An in-depth discussion of LTI tools (Learning Tools Interoperability) and IMS Global Standards that direct the LTI tools used throughout Canvas.
Information about the podcast can be found in the Canvas TLDR Blog.
Matt Goodwin (00:07)
It's that time again for the Canvas TLDR podcast. I'm Matt Goodwin with product.
Jenn Mitchell (00:11)
I'm Jenn Mitchell with K-12 product marketing.
Ryan Lufkin (00:14)
I'm Ryan Lufkin with higher ed product marketing.
Jenn Mitchell (00:16)
We're here to share the latest and greatest in Canvas.
Ryan Lufkin (00:18)
We're talking about the why in what we build, because pandas can't.
Matt Goodwin (00:23):
Hey everybody, welcome to the Canvas TLDR podcast for November 2020, where we'll be talking about elections and election results... Oh wait.
Ryan Lufkin (00:36):
We will not be discussing that anymore.
Matt Goodwin (00:36):
No, but we do have some fantastic guests lined up to bring onto the show. We're going to be talking with Karl. I like to call him crazy Karl, and he'll be talking about developer keys and our enhancements there.
Ryan Lufkin (00:49):
Then we will have Melissa Loble, who is our—you probably know—is our Chief Customer Experience Officer. And she's going to be talking to us about IMS global and the LTI standard and the fun we're having there. And then we'll be doing recipes for stuffing and turkey.
Matt Goodwin (01:07):
Oh, are we doing that too?
Ryan Lufkin (01:11):
We should start the debate. Is it: do you like canned cranberries or fresh cranberries?
Matt Goodwin (01:16):
Oh man. Before we get too far down that rabbit hole, let's do our show.
Ryan Lufkin (01:22):
More on that later.
Matt Goodwin (01:23):
I want to welcome to the show crazy Karl, who's a part of our product team. Crazy is not actually part of his name. I just like to call him crazy Karl. Karl Lloyd. And he's been here at Instructure for quite a while and he is all things standards. And we're in today, we're specifically going to talk about LTI, LTI 1.3 and any thing else that's on the horizon with those standards.
Ryan Lufkin (01:47):
And maybe I'll plug Karl's love of dim sum. I also like to throw that in numbers.
Karl Lloyd (01:52):
That's right. I do love dim sum, and for the record, Matt is the only one that calls me crazy Karl.
Matt Goodwin (01:58):
So I've been trying to spread it...
Karl Lloyd (02:00):
I've been called lots of other things, but you're the only one that does the crazy Karl reference, which is awesome because I know what movie that's from. Great movie and yeah, dim sum. That's one of my favorite foods and we just don't seem to have really great dim sum in Utah.
Ryan Lufkin (02:17):
No, but we found some outside of Utah before.
Karl Lloyd (02:20):
Yup, that's right.
Karl Lloyd (02:20):
So let's talk about kind of what's going on with Canvas and LTI standards and just quick little overview for those that don't know what LTI stands for. It's learning tools interoperability, which is governed by the IMS global learning consortium. And it's basically just a standard of how two systems can talk to each other and pass some data from one to the other. And it's typically how, if you're using Canvas and use a tool that uses as a standard when a teacher or a student launches the tool. So they click on it—and it opens up inside either within the window in Canvas, or opens up to a new window—we pass some data across that tells them kind of where they're coming from, possibly who they are. It depends on the tool configuration, but at a SIS with that kind of that hop from the LMS to the tool.
Matt Goodwin (03:08):
I know we've been putting a lot of work into upgrading to newer standards. Like, where have we been? What do we get with the new standards and what are the differences?
Karl Lloyd (03:17):
Yep. So previously with LTI, LTI has been around since about mid-2000s, and it started with version 1. And then there was a 1.1, which is the primary version using Canvas at the moment. We had a stint with another version that didn't play out. It was pretty complicated and didn't use a lot of industry standards for authentication—didn't really work out. So we kind of went back to the drawing board and we came up with what is now known as LTI 1.3. And the reality is, is for integration wise, it doesn't really enable—it doesn't really enable a whole lot of extra things. As far as compared to LTI 1.1, except for the fact that there are additional services that don't require Canvas rest API, APIs for rostering and enhanced grading, which is awesome for our tool vendors. But the biggest thing that it does is it utilizes up-to-date specifications that are common and kind of cloud to cloud or web to web integrations that uses a combination of the open ID connect standard and LTI2, which is current standards are currently supported.
