Blackboard Integrations

Blackboard Integrations are code that extend the functionality of the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) used at Iowa State. They add new tools and capabilities to the system, usually by linking out to external vendors. Integrations may allow access to vendor content, extend grading or assignment capabilities, or provide an alternative to existing services. New Integrations come out all the time and many faculty are interested in being able to use them within their courses. In order to use Blackboard Integrations at Iowa State, they need to first go through the integration process.

Currently Installed Third Party Integrations

Blackboard Integrations Process

As exciting as it may be to use a new tool or access new content, it must be remembered that Blackboard is an indispensable part of Iowa State’s learning environment. As such, it must remain secure and stable: a poorly designed or tested Integration could compromise the system and lead to security breaches, system slowdowns, or even complete service interruptions.

In order to make sure that Blackboard functions as well as possible and maintains student confidentiality and security, the Blackboard Enterprise Team has developed a process that allows for testing and verifying any Integration before it is allowed to be used within Blackboard.

  1. Initial Integration Request

    In order to properly assess a third-party program, requestors need to provide some initial information. During this step, the requestor will provide a brief description of the integration, an overview of its academic value, and contact information for the vendor.

    1. Security Review

      During this step, ISU IT staff will send a questionnaire to the vendor asking them to identify their security procedures, privacy policy, and other factors that directly affect how student data is stored and transmitted. Failure to pass the Security review may result in the integration being disallowed.

    2. Functionality Review

      Concurrent with the Security Review, the vendor will be asked to provide information that describes the functional structure of the integration. This includes areas such as compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), support structures, and other areas dealing with end-user functionality.

  2. Contract Review

    This step consists of a review of the contract conditions, Terms of Service (TOS), End-User Licensing Agreements (EULA), and other conditions that the vendor wishes either Iowa State or the faculty and student end users to be bound by. The Purchasing Department has primary responsibility for carrying out this step and will engage the Office of University Counsel and the Registrar’s Office, as needed.

  3. Testing

    Before the integration can be made available to the campus community, it will first be loaded on a Blackboard test server. During this step, IT staff will thoroughly test the integration to be sure that it functions as described and does not present any security or reliability concerns.

  4. Integration

    Assuming that test results and contract terms are acceptable, the integration will then be loaded onto the Blackboard production server and made available for use.

  5. Usage Monitoring

    Once the integration is in place, staff will monitor its usage levels to determine that it remains a viable tool. If the integration is no longer needed or used, it may be removed.

A more detailed version of this process is available in the document Integration of Third-Party Extensions to Blackboard .