What is the Blackboard Alexa Skill?

This new integration is the first skill officially released by Blackboard. The Blackboard Alexa skill allows Blackboard Learn users to request and receive information stored about them in the Blackboard Learn application via an Alexa-device such as Amazon’s Echo rather than having to log into Blackboard Learn or look the information up on the Blackboard Mobile App. Students age 13 or older, after identifying their institution, and linking their Blackboard account to their Alexa account, can use any US-enabled Alexa supported device to find out about what is going on in their classes.

How is it different from previously released Alexa skills?

This new integration is the first skill officially released by Blackboard. It allows learners to seamlessly access information pertaining to coursework on Blackboard Learn directly through any Amazon Alexa-enabled device using the new Alexa Education Skill API without needing to manage a separate skill.

What is supported with this first release of the Blackboard Alexa Skill?

This first release of the Blackboard Alexa Skill will ONLY handle what homework and assignments are due in a user’s classes.  This covers any assigned “Assignments” for a Blackboard Learn user enrolled in that course and supports asking Alexa about basic information (Assignment name, due date, course name) on upcoming Assignment “Type” Assessments created by an instructor for a Blackboard Learn course.

Just ask Alexa to learn about your upcoming assignments. For example, you can ask something like these questions:

  • Alexa, what do I have due tomorrow?
  • Alexa, do I have anything due this week?
  • Alexa, do I have anything due next week?
  • Alexa, do I have any homework?
  • Alexa, what do I have due on [day]? For example: Alexa, what do I have due on Friday?
  • Alexa, do I have any homework in [course]? For example: Alexa, do I have any homework in Economics?

The skill is only intended for the Blackboard Learn user and designed accordingly, (e.g. parents cannot access information about their children). Thus, a question like “Alexa, what assignments do the kids have?” is NOT supported.

How does it work?

The user’s voice command will be translated by Amazon into a machine-digestible command that is sent to Learn via an Application Programming Interface (“API”). Learn returns the requested information securely via an API to Amazon which in turn converts the response into an audio response that the Alexa-device will securely provide to the Blackboard user.

Which Institution can provide access to the Blackboard Alexa Skill?

The Alexa Skill is available to all U.S. institutions that use Blackboard Learn on version 3400.9.0 or newer. Institutions will also need to have Blackboard Learn Mobile turned on (mobile-enable) to for their users to be able to use the Blackboard Alexa Skill.

Can an institution turn off access to the Blackboard Alexa Skill?

Yes, client institutions may turn off the ability for their users to access their assignment data through the Blackboard Alexa Skill within the Blackboard Learn administrator console.

More on how an institution can opt out

What does a Blackboard Learn user need to do to use the Blackboard Alexa skill?

To use the Blackboard Alexa Skill, the User must opt-in by linking their Amazon Alexa account with their Blackboard Learn user account:

  • Alexa user must create or have an Amazon account
  • The Alexa user must Ask Alexa to link to their Blackboard Learn account
  • The Alexa user must link to their Blackboard Learn account
  • The Alexa user can unlink their Blackboard Learn account at any time.

How does a Blackboard Learn User link their Amazon Alexa account to Blackboard?

More on how to link Blackboard and Alexa accounts

How can a Blackboard Learn User limit access to the Blackboard skill?

A user of the Blackboard Alexa Skill can control how the skill is accessed on Alexa by turning on the Limit Access feature. By turning on Limit Access for the Blackboard skill, user’s Blackboard data will only be accessible via Alexa when the user’s voice profile and personal passcode are recognized. This is found and controlled from the ‘settings’ menu on the Blackboard Alexa Skill detail page within the iOS or Android Alexa app.

What data privacy safeguards are in place by Blackboard?

Blackboard Learn Users and the institutions have control over the use of personal information. A Blackboard Learn User needs to opt-in to link their accounts before any personal information is provided through Alexa (see question 7 above). Secondly, an institution can decide to disable the functionality for their Blackboard Learn users (see question 6 above). Personal information is also exchanged in a secure manner: Blackboard Learn data is transferred between Blackboard and Amazon using encryption in motion (SSL).

More on how the Blackboard Alexa Sill uses personal information

What Data Privacy Safeguards Are in Place by Amazon?

Please visit Amazon's Alexa site for more information about Alexa privacy.

Is there an Alexa Education Skill FAQ?

Yes, please visit Amazon's Alexa site.

More Amazon Alex Resources:

How can I contact Amazon if I need help?

Go to Amazon's Contact Us page where you can chat with Amazon or have customer service call you.