How to set up and use the LibApps LTI tools in your learning / course management system

LTI stands for Learning Tools Interoperability - it's a standard for integrating tools from third-party services into Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace / Desire2Learn, Moodle, Sakai, etc. In terms of Springshare's products, it's a way to seamlessly integrate LibGuides content into your LMS.

The purpose of this Springboard is to help LibApps Admin users configure their LTI tool settings and manage their LibGuides metadata. It will also help them provide their LMS administrators the info needed to integrate the LTI tool, using several of the most popular systems.

What does the LibApps LTI tool do?

The LTI tool allows you to integrate your content into your institution's courses directly and appears within the LMS frame - no shifting them outside of the LMS experience. Give them what they need right alongside all of their other course information, links, discussions, etc.

Using the Manual LTI Tool

  • LibGuides CMS customers can directly embed guide content and/or A-Z Database lists.
  • LibGuides and LibGuides CMS customers who subscribe to E-Reserves can directly embed an E-Reserves course page.

Even better? Our Automagic LTI Tool adds this content to each course all at once! Configure the options in LibApps, add Metadata to your guides & courses, have your LMS Admin set it up in your LMS, and watch the magic happen.

You can even set up a customizable LTI Library Page as the landing page, which allows you to share a ton of library information, including:

  • Links to related guides / courses,
  • a link to your A-Z Database page (optionally customized to a subject),
  • LibAnswers widgets (if you subscribe to LibAnswers): LibChat & Search,
  • LibCal widgets (if you subscribe to LibCal): Room Bookings / Spaces, Appointment Scheduling, Today's Hours.

Of course, you can have the best of both worlds! Set up the Automagic tool to provide library content / the library page on every course. Also add the Manual Tool to allow faculty / other course builders the opportunity to add different content in different areas of the course site, like a relevant content box or page within an Assignments area.

Not sure if you have access to the LibApps LTI tool? Click the panel below to learn more.

LibGuides CMS is required to use the full LibApps LTI functionality, though if you subscribe to base LibGuides and the E-Reserves module, you can use the LibApps LTI tool to embed E-Reserves course content within your Learning Management System (Blackboard, Canvas, Desire2Learn, Moodle, Sakai, etc.). If you don't currently subscribe to LibGuides CMS, check out all of the reasons you should!

Here's a breakdown of what areas of the LTI tool can be used, based on LibGuides subscription level:

Item LibGuides LibGuides CMS
Manual: Guide Content
(Full guide, guide page, content box)
Manual: A-Z Databases ✔︎
Manual: E-Reserves Courses* ✔︎* ✔︎*
Automagic ✔︎** ✔︎

* Must subscribe to the E-Reserves module.
** Matching for E-Reserves content only. Must subscribe to the E-Reserves module.

The Automagic tool's LTI Library Page also integrates widgets from LibAnswers and LibCal. Subscriptions to those apps are required to use those options.

Have multiple LibGuides systems for your institution? No problem! Learn how you can install multiple LTI tools for all your Springy systems.

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Using the LTI Manual tool

Each instance of the LTI Manual tool to your LMS can be configured to display one of the following content types:

  • Full guide, single page of a guide, or a single content box from a guide
  • Database links from your A-Z Database list
  • E-Reserves course page

For most LMSes (Blackboard, Canvas, D2L, Moodle, Sakai, etc.), adding a manual tool link is a 2-step process. (This is based on how the LMS works, not the LTI Tool.) So the first two steps, regardless of the content you want to display, are:

  1. Use whatever process your LMS uses to add a link to a section in the course site, selecting your Manual Tool wherever appropriate and giving it whatever name you'd like. (See your system's documentation to learn how to do this.)
  2. If the LibApps selection box does not automatically appear (it may not!), click the link you just added.
    • The first time you click the link, you'll simply be at the selection screen.
    • Subsequent clicks will give you the option to display the content or edit the content. Editing the content will remove the previous selection, so you can make a new selection.
    • Your students will only ever see the content, not the option to display vs. edit the content. You are seeing those options because you have the ability to add/edit/manage content within that course.

Setting up the Manual tool

If your LMS is not listed below, don't fret! We hope to provide more detailed instructions for Moodle and Sakai in the future. In the meantime, as long as your LMS supports the LTI standard, please work with your local LMS experts & vendor for help setting up an LTI tool in your specific system.

