Creating Team and Individual WordPress Blogs From Your VLE Via An LTI WordPress Plugin

Via a series of Twitter posts, of which this is the first, from @ammienoot, the self-styled “Edtech lady leader @EdinburghUni”, I learn of uoe-dlam/ed-lti, “Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) integration for creating WordPress blogs with appropriate user roles based on roles set within the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)”.

The ed-lti WordPress plugin is an LTI Provider that feeds a VLE LTI Consumer, such as Moodle, that:

allows Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) users to create blogs on a WordPress multisite installation through the use of Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) tools. The plugin is designed to make it easy to integrate WordPress with a VLE course to provide an individual or group working space for students. It isn’t designed to support course materials on an external WordPress site being included in the VLE.

FWIW, LTI is not something I’m really familiar with (to do, to do…; here are the docs), but from the README it appears that the plugin will map VLE roles (how does LTI expose those, I wonder?) onto appropriate WordPress roles.

(Thinks… hmmm.. I pretty sure we use the JupyterHub LTI Authenticator from our Moodle installation? I’m not sure if that’s using the Moodle LTI external tool on the Moodle side, or what???)

Anyway, the WordPress plugin seems to support a couple of different use cases. In particular, it can manage:

  • group course blogs in the form of a single blog shared by all students on a course; it seems that this can also be used to support “sub-course” group blogs, e.g. for tutor groups, by dropping an instance of the blog tool into each group and using VLE permissions to restrict access to the group and hence to the blog.
    • The first VLE user to click on a course blog tool link will be taken to the WordPress multisite install and a blog will be created for the course. The user will also be made a member of the blog.
    • Any subsequent users that click on the link are added to the blog as a member.
    • Teachers on the course will get the WordPress Administrator role and students will be added as WordPress Authors.
  • individual student blogs for each student on a course.
    • If a VLE user with the student role clicks on a student blog tool link they are taken to the WordPress multisite install and a blog is created for them. All blogs are cloned from a master template so you can pre-configure the set up that students receive. The student is added to the blog with the WordPress Administrator role.
    • Teachers on the course who follow the student tool link will be taken to a WordPress page with a list of links to all the student blogs associated with the course.
    • If the Teacher clicks on one of the links, they are given the WordPress Author role and taken to the home page of the blog.

In terms of docs, it’d be really nice if there were a simple architectural diagram or two… plus a couple of screenshots showing what the integration looks like to the user… Anne-Marie’s tweeted presentation also had several screenshots which would be handy in a blog post, or even in the docs…

I think we’ve had issues before sorting out WordPress blogs for particular student activities on at least one of our courses, but I’m not sure how, or even if, they were resolved. If it was an auth issue, or a user management issue, this sort of approach might help?

By the by, Edinburgh are also behind Noteable, a Jupyter notebook service run by Edina that looks likely to be offered as a commercially hosted service. I’m not sure how VLE integration is likely to work for that and whether tools are in place to support similarly convenient user account creation, single sign-on, and personal file persistence? But I wonder if the Jupyter mutli-user solution would look something like this WordPress multi-user one, at least architecturally?

PS the OU Moodle / JupyterHub user journey is as follows. In the VLE, a link (I think this is the external LTI thing link?):

which logs the student in to a JupyterHub (temporary) notebook server launch page:

Simples… Though we haven’t yet sorted out persistent notebooks for students in their own JupyterHub account yet, let alone one linked to their Moodle / OU single sign-on credentials.

PPS in passing, there is also Jupyter LTI integration available for for Canvas.

PPPS Now I’m wondering what a Docker launching LTI Provider might look like? This LTI tool provider for sandboxed Docker Containers maybe? (although that example is docs-less…)

Related: [Fragment] Jupyter Notebooks and Moodle

Less Related: Using ThebeLab to Run Python Code Embedded in HTML Via A Jupyter Kernel

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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