OWL Logo

Photo Credit: Western

External Tools In OWL

Added on September 16, 2020 by Deanna Grogan

Instructors may want to supplement the features of OWL by adding an external tool. This may be a software package from a textbook publisher, or eLearning tool from an ed-tech company. These add-on software tools extend the functionality of the Learning Management System (LMS). These tools are considered “external” because they are not applications owned by Western University and, even though they can be integrated with OWL, they are not part of the OWL application.

When integrating with an LMS, vendors often develop their tools using the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard. LTI is a standard protocol for delivering data between the LMS and the external software tool. This data might include grades, names, and email addresses. Although LTI is a standard way to integrate external tools, each tool will each have their own functionality and may work differently from one Learning Management System to another.

If you wish to request an LTI integration be added to your OWL site, you will need the following information:

  • The web address of the OWL site(s) that you would like the integration added to
  • The LTI credentials (these are pieces of information used by OWL to log into the 3rd party application)

Note that Credentials are provided by the vendor and will consist of:

  • A launch URL
  • A consumer key
  • A shared secret.
  • Some vendors may require additional custom parameters or special instructions

Please be aware that although an external LTI tool may be integrated into your OWL site, the tool is not supported or endorsed by Western University. Support for students and faculty will be provided by the vendor. If the vendor requires a signed contract for use of the tool, instructors are advised to follow up with their department or Western Legal Services for further advice. Although LTI is generally accepted to be a safe way for eLearning tools to be integrated into a LMS, all use of 3rd party tools involves some risk. In some cases, a Technology Risk Assessment (TRA) may be required to use a tool.