Overview

IMS Global Certified
[IMSB2wa2010W2]

This module is an extension for WebPA version 2. It adds the required functionality to allow WebPA to be integrated with an LTI-compliant VLE (such as Blackboard Learn 9, WebCT or Moodle). The IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) specification provides a standard mechanism by which external learning applications can be securely launched from within an on-line course. The module will work with any VLE supporting LTI. When a user first connects to WebPA their user account is automatically created and they are given the appropriate role in the module (which is also automatically created). There is no need to provision WebPA separately. In addition to launching WebPA, the module will also take advantage of the following LTI services if they are available:

Before downloading the application you can try it out by requesting a free trial consumer key and secret which will be valid for 14 days:

or (further information on LTI Launcher for Windows)

System requirements

The LTI Connector for WebPA 2 module is written in PHP for use with WebPA 2.0.0.10 (or later). It uses the open source PHP LTI Tool Provider class for handling the LTI-related communications.

Installation

MySQL database tables

The module requires the LTI database tables to be added to the same database schema as WebPA. Details of these tables can be found in the PHP LTI Tool Provider class documentation (see the Installation section). The tables should be given the same prefix as used when installing WebPA. A file containing the SQL statements to create these tables is included in the download file for this module (named webpa-lti-tables.sql). This file assumes the default prefix of pa2_; the file should be edited to replace this prefix if a different one was used for the WebPA tables.

PHP source files

The download file available from OSCELOT (see Licence section below) includes the following file:

This file contains the PHP source files for the module which should be added to the WebPA server:

  1. extract the lti.zip file and upload it to the mod directory on the WebPA server;
  2. extract the contents of the lti.zip file to create a directory named lti containing all the module source files.

To enable the module, open the includes/inc_global.php file in a text editor, locate the line containing $INSTALLED_MODS = array(); and insert the following line after it:

$INSTALLED_MODS[] = 'lti';

Once the module has been enabled, additional menu options will be added to the menu for administrator and tutor users.

Usage

A quick way to see how this module allows WebPA to be integrated with a learning environment is to watch the following screencast. Note that, whilst this uses Blackboard Learn 9 as the learning environment, the same integration is possible with any other which provides support for the unofficial extensions, this includes WebCT, Moodle and Sakai.
Flash movie View movie illustration - An instructor's view of LTI (10:46 minutes)

The connection between WebPA (the IMS Tool Provider) and a learning environment (an IMS Tool Consumer) is based on the following information:

The launch URL will be the same as the root of the WebPA server with /mod/lti/index.php appended to it. For example, if the WebPA server is located at https://www.server.com/webpa, the LTI launch URL will be https://www.server.com/webpa/mod/lti/index.php.

A unique consumer key and shared secret should be generated for each learning environment permitted to connect to WebPA. They may be any value. For example, a consumer key could be the domain name for the learning environment server or a GUID. Consumer keys should not be shared by multiple learning environments. Each consumer key and secret pair is registered within WebPA by using the lti sources menu option.

As an administrator in WebPA, the current view of users and modules is for a specific LTI source, or for all non-LTI users and modules. The LTI course can be changed using the change source menu option. The currently selected LTI source is displayed at the bottom of the page.

When a module is selected which provides support for the unofficial LTI memberships service, the sync data menu option will appear in the Admin menu. It can be used to synchronise the enrolments and groups (if groups enhancement to the memberships service is supported) with a list obtained from the learning environment. If the module supports the outcomes service, the the transfer grades menu option will appear in the Admin menu. This will allow a marked assignment to be selected for its grades to be passed back to the learning environment.

Branding options

The following table lists the optional custom parameters which can be used to tailor the WebPA interface:

NameDescriptionExample
logo URL for an image to be displayed top right when WebPA is not opened in a frame (depends upon data provided by the tool consumer which may not be supported by all tool consumers); if the value is not a full URL it is assumed to be relative to the images directory on the WebPA server. A width and height should also be provided for the image (see below). example.png
logo_widthWidth (in pixels) of the image provided in the logo parameter (see above).100
logo_heightHeight (in pixels) of the image provided in the logo parameter (see above).40
nameName to use as the alternate text and title for the header image.The University of Testing
cssURL to a CSS file to override default settings; this file will will be used in preference to any passed as part of the standard LTI launch request (see below).https://www.mylms.edu/webpa.css
email_helpThe email address to which help requests should be sent.webpa-help@mylms.edu
email_noreplyThe email address used for the "From" header for emails sent by WebPA.no-reply@mylms.edu
return_menu_textName to use as the text for the "logout" menu option.return to VLE

CSS

The optional CSS file (see above) may override any of the settings in the default WebPA CSS file. A simple example is as follows:

#app_bar, #module_bar, #breadcrumb_bar {
  background-color: #ff8000;
  color: #000;
}

div.menu_title {
  color: #ff8000;
}

The above styles will change the background colour of the header to orange with black text. The menu headings are also displayed in orange text.

Module sharing

Having a learning application hosted outside the learning environment introduces opportunities for users coming from different courses or learning environments to share the same module within WebPA. This is illustrated by the following screencast which shows how students from different contexts (which could be from different learning environments and/or different institutions) can be joined together to work on the same peer assessment exercise.
Flash movie View movie illustration - Using LTI to allow student collaboration (6:13 minutes)

Version history

VersionDateDescription
1.0.004 July 2012First public release
1.1.0010 February 2013 Updated to support LTI_Tool_Provider 2.3 class
Added group synchronisation option (using an enhancement to the unofficial LTI Memberships service)
Renamed "upload data" menu option to "sync data"
Added option to override the name of the "return to VLE" menu option

Licence

Creative Commons License This work is written by Stephen Vickers and is released under a Creative Commons GNU General Public Licence. The LTI Connector for WebPA 2 module is available for download from OSCELOT where it is also possible to report bugs and submit feature requests.

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