The Tools Interoperability (TI) approach addresses the growing demand for a reusable mechanism for integrating third-party tools with core LMS platforms. Tools can add specialist functionality to the LMS such as assessment or discipline-specific teaching aids. The approach recommended greatly simplifies this task whilst also offering a Web Services solution equally applicable to Java and .Net implementers. The reuse of a commonly understood approach across tools will eliminate the need for bilateral solutions, thus focusing investment on adding real value to the learner experience.
Whilst working on this approach in the IMS Global Consortium, the participants also implemented a demonstrator for alt-i-lab 2005. Their implementations made use of the WSDL auto-generation tool developed by the General Web Services group. The use of this tool has allowed the TI approach to be specified in UML, from which the tool produces a WSDL file which can be used with a variety of Web Services development environments. The fact that there exist working systems that have been publicly demonstrated prior to the release of this document will hopefully instill confidence in the approach for other adopters and implementers.
User authentication is handled by the LMS in each case, whilst the LMS authenticates itself to the tool using a shared secret. The approach exploits a modular context profiling mechanism to pass additional information to the tool, e.g.:
- The LMS can include the user's ACCLIP profile allowing the tool to self-configure its user interface to the learner's precise needs.
- The optional Outcome profile states the results format required - currently a simple score, but could be HRXML, QTI Results, etc.
The approach has been designed to allow additional context profiles to be added in the future without impacting currently supported interoperability.
Tools Interoperability Guidelines v1.0 Final- HTML
Tools Interoperability Guidelines WSDL and XSD