Is Your Blackboard Getting Its Five-a-Day?

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  • 1. Is Your BlackboardGetting Its Five-a-Day?Planning & Controlling Your SIS IntegrationNicola Randles, Rob Oakes & Gareth HallStaffordshire University9thApril 2013
  • 2. 2Who Are We?• Business Applications Group• Information Services• Project leaders on Blackboard 9 since Easter2012
  • 3. 3Objectives & Takeaways• What this session is about…– Planning your Bb integration• What this session is not about…– Step-by-step technical guide to SIS• By the end of this session you should know…– What to feed Blackboard– When to feed it– Some planning tools and strategies– How to implement your plan
  • 4. 4Session Outline• Where are you now?• Why change?• How to change– Identifying stakeholders– Blackboard ‘diet’– Data mapping– SIS integration how-to• Reflection/Q & A
  • 5. 5Where Are You Now?SnapshotSnapshotNo Integration(Fully Manual)No Integration(Fully Manual)Semi-AutomatedSemi-AutomatedSIS IntegrationSIS Integration
  • 6. 6Why Change?• No Integration (Fully Manual)/Semi-Automated– Time-consuming and error-prone– Mismatches with other systems• Snapshot– Deprecated from Bb9 SP8– Not user-friendly – command-line• Student Information System (SIS) DataIntegration Framework– Easy to support– Includes latest Bb objects (e.g. Terms)
  • 7. 7Poll Us!What is your #1 issue with your current Bb integration?
  • 8. 8How to Change• ‘Clean sheet’ approach• Revisit business processes• Involvement of stakeholders• Identify current issues• Holistic perspective• Connecting your relevant systems – logicallyand technically
  • 9. 9Identifying Stakeholders• Why?– Promotes ownership of business processes– Identifies areas of potential change– Understand who’s involved– Gain experience and insight• Implications for our SIS integration– All courses created automatically– One-to-one mapping– All staff given Blackboard accounts
  • 10. 10Identifying Stakeholders• How? – Modelling– Models help us by letting us work at a higher level ofabstraction. A model may do this by hiding or masking details,bringing out the big picture, or by focusing on different aspectsof the prototype. [UML User Guide]• Technique 1: Use Case– A view of a system that emphasizes the behavior as it appearsto outside users. …Partitions system functionality intotransactions that are meaningful to users. [Introduction to UML]• Technique 2: Business Domain Model– Conceptual model of all the topics related to a specificproblem. It describes the various entities, their attributes, roles,and relationships, plus the constraints that govern the problemdomain. [UML User Guide]
  • 11. 11Technique 1: Use CaseA process –something thathappens withinthe businessfunctionAn actor–something thatinteracts withthe businessfunction toachieve aspecific goal
  • 12. 12Exercise: Use Case• Example: Online teaching and learningbusiness function– Who are the actors?– What is their involvement?– Can you include them in your planning?– What are the processes?Please split into groups of ~4 and have a go
  • 13. 13Technique 1: Use CaseBenefits:• Identified people• Identified potentialentities and functionswithin SIS integration
  • 14. 14Technique 2: Business Domain Model
  • 15. 15What Next?YourBusinessBlackboard…Now let’s consider Blackboard
  • 16. 16Blackboard Diet – 5+ a Day• What can it eat?– Users– Terms– Courses– Course memberships– Organisations– Organisation memberships
  • 17. 17Blackboard Diet – UsersAcademic Staff Admin Staff StudentsUsers
  • 18. 18Blackboard Diet – User Drill-Down
  • 19. 19Blackboard Diet• What should you feed it? A lean diet!– What’s the purpose of your Bb system?– What data is relevant to your purposes?– Don’t overfeed your system– Who will be the data owner of each field? E.g. Surname 
  • 20. 20Blackboard Diet• When should you feed it?– How fresh should your data be?– Options: Store Refresh Delete– Decide your feeding schedule– Review your feeding schedule
  • 21. 21What Next?YourBusinessBlackboard…Data Mapping – Slice / Dice / Blend
  • 22. 22Slicing - Map Bb entities to one or more datasources• Issues with doing this with brought-in systemsYourBusinessBlackboard??????
  • 23. 23Exercise: Slicing• What are your relevant data sources?• What Bb entities do they map to?Have a go in your groups
  • 24. 24Exercise: Slicing
  • 25. 25Dicing – Map Bb attributes to fields in yourdata sources• Look at the Bb entity’s attributes– Stick to your lean diet!– Not malnourished!• Map attributes using a data-driven approach -look at what is stored, not how• Look at issues of consistency both in a singledata-source and across multiple ones• Identify missing data– Use Blackboard or create a new source?
  • 26. 26Dicing – Missing Data
  • 27. 27Dicing – Missing Data
  • 28. 28Blending– Amalgamate your datasources into a single interfaceBlackboardSRSIDMgmt.Personnel Interface
  • 29. 29Blending• Advantages– Provides a level of data agnosticism should thingschange– One main place to look for problems– Makes it easier to apply consistency between disparatedata sources• Disadvantages– More upfront development– An extra link in the chain
  • 30. 30SIS Implementation• Core Concepts– Data Source Keys– File types– Transfer mechanisms• Practical Integration Implementation
  • 31. 31SIS Implementation• Data Source Keys– Conceptual container– Way of organising and categorising– Why use them? Makes archiving easier Separates your data from ‘system’ data– Examples One per academic year One per entity– Consider applicability to different entities
  • 32. 32SIS Implementation• File types– XML– Flat file• Transfer mechanisms– HTTP POST– Manual upload– Web service (IMS only)
  • 33. 33Practical Demonstration• Example of how to set up SIS Integrations inBlackboard• Demonstration is not all-encompassing!• In reality, this is the culmination of yourdiscussions and planning – should be easieras you’ve planned properly!
  • 34. 34Conclusion: SIS – Advantages for Us• Speed of access to VLE for students aftermodule enrolment– Much positive feedback received• Easy for IS staff to answer queries• Involvement of stakeholders/actors meansknowledge of processes is less siloed• Impetus to enhance virtual learning provisionat our institution
  • 35. 35Poll ReviewWhat is your #1 issue with your current Bb integration?
  • 36. 36Q&A/Reflection