How do I get an external tool integrated in Blackboard?

Overview

Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) is an integration standard for third-party tools. The primary use of LTI is to allow a seamless connection between a web-based tool that is outside of the learning platform and the learning platform itself. LTI allows a secure exchange of information that enables a cohesive experience for users. Instructors place LTI links in their Blackboard course and when their students click on the link their email, name, and student role is included in the request to access the tool. Links will act as gateways to textbook publisher products, academic learning activities, virtual science experiments, immersive 360° virtual field trips, etc.  By expanding the capabilities of Blackboard courses, LTI paves the way for achieving a plug-and-play, future-ready digital learning ecosystem.

Table of Contents

Concerns Related to LTI

Because student data like assignment grades may be passed back and forth through the LTI, instructors should be aware of the following concerns related to the integration of third-party tools in Blackboard Learn. 

  • Privacy - The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) establishes requirements for protecting students’ education records. What personal information does the LTI integration expose/share in different configurations? There is also a growing desire by students to understand who their data is being shared with.
  • Compliance – The university has certain compliance requirements as outlined by the Higher Education Opportunity Act. It is important to ensure that the learning platform complies with these requirements.
  • Level of Integration – What kinds of information are minimally required to use an integrated LTI service?
  • Data Security – How is data treated for retention, transfer, ownership, protection, and backup?
  • Data Destruction – How is data treated after the university ends its relationship with the vendor? How is that notification to the vendor made?
  • Data Protection Agreement – does the university have a signed agreement with the vendor to protect university and student data?
  • Copyright/ownership  – Who has ownership of content and how content may be used by the vendor
  • Support for Users – does the university have a dedicated support team 
  • Accessibility  – ADA compliance is required 
  • Contractual terms – including the duration and cost of service; if the tool is paid by the college/department/instructor, notice should be given to the LTS when the service is discontinued

LTI Approval Process

The approval process for each tool will include reviews for functionality, accessibility, security, FERPA, legal, cost, as well as other factors. 

The general steps are as follows:

  1. Instructor submit request via a form - the following information is required to submit a request
    • Product Name
    • Link to Product Website
    • Brief Purpose of Tool (how the tool will be used and why and integration with Blackboard is needed
    • Link to Product Terms of Service Agreement
    • Link to Product Privacy Policy
    • Link to Product Voluntary Product Accessibility Template
    • License information: (a) a license is required and has been purchased; (b) a license is required but has NOT yet been purchased; (c) no license is required; (d) other - please explain.
    • Funding source (who is paying for the license)
  2. LMS Committee Review (academic use, support)
  3. Security Review (needs HECVAT, SOC2 Type 2 report, and any additional security information pertaining to assessment, certification, diagrams, etc.)
  4. Technology Solutions Change Advisory Board Review (security, privacy, accessibility) - Additional information may be requested after the initial review

See the Rubric for the LTI Review and an example of the rubric applied to evaluate a sample request. Because of the technical, accessibility, security, and other university policy requirements, the time between form submission and installation of the app on Blackboard Learn may vary from 4 to 8 weeks.

Type of LTI Tools Available in Blackboard

Resource Web Link
The instructor enters the URL, secret, and key for the resource link. When students select the tool, the LMS launches the student into the remote tool in a new browser window.

Deep Linking Content Tool
Allows instructors and course builders to launch the LTI tool and add content from the tool provider, rather than adding content through the Blackboard Learn interface. Link stays within the Blackboard interface.

The above tools can be made available to the entire UIC community or only to a college or course depending on the terms of purchase. Note that some tools are currently in pilot and may be available for use.

FAQs

  1. Who pays for a tool integrated in the LMS? If an LTI tool has a cost associated, the cost is the responsibility of the user or department making the request. Some tools that have campus wide usage and impact will be considered for central funding.
  2. When will faculty be notified of approval? As soon as a tool completes the steps outlined in step 2 above, the requestor will be notified of its approval.
  3. What happens if my LTI is not approved? If your LTI tool is not approved, you will be notified of the reasons that the LTI failed approval and alternate options will be offered (when applicable).
  4. Will an approved LTI stay available? LTIs will be reviewed every 2 years. Any LTIs found with no to minimal usage during the review will be slated for removal from the approved list. For free LTI tools, a change in cost will trigger an immediate review of the LTI.
  5. Who supports an approved LTI? Learning Technology Solutions will maintain proper integration of the tool in Blackboard Learn. For specific LTI support, please contact the vendor. Learning Technology Solutions will only support campus-wide approved tools.
  6. Who should I contact with questions? You can contact LTS with any questions. Please use this form to contact us.
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Details

Article ID: 1243
Created
Fri 1/15/21 6:35 PM
Modified
Tue 8/8/23 9:35 AM

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Blackboard is UIC's learning management system for course-related activities and grade reporting.