set by the TC administrator and used for all launches to a particular TP URL, or (3) each Basic LTI link is protected by its own credential. The first and second patterns allow for a more seamless integration between a TC-instance and TP-instance from an instructor’s perspective. The third pattern allows instructors to "mash up" Basic LTI links.

IMS BLTI has optional support for the TP to call IMS Learning Information Services (LIS) when those services can be made available to the TP. Basic LTI does not require LIS services, but the TC can send LIS key information to the TP using values in the Basic LTI Launch Request.

This specification uses the term "context" where you might expect to see "course". A context is roughly equivalent to a course, project, or other collection of resources with a common set of users and roles. The word "context" is used instead of "course" because a course is only one kind of context (another type of context would be "group").
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Overview of IMS Basic LTI
Conformance
The IMS Common Cartridge Accredited Profile Management Group has also approved the Basic LTI conformance tests. Members, Affiliates and Common Cartridge & Learning Tools Interoperability Alliance participants have access to the tests in the Common Cartridge & Learning Tools Interoperability Alliance. Comments, Questions and support for Basic LTI is available for Members, Affiliates and Common Cartridge & Learning Tools Interoperability Alliance participants is available in the Alliance.
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IMS Basic Learning Tools Interoperability Specification - Version 1.0
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Title: “Basic Learning Tools Interoperability Specification”
Version: 1.0
Release Date: 17 May 2010
Status: Final Specification
Specification download page
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