What is Blackboard Open Content (formerly xpLor)?

Blackboard Open Content is a cloud-based learning object repository that is designed to work with multiple Learning Management Systems (LMS). It is built on open standards and will allow for the creation, discovery, and sharing of rich learning objects. You can share learning objects beyond the confines of a single LMS, and shared objects will work in any supported system without alteration. You can move existing content from the LMS to Blackboard Open Content, making it accessible in multiple courses on multiple platforms.

Is Blackboard Open Content a replacement for an LMS?

While Blackboard Open Content has some feature overlap, it does not replace an LMS, but rather complements the LMS by supporting new use cases, primarily around the discovery and sharing of content. The Blackboard Open Content platform helps to break down the walls that restrict most content to a single course context in the LMS. Through its support of rich learning objects that exist outside the context of a specific course, Blackboard Open Content supports new possibilities for sharing these learning objects across courses because Blackboard Open Content hosts content centrally in the cloud, even across institutions. The Blackboard Open Content platform focuses on learning object sharing and discovery, while the integrated LMS continues to provide a familiar environment for user and course administration, enrollment, gradebook management, and scope/sequence of content presentation (adaptive release, and so on).

How is Blackboard Open Content different from a content management system?

Traditional content management systems provide sharing, versioning, management, and access control only for file-based content resources, and are most often limited to integration with a single LMS instance, limiting sharing to users within a single institution. The Blackboard Open Content platform extends similar sharing capabilities to rich, interactive learning objects, such as assessments and discussion forums, and enables discovery and re-use of these content resources not only across courses, but also across institutional boundaries on multiple LMS platforms. To learn more, see A Complete Content Learning Solution.

How does Blackboard Open Content know who I am and what school I am from?

Blackboard Open Content uses the following information from the LMS:

  • User ID Role, such as student or instructor
  • Course
  • Institution
  • Resource
  • Grade services. Grade services are responsible for passing grades from Blackboard Open Content back to the LMS's gradebook.

Does Blackboard Open Content know anything else about me?

To function properly, Blackboard Open Content needs to know a minimal amount of information about who is using it. Blackboard Open Content needs different types of information for students as compared to instructors. Blackboard Open Content does not need any personally identifiable information, though everyone using Blackboard Open Content resources must be linked back to an account on their LMS. This is important because resources in Blackboard Open Content may require submissions and report grades back to the LMS.

What about students?

Blackboard Open Content receives some information about students when they follow a link into Blackboard Open Content. The information passed is the most basic information needed for Blackboard Open Content to display a resource in the correct state. When a student interacts with a resource-takes a test, submits a dropbox-Blackboard Open Content stores and then shares details about these interactions as appropriate. For example, an instructor might see submission details for a quiz or comments made in a discussion forum. All gradable activities are shared from Blackboard Open Content to the LMS gradebook.

What about instructors?

When an instructor views an Blackboard Open Content resource or goes to Blackboard Open Content to add or manage resources, Blackboard Open Content receives information that allows for direct-publishing of Blackboard Open Content resources into the LMS.

  • Courses taught
  • Course structure (if applicable)
  • Publish links to Blackboard Open Content resources

Instructors are visible to their own students. Instructors may also be visible to other instructors within the social sharing areas of Blackboard Open Content called channels.

How does Blackboard Open Content support open standards?

Open standards are at the foundation of Blackboard Open Content. Learning objects authored in Blackboard Open Content are compatible with the IMS Common Cartridge format by design, providing maximum portability of Blackboard Open Content content across LMS platforms. Content from Blackboard Open Content is delivered into supported LMS platforms through integrations based on the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard. Additionally, Blackboard Open Content provides built-in support for management of content under the Creative Commons licensing standards.

What is metadata and how does it relate to resources in Blackboard Open Content?

Metadata is all of the information surrounding a resource other than the content itself: the permissions, channels, grade levels, tags, standards, ratings, and so on. These pieces of metadata generally do not appear to students, but are important for the Blackboard Open Content ecosystem as they allow instructors, course creators, and other users of Blackboard Open Content to judge the appropriateness and scope of the resources available within Blackboard Open Content.

How do I add metadata to a resource?

You add metadata to resources from the About panel, visible on the resource toolbar as the "i". Your ability to add or edit metadata on a resource will be determined by the permissions the resource author has set on the resource. Generally, if you cannot add or make changes to the metadata on a resource, it is likely the author has limited the rights to do so.

Who can see the metadata associated with a resource?

The only users who cannot see the metadata associated with a resource are students. Instructors, course creators, administrators, and any other user who has access to Blackboard Open Content can see the metadata on a resource.

What are the permissions and what do they mean?

Permissions within Blackboard Open Content control the visibility of items and rights that other users have to use and contribute metadata to items. Permissions settings are the base form of control that content creators have. By setting scope of the different permissions areas, content creators can control every aspect of access to and modification of their content within the system.

Two main dividing lines of the permissions settings exist in Blackboard Open Content.

First, the Share setting controls others' ability to:

  • Share an item to channels within Blackboard Open Content.
  • Control others' ability to view and subsequently insert an item to a course for students and other course participants.
  • Control others' ability to add metadata (tags, grades, and standards) to an item.

Second, the scope of people who have rights to the areas of access outlined above:

  • The Contributors setting is [currently] defined as the creator of an item.
  • The Institution setting is defined as anyone within the institution of the current user.
  • The System setting is defined as anyone within the school system of the current user.
  • The Everyone setting is defined as anyone within the Blackboard Open Content system (and potentially beyond).

These two areas of settings in combination determine the overall permissions available to other users within the Blackboard Open Content system in relation to a particular item.