Thursday, September 30, 2021

LTI: Learning Tools Interoperability

A few years back, as I was reading about Canvas and other LMS platforms, I stumbled upon the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard. This is a software interface standard that allows learning tools - think learning games, pre-packaged course materials, and discussion boards - to be seamlessly “plugged in” to any LMS. Yellowdig is an example of a learning tool that uses LTI to work with Canvas and you won't have to enter a separate username and password to access it once you have it up on Canvas.

By using LTI, a tool provider, such as Yellowdig, or Cisco WebEx can implement their tool to a single standard interface, that works with Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, and other LMS platforms. This enables the creation of app marketplaces, where vendors can sell their apps to anyone using an LMS that supports LTI.

If you are using Canvas for your project, you can go to “Settings” for your course, and select the “App“ tab. You’ll see a long list of 3rd party apps that integrate with Canvas. In my Canvas account (from I tried out an app called Hoodamath.

Hoodamath added an icon into the Canvas text editor, so if I’m editing a Page or Assignment within Canvas, I can press that icon, and a list of games pops up. Selecting a game adds a link into the text. When students click on that link they are taking to the game, and Hoodamath automatically knows who they are based on their Canvas identity, thanks to LTI.

I don't know if things have changed by now, but back then it appeared that LTI was only used to launch the learning tool and let it know who the user is. But newer versions of LTI were on the way (e.g. LTI v1.3 and LTI Advantage), and they will allow the learning tool to do things like send back an entry for the gradebook.

The Hoodamath app is free, but some other 3rd party apps that I tried require you to pay for a subscription before they can be activated within Canvas.

Another resource I found is a large catalog of LTI compliant learning tools at EduAppCenter ( In theory, any of the tools listed here should work with any LMS that implements LTI. I’m planning to try some of these to see how well they work from within Canvas.

Boat Wake, CC-BY-SA 3.0

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