Karl Lloyd (04:17):
Everybody uses it and has brought the standard up to a more current specification. So that in the future, you know, as, as those become not as relevant, then we'll be able to just kind of replicate what everyone else says, like the Googles and the Microsofts and Facebooks and all those that are doing more complicated integrations and using those standards. So with LTI 1.3, I think it's important to note that there is kind of two things to be aware of. So LTI 1.3 is the core standard. And then IMS has marketed LTI advantage, and LTI advantage is actually a combination of that core standard plus a handful of services, which include deep linking—so that's that search find an embed capability—and there's IMS integration service, which is a more restful way. It's kind of like a rest API to do grade pass back from a tool to the LMS platform.
Karl Lloyd (05:10):
And then there's also a names and roles provision service, which is the rostering capabilities...
Matt Goodwin (05:16):
Which is huge.
Karl Lloyd (05:17):
Yes. Yeah. The majority, like we looked at a lot of our integrations as we were working with IMS. And I think it's important to note that the IMS LTI working group is a working group that comprises of individuals from four, the four main learning LMS platforms. So Canvas, Blackboard, D2L, and Moodle, and then a handful of tool providers, and then also a handful of higher education and K-12 school representatives. So it's a very diverse population of people that are working together to try to make these standards work as interoperable as possible.
Ryan Lufkin (05:51):
Yeah. And we talked to Melissa Loble a little bit about her involvement on the board there and you know, she's very concerned about making sure our customers are well represented there, what they want to see from an integration standpoint within the products is represented. So that's exciting. Yeah. You and I have actually been to a couple of IMS global meetings together, and it is such a powerful community coming together to work on this.
Karl Lloyd (06:15):
Yeah. And like, for some people they find those meetings super boring, but for me, I love them. Yeah. I love talking with everybody else and find out what's going on and actually listening to people that are in the teaching and learning space, dealing with these issues every day and trying to figure out how we can overcome those challenges.
Matt Goodwin (06:30):
Awesome. Anything else that the listeners should understand about LTI and where we're going?
Karl Lloyd (06:35):
Yeah. So last year LTI 1.3 and the vantage standards was released, we certified, we got started with a couple of vendors tool providers that are out there integrating the standard and we've seen a huge uptick of adoption. And so there's a couple of things to be aware of that we have going on. So one of the challenges that as an industry we've been looking at is how does a tool migrate from an LTI 1.1 version to an LTI three version, which requires a lot of coordination with the LMS vendor. And this is the work we've been doing on that; we just actually just released and we're testing with a handful of early adopters in our end partnership community. So what we basically have done inside of Canvas is we've set it up so that an LTI 1.3 tool and a one dot one tool can, could, they can coexist inside of a Canvas installation or a Canvas account.
Karl Lloyd (07:26):
It wants the 1.3 tools to shows up in Canvas. Canvas will prefer that configuration over the 1.1 tools. So there really isn't a need to really do anything other than basically either enable or work with the tool vendor to be able to configure that inside the Canvas account. So once that happens and somebody launches their tool, then it uses the 1.3 configuration. And then for the tool vendors, there's a handful of records that are in the database on the backend to be able to support things like the rostering and the advanced grading. And we create those on the fly as those tools are launched. So as they get launched, we create the URLs that are needed to be able to ping back Canvas and be able to get the roster or be able to send great data back to Canvas that stuff, that's we got all out and production in the last release. And we're currently doing some early testing with some of our partners at the moment. So we're excited about that.
Ryan Lufkin (08:15):
One of the things I love about this work is that it's all focused on making educators' lives easier, students' lives easier—you know, making sure everything shows up on their to-do list and their calendar, making sure everything shows up in the gradebook seamlessly, no matter what tools you're using [or] employing in Canvas. So this is one of those areas that, you know, sounds super technical; we can get lost in the jargon of it. But man, this has such a big impact on our user's day to day operations. Right?
