Technology Integrations into VIULearn

What is a Technology Integration? 

Integrations, extensions, plugins, cartridges, and online textbook integrations are common terms used by educational publishers to promote integration of VIULearn with their content delivery platforms. This is often achieved through the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) specification which allow these third-party applications to be accessed directly from within VIULearn.

LTI integrations allow a user, once logged into VIULearn, to access content, tools, or services without entering another username or password. Often the tool provider will request information from VIULearn to facilitate the integration.This information may include the student number, name, and email address. These are used to validate the students’ access to the tool but may be also collected and stored according to the vendors own privacy policy.

Evaluating an Integration

Before adopting a new LTI integration into VIULearn there are a number of factors we must consider:

  • Privacy

  • Accessibility

  • Utility

  • Costs

Privacy

As many vendors reside outside of Canada, care must be taken to ensure integration with a vendor’s tool does not violate our commitment to the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act (FIPPA). In our experience each integration is unique and requires careful scrutiny to determine what student information is being requested through the integration as well as where and how this information gets used.

Questions to ask:

  • Does this technology require students to provide any personally identifying information?

  • Is this personally identifying information collected by a third-party organization?

  • If so, is this data processed and stored within or outside of Canada?

  • Can students opt out of sharing this personally identifiable information with a third party?

  • Can you provide an equivalent alternative for any student who does not consent to giving this personally identifiable information to a third party?

Accessibility

When evaluating a tool for teaching and learning, it is important to consider students who may have differing accessibility needs and how the tool or service will accommodate those needs.

Questions to ask:

  • Does the service provider have documentation to confirm accessibility and usability of their product?

  • Is this technology compatible with screen-readers?

  • Do multimedia resources include closed captions, alternative text, or transcripts?

  • If there are interactive elements (such as quizzes), can they be navigated by keyboard alone (without requiring a mouse)?

Utility

New learning technologies are typically requested and adopted to meet specific needs that are not met by existing tools at the institution. Before purchasing or adopting a new tool it is important to consider how widespread the use and benefit of this tool will be and to look at tools that are already available and consider if these can meet that same need.

Questions to ask:

  • What value does the LTI integration provide to enhance student learning?

  • How many students and instructors will use the integration?

  • For how long will the integration be required?

  • Are there existing tools, technologies, or platforms at VIU that could accomplish the teaching and learning need without requiring an LTI integration?

  • Is this LTI integration the only or best resource to meet this need?

Costs

New teaching and learning tools, including LTI integrations, require ongoing technical, administrative, and financial support in order to be successful.

Questions to ask:

  • Do you have support from your Dean/Chair/Program Lead to adopt this technology?

  • What supports will the vendor provide?

  • What supports are you expecting from CIEL or VIU IT?

  • What is the cost of this product? (consider any costs to VIU and any costs to students)

  • Where will funding for this technology come from?

Careful consideration of these factors is necessary to make the decision whether to adopt the product and will facilitate the smooth implementation of the new technology or tool if the decision is made to move forward with a new LTI integration.

LTI Roles

  • An LTI sponsor is a faculty or staff member who has oversight responsibilities for licensing third-party applications. The LTI sponsor may be responsible for supporting the LTI application once installed.

  • The course instructor(s) is a current faculty or staff member who is assigned to teach a VIULearn course which will use the integration. The LTI sponsor may also act as a course instructor.

  • A course participant is a currently enrolled VIU student or VIU faculty, staff, teaching assistant, or affiliate who is enrolled in a VIULearn course. Only users with valid, current VIU credentials can be VIULearn course participants. Course participants can access LTI applications from within a VIULearn course, if enabled by the course instructor.

  • The VIULearn Administrator is a member of CIEL who will support the integration with VIULearn.

Requesting an LTI Integration

Please fill out the New Learning Technology Request form to request the consideration of an LTI integration. LTI sponsors must address all of the questions on the form when making the request.

LTI integrations require the third party vendor to work with the VIULearn Administrator to integrate LTI tools. The license holder will be required to:

  • Work with the VIULearn Administrator to ensure that the LTI conforms to VIU policies.

  • Assume all support responsibilities for the configured LTI tool.

  • Work with the VIULearn Administrator to test the LTI in a test environment.

Typically the review, approval, testing, and activation on the production system, will takes 4-6 months  to complete, assuming no issues are found.

For answers to any additional questions you may have regarding the integration of LTI tools into VIULearn courses, please send an email message to learnsupport@viu.ca.

New Learning Technology Request Form