Is Your BlackboardGetting Its Five-a-Day?Planning & Controlling Your SIS IntegrationNicola Randles, Rob Oakes & Gareth HallStaffordshire University9thApril 2013
2Who Are We?• Business Applications Group• Information Services• Project leaders on Blackboard 9 since Easter2012
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
4Session Outline• Where are you now?• Why change?• How to change– Identifying stakeholders– Blackboard ‘diet’– Data mapping– SIS integration how-to• Reflection/Q & A
5Where Are You Now?SnapshotSnapshotNo Integration(Fully Manual)No Integration(Fully Manual)Semi-AutomatedSemi-AutomatedSIS IntegrationSIS Integration
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)
7Poll Us!What is your #1 issue with your current Bb integration?
8How to Change• ‘Clean sheet’ approach• Revisit business processes• Involvement of stakeholders• Identify current issues• Holistic perspective• Connecting your relevant systems – logicallyand technically
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
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]
11Technique 1: Use CaseA process –something thathappens withinthe businessfunctionAn actor–something thatinteracts withthe businessfunction toachieve aspecific goal
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
13Technique 1: Use CaseBenefits:• Identified people• Identified potentialentities and functionswithin SIS integration
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
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
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?
28Blending– Amalgamate your datasources into a single interfaceBlackboardSRSIDMgmt.Personnel Interface
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
30SIS Implementation• Core Concepts– Data Source Keys– File types– Transfer mechanisms• Practical Integration Implementation
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
32SIS Implementation• File types– XML– Flat file• Transfer mechanisms– HTTP POST– Manual upload– Web service (IMS only)
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!
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
35Poll ReviewWhat is your #1 issue with your current Bb integration?