LTI Guidebook


Sphere Engine for Education enables easy integration of the Sphere Engine Problems module with the majority of learning management systems (e.g. Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle). Sphere Engine Problems is a service that allows you to manage programming problems and automatically verify solutions to these problems. Detailed information about the Sphere Engine Problems module can be found in the introduction.

Following integration, it is possible to supplement the materials provided by the LMS platform with interactive programming problems that can then be solved by students.

The programming problem is applicable for:

  • homework,
  • exercises for lessons or lectures,
  • additional assignments for active students,
  • competition assignments.

More information about the possibilities of Sphere Engine for Education (including access to the demo version of the system) can be found on the education.sphere-engine.com website.

Check out how it works

The following programming problem is presented in the mode in which it is made available to the student. In the teacher mode, additional configuration functions are available as well as the ability to view the submitted solutions. The demo version is available on the education.sphere-engine.com website and presents a programming problem in the teacher mode.

Is my system eligible for integration?

The only requirement that must be fulfilled by the LMS system is support for the LTI standard. The majority of modern learning management systems implement this standard and thus they are compatible with the Sphere Engine for Education.

The most popular systems supporting LTI integration are:

D2L
https://www.d2l.com

Description of how to configure integration through the LTI interface is available to members of D2L community. After logging in, the information can be found by going through the next subpages: Documentation > 10.1 > Learning Environment > LTI.

Generating configuration data

Creating a new integration

In the first step it is necessary to create a new set of configuration data for the LMS system, by means of which you will be able to integrate in accordance with the LTI standard.

On the list of LMS configurations it is necessary to press the "Add a new LMS" button (1). In this way, the crucial configuration data for LTI integration will be generated: customer key and shared secret. After clicking on the configuration name (2), the system moves us to the page with detailed information.

Fig. 1. Configuration list
Fig. 2. New configuration on the list

Note: The label "in use" / "unused" (3) indicates whether the given configuration has been used for configuration on the LMS system side. This information can be useful in identifying configurations that can be safely removed.

Configuration data

The data required for integration with the LMS system is available on the configuration page:

  • consumer key (1),
  • shared secret (2),
  • tool URL (HTTP version (3) or HTTPS version (4)).
Fig. 3. Configuration data

Some LMS systems (e.g. Canvas or Moodle) allow for the automated configuration process based on data in XML format. The "XML config" tab (5) contains all the information required to complete the configuration procedure.
The XML data needed for the automated configuration can be used in two ways:

  • through a dedicated URL address (6),
  • by copying the configuration data directly from the text field (7).
Fig. 4. XML data for automated configuration
Fig. 5. Additional settings

Note: We recommend using a separate configuration for each LMS system. The possible use of a common configuration for multiple systems is possible after unselecting the "Safe Mode" option (8).

Warning: Configuration removal procedure (9) is irreversible. In all LMS systems that use deleted configuration data, Sphere Engine for Education will become inactive.

LMS Configuration

Configuration on the LMS system side is similar for all systems. Key in the configuration are the parameters discussed in the previous section (above all the "customer key" and "shared secret" parameters).

Warning: Dynamic evolution of LMS systems leads to reorganizations in their user interfaces. The following descriptions may slightly differ from the actual organization of systems in other versions.

Moodle

Integration with the system (global preconfiguration)

The Moodle system offers the possibility of configuring an external tool in such a way that the programming task becomes available in the list of resources. Settings require administrator rights and are available in the Site Administration > Plugins > Activity modules > External tools > Manage tools location.
In the absence of the possibility of using administrator privileges there is an alternative configuration method, which allows you to use Sphere Engine for Education after setting up at the course level.

The Moodle system supports an automated configuration process. In the "Tool URL" (1) field it is necessary to enter the URL address available in the appropriate field of the "XML Configuration" tab and press the "Add" button (2). Then, for security reasons, it is necessary to enter "consumer key" (3) and "shared secret" data (4).

Fig. 6. Adding LTI configuration in the Moodle system

After successful configuration, the item should appear in the list of tools (5) as "Sphere Engine for Education". The further configuration is possible in the tool settings (6). Click the "Tool configuration usage" option (7) and select "Show in activity chooser and as a preconfigured tool". From now on, when adding a resource to the course, it will be possible to select "Sphere Engine for Education" and the configuration data will be automatically downloaded based on the data provided during the pre-configuration.

Fig. 7. Editing the LTI configuration in the Moodle system
Adding a problem to the course

When adding a resource to the course, it is necessary to select the "Sphere Engine for Education" item (1) and confirm the selection with the "Add" button (2). In the next step, it is possible to configure the resource.