Matt Goodwin (08:39):
Yeah. And you know, I'm curious, Karl, not that we're necessarily promoting one of these tool vendors over another, but you mentioned there's a handful that are really working closely with us right now. Any in particular that you're seeing such a huge difference in what they were doing in 1.1 to 1.3?
Karl Lloyd (08:55):
I'd say a lot of the content provider platforms, like the publishers. So like McGraw-Hill and Cengage and Pearson HMH, all those—they're all, they're all jumping on this and they're starting to do integrations. They're asking us about integrating more into the Canvas workloads instead of just basically providing alongside the Canvas workflow and then integrating with the API. So I think we're going to see a lot of advantages there as they go forward. But honestly, like with this new standard, this is all really new to us. Like there's all kinds of things that are coming out of the woodworks. We're seeing proposed specifications come out for new services. Things like being able to launch within the gradebook or being able to do more enhanced interactions with native workloads inside of an LMS, as far as how a teacher brings in content or even how a student actually interacts with content and the data that flows back and forth.
Karl Lloyd (09:41):
So we're starting to see a lot of that innovation take place. But right now, like as far as what we're seeing, we're seeing tools pretty much look at replace what we currently have and then let's see what we can do from there. So that's what we're seeing a lot of. And in most cases, the advantages are on the tool side, they're seeing a lower investment as they do these integrations, the code requirements are lower. And so they're able to be a little bit more efficient. We're hoping to see that be able to translate into more capabilities and features and, and allow them to be more innovative with the customers.
Matt Goodwin (10:12):
Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us.
Ryan Lufkin (10:14):
Yeah, thanks Karl. Hopefully we can get through the other side of the pandemic and can go find some dim sum somewhere.
Karl Lloyd (10:18):
Matt Goodwin (10:20):
It sounds like I need to go to some of these IMS global meetings with you two.
Karl Lloyd (10:26):
The food—the food's the best. That's what we always look for when we go out.
Ryan Lufkin (10:31):
Karl Lloyd (10:31):
Ryan Lufkin (10:34):
We want to welcome to the show, Melissa Loble, our Chief Customer Experience Officer. Welcome, Melissa.
Melissa Loble (10:40):
Thank you. It's great to be here.
Matt Goodwin (10:42):
It's great to have you here. The reason we invited Melissa into the show today was to talk about IMS global board and our relationship with IMS, and what is IMS? Let's start there.
Melissa Loble (10:54):
IMS is the industry standards organization. It's a nonprofit group that's focused on driving industry standards in educational technology to ultimately make it easier to be able to integrate and build an ecosystem of tools for our customers.
Matt Goodwin (11:10):
Which is like super important for what we do as a company. Right? As a, as an LMS.
Melissa Loble (11:17):
Oh yeah, it's been, it's our roots, right? We were founded on the idea of empowering ecosystems, and standards have to be at the center of that or else you can't do in any, any efficient or effective way.
Ryan Lufkin (11:29):
I mean, most of our audience knows the LTI advantage integration and the centers that allow that easy plug and play. Right?
Melissa Loble (11:37):
Absolutely. We've been long time LTI standards, developers and supporters. And that includes the most recent version of LTI, LTI advantage, which takes the core LTI standard and builds on it with three key services. So that it's not just about an integration, it's about how you use that integration and how easy it is for students and teachers to be able to access materials from multiple sources.
Matt Goodwin (12:01):
Yeah. So this is like at the core, like you mentioned, it's our—at our roots of our DNA to create this ecosystem and empower this ecosystem 'cause there's no way we can build all the tools that are needed for an institution, whether it's higher ed or K-12 or otherwise. So we've been actually involved with the IMS group for as long as I've been here, which is nine+ years at this point. So it is part of our DNA and part of our roots.
Ryan Lufkin (12:28):
That's a great group of people. I know lots of the folks over there. They're awesome. But you've been involved for quite some time on the board, right?
