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Video Transcript

Manage Contact Information

Accurate contact information for the recipients you communicate with is critical for Connect 5 to be successful. If you have been tasked with keeping that information up to date, this video will help you with the following areas:

  1. Creating a data file
  2. Uploading data into Connect 5
  3. Viewing import results​

Export SIS Data

Most clients will begin the data process by exporting a file from their student or staff information system. There are hundreds of these types of systems used by our clients, so we can't go over how to do such an export here. If you need assistance with that, contact customer support for your system. But basically you will need to run a report or create a query to pull out the following information for the people you wish to contact:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • ID number
  • The site they belong to
  • Up to 10 phone numbers
  • Up to 4 emails
  • Up to 4 SMS phone numbers

Other information you may wish to include depends on whether you are a K-12 district, a college or university, or a city or agency. These optional items include:

  • Home language
  • Grade
  • Status
  • Gender
  • Any groups you might want to have that are tracked in your information system

The bare minimum you must include is Last Name and at least one contact point: a phone number, email address, or SMS number. All other fields are optional.

We strongly recommend including a unique ID number, or reference code, and at least two phone numbers per contact. If your file contains contacts from multiple sites, you will also need to have an Institution column.

Most information systems will let you choose the file type for your export. Choose CSV (comma delimited) or TXT (tab delimited) if they are available. XLS format will work too, because we can convert that into a CSV in Microsoft Excel later.

Export File Format

Here is a typical export file for a school district. When you open a CSV file, all the columns are collapsed to a uniform narrow width. To open them all up so you can see everything, click on the box in the top left corner between the row and column labels to highlight everything, then place your cursor between any two columns until you see the cursor changes, then double click. Now you can see that there is one row per contact, and one column for each information field you pulled. At the top of each column is a label, called a header. You will need to change the headers to match the headers that Connect 5 can recognize. The headers are not case sensitive, but they must not contain any spaces. Some information systems export files with no headers at all. If that's your situation, simply insert a new row at the top by highlighting the first row, right clicking on it, and clicking Insert Row.

In this file, you can see we have building, first name, last name, id, grade, language, several phone numbers, an email, and some group designations.


For Connect 5 to process this file, we have to change the headers to the acceptable ones. I will change building to institution, ID to reference code, main phone to home phone, and so on. You can download a data guide and sample file which shows all the proper headers below this video (if you are viewing it in Behind the Blackboard), as well as on the import screen itself.

Contact Types

One column that may be required for your import that is probably not already there is the Contact Type column. This is necessary only if your file contains more than one contact type (for instance, students and faculty). If your file only contains one contact type, you do not need this column. The available contact types depend on your institution type.

If you are a K-12 school district, the contact types are:

  • Student
  • Admin
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Other 

For higher ed institutions, the types are:

  • Student
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Prospect
  • Other

And for government and corporate institutions, the types are:

  • Resident
  • Employee
  • Business
  • Other


Note that the Institution column is similar in that if all the contacts in your file are from a single institution, you  do not need this column. Only if your file contains contacts from multiple institutions is this column required. What should go in this column is the name of the institution as it appears in Connect 5. For Sample Elementary School, it is called Sample ES Demo in the system, so I need to have Sample ES Demo in my file. If I leave it as Elementary School, the contact will be rejected because that institution is not recognized. So I can do a find and replace to take care of that.

Save File

Once you have changed the headers and the institution names, re-save the file. The file name does not matter for import purposes, but you probably want to give it a name that makes sense to you. Also, make sure you pay attention to where you are saving it. An easy place to find it later is your Desktop, or you can make a special folder just for Blackboard Connect imports if you want, so you will always know where to look for the file. I will name this file Connect Students and save it in my Connect folder. Make sure that in the Save As Type drop down, it says CSV comma delimited. Note that if you are on a Mac, you will need to select CSV Windows. This is important. If you choose Comma Separated Values under Common Formats, it will be saved in Mac format and your import will not work.

When you save a file as a CSV, Excel gives you one or two warnings.