Fig. 8. The "Sphere Engine for Education" resource is available directly from the list of resources.

In this case (i.e. selecting a preconfigured resource), all you have to do is specify the following parameters:

  • the name of the resource (3),
  • privacy settings (4) (the consent to provide a username, email address and the right to submit grades is recommended).
Fig. 9. Resource configuration

After confirming the configuration with the "Save and display" button it will be possible to configure the programming problem right away. Selecting the approval of changes with the "Save and return to course" button will return you to the list of resources attached to the course (configuration of the programming task will be possible later).

Integration at the course level (without global preconfiguration)

Although pre-configuration integration with the Sphere Engine for Education tool is - from the point of view of course managers - the most convenient method of integration, it is not always possible (or requires waiting for intervention of system administrator).

Integration with Sphere Engine for Education can be done without administrator rights. When adding a resource to the course, select the item "External tool" (1) and confirm the selection with the "Add" button (2).

Fig. 10. Adding an unspecified tool

Further configuration is analogous to the global preconfiguration and it requires the same data as.

Canvas

You must create a configuration in the course settings (1) before using Sphere Engine for Education in Canvas. In the "Apps" section (2) press the "+App" button (3) to begin the configuration.

Fig. 11. Adding an application
Fig. 12. Application configuration

Complete the fields in the dialog box that appears. The configuration type (4) allows you to choose one of three variants, all of which are supported by Sphere Engine for Education:

  1. manual entry (all configuration parameters must be entered manually),
  2. configuration from the file indicated by the URL (based on the URL provided on the "XML config" tab in the Sphere Engine system),
  3. configuration from data in XML format (based on data displayed on the "XML config" tab in the Sphere Engine system).

Choosing one of the automated configuration types (variant 2 or variant 3) will require (for security reasons) only two parameters:

  • customer key (5),
  • shared secret (6).
Using a programming problem in the course

In the Canvas system, a programming problem can be attached to assignment or the module. Both scenarios are similar, therefore we will limit ourselves to managing the assignment component.
For this purpose, it is necessary to go to the assignments list (1) and add a new assignment using the "+" button (2). Then it is necessary to select the "External Tool" (3) option in the dialog box that appears and go to detailed settings using the "More Options" button (4).

Fig. 13. Adding assignment

On the advanced settings page, simply enter the name assignment (5) and select the previously configured application by clicking the "Find" button (6).

Fig. 14. Assignment configuration

In the displayed list of applications, select "Sphere Engine for Education" (7) and confirm the selection with the "Select" button (8).

Fig. 15. List of applications

After returning to the main settings, the configuration is complete and can be confirmed with the "Save" or "Save and Publish" button.

Schoology

By using Sphere Engine for Education in the Schoology system it is necessary to create a configuration in the course settings. In the "Course Options" section (1) go to "External Tool Providers" (2).

Fig. 16. Adding configuration

After pressing the "Add External Tool Provider" button (3) it will be possible to configure the Sphere Engine for Education application.

Fig. 17. Configuration parameters

It is necessary to complete the fields in the dialog box that appears. The configuration type (4) allows you to select one of two variants - both are supported by Sphere Engine for Education:

  • manual (all configuration parameters must be entered manually),
  • configuration from data in XML format (based on data displayed on the "XML config" tab in the Sphere Engine system).

When selecting an automated configuration (by providing XML data), you will only need to enter two parameters:

  • customer key (5),
  • shared secret (6).
Using a programming problem in the course

In the Schoology system, a programming problem can be attached to the course as so-called "material" after clicking the "Add Materials" button (1). It is necessary to select an item "Add File / Link / External tool" from the available list (2).

Fig. 18. Adding a programming problem to the course

In the dialog box that appears, it is necessary to select the "External tool" item (3). The next dialog box is used to configure the tool. The programming problem for the course is implemented by selecting the option "Sphere Engine for Education" from the "Tool provider" list (4). In addition, it is also necessary to specify the title of the attached material (5). Other configuration options are set automatically based on the data provided during the pre-configuration.

Fig. 19. Problem settings in the course

Note: Selecting an additional "Enable grading" option (6) allows the Sphere Engine for Education service to submit grades to the log.

Other systems

The LTI standard is supported by most modern LMS systems. If you need confirmation of Sphere Engine for Education compatibility with your system or have a configuration problem, please contact us at contact@sphere-engine.com.