Open edX LTI 1.3 and LTI Advantage: A Beginner’s Guide

Like every industry, the eLearning industry has its fair share of “terms.”One of those terms is LTI, which is essentially just another learning tool. The quality of online learning and training has constantly been improving with the help of various tools, including LTI and API.

This guide will help you understand the basics of Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) and how it has been a game-changer for eLearning platforms in recent times.

What is LTI All About?

Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) is a standard that enables communication of the Open edX platform with external software and enhances the system’s functionality. With the help of an LTI, learners can experience a seamless learning experience by solving graded problems, accessing third-party applications, and interactive content.

One of the most valuable benefits of LTI is the integration of hundreds of tools into your courses hosted on Open edX based learning management systems. The massive library of tools is not limited to big established organizations but can also make a difference for smaller eLearning platforms.

A big breakthrough occurred in 2018 when IMS launched a new and improved LTI specification (LTI 1.3) focused on modernizing the LTI standard. This major update uplifted the capabilities of Open edX powered platforms. Edly has been documenting a lot of different integrations into its LMS using LTIs including the ones listed below:

  • Zoom
  • Turnitin
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Piazza
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Benefits of Open edX LTI 1.3

The new and improved version – LTI 1.3, served its purpose immensely as it came with many benefits:

  • New Security Model: Many vulnerabilities were identified in the previous version of the LTI framework. LTI 1.3 was introduced as a much more secure tool as it adopted the industry-standard protocol IETF OAuth 2.0 for authentication services and JSON Web Tokens (JWT) for secure message signing. Moreover, it also included the Open ID Connect workflow paradigm.
  • Better Compatability: LTI 1.3 provides a simpler path to all Open edX platform implementers. Hence, it is more compatible with LTI 1.1 services and messages.
  • Single Sign-On Option: With the LTI 1.3, it has become possible for a tool to register once globally with a platform allowing implementers to adopt the tool without requiring additional communication with the provided tool.

What is the LTI Advantage?

There was another major development in early 2020 when edX and one of its partners decided to implement LTI 1.3 in the LTI customer support in a blended development project. LTI Advantage was implemented as a product of this development.

LTI Advantage is a set of three LTI services based on the core LTI 1.3 specifications that enhance its capabilities and enables deep integration between LMS and LTI tools. It is a set of extensions that make it easier for course creators and staff users to build, manage, and offer courses with a premium user experience and world-class security. It fulfills two main goals for LMS providers:

  • Enable deeper integration between tools and platforms, avoiding the need for custom integrations
  • Provide a secure channel to transmit student and enrollment information

Features of both LTI 1.3 and LTI Advantage are available on Lilac and newer versions of the Open edX platform. LTI Advantage includes the following three services:

3 Services of LTI Advantage

1. Assignment and Grade Services

LTI-AGS allows LTI tools to send and manage learners’ grades back to your Open edX powered platform. Through this service, grades and other course insights can be synced seamlessly with your LMS’s grade book from multiple sources. It helps you generate reports and manage the grades directly. This tool narrows down the chances of error and saves a lot of your time.

2. Deep Linking

LTI-DL improves the natural workflow between a learning object repository or content tool with the LMS. It allows you to select and configure the content displayed to learners through Open edX Studio. The need for custom parameters for setting up content is eliminated; hence, saving your time again.

3. Names and Roles Provisioning Services

LTI-NRPS is another helpful service that securely retrieves enrollment information about the learners and their experiences. This information can help you identify the learners who are contributing more. An LTI tool using this service will be getting access to students’ personal information and generating database reports.

Final Thoughts

eLearning platforms powered by Open edX are greatly benefiting from the implementation of LTI Advantage. Edly being the official service provider of Open edX has been empowering its clients by using LTI tools using LTI Advantage. If you are interested in learning more about Edly’s services, book a free consultation session now.


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