Learning Tools Interoperability™ (LTI) refers to a specification developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium that enables the integration of internet-based learning applications with online platforms offered by learning providers. Known informally as the IMS LTI, the open sourced specification has created a seamless way of launching external tools (often remotely hosted and provided through third-party services) with learning management systems and other platforms (known as tool consumers). The specification is supported by all major virtual learning environments (VLEs) and other educational systems.


The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) is a worldwide, non-profit member organization created in 1995 to promote the growth of technology in the education and corporate learning sectors. It has approved and published more than twenty open interoperability standards employed throughout the world.

All IMS GLC standards are available free of charge via the IMS GLC website and can be used without royalty. They include meta-data, content packaging, common cartridge, enterprise services, question and test, sequencing, competencies, access for all, ePortfolio, learner information, vocabulary definition, learning design and others.

In May 2010, IMS GLC released a basic LTI specification (v1.0) to allow a seamless connection of web-based, externally hosted applications and content to learning platforms. By establishing a secure link to a tool from inside a learning management system (a tool consumer), IMS LTI enables plug-and-play into any learning management software that is IMS certified. Such tools range from simple chat applications to domain-specific learning environments.

The mash-up solution also facilitates software as a service (SaaS), one of the fastest-growing segments of the training marketplace.

Several features have been added in subsequent updates. They include the ability to provide an outcome from the tool to the tool consumer, which enables students to receive a grade or score from their interaction with a learning application. LTI v2.0 allows for phased introduction of richer services and interactions as the learning market evolves.


Among IMS LTI’s features and benefits:

    • Seamless single sign-on. It enables a seamless online environment through a single sign-on learning portal for all users.
    • Responsiveness to trainees and instructors. A wide variety of learning tools, applications and content can be instantaneously integrated into the LMS and shared across vendor platforms.
    • Exchange of outcomes data. Outcomes data and analytics can be returned across a wide variety of learning tools, applications and content to the LMS for immediate use.
    • Increased efficiency. Every application interfaces in the same way, which reduces the number of custom integrations needed by product developers or IT departments or personnel.
    • Greater functionality at a reduced cost. Training organizations can incorporate tools developed outside their own communities, leveraging higher functionality without the related labor and cost.
    • Encouraged creativity. LTI reduces the friction that can sometimes exist between developers or particular platforms. Niche product developers can create web-based learning tools that are automatically integrated into a wide variety of learning platforms, encouraging them to be creative instead of adhering to strict guidelines.
    • Greater productivity. Learning professionals can purchase tools and technologies that can be integrated into any solution, facilitating productivity across platforms. The compatibility issues that arise with other stand-alone technologies are eliminated.

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