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Streamlining LTI Integrations – A New Approach to Canvas App Installations

Online Learning Support

Dates have been set for the official sunsetting of this feature. CIRT & ITS are working together to disable the LTI install permission during the week of March 4 – 8. These dates were chosen because, being late in the Spring semester, few faculty are currently installing new LTIs. It will also allow us plenty of time for troubleshooting in preparation for the Summer/Fall.

Summary

As instructional technology continues to evolve, it’s essential for UNF to refine processes in our efforts to ensure a secure and streamlined experience within Canvas. To that end, we are implementing a process change that will affect the installation of third-party LTIs/Apps:

Coming Spring 2024, faculty will no longer be able to self-install third-party LTIs/Apps inside of Canvas without first contacting CIRT for support.

This change is driven by new standards in educational technology, particularly the shift towards LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) 1.3.

What is LTI 1.3?​

LTI 1.3 is a standard used in educational technology to facilitate the integration and interoperability of learning tools, applications, and platforms within Learning Management Systems such as Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, and more.

Without getting too technical, LTI 1.3 is an evolved standard for integrating third-party applications into Canvas, aiming to enhance security, standardization, and functionality. LTI 1.3 offers improved authentication mechanisms, better data privacy measures, and a more seamless user experience compared to previous versions. This new standard allows for reliable integration of third-party tools and applications into UNF’s learning environment, promoting consistency and compatibility across various educational platforms.

How Does LTI 1.3 Affect UNF Faculty?

The LTI 1.3 standard necessitates installation of global keys in our Canvas environment – keys which are unique to each new integration and which must be managed by our Canvas administrators. As more and more third-party apps adopt the LTI 1.3 standard, the control of these keys, now shifted to the Canvas administrators, restricts direct installation capabilities previously available to faculty.

To be clear, even if we chose to keep our processes exactly as they are, faculty using upgraded tools would not be able to install these tools on their own moving forward. The decision to curtail direct installation now is based on a need to ensure compatibility, security, and standardization.

This shift isn’t about hindering faculty, but rather about fortifying our educational technology infrastructure and protecting our institutional data. UNF faculty will still have access to a rich array of educational tools, albeit through a more regulated process involving collaboration with CIRT and ITS. UNF faculty will still be able to find and suggest the use of new tools that help with teaching and learning.

The Benefits of Change

We firmly believe that this proactive shift in our processes will not only streamline the integration of LTIs, but also create a more controlled and supportive environment for educational technology across our institution. Moreover, centralizing the installation process allows us to gain comprehensive insight into the variety of tools being used across our campus. This new process enables enhanced visibility, empowering us to evaluate these tools so that we can provide better support and offer tailored assistance to UNF faculty. Furthermore, this proactive measure safeguards both our students and faculty from potential risks associated with rogue applications, as each new app will be thoroughly evaluated before being installed, thereby fostering a secure and conducive learning environment for everyone.

Moving Forward
- Suggesting New Applications

This process change will have very little impact on the day-to-day activities of UNF instructors. The process change will also not affect UNF instructors who are currently using LTIs in active Canvas courses. The change is directed toward the installation of NEW applications only – applications that have not already been vetted by the University.

We encourage instructors to continue exploring and suggesting new applications and educational tools that enrich the learning experience. If you find an interesting application that you would like reviewed and/or installed in an upcoming course, please see the article/section on this knowledge base titled: β€œREQUESTING A NEW INTEGRATION.” 

We understand this process change may pose initial challenges to instructors who are used to installing their own applications, and we ask that faculty with any questions or concerns engage with us at cirtlab@unf.edu (or by calling us at 904-620-3927).

Together, we can shape an environment that enriches the teaching and learning experience through innovative and impactful technologies.

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Michael Russo
Michael Russo
CIRT | Assistant Director Online Learning Support
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