Blackboard: integrating with third party tools

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Introduction

Blackboard is able to integrate with a wide range of other web tools

  • to avoid users needing multiple logins
  • to allow those tools to be deployed within a Blackboard course
  • in some cases to allow assessment to be carried out in the external tool, but with marks passed back to the Grade Centre .

Turnitin is the most widely used of these integrations. Others include Campus Pack and Talis. There are also integrations with certain subject-specific tools such as Mobius (Maths) or to web-based content licensed by Schools from commercial publishers.

Before any third party tool can be integrated into Blackboard, there are procedures to be followed, to ensure that the proposed integration meets the technical standards demanded by the University, and that issues around data security, privacy and accessibility are fully considered.

The proposal will normally need to be approved by the Design Authority Group (DAG).

Your School’s IT Business Partner will be able to advise you, and help you complete the necessary paperwork.

 

Similar steps may also need to be followed before importing certain types of interactive content – for example SCORM packages – into Blackboard.

 

Further details of the process

IT and CQSD will work together to test proposed integrations, and to implement them once approved.

Questions to consider – when wishing to import interactive content

  • How were these interactive packages created?  For instance are they Blackboard building blocks, LTI tools or have they been created as SCORM packages?
  • What software package was used to create them?
  • What is their purpose?
  • How have they been tested and on what system?
  • Are any tables created in Blackboard as a result of using them?
  • Do they access information stored in Blackboard?
  • Is any information passed to a third party?
  • If so, what information is passed?
  • If information is passed, is this encrypted?
  • Do you have any documentation and/or technical specifications that you can provide?

Questions to consider – when wishing to set up a third party integration

  • How is the integration achieved?  For instance via a Blackboard building block, or LTI tool?
  • What is the purpose of the integration?
  • Are any tables created in Blackboard as a result of using the integration?
  • Does the third party tool need to access information stored in Blackboard?
  • Is any information passed to a third party?
  • If so, what information is passed?
  • If information is passed, is this encrypted?
  • Do you have any documentation and/or technical specifications that you can provide?

Process for installing third party plugins in Blackboard.

An outline of the process is:

  • Depending on how the plugin interacts with Blackboard, it may be necessary to get approval from the  Design Authority Group (DAG).  In this case you will need to involve your IT Business Partner.
  • Once approved, the plugin would be installed on our development environment (a cut-down version of Blackboard) to check that it can be installed correctly and functions as expected.
  • The next stage is to install on our Staging environment which has the same set-up and configuration as our Production environment.  Further testing and evaluation would be carried out.
  • Once successful testing and evaluation have been completed, final approval to install on our Production environment needs to be given by our Change Advisory Board.

Please note that your involvement will be required in the testing and evaluation, and in the production of a Business Case if approval is required from the Design Authority Group.