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Third-Party Blackboard

Extensions and Add-Ons 

Are you… Considering inclusion of online publisher materials to enhance your course?  Can you… Be sure that Blackboard interfaces described as “seamless” will be easy for you and your students to use?  Do you know… If Purdue’s Blackboard environment already includes your publisher’s add-on?  If not, how do you request that it be considered for installation?  Who will provide support if you have problems?

Add-Ons are Blackboard integration modules provided by textbook publishers to allow synchronization of student data between the publishers’ servers and an institution’s Blackboard  environment, such as building blocks or LTI interfaces.

1) Make an informed decision

ITaP’s desire is to help faculty make informed decisions regarding third-party resources they incorporate into their courses.  Working with ITaP early, even if you’re only considering adoption, allows time for an approval process which explores details necessary to understand shared needs, discover technical implications, define implementation timeline, and identify support processes. 

2) Expect the assessment process to take time

At least 2 months… The time required from your request submission to implementation will take at least 2 months, assuming all goes smoothly.    One semester… The lead time recommended to be certain the add-on is ready for your class.  To be sure, request it one semester in advance.

Why does it take so long?

Because student data is involved, there are many ways it can be at risk when it is housed online. To ensure that it’s kept secure and private, we need to talk to the vendor about end-user agreements, security issues, and support responsibilities. ITaP also needs to thoroughly test the add-on to be sure that it integrates well with Bb and functions as you expect.


3) Faculty responsibilities

  • We can’t say it often enough:  Start the process early. To have the add-on ready for your course, please allow us at a minimum two months, but preferably one semester for the vetting process.
  • Ask the vendor questions. See the section below for suggestions on what to ask.  If you would like our help, contact us at tlt-consulting@lists.purdue.edu  
  • During the review process and implementation of this add-on, the requestor will be considered the primary liaison with ITaP. 
  • We may need you to:
    • Assist with testing
    • Communicate with others in your department about the add-in
    • Work actively with the vendor as needed
    • You will be responsible for informing your students about using the add-in.    


4) When talking to a vendor, keep in mind the following

    • Vendors are trying to make a sale.
    • Beware of phrases such as “seamless integration.” Previous experience informs us that ITaP staff must work through issues to get products to work as designed.
    • ITaP’s support is limited to that which we control. We cannot control issues that occur on third-party sites.
    • We strive to give a reliable estimate of time to implementation; however, vendor responsiveness and unforeseen issues can affect original time estimates. Vendor claims regarding implementation time do not account for ITaP’s procedures for security, testing, and installation.

5) Questions to ask the vendors:

      • What happens when students switch sections or drop the class?
      • If your add-in doesn’t work, who at your company do I call?”
      • What about off-hours support, especially for students?
      • What other institutions are using this product? 
      • Is there a cost for Purdue?
      • Is there a cost for students?
      • What does the student need to do to register?
      • How will accounts synch?

6) Caution:

While ITaP makes every attempt to test add-ons thoroughly, unforeseen issues may, and do, occur. If ITaP determines that a vendor’s extension or add-on causes a problem that affects faculty or student productivity, it may be uninstalled by ITaP. ITaP will make every attempt to contact instructors impacted by the removal.


7) Is my vendor’s integration already installed?

List of Purdue’s currently installed building blocks and vendor integrations.


8) Are you ready to make your request?

You will want to make your request using our online form, but first, gather the following information:

        • Name (and version number if available) of tool or service
        • Vendor name
        • Web site URL
        • Sales rep contact information
        • Cost, if known
        • Date and semester needed  
        • Purpose of the tool or service and how it will enhance your teaching
        • Courses(s) and instructors that will use this tool or service
        • Approximate number of students in the course(s)

9) Enter your request