LMS / LTI Integration for SaaS Companies & Higher Education

OVERVIEW OF TECHNOLOGY

LMS – Learning Management Systems

Electronic educational technology or e-learning courses and training programs require the use of a Learning Management System (LMS)-a software application used for administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery functions.

Examples of LMS:
https://www.canvaslms.com/
http://www.blackboard.com/learning-management-system/blackboard-learn.aspx
https://moodle.org/

LTI – Learning Tools Interoperability

The primary purpose of LTI is to connect learning systems with external service tools in a standard way across all platforms. The standard describes the connecting system as an LTI Tool Consumer and the connected tool as an LTI Tool Provider.

LMS users can find LTI applications from the Education App Store:
https://www.eduappcenter.com/

USE OF TECHNOLOGY CONNECTED TO SaaS COMPANIES

A growing number of higher education institutions, online universities, and K12 schools are transitioning to an LMS to help them manage their students’ education. These schools turn to outside SaaS companies to provide them with innovative learning programs that will engage their students, increase retention, and provide new and unique educational programs to those enrolled.

In order for an outside SaaS company to connect their product with an LMS, it becomes necessary to develop a specific LTI application that allows for single sign-on and pass back reporting for grading purposes. For many SaaS companies, the challenge is that each LMS is unique and may or may not follow the LTI v2.0 specification defined in 2014. In addition, most educational institutions do not have an onsite team that is trained to support LTI integrations, nor have they taken the time to define their LTI integration process, testing / quality procedures, and launch process.

OPPORTUNITY FOR DIGITAL TRIKE

Digital Trike recently completed an LTI integration for Infinite Mind with a Canvas LMS. In doing so, we learned how to set up a canvas testing environment, test for multiple user types (administrator, teacher, parent/observer, and student), and post-back a grade for each student upon completion of the exercise.

Our business development committee views this recent venture as an opportunity to promote Digital Trike to other SaaS companies, as well as other educational institutions that need assistance defining and integrating their platforms.

CASE STUDY – Infinite Mind

Background:

Infinite Mind originally launched its eyeQ speed reading and brain training software in CD-ROM format during the late 1990s, during which time it was sold through television commercials. Around 2012, the company began creating an online version of eyeQ, which was sold as a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Originally, they targeted an audience of retail customers, who could sign up for either monthly or annual payment options.

Following their successful online launch, Infinite Mind wished to reach back out to all their education-based customers who had purchased the original CD-ROM version. They realized the potential for sales growth was enormous, as there was an untapped market of educational institutions who had never heard of them, but could benefit from their program to help retain students who were experiencing reading problems.

Challenge:

Infinite Mind discovered that the majority of schools would rather not encounter a monthly or annual fee for students. As a result, they asked the company to deliver their eyeQ product via LMS, and then track progress and scores for individual students.

Upon further research, Infinite Mind determined that integration would pose additional challenges. One such challenge was the fact that the LMS integration process was unique at each institution, and often was not well defined. Another was that the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) standard specification for integration with an LMS to a 3rd party product could also be uniquely defined by the education institution according to their desired user onboarding process.

Solution:

Infinite Mind reached out to Digital Trike, asking them to research the best LMS integration process with their first education client, LUOA. After reviewing and assessing all available information regarding LMS and the LTI standard, Digital Trike integrated the following:

● Created a user flow diagram for each education user role type and integration with eyeQ system from and LMS system via LTI integration: https://www.lucidchart.com/documents/view/db1be74c-17c1-463f-8d86-ffe996a5f9c2
● Met and discussed the user flow diagram with LUOA and received their approval
● Downloaded and installed an open-source version of Canvas LMS from https://bitnami.com/stack/canvaslms onto an alpha testing server
● Configured the installation of Canvas LMS for each of the defined user role types
● Created an LTI app within the eyeQ system based upon the LTI standard
● Tested the new LTI app with the Canvas LMS located on the alpha server
● Met with LUOA and presented eyeQ integration with LMS
● Received feedback from LUOA based upon their specific user onboarding process and course automation creation
● Updated the eyeQ LTI specification based upon feedback
● Presented adjustments to the LTI integration process and received approval
● Tested eyeQ LTI specification with one live server containing LUOA Canvas LMS environment
● Allowed LUOA to successfully create courses, then tested user integration for admins, teachers, parents, and students

Digital Trike successfully implemented an LTI integration with LUOA Canvas LMS and students have begun their eyeQ training.