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LTI integration for Mahara

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4729

28 December 2016, 13:21

With the maturing of ePortfolio use at schools and universities, more and more look into connecting Mahara to their learning management system (LMS).

Currently, Mahara and Moodle have a tight integration, which does not only allow for single sign-on (SSO) between the two but also the transfer of certain activity content from Moodle to Mahara and the assessment of Mahara portfolios directly in Moodle.

Institutions that work with a different LMS cannot take advantage of this tight integration and either have to make do without it and employ work-arounds or develop custom solutions that can be costly to maintain.

One possibility to get around the issue of creating custom functionality specific to one LMS at a time is to develop a generic interface based on the Learning Technologies Interoperability (LTI) standard. LTI is already supported by a large number of popular LMS and thus would cover a majority of institutions, including those using Moodle.

The LTI integration project consists of three major phases:

  1. Implement SSO via LTI;
  2. Analyse how best to support portfolio-specific functionalities via LTI;
  3. Implement portfolio-specific functionalities.

Implement SSO via LTI

The first step would be to create a modern LTI plugin that allows for:

  • Single sign-on between an LMS and Mahara;
  • The creation of accounts on the fly when learners come from the LMS for the first time;
  • The support of Mahara instances with multiple institutions set up.

Support portfolio-specific functionalities

Many institutions would like to be able to assess Mahara portfolios via LTI and pass information into their LMS's gradebook. Currently, LTI does not support a third-party performing the grading on an LTI activity. Only the learners access the LTI activity and perform actions. Thus, we would need to find a way to allow for the grading of a Mahara portfolio on Mahara and passing the results back to the LMS.

This requires careful analysis of the use cases that are in play for the portfolio submission and how they can be realized on Mahara with the ePortfolio system passing grade information back into the LMS will be conducted.

That does not only have technical implications but also pedagogical ones due to questions like:

  • Where is grade information stored in Mahara and how is it made available?
  • What assessment functionality is replicated and what can be passed on to the LMS for processing?
  • How can the ePortfolio become the record of learning and receive LMS content and grades / assessment results?

Once the requirements have been gathered and the technical capabilities reviewed, the feature design will be made, and the effort to implement this functionality will be advised.


We received an increased level of questions around LTI integration over the past month. Since it has become important for many institutions to integrate their portfolio with LMSs other than Moodle, the Mahara project makes LTI integration a development priority for 2017 and is prepared to implement phase 1, SSO support, in Mahara 17.04 if the majority of the funding is available by the end of January 2017.

Seeking funding

The Mahara project invites institutions and individuals to contribute to the development and investigation efforts for all three phases. If you are interested in contributing towards this development work, please get in touch with me to discuss your level of contribution.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4729

27 January 2017, 12:31


We are happy to announce that Instructure, the developer of Canvas, is coming on board for the LTI implementation in Mahara. The team at Catalyst will implement phase 1 to get the project started. We will work closely with Canvas throughout the project to also implement assignment submission functionality.

We look forward to this collaboration and providing the Mahara community with LTI functionality not just for account access but also deeper integration between other LTI compatible platforms. The proof of concept will be conducted with Canvas, and we'll provide updates as well as ideas for the tighter integration work flows as they become available.




Julian Ridden's profile picture
Posts: 37

08 February 2017, 17:53

Thanks for sharing the fantastic news about the new LTI work.

Canvas is huge on open standards and we are very excited to be able to help bring this fantastic open standard to Mahara.

Stay tuned for more announcements as development continues.


Sigi's profile picture
Posts: 102

15 February 2017, 6:12

Dear Julian,

Oh, very happy to read about this development and to see that you are still with us 😁 in a way.  Anyway this is a good move and will help spreading Mahara further.  



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