Melissa Loble (12:35):
Yeah. So I have been involved since I've been at Instructure in IMS in one shape or another, and then join the board three years ago to be part of the direction of IMS and to be able to collaborate with other key ad tech vendors and institutions and organizations to help drive standards forward. It's been a great journey. It's a great group of people, as you mentioned, Ryan, and it's people that are really trying to ensure it's easy for our educational institutions and organizations and school districts and States to be able to build those ecosystems and not have to worry about how do I connect multiple tools together to make a really good student journey.
Ryan Lufkin (13:15):
Matt Goodwin (13:15):
You know, we're, we're talking about easy, right? We're making everything easy within the ecosystem. I'd say it's probably anything but easy to agree to standards and align and make sure that these standards are working across all of ed tech. Why don't you maybe share some of the challenges or day-to-day what this looks like? What goes into creating these standards?
Melissa Loble (13:37):
Yeah, as you described Matt, easy, easy on the for the end user is the goal so that you don't even realize how complicated the standards may need to be in order to address what feels like pretty simple and straightforward use cases. It's challenging to get a group of people—there are at least 25 of us on the board—to get a group of people together, to try to align to the same vision and direction. Lots of people have different opinions about what should go into a standard, how in depth that standard should be built out. Where should the focus be on that standard, and how do we make sure that standard is flexible enough to apply to a lot of different situations? Because as you can imagine, getting a group of people to agree on that, especially a large group of people can be challenging, but one of the good things about what IMS does is they facilitate working groups.
Melissa Loble (14:26):
So folks at all sorts of levels from institutions and organizations on the education side to vendors can participate in, in IMS, whether you're an engineer and you're working on actually building out the specs in a standard, or whether you're somebody focused on marketing and looking at how do we educate our community and why they should use the standards to whether you're a leader in an, in a tech organization and how are you dependent on and driving forward the way standards work in order to drive your own business mission and vision. So it's—they've had opportunities for everybody to collaborate and to drive forward what these standards look like. But yeah, it's not always easy because of the desire to have it be community driven and grassroots built.
Matt Goodwin (15:07):
That's awesome. That was my very next question of, you know, who participates in this thing. It's great to see that there's so much diversity in thought and approach, like, from end users to developers, to those that are working in ed tech as some sort of vendor. Everybody's got their angle, right. So it's great that all those voices are represented.
Ryan Lufkin (15:29):
I miss from the COVID times, or because of COVID—besides missing InstructureCon, I actually really miss the IMS global meetings. I think they were some of the most collaborative, great groups coming together, really solving problems.
Melissa Loble (15:41):
Yeah. And when I started with IMS, when I started at Instructure and even since joining the board, we've watched the demographic of the participants shift in a really meaningful way. So it used to be largely tech vendors, quite frankly, and then some innovative higher education institutions looking to do some of their own development. And it's really transitioned into still a good collection of ed tech vendors and higher education teams, but K-12 has definitely participated much more strongly than ever before. And we're seeing state representation. We're seeing government representation, federal government participation on occasion. It's opened its community much more broadly in the last couple of years to ensure we're addressing use cases that everyone in educational technology in particular are needing to be addressed.
Matt Goodwin (16:28):
That's cool. And you can kind of see the evolution of the participants in the maturity of the standards as, as time has gone on, I'm thinking back to common cartridge and dealing with, you know, people moving content from one LMS to another, and it's a good standard, but there's a lot of wiggle room for special sauce within that standard. And so, you know, one LMS that compiles a bundle in one way, and then you try to import it into another LMS. It doesn't always talk very well. So it's evident that we're participants of ed tech vendors from specific vendors and specific companies early on, and to see the maturity as time has gone on is really cool. We've talked about LTI, we've talked about common cartridge. What are some of the other standards that the IMS group works with and helps define?
Melissa Loble (17:19):
I would say LTI and LTI advantage as the collection of standards and specializations for that standard, that's probably the most popular or most used, I should say. But second to that is actually not common cartridge, although used quite a bit, but one roster and the focus on ensuring effective rostering and grade passback solutions from either one LMS to a student information system and back, or from an LMS or a student information system to a publisher, for example, anywhere where you need to do rostering, you need to think about grades and channeling grades back and forth. That one roster standard has become widely adopted now among ed tech vendors. And it's, it's interesting to watch it as a standard in and of itself evolve. It was pretty basic in its first version. And we're now iterating just like we did with the LTI lifecycle. We're iterating on one roster to make it more specific and to address, more use cases so that we can ensure a powerful, powerful rostering and powerful data and reporting within grades in particular.