  • Customizing Manual LTI tool setup options
    Learn how to customize the appearance of LTI Tool instances, including the name & description (as it appears in your LMS). You can also choose whether to include the custom header, footer, and/or JS/CSS from your LibGuides site in your embedded content.
    • Important: If the Name and/or Description are not modified before you add the Manual tool to your LMS, you cannot change it later without removing / re-adding it to your LMS. (Depending on your LMS and how it works, these fields may or may not display.)
  • Adding the Manual LTI tool to Blackboard
    Learn how to set up the Manual LTI tool in most Blackboard systems. This covers adding a new tool provider and setting up placements.
  • Adding the Manual LTI tool to Canvas
    Learn how to add the Manual LTI tool as an external app to Canvas. Once set up, you'll learn where the LTI tool can be added in individual courses.
  • Adding the Manual LTI tool to Brightspace / Desire2Learn
    Learn how to set up the Manual LTI tool in most Brightspace/D2L systems. This covers adding a new tool provider & tool link, as well as where to find it in D2L once it's been set up.

Selecting content to display with the Manual tool

Once you've successfully set up the Manual tool in your LMS, you will be able to add it to your courses (please be sure to follow the specific steps for your LMS). The articles below will show you how to use the Manual tool to select content to display from LibGuides.

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Using the LTI Automagic tool

The Automagic tool allows you to automatically display guides, E-Reserves courses, and/or subject-focused Database lists by matching a field value from a course in your Learning Management System (LMS) to a metadata value in your LibGuides system. If the values match, that item is (or those items are) displayed! As just noted, you can have more than 1 item match - whether that's multiple guides, multiple courses, or guide(s) + course(s) + a subject is up to you.

Please note that only Published guides are listed. Guides that have a Guide Status of Private or Unpublished, a Guide Type of "Internal Guide" or "Template Guide", or guides assigned to an Internal group (CMS only) will not be displayed.

This tool can be used in any system that supports the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) protocol. Most often, these are supported in LMS systems like Blackboard, Canvas, D2L, Moodle, Sakai, etc.

Click on the panels below to view more info about how it works.

  • Less work on the LMS side of things.
    • Faculty don't have to add links and select content, like they would with the Manual tool (or just manually adding a link to the library's website).
    • Librarians don't have to both work in LibGuides (to create content) and work in the LMS to add all of the links (whether using the Manual tool or adding links out to their system).
  • Less access required within the LMS.
    Librarians do not need to be given access to courses within the LMS to add library content course-by-course.
  • All work can be done within LibGuides.
    ​Once the tool has been added to the LMS by LMS Admins, the rest of the work is done in LibGuides! Creation and curation of guides / courses / subjects, addition / modification / removal of metadata so those items can be displayed in the LMS, etc.
  • Update content at any time!
    Update an existing guide with new resources or create a new guide for a course or assignment last minute. Just add the appropriate metadata, publish it, and it's immediately available in the LMS course!
  • Statistics on guide / course use are still tracked when using LTI - just look for a referrer coming from your LMS domain OR look on the LibApps LTI Tool Builder area's Instance Details page.

It's as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. LMS Admins install the tool in your LMS system.
  2. Librarians define which fields to match on: one from the LMS and a metadata field defined for LibGuides & set other configuration options.
  3. Librarians add the appropriate metadata to guides, courses, and/or subjects.

Once those 3 steps are complete, students click the link in their course and the appropriate content displays!

Example of how a field from the LTI and the LibGuides metadata field match.

For example, let's say we choose to match the course number field from our LMS to our LibGuides metadata & have set up the appropriate metadata in our guides. When someone in a course with the course number BUS150 clicks the Automagic link in the course, the LTI tool receives the value BUS150 and tries to match that with metadata in LibGuides.

  • If it finds a guide match, it displays that guide.
  • And/or if it finds an E-Reserves course match, it displays that course page.
  • And/or if it finds a subject match, it displays a link to databases / a profile list limited to that subject.

You can match however many items as you want: a single guide or multiple guides...a single course or multiple courses...a single subject. You can even match one or more guides along with one or more courses and a subject. Exactly how it displays depends on other options you can configure. The default scenario is:

  • If a single guide OR course is matched, that guide or course displays.
  • If a subject is matched OR any combination of guides, courses, and subject are matched, the "Library LTI" page is displayed. This page lists all matches, plus offers additional options like widgets from your LibCal and LibAnswers systems.
  • If there are no matches, the "Library LTI" page is displayed.

