Blackboard Open Content communicates synchronously with the Learning Management System (LMS) using an open standard called Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). The LTI is a framework developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium to provide a standard for secure, real-time communication between learning applications and platforms. LTI services enable the interactions between tool, content, and resource consumers and providers. To learn more, see http://www.imsglobal.org/toolsinteroperability2.cfm.
When an event occurs—for example, a student launches into a resource—Blackboard Open Content recognizes several variables that are passed in from the LTI link:
- Institution or LMS instance
- Username within the LMS instance
- Role within the LMS instance
- Course within the LMS instance
- Resource being requested within Blackboard Open Content (if applicable)
All of these variables are wrapped in a secret authentication code that is shared between Blackboard Open Content and the web service—for example, an LMS—making the call. Based on these variables, Blackboard Open Content calls up the particular resource and provides the user with appropriate permissions and access to that resource.
The interaction between Blackboard Open Content and the LMS occurs silently through LTI links. End users may not realize they are interacting with resources from Blackboard Open Content (other than the Blackboard Open Content UI). Blackboard Open Content resources are loaded within an iframe in the LMS.
Blackboard Open Content can pass back grade information to the LMS for interactive resources, eliminating the need for duplication or transfer of grades between systems.
Blackboard Open Content is currently operating on LTI v1.1 framework, but is also accessible through LTI 1.0 without grade pass back. Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP10 and later versions are LTI 1.1 compliant.
In addition to the information passed using LTI, Blackboard Open Content has developed deeper integrations with the various LMS systems to make the integration between the systems more robust. These integrations include passing information about:
- The structure of courses
- Resource titles
- Resources present within a course