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    Interoperability and Integration



    Houston ISD has asked all publishers and content providers to deliver their digital instructional materials in an Open Standards format. This enables the content to open, function, and provide assessment results and user data within the district’s digital teaching and learning platform known as “The Hub." These standards originated through a partnership with IMS Global Learning Consortium. IMS Global is a nonprofit, member organization that provides support through programs which highlight effective interoperability practices. IMS Global has also developed various types of technology standards. These standards have been adopted by Houston ISD to employ digital content interoperability. Houston ISD has asked that publisher's digital content be compliant and certified with one of the IMS Global content interoperability standards: Thin Common Cartridge v. 1.3 (TCC), Learning Tools Interoperability v. 1.2 (LTI), or Question and Test Interoperability (QTI). 

    In addition to providing a simpler digital ecosystem for teachers and students, this strategy is in alignment with the district’s mandate to personalize learning and to use data to drive effective instruction. This provides teachers, students and parents easy access to day-to-day student activities and performance data. Ease of access enhances our capacity to intervene in a timely fashion and benefits the learner by providing choice, options and greater flexibility. In addition, as the system matures and all features become functional, teachers, students and parents will be able to see where the learner needs additional help. Our teachers are already able to search for various sources of learning materials and have input on the types of resources or activities available to them.

    For more information on Open Standards best practices in K12 go to: https://www.imsglobal.org/.

    For more information on IMS Global's guidelines for K12 interoperability, go to: http://www.imsglobal.org/COEK12Playbook.html.

    For digital resource adoption beginning with the Fall of 2019, HISD will be requiring new interoperability compliance from participating publishers.  For more information about required standards and rubrics for selection, please see the HISD Publisher's Page: https://www.houstonisd.org/Page/172459

    Types of Technology Standards



    1. Thin Common Cartridge v. 1.3 (TCC) - TCC content resides in the vendor's server and can be automatically recalled through the consumers' learning management system (LMS) by a user through single sign-on (SSO). A TCC integration format is appropriate in cases where the content needs to be accessed as discrete learning objects via keywords (tags) or standards.

    TCC material includes various types of content files, assignments, feedback, grades, and other tools that may require data returning into the district’s LMS. This is a preferred method of content integration.

        • Advantages: In a TCC implementation, the content opens inside the DTLP/LMS in a series of LTI links previously “ingested” as a manifest onto the LMS library. These links also provide the ability to do content searches aligned to standards without taxing the content Library with large amounts of memory-taxing files.
        • Disadvantages:  It does not support the wide range of interactive files of the thick cartridge. 

     Common Cartridge and Thin Common Cartridge

    2. Learning Tools Interoperability v. 1.2 (LTI) - Bi-directional Integration: Validates user identification and returns some user/usage data back to the LMS. It is more commonly used for content apps that do not provide assessments, but can include assignments. This type of integration includes the return of usage data for analytical purposes. It is the best integration option for reference and research material. The content does not reside in the LMS library, but is searchable and accessed through a bi-directional LTI link.

    *It is very important to indicate which version number of Learning Tools Interoperability the tool provider and the learning environment supports. These versions should be the same, to take full advantage of available functionality. Please refer to the conformance comparison table here:http://www.imsglobal.org/LTI/primeron

          • Advantages: The development effort to enable LTI integration is very small. In many cases, LTI has been enabled within days or even hours. The advantage for publishers is that the same LTI integration can be used for different LMS or platforms (such as: itslearning, Schoology, Canvas, Safari, etc.) 
          • Disadvantages: Because the link is associated with only one reference or research material, the content cannot be searched by discrete learning objects unless compiled into a cartridge.


    3. Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) and Accessible Portable Item Protocol (APIP) - The IMS QTI and APIP interoperability standards provide a set of specifications that enable a rich collection of digital assessment content to be accessed from a wide variety of learning platforms, including learning management systems, authoring platforms, item/test repositories, assessment delivery engines, and web applications. New versions also support many accessibility features for special needs, such as Braille, magnification and cover overlay abilities. Downloadable or web accessible content developed to conform to the specifications will "run" in a wide variety of conformant assessment platforms. For more information on QTI and APIP go to http://www.imsglobal.org/activity/qtiapip

          • Advantages: Cost savings of money, time, implementation and integration efforts all supporting the move from paper-based assessment to digital assessments.
          • Disadvantages: Although QTI supports five different types of user responses (item selection, text input, numeric input, xy-position selection, and group selection), some particular features required by some disciplines are likely to be missing. This includes the handling of numeric expressions and graphical input.

    QTI Diagram