Carnegie Mellon University
March 04, 2021

OLI Team Releases Learning Tool Library for Elixir Community

By Caroline Sheedy

Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is in the process of developing the next version of their flagship course delivery platform. The new platform, Torus, is currently available for production use by authors, instructors and students with new features and activities added monthly.

Building on the successes and lessons learned from the current OLI platform, Torus has been developed as an open-source project to serve the needs of the broader education community. Now, the OLI team has announced that they have made an updated library of tools available for that community to use.

The library is an implementation of IMS Global's Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) 1.3 standard, the first and only LTI implementation for the Elixir programming language. Developers can use it to create highly scalable tools that interoperate with learning management systems like Canvas or Blackboard.

Eli Knebel, a software engineer at OLI, explained that the library supports OLI’s core value of sharing resources, information and tools.

“We really like to focus on building things that not only will be useful to us at CMU and OLI, but that will contribute back to the community,” Knebel said. “Developers could create tools on their own, but they’d have to start from scratch. This allows for more collaboration and ultimately better tools to support learning experiences.”

Norman Bier, director of OLI and executive director of CMU’s Simon Initiative, said the dedication to open education is part of what will make Torus the future of adaptive courseware. He explained that by releasing the library to the open learning community, the team is accelerating better and more integrated educational technology. 

“Torus represents us doubling down on our commitment to open education—open learning materials on an open-source platform, supporting open science. We are building for our community of students and teachers on our OLI platform, but we are also engaging a larger population in learning science and evidence based approaches,” Bier said. 

Torus will be fully implemented by spring of 2022. Upgrades to the platform will include improved scalability, tool integrations and authoring, publishing analytics and an upgraded look-and-feel.