The Blackboard Mobile Web Services Building Block enables Blackboard Learn to communicate with Blackboard's mobile product line:

You must configure and register the Mobile Web Services Building Block to enable it on your system.

Configure and register the Blackboard Mobile Web Services building block

  1. On the Administrator Panel in the Building Blocks section, choose Building Blocks.
  2. Select Installed Tools.
  3. Locate Blackboard Mobile Web Services Building Block and access its drop-down menu.
  4. Select Settings.
  5. Select Server Registration Settings and edit the settings. Learn more about each setting.
  6. Submit.
  7. Select Approve to confirm the building block's privileges. The Building Block page refreshes and displays a message that the building block was made available to the system.

Server registration settings

Server Registration Settings
Setting Function
System Administrator Contact Email Receives automated emails from Bb's mobile registration service (MLCS) to alert of possible outages, etc
End User Support Channel Not used in the apps. (Deprecated)
End User Support Channel Label Not used in the apps. (Deprecated)
Username Label Label for Username field in default login page in the apps. Only for Native authentication mode.
External URL of Learn Server This is the public URL of the Learn environment. Bb's registration service will use this to direct app requests to the Learn servers.

The external URL of Learn Server should not be set to an external authentication portal URL.

User-facing URL Not used in the apps. (Deprecated)
Name The name that students search for in the mobile apps to find your school.

To request additional search terms, please open a case with Blackboard Support and provide the names, URLs, and authentication modes for the requested search terms.
Environment Type More on environment type
Authentication Type More on authentication type

Environment type

There are four options for environment type: Production, Testing, Staging, and Development. Testing, Staging, and Development are all effectively the same. Under these configurations, the environment is only searchable through the Public ID within the apps. The Public ID is found at the top of the Mobile B2 Settings page. You can have as many Testing, Staging, and Development environments as desired. You can have only one Production environment unless otherwise specified in your contract. Production environments are searchable by the Name or the Public ID.

We recommend that you share the Public ID only with authorized employees for testing purposes. Blackboard reserves the right to change the Public ID at any time.

Only one production-mode registration is allowed per client ID by default. For co-production instances, please open a case with Blackboard Support.

Authentication type

The options for authentication type are:

  • Native - which uses the Blackboard native challenge-response authentication system or LDAP, if one of those has been configured for the Blackboard Learn instance.
  • Force to Web - which is the authentication type that handles custom or other authentication mechanisms that might be configured at your institution for use with all applications, including Blackboard. If this setting is checked, users are launched to the browser and re-directed to the institution's authentication page to login.
  • HTTP Authentication - encrypted password over HTTP. This option is not able to use with SSL.

Blackboard Mobile does not have a separate authentication mechanism. The Blackboard Mobile Web Services Building Block, which provides the back-end server functionality for Mobile apps, leverages the same authentication mechanisms that the institution uses for its Blackboard Learn instance. The two broad choices for the authentication mechanism are:

  1. Using the built-in Blackboard challenge-response authentication or LDAP (Native).

    -OR-

  2. Using a Web-based single sign-on mechanism for all applications throughout the institution (Force to Web).

How to point a Force to Web authentication type toward a custom external login page

In the BBLEARN/bb_bb60.system_registry table, there is a registry_key named url_to_login (replaced by mobile_url_to_login starting with 3200.7). This field controls the URL used for mobile app login. It does not affect the login page for traditional web browser access in any way. Sometimes it is not sufficient to simply point the URL at the external authentication portal if this does not automatically direct the user back to the Blackboard Learn instance.

You may need a returnURL or some other parameter to direct the session back to the Blackboard Learn environment authentication endpoint, depending on the authentication mechanism being used, such as Shibboleth integrated with Learn, AutoSignOn B2, and so on.

Note that this value should be the generic redirect, not be a specific SAML token, etc. More on how to obtain this value

For Blackboard Learn installations running 3200.7 or higher, the mobile B2 has a user interface to set this value without backend access. This value can be configured in Blackboard Mobile Web Services Building Block > Settings > Change Mobile Login URL.

If you have questions about configuring force to web authentication, please reach out to our Client Support team on Behind the Blackboard (available in English only).

To query the database:

Select * from BBLEARN.system_registry where registry_key = 'url_to_login' —OR— registry_key = 'mobile_url_to_login'

Alternatively, the value can be observed through a Mobile B2 API:

Blackboard Learn 3200.7 and prior:

<root URL>/webapps/Bb-mobile-[BB SaaS instance code —OR— BBLEARN —OR— bb_bb60 —OR— custom schema name]/systemRegistry?registry_key=url_to_login

Blackboard Learn 3200.7 and higher:

<root URL>/webapps/Bb-mobile-[BB SaaS instance code —OR— BBLEARN —OR— bb_bb60 —OR— custom schema name]/systemRegistry?registry_key=mobile_url_to_login

There is a 255 character limit for this value in the system_registry.registry_value field. For a value larger than this limit, you can use the system_registry.registry_long_value. The UI feature will use the correct field automatically. Note also that the ‘registry_long_value’ is not observable via the systemRegistry? API.

Firewall whitelisting to allow mobile traffic

Blackboard mobile products may require some modifications to your institution's network configuration (firewall/IP whitelist) to permit data to move between Blackboard Learn and Blackboard's mobile products.

Learn more about firewall whitelisting

Search names

The Blackboard Mobile Learn Central Registration System is a shared global cloud service that registers Learn instances and directs app client traffic to the appropriate registration. It's important to pick a search name that uniquely identifies your institution.
 
To prevent confusing search results, the registration system filters out common educational institution terms, such as:

  • school
  • college
  • university
  • universidad