Additional configuration options allow you to always display the "Library LTI" page, even if there's only one match (so students see the Spaces widget from LibCal and/or the LibChat widget from LibAnswers) and you can set "failover" guides to display if there is no guide match.

You also have a couple of options for how the match is searched: stepped search and translation table.

  • Stepped Search takes the value from the LMS and searches the whole string. If it finds a match, it stops. If it doesn't, it removes one character from the end and tries again. This process loops until matches are found or the string is exhausted.
  • Translation Table is a file you upload that lists the possible values from the LMS in one column, then the string that ought to be searched in LibGuides in the next 3 columns (guide, course, subject). This is a great option if you need to match on at least 2 completely different values in your LibGuides system or want to match many courses to a single guide (e.g., a general subject research guide that could apply to all courses in the English department).

It's a lot to explain because it's a very powerful tool, but the general configuration options are a "set it and forget it" type of thing. Once you find your preference, you won't likely change the settings. Future maintenance is mainly around metadata for new courses.

Configuring the Automagic tool in LibApps

Before you add the Automagic tool to your LMS, there is some prep work you need to do in LibApps. This includes:

  • Automagic LTI Tool Setup Options
    Learn how the Automagic tool displays matching content and how you can change this Content Display Behavior. In addition, you'll also learn how to customize the name, description, and appearance of the LTI Automatagic tool.
  • Customizing the Library LTI Page: Parameter Matching
    Learn how to customize the matching criteria the Automagic tool uses, including the search type, LTI Parameter Name, and LibGuides Metadata Name.
  • Customizing the Library LTI Page: Column Content
    Learn how to display additional content on the LTI page, in addition to matching guides and courses. If you subscribe to LibCal and/or LibAnswers, this can include things like LibCal space booking widgets and LibChat widgets.
  • Previewing / Testing the Library LTI Page
    Learn how you can view a preview of your Library LTI page. If you've already set up your LibGuides and/or E-Reserves metadata, this is also where you can test out matching behavior -- just enter an LTI Parameter Name value and the preview page will show you what a patron would see.

Preparing your LibGuides and E-Rerserves metadata

For the Automagic tool to do its, well, magic, you need to add metadata to your guides, subject categories, and/or E-Reserves courses. This will serve as the basis for matching your content to the LTI Parameter Name value provided by the LMS for the course where the Automagic tool is placed. For example, if the Automagic tool is placed in a History course, the LTI tool will use your LibGuides metadata and your chosen search type (Stepped or Translation Table) to locate and display the matching content.

  • Guide metadata is the key to matching courses from your LMS to the appropriate guides.
  • Assign metadata to Subject Categories from your LibGuides system to help with more accurate matching between LMS courses and your LibGuides content (including guides, databases, & subject librarians on the Library LTI page).
    • It is recommended that the Metadata Value for Subjects match the naming convention used in your LMS.
    • For example, if the course number used in your LMS is ENG350.Jones.SPR16, you should use ENG as the Metadata Value for your English Subject Category.
  • Assign metadata to E-Reserves courses to match specific E-Reserves course pages with LMS courses.

LibApps Admin users can add and manage metadata directly from the Admin > LTI Tool Builder settings. However, LibGuides Admin users can also add and manage metadata directly within LibGuides itself via the Admin > Metadata & URLs page. Other LibGuides users can also manage the metadata for their own content -- for example, guide owners can add, edit, and remove metadata values when editing their guides.

Adding the Automagic tool to your LMS

If your LMS is not listed below, don't fret! We hope to provide more detailed instructions for Moodle and Sakai in the future. In the meantime, as long as your LMS supports the LTI standard, please work with your local LMS experts & vendor for help setting up an LTI tool in your specific system.

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Managing LTI tool instances / placements

LibApps keeps track of each instance of the LTI Tool added to your LMS. Also referred to as a placement, each instance provides a great deal of information, including what content is being displayed, when it was last launched, and how often it has been launched. This can give you a general idea of how often the LTI Tool is being used within your LMS.

While viewing your LTI Instance Details, you can also change the content that is displayed for any instance of the Manual LTI Tool in your LMS. This is helpful, for example, if you need to change which guide or e-reserves course is being displayed.

Learn more

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