M39 - External Tool (LTI)

Keywords: LTI, external tool, integration, single sign on, access, systems

LTI Warning

Please note. No LTI integrations should be added to any UCL Moodle course unless it has been authorised and agreed with Digital Education and the Moodle Support team. LTI integrations can detrimentally affect our live Moodle environment and all LTI should pass through our internal technical checks. Also please note LTI integrations take data and pass that data to a third party source. The transmission of data MUST be agreed and reviewed by both ISD information security group and the UCL Data Protection Officer. Adjustments will be required to UCL Moodle Privacy and Data protection statements to ensure users are informed of that data transmission.

If you have a new LTI (external tool) for integration that you wish to use in Moodle, please contact the Digital Education team. Please allow plenty of time for technical review and data protection activities to take place.

What is it?

The External tool activity module enables students to interact with learning resources and activities on other websites. For example, an external tool could provide access to a new activity type or learning materials from a publisher.

Why use it?

To create an external tool activity, a tool provider which supports LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) is required. Moodle editors can create an external tool activity or make use of a tool configured by the site administrator.

External tool activities differ from URL resources in a few ways:

  • External tools are context aware, i.e. they have access to information about the user who launched the tool, such as institution, course and name (You must consider GDPR Regulations)
  • External tools support reading, updating, and deleting grades associated with the activity instance
  • External tool configurations create a trust relationship between your site and the tool provider, allowing secure communication between them

Who can use it?

  • Tutors/ Course Administrators with a working LTI can integrate into any course independently
    • N.B. If there are problems Digital Education might be limited in the support they can provide

Before I start...

You will need to ensure you have the relevant information from the company whose LTI you wish to use. 

How do I set one up?

Add an External Tool (LTI) quick guide:

  • Navigate to your Moodle course.
  • From the top level drop down menu "More" select LTI External tools
  • Click on the Add tool button.
  • This will take you to the settings page titled Adding a new external tool. If the external tool has not been configured by the administrator, you will need to know the correct Tool URL, consumer key and shared secret. These should have been provided to you by the managers of the LTI compliant website you are going to be connecting to.
  • Add the following details (NB you'll need to click Show advanced to access the consumer key and shared secret fields).
    • Activity name  - give the title you wish the students to see on the course page
    • Preconfigured tool  - this is how Moodle communicates with the tool provider. If in doubt, leave as default. If your administrator has made a tool available sitewide, you will be able to select it here.
    • (Secure) Tool URL - This is the URL for connecting to site, if not using a preconfigured tool. (Note, you only need to add a tool URL, but make sure it starts with https:// (i.e. it is secure).
    • Consumer key - This tells the connecting LTI compliant site that your Moodle is allowed to connect. The "tool provider", i.e. the manager of the connecting LTI compliant site will issue you with this key. If you are merely linking to a tool with no secure access or gradebook sharing then you won't need a consumer key.
    • Shared secret  - This is the "password" to connect to the tool - the LTI compliant site.
    • Once you have entered all the details click Save and return to course.

Further help

Further guidance on External Tool (LTI) are available from Moodle Docs.

If you find any inaccurate or missing information you can even update this yourself (it's a communal wiki).

If you have a specific question about the tool please contact the Digital Education team.


External Tools are difficult for Digital Education to support as they rely mostly on external companies.

They also have wider implications for things such as data protection, especially when you are sharing students' information (usernames/ emails will be required in most cases) with an external company or institution.

If you are using an activity shared by another institution that means student information will be sent back to that institution, as well as being available for you to see, and therefore, you will need to have a data protection agreement with that institution.

Examples and case studies

Some of the LTI-compatible tools include the following. There are others that you may use if you have the correct information from the tool manager (e.g. URL, consumer key, shared secret.)