  • First, if your file has multiple worksheets, or tabs, Excel will warn you that saving the file as a CSV only saves the top worksheet. Click OK to accept this. (Of course, make sure all your data is on the top tab.)
  • Second, Excel will warn you that CSV files do not support special formatting like custom column widths, bold fonts, formulas, etc. Click Yes to proceed with saving your file as a CSV. (Of course, don't bother to apply any of this formatting since it won't be saved.)

Now that you've saved the file, you can close it. Despite the fact that you just saved it, Excel will ALWAYS ask you if you want to save your changes. If you say yes, you will be given all those same warnings again, so if you haven't made any changes since the last time you saved, just click No. This will save you time.

Import File

To upload your file into Connect 5, log in to your account and click the Recipients tab at the top. Then click the Import Data button. If you do not see the Import Data button, you do not have the proper user permissions to upload a file, and you will need to contact your user account administrator or champion to get your permissions adjusted.

The first step on the import screen is to select your file. Click the Select button and browse to where you saved your file, and either double click on it, or single click on it, then click Open. Next, you need to specify what site the contacts you are uploading belong to. If they belong to multiple sites, you will set this drop down to All (and remember that you will need to have an Institution column in your file). If all the contacts are at the same site, you don't need to have an Institution column because you can specify the site using this drop down. Next, select the contact type you are uploading. Similarly, if the file contains multiple contact types, you will need to have a ContactType column in your file, and you will set this drop down to All as well. But if your file only contains one contact type, you do not need that column because you can specify the contact type using this drop down.  The next drop down, Data Provider, can almost always be skipped because it defaults to Client, and if you are importing a file, you are the provider.

We are going to skip Advanced Options for now. My account is empty. It has no contacts in it so they don't matter for this very first import anyway.

Click the orange Import button. You will be prompted to confirm that your file is for the site you selected. Click OK. You will see a green bar at the top of the screen indicating that your file has been received and you will receive an email when it is finished processing. This email will contain the results of the import. You can also see the results by clicking the Import History link at the top. This will list all the imports ever done into your account. It shows the date of the import, what contact type was imported, what site the contacts were imported for, and the status.

Import Results

There are two possible results for the status: completed or completed with warnings. If you hover over an import, you will see an arrow on the left that you can click to expand for more information. Next to each result is a number, which indicates how many contacts had that result. Note that for many of these results, the number is actually a hyperlink, so if the import was done within the past 5 days, the results are exportable.

  • Inserted means a new contact was added to Connect 5.
  • Updated means the contact already existed in Connect 5, but something about that contact changed, like a phone number, grade level, etc.
  • Skipped means the contact was already in C5 and no updates were required because nothing changed.
  • Reactivated means the contact had been in Connect 5, was deleted, and was back in the file so was reactivated.
  • Deleted applies to contacts that were listed in the file with yes in the Terminate column.
  • Warnings can mean several things. Most often, no primary or attendance phone was specified, so the system is alerting you that it made one of the phone numbers that was provided the primary and attendance phone. There is no reason for concern in this scenario; it is merely an informational warning. Another cause for a warning to appear is an invalid phone or email address. For instance, if you try to upload a phone number that only has 9 digits, or an email address without the @ symbol. Obviously these are invalid. The system recognizes this at the time of import and rejects them. The contact itself was not rejected - just the individual phone number or email address. You can export the list of warnings to see what they were and which contacts they belonged to.
  • Rejected means the contact was not loaded into Connect 5. This is usually caused by the Institution being incorrect, the contact being a duplicate, or the contact missing a last name. You can export these, too. The file will tell you the reference code of the rejected contact, if one was provided, along with the row they appeared on in your file.
  • We will come back to Removed by Refresh later, because it pertains to an advanced option.​

Since I did my first import into my account, I would expect to see a high number under Inserted, and zero under Updated, Skipped, Deleted, or Removed. If I'm doing an update, I would expect to see a few inserted, a few updated, and a few removed. At the end of the school year, I'd expect to see all graduating students removed, and at the beginning of the school year, I'd expect to see all incoming students inserted. As a general rule, any contacts that are rejected deserve further investigation to ascertain why and correct it.

