Students and instructors are on the go more than ever. To keep up with courses and other institution activities, your users may want to receive SMS notifications via text message. After you enable SMS notifications in Blackboard Learn, your users can choose the notifications they receive on their phones.
You need a few things to get started.
- Blackboard Connect Account: Your institution needs a Blackboard Connect account to use SMS notifications. Contact Blackboard Support if you need assistance. You'll need your user account name, password, and SIS code to complete the steps below. If you aren't a Connect customer, a free version of the service is available for Blackboard Learn to support SMTP text messaging.
- An active SSL certificate must be present on your Blackboard Learn server. You can use this SSL Certificate Checker to verify.
- Depending on the network configuration, firewall settings may need to be adjusted so that the Connect service can reach the Blackboard server.
To set up Blackboard Learn to send SMS messages to users, you need to configure Blackboard Learn and register a proxy tool.
- On the Administrator Panel, select Web Services in the Building Blocks menu.
- Locate the following web services in the list. Set them to Available and Discoverable.
Make note of the URLs for the NotificationDistributorOperations.WS and Context.WS web services. You'll need them when you send a request to Blackboard Support.
- Go back to the Administrator Panel and select Building Blocks.
- Select Proxy Tools > Manage Global Properties.
- In the Proxy Tool Registration Password field, create a password. You'll use this in a later step.
- Select the checkbox next to Allow Unknown Proxy Tools.
Don't have a Connect account? Blackboard Support can set up a free version for you to use SMTP messaging for SMS notifications.
For more sophisticated messaging, a full Connect account may be required.
You need to send a request to Blackboard Support to establish the proxy tool on your system. Open a support ticket on Behind the Blackboard using the following criteria:
- Issue Topic: Building Blocks/Extensions
- Functional Area: by Blackboard
- Category: Connect for Learn
In the body of the support ticket, include these details:
- Blackboard Learn URL
- Blackboard Learn institution name
- Blackboard Learn contact address, city, state, ZIP code, and time zone
- Blackboard Learn contact phone number
- Desired username for Connect account
- Contact email address for Connect account
- Contact phone number for Connect account
- Proxy tool registration password
- URLs for the NotificationDistributorOperations.WS and Context.WS web services.
After Support receives your support case, the team will start to activate the web services in Connect for your Blackboard Learn environment. When complete, Support will update your case with your Connect user account name, password, and SIS code. You won't be able to complete setup without this information.
When the tool is available on your system, you can enable and configure it using these steps:
- To enable the tool, go to Administrator Panel > Building Blocks > Proxy Tools.
- Locate the Connect Message Gateway in the list. Open its menu and select Edit.
If you don't see this tool in the list, contact Blackboard Support.
- Set the Availability to Yes.
- Select Submit to save the setting.
- Back on the Administrator Panel, select Blackboard Connect Contact Synchronization in the Users menu.
- Enter the following values:
- Connect User Account
- Connect Password
- SIS Code
- User Mapping Key Field: select BATCH_UID
- Select Synchronize. This operation is scheduled to happen every 20 minutes by default. If your test isn't working, it may be that the contacts haven't synchronized.
- Go back to the Administrator Panel. In the Tools and Utilities menu, select Notifications.
- In the Blackboard Connect SMS Options menu, select Yes to enable SMS delivery.
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After you configure Blackboard Learn and add the proxy tool, it's a good idea to test that the system is sending SMS text notifications as expected.
- Create two test users.
- Create a test course and enroll the two test users.
- Log in as the first test user and add a phone number, including country code, in the Profile.
- From the activity stream or the Profile, select which notifications to receive and how. Select SMS notifications and choose New messages.
- Log in as the second test user and send a course message to the first test user.
- If SMS notifications are working correctly, you should receive an SMS message to the phone number that was added to the first user's profile. If your test isn't working, it may be that the contacts haven't synchronized.