Seamless transaction with other tools.
The External tools module allow you to seamlessly interact with learning resources and activities hosted remotely. For instance, an external tool could provide access to a new activity type or learning materials from a publisher. The interface of these activities or learning materials from publishers will display within Blackboard Open LMS. To setup an external tool instance, you need a tool provider that supports LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability). If you find a tool provider that supports LTI, they should be able to provide instructions on how to configure the external tool instance. Additionally, tool types configured by a site administrator will also be available for use.
External tools differ from URL resources in a few ways:
- Context aware: External tools have access to information about the user who launched the tool, such as institution, course, name and other information from the user's Blackboard Open LMS profile.
- Deep integration: External tools support reading, updating, and deleting grades associated with the activity instance. More integration points are planned for future releases.
- Security: External tool configurations create a trust relationship between Blackboard Open LMS and the tool provider, allowing secure communication between them.
Add an external tool
Steps in Snap: Create learning activity or resource > External tool > Add
Steps in other themes: Turn editing on > Add an activity or resource > External tool > Add
- Type a meaningful name for the tool. The description displays to students when they view the choice. Check the Display activity name when launched box if you want the activity name to appear.
- Select the External tool type which sets a secure communication channel between Blackboard Open LMS and the tool provider.
- Custom configuration: To set up custom tool configuration on just this instance, select Show Advanced options, and type the consumer key and shared secret. If you do not have a consumer key and shared secret, you may be able to request them from the tool provider. Not all tools require a consumer key and shared secret, in which case the fields may be left blank.
- Automatic, based on Launch URL: This setting should be used in almost all cases. Blackboard Open LMS will select the most appropriate tool configuration based on the Launch URL. Tools configured by both an administrator or within this course will be used. When the Launch URL is specified, Blackboard Open LMS will provide feedback on whether it recognizes it or not. If Blackboard Open LMS does not recognize the Launch URL, you may need to enter the tool configuration details manually.
- Set the URL launch information by completing the following:
- Launch URL: The Launch URL indicates the web address of the External Tool, and may contain additional information, such as the resource to show. If you are unsure what to enter for the Launch URL, please check with the tool provider for more information. If you have selected a specific tool type, you may not need to enter a Launch URL. If the tool link is used to just launch into the tool provider's system, and not go to a specific resource, this will likely be the case.
- Secure Launch URL: Similar to Launch URL, but used instead of the launch URL if high security is required. Blackboard Open LMS will use the secure launch URL instead of the launch URL if the Blackboard Open LMS site is accessed through SSL, or if the tool configuration is set to always launch through SSL. The Launch URL may also be set to an https address to force launching through SSL, and this field may be left blank. If you are unsure about this, please check with your network administrator.
- Launch Container: The launch container affects the display of the tool when launched from the course. Some launch containers provide more screen real estate to the tool, and others provide a more integrated feel with the Blackboard Open LMS environment. The following are launch container types:
- Default: Use the launch container specified by the tool configuration.
- Embed: The tool is displayed within the existing Blackboard Open LMS window, in a manner similar to most other Activity types.
- Embed, without blocks: The tool is displayed within the existing Blackboard Open LMS window, with just the navigation controls at the top of the page.
- New window: The tool opens in a new window, occupying all the available space. Depending on the browser, it will open in a new tab or a popup window.
- Select Show more to configure additional launch details.
- Set the details for the external tool launch:
- Consumer key: The external tool may require a consumer key. The consumer key can be thought of as a username used to authenticate access to the tool. The consumer key must be provided by the tool provider.
- Shared secret: The external tool may require a shared secret. The shared secret can be thought of as a password used to authenticate access to the tool. It should be provided along with the consumer key from the tool provider.
- Custom parameters: Custom parameters are settings used by the 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.
- Icon URL: The icon URL allows the icon that shows up in the course listing for this activity to be modified. Instead of using the default LTI icon, an icon which conveys the type of activity may be specified.
- Secure Icon URL: Similar to the icon URL, but used if the user accessing Blackboard Open LMS securely through SSL. The main purpose for this field is to prevent the browser from warning the user if the underlying page was accessed over SSL, but requesting to show an unsecured image.
- Type a description for the external tool activity. Check to display the activity description above the tool provider's content. You can use the description to provide additional instructions for launchers of the tool.
- Set the following optional items:
- Common module settings
- Restrict access
- Activity completion
- Click Save and return to course to show the course main page or Save and display to show the new tool.
Determine privacy settings
Steps in Snap: External Tool > Edit > Privacy
Steps in other themes: Turn editing on > External Tool > Edit > Edit settings > Privacy
Determine what information from the user will be shared with the external tools.
- Share launcher's name with the tool: Specify whether the full name of the user launching the tool should be shared with the tool provider. The tool provider may need launcher's names to show meaningful information within the tool. Note that this setting may be overridden in the tool configuration.
- Share the launcher's email with the tool: Specify whether the email address of the user launching the tool will be shared with the tool provider. The tool provider may need launcher's email addresses to distinguish users with the same name, or send emails to users based on actions within the tool. Note that this setting may be overridden in the tool configuration.
- Accept grades from the tool: Specify whether the tool provider can add, update, read, and delete grades associated only with this external tool instance. Some tool providers support reporting grades back to Blackboard Open LMS based on actions taken within the tool, creating a more integrated experience. Note that this setting may be overridden in the tool configuration.
Determine grade settings
Steps in Snap: External tool > Edit > Grade
Steps in other themes: Turn editing on > External tool > Edit > Edit settings > Grade
Set how the external tool activity will be graded, if the activity is for a grade.
- Grade: Select one of the following from the Type menu.
- None: There is no grading type.
- Scale: Use a scale to grade. Select the scale you want to use from the Scale menu.
- Point: Use points when grading. Type the maximum number of points that can be earned.
- Grade category: If you use Gradebook categories, select the category.
- Grade to pass: Type the minimum number of points a student needs to pass.
Determine external tool activity completion
Steps in Snap: External tool > Edit > Activity completion
Steps in other themes: Turn editing on > External tool > Edit > Edit Settings > Activity completion
You can determine to mark the external tool activity as completed.
- Completion tracking: Options include Do not indicate activity completion, Students can manually mark the activity as completed, and Show activity as complete when conditions are met.
- Student must view this activity to complete it: When the Completion tracking is set to Show activity as complete when conditions are met, this option will be available. Determine if the activity will be marked as complete after the student views the external tool.
- Student must receive a grade to complete this activity: When the Completion tracking is set to Show activity as complete when conditions are met, this option will be available. Determine if the activity will be marked as complete after the student receives a grade.
- Expect completed on: Enable this feature and set a date for when it is expected participants will be marked as completed.