Effective edtech APIs to supercharge learning management system functionality, organized by quizzes and exams, assessments, curriculum management, and communication.
•Published: Jan 21, 2021
Learning management systems are a type of education technology designed to enable educators to organize and distribute curriculum and coursework. Increasingly more school systems, teachers, universities, students, and parents use learning management systems (LMS) and similar platforms to power in-classroom, hybrid, or remote learning models.
With increased public focus on learning management systems, product managers are exploring how they can continue to advance their tool’s capabilities to remain competitive.
Nick Chen, head of product for Kiddom, an LMS with a built-in virtual classroom, says community-building features such as video and in-app messaging were particularly crucial for the company to integrate in early 2020 when many students transitioned to distance learning. “We’ve been going at lightspeed to build more communication functionality into Kiddom,” he explains.
Rather than have developer teams build advanced features from scratch to support learning management systems, such as messaging and video chat, activity feeds, and gradebooks, smart product managers embrace third-party API (application programming interface) solutions. APIs efficiently and effectively add valued capabilities to serve edtech’s core users better.
There are many third-party APIs designed to reduce developer redundancies through seamless integration. Here are ten APIs that learning management systems find valuable, organized by functionality.
Quizzes & Exams
Delivering online exams versus in-person exams is not a simple task. Whereas preventing cheating in a classroom can be as simple as requiring the removal of smartphones and placing test takers apart from one another, virtual examinations must include features such as timed answers, unique access passcodes, and more. Digital exams and quizzes should also export results for seamless grading and assignment management. These APIs help teachers and professors optimally create and proctor online quizzes, tests, and final exams.
Canvas LMS APIs
Instructure’s Canvas APIs help developers implement a variety of must-have LMS functionality, such as gradebook upkeep. Canvas’ Gradebook APIs include managing gradebook history, gradebook periods, and gradebook changes organized by student, course, assignment, or grader.
Pricing: Contact Canvas for pricing details.
Popular with professional organizations and schools alike, the ClassMarker API helps educators build customizable tests with features such as video and audio, multiple-choice, real-time test result exports, integrated user IDs, and more. ClassMarker is also GDPR compliant.
Pricing: Free, or $40 per month for advanced features; Bulk Credit Packs range from $25 to $1,000
ProProfs Quiz Maker
This API enables professors, teachers, and business professionals to easily create customizable quizzes and exams, and automated grading processes. Extra necessary: ProProfs includes functionality that helps prevent online exam cheating, such as time limits for each question, randomized questions, and private links to avoid unauthorized access.
Pricing: Free, or $0.50 per quiz taker per month for advanced features
Understanding what courses students should be placed in is challenging: Students must be challenged in order to learn, but if a course is too difficult, they can lose motivation, and either drop the class or perform poorly. The below assessment solutions help identify where students are at — and where they need to go. From sophisticated “branching” assessments to beautifully designed surveys (which are excellent for assessing foreign language comprehension), the below options are top considerations to integrate into your LMS.
A sophisticated student assessment API that goes beyond letter grading, Learnosity’s goal is to bring personalization into large school systems. For instance, Learnosity’s “branching” feature uses pre-configured paths to make it easy for educators to design tests and quizzes to meet each student’s individual needs. Learnosity’s other features include flexible scoring and hints, and sample answers.
Pricing: Three tiers: Standard, Scale, and Enterprise. Contact Learnosity for pricing.
Engaging, easy-to-integrate survey forms are ideal for teachers to survey students or assess their language comprehension skills. Typeform specializes in creating “people-friendly” forms that mimic a real conversation. That means one question appears at a time, and thoughtful prompts for more engaged answers. Typeform’s three APIs (Create, Responses, Webhooks) and Embed SDKs offer more customization and seamless integration for websites or apps.
Pricing: Starting from $35 per month; supports up to 1,000 responses
Organizing curricula is harder than it seems — especially if educators are tasked with teaching more than one course at the same time. And for higher ed establishments such as universities — which must manage hundreds or even thousands of classes — curriculum and coursework management is essential. These APIs can integrate into your LMS to improve or add curriculum management functionality.
DigArc CURRICULOG API
DigArc’s Curriculog API is for higher ed institutions that have evolving courses requiring change approval from professors and department heads. The product streamlines workflows and keeps track of course updates. This enables end users — students, teachers, administrators, and parents — to view up-to-date classes in a streamlined dashboard.
The company’s Acalog is another API solution that allows learning management systems to integrate real-time, interactive course catalog information (think, videos, photos and social media) into a website. The result? Sky-high student engagement.
Pricing: Contact DigArc for pricing
Google Classroom APIs
A commonly used API to help educators organize student data, duplicate classes, and view and modify lessons, Google Classroom is a part of Google’s G Suite for Education, a suite of products that help educators manage curriculum, communicate with students, grade, create course content, and more. Integrate your app or platform by using the Classroom API, which consists of courses, classwork, and teacher and student management.
Pricing: Free; Contact Google for G Suite for Education pricing
An essential capability for synchronous virtual classrooms and learning management systems (meaning that students learn simultaneously rather than on their own), features such as in-app or in-platform messaging and video chat are paramount to practical learning tools. The following APIs are examples of sterling integrations that can fuel LMS communication.
Blackboard Learn APIs
Blackboard is a popular LMS used in school districts and universities across the United States, and the company’s suite of APIs enables developers to add advanced functionality to edtech tools. For example, Blackboard’s course messages API streamlines communication with all class members.
Pricing: Contact Blackboard for pricing details
Dolby Video & Voice
Lauded for crystal clear video and audio integration, Dolby’s API is a favorite among top edtech LMS (such as Kiddom) for built-in noise suppression, dynamic audio leveling, and lifelike communication experiences.
Pricing: $.0045 per minute for Pay As You Go, up to 5 million minutes per month; Contact Dolby for Enterprise pricing
A next-level chat API designed to help app developers go to market in weeks rather than months, Stream Chat is rife in edtech-perfect features, such as moderation, profanity-mitigating blocklists, threads, replies, emojis, gifs, and much more. Stream also provides Activity Feed APIs.
Pricing: $499 per month for the Startup plan; $1,299 for the Standard plan; $2,299 for the Premium plan. Contact Stream for Enterprise pricing
Go To Market Faster with APIs
APIs are a top way learning management systems can provide a streamlined end-user experience. And with well-designed SDKs, LMS APIs can quickly integrate into edtech solutions, and go-to-market rapidly.
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