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Developers Encouraged to Create LTI Apps with $250 Awards

A new initiative to encourage development of Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) applications for education will reward developers with "bounty" money. The program is sponsored by a group of education technology vendors and the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

Instructure, which makes the Canvas LMS, is funding the monetary awards. The company is offering a $250 reward for each new qualifying LTI application submitted by June 10, 2013, plus an additional $1,000 for the best applications selected by a panel of judges.

Launched in 2010, LTI is a specification for integrating tools with learning management systems (LMSs), portals, and other educational platforms. Rather than creating versions of their products for each LMS, developers can code a single version of the software to the specification and integration will be simplified.

IMS hosts a catalog of LTI-certified applications, including utilities for e-book and e-portfolio integration, collaboration, assessment, classroom and lecture capture, grading, content creation, and video. These products, according to IMS, should work with a number of platforms that accommodate LTI applications, including Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, Sakai, and Canvas. Those are the same LMS organizations participating in this latest competition.

Instructure is hosting its own "open collection of learning apps" built using the LTI specification as well. Edu Apps, as it's named, currently includes 104 applications that allow educators to embed YouTube-based videos into course material, add chat rooms to Web pages, and include links to digital textbook content, among many other functions.

"Think about Facebook as platform. People don't have to create their own social networks and friends lists and links and feeds. They can leverage what exists with Facebook, then build their specific piece of functionality on top of that," explained Brian Whitmer, co-founder and chief product officer at Instructure, in a slideshare video on the project. "Education can benefit from more people participating in this space, and the way to make that happen is to make it easier for people to build on top of an educational platform."

He added that LTI is "a great step in the right direction; but we still need to push things forward more than we have." With App Bounty, "we're working to fix that."

"I am very excited to be a part of this project and see what kind of apps it produces," said Chuck Severance, chief Sakai strategist at Blackboard. "Anything we can do to foster innovation and collaboration among edtech users — and each other — is good for the entire education industry. The LTI App Bounty does a good job at encouraging both."

Severance will be on the LTI App Bounty panel of judges, which also includes:

Submission criteria for $250 award is posted on an Instructure Github site here.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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