Third Party Integrations

The LMS integrates with many other systems, both on and off campus. Click the image below for a full chart:

Chart showing LMS integrations

This information is also available as a spreadsheet.

For the purposes of this document, an “integration” is any code or plugin that extends the functionality of the University’s Learning Management System (LMS). Integrations can add new tools or capabilities to the system, potentially including new options for content, grading, and assignments. Many integrations rely on services that are hosted externally by third-party vendors.

Some products you want to use may already be installed. You can check listings on this website, such as the spreadsheet or chart that are linked above.

Before a new integration can be used at CSU Chico, it must go through a process to ensure that it does not compromise the stability or security of existing infrastructure.

As exciting as it can be to use a new tool, we must remember that Blackboard Learn is an indispensable component of CSU Chico’s learning environment. A defect in an untested integration could introduce risks such as security breaches, data loss, system instability, or software crashes. This third-party integration process will help the University to continue improving the LMS in a way that is secure and stable.

Faculty or departments who request a new integration will be included in the testing and review process.

Requesting a New Integration

In order to properly asses a new integration, support staff will need some additional information from the requesting party.

During this step, the requestor will provide the following:

  • Brief description of the integration
  • Overview of academic value
  • Contact information for the integration vendor

To begin this process, submit a ticket through the ITPR process: https://support.csuchico.edu/TDClient/Requests/ServiceDet?ID=10028

Initial Review

University staff will conduct multiple concurrent reviews of the requested integration, including:

  • Security Review: IT staff will send a questionnaire to the vendor asking them to identify their security procedures, privacy policy, and other factors that impact the storage and transmission of student data.
  • Functionality Review: The vendor will be asked to provide information that describes the functional structure of the integration, including areas such as compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), support structures, and other areas dealing with end-user functionality.

If an integration fails to pass these reviews, it may be disallowed.

Contract Review

University staff will review any Terms of Service (TOS), End-User Licensing Agreement (EULA), or other contract conditions that apply to faculty, students, or the University. The Purchasing Department has primary responsibility to engage with the vendor for this step. The Director of Procurement is the only campus individual authorized to sign contracts on behalf of the University.

A current contract must exist in all cases where access the University or student grade data may be involved.

In addition, any release of or access to student FERPA data must be authorized in writing by the University Registrar.

Testing

Before the integration can be made available to the campus community, it will be loaded on a Blackboard Learn test server.

During this step, testing will be conducted by several units:

  • Technology and Learning Program (TLP)
  • Distributed Learning Technologies (DLT)
  • Accessibility Resource Center (ARC)
  • Information Security (ISEC)
  • Requesting faculty/department

Testing must be thorough, to be sure that the integration functions as described without presenting security or stability concerns.

The faculty or department requesting a new integration must agree to participate in the testing process.

If no contract for this integration exists at the University or Chancellor’s Office, then the vendor must provide support contact information for use by students and faculty. The assumption should not be that ITSS will automatically be the first line of support.

Support and Training

Support will depend on the integration, but may involve TLP for functional issues and/or DLT for technical issues.

In most cases, training for interested faculty will be provided by TLP once an integration is approved and installed in the production Blackboard Learn environment.

Each integration will have “champion” users in the faculty and TLP side who can serve as an initial point of contact when there is interest regarding that integration.

Installation

If an integration passes all reviews and testing, it will be installed in the production Blackboard Learn environment, where it can be made available for use by the campus community.

If an integration does not pass, support staff will notify the vendor and requestor, including information about the requirements failure. If a vendor works to achieve compliance, the review and testing process can be repeated.

Usage Monitoring

Once the integration is installed, its usage levels will be monitored on an annual basis to check that it is a viable and useful tool. Integrations which are no longer used may be subject to removal.