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Blackboard Help

Blackboard IM Universal Integration Guide

Blackboard IM is an instant collaboration solution that synchronizes with data from your institution, allowing students, faculty, and staff to easily communicate with other people in their courses, organizations, departments, and groups.

Universal Integration offers a simple conduit to synchronize with files prepared from any data source. Three data synchronization methods are available: manual file upload, scheduled synchronization with a secure file server, or upload via the Command Line. You have the flexibility to determine the frequency of your data synchronizations and can automate the process.

After your data reaches the Blackboard IM server, there are several ways to invite and encourage members of your institution to register for Blackboard IM. Once users create Blackboard IM accounts and install the desktop application, Blackboard IM automatically displays a list of other people in their courses and organizations. Blackboard IM users can chat and collaborate using audio and video calls, screen sharing, whiteboard, group chat, and office hours. As an Administrator, you can set up Help Desks and send institution-wide broadcast notifications for important announcements.

Universal Integration Data

During synchronization, the Blackboard IM server examines both new and existing data. Your files should always contain all relevant user, course, and membership data included in prior synchronizations – not just new data.

Information at your institution is constantly subject to change: you can add, modify, and remove user, course, and membership data from your files as often as you like. Ensure that you always leave unchanged data in each file; any data that you add or modify must be included along with all previous, unmodified data.

Your first synchronization contains 5,000 users, 10,000 courses, and 7,500 memberships.
You add 10 new users, remove 5 new courses, and modify 20 memberships.

Your second synchronization should contain: 5,010 users, 9,995 courses, and 7,500 memberships.

Synchronization Methods

There are three methods to synchronize your institution’s data with Blackboard IM:

  • Manual File Upload: File package upload through the Blackboard IM Administration interface; recommended for your first synchronization to test data files, or to perform a one-time, immediate synchronization using a web interface.

    All four data files must be named correctly and appear in the root directory of a .zip file prior to upload.
    If there are any extra files (including hidden .DS_Store files), the upload will be rejected.
  • Scheduled Synchronization: File package placement on a secure file server; Blackboard IM synchronizes daily with your SFTP server and pulls a file package at a scheduled time.

    All four files must be named correctly and appear in the root directory of a .zip file named prior to upload. If there are any extra files in the .zip file (including hidden .DS_Store files), the synchronization will fail. This file package should be placed on the specified SFTP server.
  • Command Line Upload: File upload via a Command Line tool provided by Blackboard Collaborate; can be used to perform a one-time, immediate synchronization or be set up for automation (highly recommended).

    All four files must be named correctly and appear in the location specified at the Command Line; this process automatically zips the files into a package.

These synchronization methods are available for configuration within the Blackboard IM Administration interface, available by logging in to and clicking the Administration tab at the top of the page.

You should have received a Blackboard IM Administrator account, as well as account and secret parameters required to perform Command Line Upload; if you do not have this information, please contact Blackboard Collaborate Hosting Services.

For complete information about synchronization options, please refer to the Blackboard IM Administrator's Guide.

User Account Creation

Universal Integration does not automatically create Blackboard IM user accounts. Instead, information about people, courses, and memberships synchronizes with Blackboard IM. Once this data resides on the Blackboard IM server, there are many ways to promote user account registration: automatic or manual email invitations, distribution of user-specific registration codes, or placement of a registration link in an institution portal.

Members of your institution create their own Blackboard IM ID and select their password. Following registration, they download and install the Blackboard IM client on their computer.