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Blackboard Integration Policy

Policies Regarding the Building Blocks, LTIs, Extensions or Add-Ons that May Be Integrated or Otherwise Interact with the LMS

Rationale for the Process of Approving Blackboard Integrations

The rationale for creating a policy regarding Blackboard integrations is that the Delphi Center will consider system security, student data integrity, application functionality, Blackboard performance, Follett integration consent and overall university compliance. Please note that a request for “your” integration to be placed into Blackboard affects the entire system, including all courses.

Terms and Descriptions

  • The designated university learning management system (LMS) at the University of Louisville currently is Blackboard (Bb).
  • Building blocks, or blocks, are small applications integrated into the Blackboard LMS that extend the usability and functionality of Blackboard, aid in the administration of Blackboard, or otherwise provide customization. Blocks installed into Bb range from providing simple links to outside systems to sharing student data or adding additional course tools.
  • LTI, Learning Tools Interoperability, is an integration that can be used with an LMS to connect with external service tools.
  • Integration refers to the process of and result of embedding third-party applications into Blackboard.
  • Any third-party application that has an interaction with Blackboard will be noted as an “integration” in this document even though applications can take many forms within the system.

Process for Implementing Blackboard Integrations

In the past, Learning Management Systems (LMS) support in the Delphi Center has been contacted directly by building block or integration vendors and/or individual faculty about installing integrations. A policy is needed to help structure the management of the increased amount of integration requests. In order to meet the most critical needs of the university, LMS support has developed a procedure. The support Team will provide a consistent and timely response to all requests.

  1. The steps a faculty member should take to initiate an integration of digital or physical content are as follows:

    Per the university’s contract with the bookstore vendor, Follett, all proposed integrations must be researched by Follett to gain integration consent.
    1. Contact Andrea Herrera, campus bookstore manager, at (502)852-5431 or aherrera@follett.com
    2. Provide the name of the vendor, contact information if any, and the desired content provided by this integration.
    3. Andrea will work with the Follett research department to supply content or establish a relationship with the specified vendor to acquire and deliver desired content.
    4. Follett provides information to the Delphi Center for linking within the course shell, gradebook synching and any other features or functions desired in the LMS.
    Please contact Andrea Herrera at (502)852-5431 or aherrera@follett.com if you have any questions about this process.
  2. Once Follett contacts the Delphi Center with consent for the integration to proceed, the requestor is required to complete a request form. This form needs to be fully completed by the instructor or user intending to use the integration.

    Here are some considerations for the requestor:
  3. The requestor will be the primary contact for the integration process and as such will need to set aside time to work with the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning, Information Technology, the vendor and any other university department, or entity, that may be affected or needed for the integration.
  4. The requestor will be the primary tester and will have to perform testing in the LMS “testing” environment. Please note the requestor may be required to interact directly with the vendor throughout the testing process.
    1. Realize that a request and implementation, if approved, can take one to three months and sometimes longer.
    2. Keep in mind the initial start date required for your integration. Follett and the LMS will need a minimum of one semester for approvals, testing and implementation.
    3. By submitting the request, the requestor agrees to be the point of contact for the implementation process.
    4. By submitting the request, the requestor agrees to be the primary tester or designated tester.
    5. The request form requires such information as the contact information for the third-party vendor in addition to the institutional benefit, costs involved and an estimate of how many instructors or users would be using the integration.
    6. The integration will be analyzed in many ways including its compatibility and impact on Blackboard.
  5. After the request is received, the Delphi Center will notify the requester within five working days as to the status of the request.
  6. The requestor will be involved throughout the evaluation process so please ensure you or your tester have time for testing, analysis and consultation with the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning, vendor or developer as needed.

    **Please note that each integration is unique and there are circumstances that can affect the timelines for testing and implementation, vendor responsiveness, time for requestor to complete testing and complexity of the integration, can all affect the time need for implementation.
  7. The evaluation process may include, but is not limited to the following: IT policies, Follett integration process and requirements, University of Louisville policies, FERPA guidelines, financial considerations, user surveys, Blackboard Advisory Committee review, Delphi Center Advisory Committee review, Delphi Center director’s approval, comparable higher education adoption and compatibility testing
  8. After the evaluation process the requestor will be notified.
    1. If approved, the requestor will be notified of the implementation date.
    2. Implementation date may be affected by university and Information Technology schedules.
    3. If not approved, the requestor will be notified with the reason(s) the application was not integrated.

Addendum

  1. LMS support will attempt to assist with integration functionality issues when appropriate, however support may be limited to and provided by the vendor/developer only.
  2. A timeline will be provided for the integration request. However priority will be given to existing Blackboard building blocks, LTIs and other integrations.
  3. If an upgrade or patch to the Blackboard system renders an integration inoperable, it is the responsibility of the vendor to provide the Delphi Center with an updated version or specific fix for that integration. Blackboard upgrades will always take precedence over integrations and as such could render some integrations inoperable for some time after an upgrade or until a fix is provided.
  4. The Delphi Center maintains the right to disable or remove an integration or building block if a security vulnerability or any other university or system issue arises after the building block, LTI or other integration has been deployed in the production environment.
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