With the likely goal of enticing more learning developers to adopt its platform, Blackboard has made a series of announcements and releases to make it easier to code functionality for the commercial LMS. They are wrapped into what Blackboard calls the “Open Innovation Initiative” that gives developers access to REST and LTI integrations to expand Blackboard services without upfront costs.
REST is a general specification for data and “states” of a process in a web application. Using REST enables applications to communicate and respond to each other more easily. LTI does a similar job but specializes in learning applications.
The applications developed under the Initiative will feature in Blackboard’s official catalog of extensions. With these measures, Blackboard expects developers to create functionality that interacts with their software, primarily Blackboard Learn. Some of the likely features are clear from looking at the available code:
- Send grades to Blackboard that depend on performance on the LTI activity.
- Create “Caliper events” with performance information and send them to a recording service.
- Create “LTI placements” in a Blackboard site that let external users authenticate to access an application through a specific URL address.
Developers can also take advantage of Blackboard’s open source repository to find demos and tester code for LTI and REST functionality. Some of these were showcased at DevCon, the developers meeting running parallel to MoodleMoot US and BbWorld 2017.