External tools allow your institution's users to seamlessly interact with learning resources hosted remotely, allowing them to open the tool directly through your site. For example, your institution may use tools for grading, emails, calendars, or course content.

Through a special launch protocol, the external tool has access to some general information about your users from the user profile. For example, the institution name, course ID, user ID, and other information such as the user's name or e-mail address are accessible to launch the external tool through your site. This pass of information between your site and the external tool allows for secure communication, allowing your users to launch the external tool while they are on your site.

To setup an external tool instance, the tool provider must support Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). Tools can be configured by instructors at the course level, or by site administrators at the site level.


View the list of external tools

Steps: Administration > Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > LTI

  1. From Site administration select Plugins, Activity modules, and LTI.

    A page opens that displays all external tools that are configured on the site.

    Tool types listed on this page are separated into three categories:

    • Active: These tool providers have been approved and configured by an administrator. They can be used from within any course on this site. If a consumer key and shared secret are entered, a trust relationship is established between your site and the remote tool, providing a secure communication channel.
    • Pending: These tool providers came in through a package import, but have not been configured by an administrator. Instructors may still use tools from these providers if they have a consumer key and shared secret, or if none is required.
    • Rejected: These tool providers are flagged as ones which an administrator has no intention of making available to the entire site. Instructors may still use tools from these providers if they have a consumer key and shared secret, or if none is required.

You can update or remove an external tool that has been previously configured by selecting the icons in the Action column.


Add an external tool

Steps: Administration > Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > LTI > Add external tool configuration

  1. From External Tool Types select Add external tool configuration.
  2. Configure the following data in the Tool Settings area:
    • Type the Tool Name for the external tool being used as it will appear in your site. The name entered is visible to instructors when adding external tools within courses.
    • Type the Tool Base URL used to launch the external tool.

      Prefixing the URL with http(s) is optional. The base URL is used as the launch URL if a launch URL is not specified in the external tool instance. If two different tool configurations are for the same domain, the most specific match is used.

    • Type the Consumer Key used to authenticate access to the external tool.

      If a consumer key is required for the tool, it must be obtained by the tool provider.

    • Type the Shared Secret used to authenticate access to the external tool.

      If a secret is required for the tool, it must be obtained by the tool provider.

    • Type any Custom parameters as required by the external tool provider.

      For example, a custom parameter may be used to display a specific resource from the provider. It is safe to leave this field unchanged unless directed by the tool provider.

    • To include the external tool in the External tool type drop-down list, select Show tool type when creating tool instances.

      The tool name is available when instructors configure external tools within courses.

      In most cases, the Show tool type when creating tool instances should not be selected. Instructors can use this tool configuration based on the Launch URL matching the Tool base URL, which is the preferred method. The only case in which this option should be selected is if the tool configuration is just intended for single sign-on. For example, if all launches to the tool provider just take the user to a landing page instead of to a specific resource.

    • Select how to display the tool from the Default Launch Container list.

      Options include - Default to display the tool as specified by the tool configuration; Embed to display the tool within your existing Moodle site window, in a manner similar to most other Activity types; Embed, without blocks to display the tool within the existing window, along with just the navigation controls at the top of the page; and New window to open the tool in a new window or tab (depending on the browser).

      The New window option is not 508 compliant.

  3. Configure the following data in the Privacy area:
    • Specify whether or not the user's full name should be shared with the tool provider from the Share launcher's name with tool list.

      Options include - Never to not share the information; Always to share the information; and Delegate to Instructor to have the instructor decide whether or not to share the information.

    • Specify whether or not the user's email address should be shared with the tool provider from the Share launcher's email with tool list:

      Options include - Never, Always, and Delegate to Instructor.

    • Specify whether or not the tool provider can add, update, read, and delete grades from the Accept grades from the tool list.

      Some tool providers support reporting grades back to your institution's site, creating a more integrated experience. Options include - Never, Always, and Delegate to Instructor.

    • Select Force SSL to ensure all launches to the tool provider use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), an encrypted security protocol.

      If the tool or your site does not support SSL, clear the field.

  4. Configure the following data in the Miscellaneous area:
    • Type the unique identifier for your site to access the tool in the Organization ID box.

      Blackboard recommends using the DNS name of your institution. If kept blank, the host name of the site is used as the default.

    • Type the URL for your site to access the tool in the Organization URL box.

      If kept blank, a default value is used based on the site configuration.

  5. Select Save changes.