I just finished watching the recordings of the D2L webinars from March where they demonstrate the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) features of Desire2Learn. This seems like a major step forward, IMO.
You can find the webinar links inside the D2L Community. If you're not a member, I do believe that you will need to request access to view the recordings. The webinars were conducted by Chuck Severance of the IMS Global Consortium and Matt Teskey of Desire2Learn.
I've spent the past several years demonstrating ways of embedding web-based tools into D2L and other LSM platforms. However, in all those cases there was only the appearance of integration between the tools and the LMS - but now this is possible to happen in a truly integrated process. "Truly integrated" means that your authentication credentials can be passed between the tool and the LMS with actual single sign-on.
(Screenshot above CC photo from Chuck Severance, dr-chuck on Flickr)
Two specific applications that were demonstrated include MediaWiki and WordPress. That got my attention since we are hosting both of those open source tools on campus and have them tied into our active directory for credentialing. These appear to be easily added to a D2L course through the use of quicklinks. Looks very cool. A few other examples (shown through screenshots) are some new widgets/gadgets and Google Maps.
A few questions.
- 1. Are there any hopes of greater integration rather than just authentication? For example, I would love to have Zoho tools available for word processing, spreadsheets, web forms and other Zoho apps. Single sign-on is a good start, but I would really like to see integration where you can save documents directly into D2L and share with the instructor and/or other students.
- 2. Where is the on/off switch for this? I've looked in the Dome and can't find it. We are using version 8.4.2 at the current time and this is the D2L version that they are demonstrating in the webinar. My guess is that MnSCU has not turned this feature on at this point. Generally speaking, we don't get to use the new tools in a timely manner since we are self-hosted and apparently very risk averse when it comes to using new features in the platform.
- 3. MnSCU has a tentative plan to upgrade to D2L version 9.0 in early June. Are there any changes or improvements to the LTI in version 9, or is it the same as version 8.4.2?
- 4. What are some of the other tools that people would like to see the LTI bridge built for? For the most part, it seems to me that it would make sense for tools where the login is an essential part of the user experience (for publishing, in other words), but if all you are doing is viewing content that it might not be very important.
- 5. They stated that accounts in the web-based tools are automatically created for the students and tied to their D2L identity. It sounds then as though a student who already has an account (let's say in WordPress) will then have two accounts with the new one tied to D2L. That might not be a bad thing, but I'm not sure. What about several courses at the same school using these tools - does the LTI piece know not to create another account for that student (sounds like a stupid question, but I can't tell any more)? What about students who are attending more than one MnSCU school? Would they have a WordPress/LSC account and a separate WordPress/CLC account as well (where LSC is Lake Superior College and CLC is Central Lakes College)?