Melissa Loble (18:25):
Then on top of that, you've got caliber, which is focused on building a translation language actually, so that you can bring data from systems and be able to analyze it in a, in a more meaningful way. Caliper's utilized a fair amount in the tech space, largely in our higher education sector and with schools looking to do a lot of their own data and analytics work, but it's still a really strong standard that IMS supports. And then you've got, like you said, common cartridge and then a whole host of other standards that are around accessibility or content import export, or even just ensuring that you can use tools, specialty tools, like assessment tools or plagiarism tools or proctoring tools.
Ryan Lufkin (19:09):
I love that you're on the board. I love that you are keeping us at the forefront of this as we have these discussions. So thanks for everything you do there. Yeah. I mean, if people want to learn more about IMS global or learn more about the standards or even get involved, what do they do?
Melissa Loble (19:22):
Depending on whether or not you're either a company or organization is a member of IMS, you can first just go learn more about IMS by going to their website, but you can also then start to participate in some of these working groups, and not all of them are technically inspired. There are some—for example, there's a working group that's been working on app vetting is happening so that as you look to build your ecosystems, you know, we're thinking about how do you evaluate different tools from a security and accessibility and integration perspective? So that's a great one to be a part of.
Melissa Loble (19:56):
That's not necessarily technically inclined if that's not your role, or if you are an engineer or a developer or more technically interested, there are a lot of working groups out there that you could participate in. If your organization's a member, you can also just work with us, let us know your feedback. We're happy to share that back. Although the more people that are driving the standard and creating ideas and opportunities for where it needs to go in the future or where standards should go, the better. But like I said, you can always share your feedback with us, where your challenges are, or where you're seeing really successful opportunities to build ecosystems because of the standards that you're leveraging,
Matt Goodwin (20:31):
Obviously, you know, great minds like yourself there representing not only Instructure, but just ecosystem in general is awesome. But you know, if they'll let Ryan participate they'll let anybody,
Ryan Lufkin (20:49):
It's funny to be so much of what you just talked about, like that vetting of, of apps and how do we, how do we write freedom for individual educators to add different apps, but have trusted that they're going to be meet the requirements for security and accessibility and things like that. That's such a hot topic right now, given expanded use of fully online learning, and things like that. So yeah,
Melissa Loble (21:10):
If you want to go out and learn more too about IMS this year in replace of that conference, you mentioned Ryan, they did an online conference; however it's recorded sessions, and there are available to anyone. You don't have to be an IMS member. There's some really great recorded sessions out there, Instructure's doing one and a lot of other vendors and educational organizations have done them. So I encourage you once again, to go to the website, we can make sure it's shared through here. And that way you can go see these some really great resources around how schools and institutions have responded to COVID and how they're using data and how they're leveraging standards in really meaningful ways. So I encourage you to go check that out. It's a ton of really good free resources.
Melissa Loble (21:51):
My last thing, I will do a little quick shout out to any members of IMS that are listening to this. Thank you. The board appointments are done by vote of the community. And so thank you for having faith in me to be a representative, not just of Instructure, but more importantly of educational technology needs and to continue to be on the board.
Ryan Lufkin (22:10):
That's a great point.
Matt Goodwin (22:10):
Awesome. Thanks for being on the show, Melissa and informing all of us more about the IMS and global and the standards.
Melissa Loble (22:17):
Yeah. Thank you so much again for having me. So much fun.
Ryan Lufkin (22:20):
Always happy to have you. Thanks, Melissa.
Matt Goodwin (22:23):
Thanks for joining us for the November episode of the TLDR Canvas podcast.
Ryan Lufkin (22:28):
That was a, just a short and sweet episode.
Jenn Mitchell (22:30):
We're leaving room for, you know, all of our friends in North America for all that turkey.
Ryan Lufkin (22:34):
Mmm, turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
Thank you for joining us on the canvas tl;dr podcast. If you'd like to take a look at what's happening in our next release, please visit releases.instructure.com. We'll see you next month. Bye!