LTI Standard Integration for Brightspace
The LTI standard is from 1EdTech Consortium (1EdTech, formerally IMS Global Learning Consortium). Several LMSs adopted the standard in addition to hosting APIs to provide interoperability. Applications that are LTI-compliant can work with any LMS that is also LTI-compliant, as long as the LMS supports the same LTI specification.
Brightspace supports the most recent specification of the LTI standard: LTI v1.3 and LTI Advantage. Brightspace allows users to launch into an LTI-compliant app from inside the LMS. This typical experience is called LTI Launch; the app appears inside of an iframe in Brightspace. Since Brightspace supports LTI Advantage, LTI-compliant apps can also use the improved grade passback and enrollment provisioning services offered by LTI Advantage.
API Integration for Brightspace
API integration allows edtech products to directly communicate with Brightspace through the proprietary Brightspace API. Users can authenticate using an OAuth 2.0 workflow into an external app using the user’s Brightspace credentials. Once the the product and Brightspace authenticate the user, the product can then act on behalf of the user. This means the app can perform functions, such as sending back grades to the user's gradebook or creating new assignments, in Brightspace programmatically via the Brightspace API. This is all done while the user is on the app and not in Brightspace.
It's important to keep in mind that there are several versions of the Brightspace API. Some of these versions overlap and some are only supported in certain versions of Brightspace. This can create issues if a developer works with multiple schools who are all run different versions of Brightspace. The developer would have to make sure that their API calls are valid for each instance.
Note that large schools and universities sometimes run different versions of Brightspace on back servers. Others may use a cloud service, like Brightspace Cloud. An app that works for one district's Brightspace environment might appear or work differently in another's.
D2L (the company behind Brightspace) requires edtech developers who are interested in implementing a Brightspace integration to register for a Brightspace developer account. Once an account is registered, the developer can use the Manage Extensibility tool to register the product. (which is required to create any Brightspace application) and to retrieve OAuth 2.0 credentials (which are required to implement SSO). Developers can use SDK packages that are provided by D2L to create development environments for testing.
Which Brightspace Integration Method is Better?
Developers should choose their integration method based on the type of integration that a school requests. Some schools particularly need LTI integration with their Brightspace environments. Other schools may be looking for a solution that includes features that are supported by API integrations. Thus, having solutions for both situations can prove to be valuable when trying to work with several schools.
Read More on Brightspace
Here are other articles we’ve written on Brightspace to help you on your journey:
- How to Implement SSO with D2L Brightspace
- What Can I Do with the Brightspace (D2L) API?
- Challenges of Integrating with Brightspace
- Case Study: Schoolrunner
- Why would I Work with Edlink Instead of Just Building My Own LTI Application?
Want to Learn More about Edlink?
If you're looking for a partner who can help guide you through developing LMS integrations (like these), then let’s introduce ourselves. We’re Edlink!