Image of monitor with Bb logoA wide range of technologies and resources are available to faculty at UMBC to support teaching and learning in various online or hybrid modes in synchronization with Blackboard. Trends and tools evolve quickly, and DoIT recognizes faculty interest in exploring or using these newer technologies. Departments and faculty may request the installation of Blackboard integrations for new third-party technologies, products, and services to support teaching and learning.

These new instructional technologies must be evaluated by DoIT staff before they can be adopted, especially if they must be integrated with Blackboard through a Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). Before submitting your RT to request a new tool integration, please review the steps and resources below. 

First, be sure to check the list of current integrations to ensure we have not already adopted the tool or have approved another tool that may also meet your needs.

Plan Your New Tool Integration Request

Allow at least 90 days for your request to be evaluated and implemented. A full semester is preferred for implementation to ensure the tool or resource is ready and functional. A new tool cannot be installed 2 weeks before a semester starts or in the middle of a semester.

Why do you need so much time?

In addition to ensuring the tool will function as designed within Blackboard, DoIT staff require additional time to evaluate the authentication process with myUMBC, validate the security and privacy of student information and grades passing between Blackboard and the third-party tool, to secure training for instructional technology staff, and to prepare appropriate documentation for the users. 

General Questions to Ask Vendors 

Technical Questions to Ask Vendors 

  • How do students register for this tool? Are they required to...
    • Purchase a license?
    • Create an account separate from Blackboard?
       
  • How long do students have access to the platform after class ends?
     
  • What happens if a student switches sections or drops the course?
     
  • Who do we contact if your platform doesn’t work or stops working?
     
  • How do students obtain after-hours support for your platform?
     
  • What training and support do you provide faculty and instructional technology staff?
     
  • How does your platform support accessibility?

  • What is the cost for UMBC? 
     
  • What other institutions use your platform?
  • How is your integration developed?

  • What information does your integration send from Blackboard to your tool? (e.g., first/last name, email, username, role, courseID)
     

  • How do faculty add your integration to their course sites? (e.g., tool link or content links)

    • Does your integration support deep linking to content, activities, assessments, etc.?

    • Does your technical integration team provide custom LTI links to faculty each semester to place into the course shell?
       

  • Does your integration support passing of grades back to the LMS grade book?

    • How often does this data exchange happen? (e.g., daily vs. manual)
       

  • Does your integration support master course templates, course copy, and parent-child course enrollments?
     

  • Does your integration work with Blackboard’s SaaS environment?

  • Where is your integration hosted?
     

  • Does your integration support single-sign-on (e.g., Shibboleth)?

  • What analytics does your integration provide institutions?

Requirements for Engaging with Third-Party Vendors for Blackboard Integrations

DoIT staff should be involved during your demo and evaluation process so we can ask vendors questions about any possible Blackboard integration. Our staff will also be able to evaluate the tool and provide you with an honest assessment of its functionality for your expected use case. 

  • Third-party integrations for Blackboard are typically hosted solutions, some involving an institutional contract and/or licensing fee. If a contract is required, you must follow all procurement and legal requirements. DoIT works closely with procurement and legal services to review all cloud service applications to ensure they meet applicable requirements and regulations, such as FERPA. 
     
  • To initiate a new cloud service please submit a Software Request Form. If you have questions, please email Joe Kirby, kirby@umbc.edu.
     
  • The vendor should expect to offer a certain level of support to faculty/students and to DoIT system admins in the event the integration suffers a failure.  Time estimates for implementation are influenced by vendor and instructor response times. We will do our best to meet a requested deadline, but lack of feedback, support, and unforeseen issues can impact the implementation timeline.
     

Depending on your requested integration, you should also plan to involve the Office of Student Disability Services to ensure the integration complies with accessibility requirements.  

If students are expected to purchase the integration as part of a textbook bundle or in lieu of a textbook as a digital resource, please contact the UMBC Bookstore to ensure the ISBN is listed and/or to see if your integration may benefit from the Course Materials Initiative. 

Make Your Request for a New Tool Integration 

 Please open an RT ticket with Instructional Technology, add "New Tool Integration Request" in the subject line, and provide the following information:

  • Name of the tool or service
  • Version number (if available)
  • Vendor and website URL
  • Sales rep contact information (name, email, website)
  • Cost, if known, and responsible party for payment (Department, Division, etc.)
  • Target semester or date the tool is needed
  • Date(s) available for testing
  • Purpose of the tool or service, and how the tool will enhance your teaching
  • Courses(s) and instructors who will use this tool or service
  • Approximate number of students in the course(s)
  • References for other institutions that use this tool or service (preferably within the University System of Maryland)

Department & Faculty Responsibilities

During the evaluation and implementation process, the instructor who requested the tool or resource will be designated as the point of contact with Instructional Technology staff and will be asked to:

  • Assist with testing the tool or resource
  • Communicate with instructional technology staff and the vendor as needed
  • Notify students about using the tool or resource
  • Provide feedback on workflow and documentation

If appropriate to UMBC's Blackboard site, Instructional Technology staff will prepare specific documentation within the UMBC FAQs.

NOTE: DoIT will make every effort to thoroughly test a third-party resource before a new Blackboard update is installed -- however, there are circumstances when we will disable or uninstall a tool:

  •  If the tool no longer works with the latest version of Blackboard. As of the end of SP2018, we update monthly according to Blackboard's schedule.
  • If we determine that the tool negatively impacts critical components of the system it is intended to otherwise support.
  • If Blackboard advises us that a tool is causing compatibility issues within the cloud infrastructure.

We will make every effort to notify the campus community if this must happen.

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