The Blackboard Partner Cloud streamlines our inventory of content integrations into a single registration and activation process. While eliminating the challenges of managing old and new building block versions, the Blackboard Partner Cloud also accelerates the delivery of new partner features and product updates. And at the same time, sensitive student data remains private and secure.
In moving to this technology, Blackboard will continue to incorporate best practices and deploy consistent and native Blackboard Learn workflows for all partner integrations, including:
- Single sign-on provides instructors and students with the convenience of one login for all course resources.
- Automated gradebook refresh ensures all assignment grades appear in the Blackboard Grade Center, saving instructor's time.
- Deep linking functionality gives faculty greater control over how they deliver information and provides students easy access to their course work.
- Compliance with student data privacy laws, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), ensures sensitive student information remains protected and secure.
The Partner Cloud is available to institutions through the free Partner Cloud Building Block. You must first install and configure the building block and make it available. Then you can configure the individual partner integrations you would like to make available for faculty and students.
- The Partner Cloud Building Block is available for clients licensing Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack (SP) 13 or later.
- The Partner Cloud Building Block requires that Cloud Services be enabled. Other Cloud features, such as Profiles, are optional.
- The latest patches must be installed for the Partner Cloud Building Block to function properly.
- The Blackboard Learn environment must be reachable by the external Cloud Services through any firewall or security software. This includes any test or development environments that will need access to the Cloud.
What if my institution is currently using one of the legacy publisher Building Blocks from Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill, Pearson or WileyPLUS?
Legacy content partner integration Building Blocks for McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Pearson, WileyPLUS, and Cengage Learning will continue to exist and be maintained for a period of time. If your institution is currently using these building blocks, please continue to do so and install the Partner Cloud Building Block to access Partner Cloud integrations.
Are the Partner Cloud integrations FERPA compliant? What information is passed between Blackboard Learn and partners via the Partner Cloud?
In working together to integrate Partner Cloud partner content into Blackboard Learn, Blackboard and its partners are very conscious of FERPA law and privacy issues associated with student information. As a result, data sharing and storage is limited to institutional information and encrypted unique identifiers only, and sensitive student information is not shared between Blackboard and Macmillan or stored in the cloud.
The integration of Blackboard Learn and Partner Cloud partner systems follows the Basic LTI (Learning Tool Interoperability) standard for open interoperability of learning tools. The Partner Cloud Building Block passes Institution Name, Shared Secret, and Consumer Key to the partner. Blackboard Learn never shares any sensitive student information (such as their Blackboard IDs) with the partner by default. To establish the single sign-on into partner systems, Blackboard Learn sends only a unique identifier to the partner using industry-standard encryption. This encrypted identifier is completely opaque to the partner, as it is encrypted by Blackboard Learn and may not be directly traced back to a Blackboard user.
The local campus Blackboard administrator has complete control over how much additional information to share between Blackboard Learn and the partner. For example, the Blackboard administrator can choose whether or not to share the name of courses and users. If enabled, this basic information is simply displayed to users to improve their overall experience; however, none of this information is shared unless the local Blackboard administrator explicitly allows it.
All data transmitted between Blackboard Learn and the partner is signed and securely transmitted over SSL. This security ensures that the information is 100% secure and protected at all times. Upon completion of a partner assignment deployed in Blackboard Learn, the partner encrypts the score and transmits it to Blackboard Learn over TLS using encrypted identifiers. Blackboard Learn receives the score from the partner and records it into the Blackboard Learn Grade Center.
What effect will disabling the Partner Cloud Building Block have on instructors and students who were previously using one of the Partner Cloud integrations in their courses?
If the Partner Cloud Building Block is disabled or uninstalled, the links to partner content within the Blackboard Learn course will not work. The instructor will need to delete or hide these links from student view. The partner links within the Course Tools area will disappear automatically.
Depending on the specific partner integration, instructors and students may be able to access their partner content directly via the appropriate partner website using their partner account credentials. In this case, no student participation or performance data will be lost.
How do instructors get started with the Partner Cloud integrations?
After the individual partner integrations have been configured and made available through the Partner Cloud Building Block, instructors will be able to access the partner content from within their Blackboard Learn courses. All Partner Cloud integrations can be accessed by selecting Content Market under the Publisher Content tab in all course content areas. The first time an instructor accesses the partner content, they will be prompted to register with the partner and associate their partner content with their Blackboard Learn course. This is a first and one-time registration process.
How do students get started with Partner Cloud integrations?
When an instructor adds partner content to their course, a direct link will be embedded in their Blackboard Learn course. The first time a student selects this link, they will be prompted to register with the partner and either enter a pre-purchased access code or purchase the code at that point. This is a first and one-time registration process. Moving forward, when the student selects an embedded link, they will be taken directly to the partner content.
If Profiles are enabled at my institution, how does that affect the instructor and student experience with Partner Cloud integrations?
If the Institution has turned on Cloud Profiles, users accessing the Partner Cloud will be asked to confirm or create their Blackboard Profile on their first access to the Partner Cloud integration, either via the Publisher Content tab as an instructor or an embedded link as a student. The user can select an option on this screen that skips connecting a Blackboard Profile. This step occurs directly before the registration process with the specific partner.
If the Institution has not enabled Cloud Profiles, the user will see no reference to Blackboard Profiles when accessing the Partner Cloud. The only data passed to the Blackboard Profile in this scenario will be a unique identifier tied to the user's Learn account. No personally identifying information will be stored on the Blackboard Profiles service in this scenario. The Profile will NOT store name, email address, or anything else, only the unique identifier created for that user.