Advanced Options

Let's explore the advanced options.

Remove Data by Provider

The first one is Remove Data by Provider. This can pretty much always be skipped.

Remove Contact Types Not Provided

The next option is important, though: Remove Contact Types Not Provided In the Import File. If you are uploading a full file, meaning everyone you want to be in Connect is in your file, then you should check off the contact types that are in your file. For example, if you are importing a student file, check off only student. If you are uploading a faculty file, check off only faculty. If your file has students and faculty in it, check off both boxes. What this does is delete contacts from Connect who are not in your file. For example, say you have 1000 students in Connect, and 10 left the district, so the file you are uploading has 990 students in it. In order to have the system automatically delete the 10 kids who are gone, you must check the Student box. If you do not check it, those 10 students will stay in Connect 5. On the other hand though, if you have 1000 students in Connect, and 10 new kids started attending, and your file contains just those 10 kids, do NOT check the Student box. That way, those 10 students will be added to Connect 5 and all the existing contacts will remain untouched. If you checked the box, those 10 new kids would be added, but the other 1000 would be removed. So the bottom line is:  Do NOT check any of these boxes if you are uploading a partial file, but DO check it if you are uploading a full file.

I said I would come back to the import result Removed by Refresh. If you have checked one or more boxes in the Remove Contact Types Not Provided options, you may have contacts that are removed by refresh. I will import another file, just like the first one, but with 10 fewer contacts. I will check off remove students and faculty not provided. Notice my results. It says no one was inserted, everyone was skipped, and 10 were removed by refresh. And I still have the same warnings as before.

Update Provided Columns Only

The next advanced option when uploading says Update Provided Columns Only. This is only applicable if your file has reference codes in it. So if you do not have reference codes, you can skip this section. Also, if your file contains all possible headers, then checking preserving data will not make any difference either.

But if you do have reference codes, and you do not have every possible column in your file, then you need to decide whether you want to check the Preserve Data box or not.

Preserve Data

If any of your contacts already loaded into Connect 5 have information in fields that are NOT included in your file, you should check Preserve Data. That way, only the fields in your file will be updated, and the fields that are not in your file will be left alone. Here's an example. All the contacts in Connect 5 have 2 phone numbers. I want to add email addresses. I can upload a file with reference code and email address, and check preserve data. The emails will be added to those contacts, and their phones will not be touched. The result is my contacts now have two phones and one email address each. If I didn't check Preserve Data, then their phones would be erased, so they'd only have email addresses.

Now let's say everyone has two phones and half the contacts have email addresses. If I upload a file with an email address column, all email addresses in the system will be overwritten by what I'm uploading; Preserve Data will not keep existing ones from being changed. Remember, Preserve Data only applies to columns that aren't in your file. Since your file has an email column, the system is going to take what's in that email column and apply it to each contact, regardless of whether they already have something in that field in Connect.

Remove Contact Types versus Preserve Data

It's important to understand the difference between Remove Contact Types Not Provided and Preserve Data. Checking Preserve Data does not impact whether a contact remains or is removed. It only affects whether information about those contacts is updated or not. Also, note that Preserve Data does not apply to group membership.

Refresh Groups

The last advanced option pertains to Refresh Groups. This feature is intended mainly for use with data automations, so if you are manually importing a data file, as a general rule, do not check this box.

Regular Connect group associations persist even if the members are not listed as belonging to those groups in every upload. Checking refresh groups does not affect regular group membership. But membership in refresh groups is dependent upon the contact being listed as belonging to that refresh group in every single upload. If the contact is not listed as belonging to a refresh group, and the refresh groups option is checked, they will be removed from that group. This can help keep your groups accurate from day to day, but if used improperly, can result in people being removed from groups they should belong to. So again, as a general rule, when doing a manual import, do not check Refresh Groups.


Let's review. The file formats Connect can process are CSV comma delimited, and TXT tab delimited. The headers in your file must be the exact headers Connect recognizes. They are not case sensitive, but they cannot have any spaces. To upload a file, go to the Recipients tab and click Import Data. Browse for your file, select the site and contact type if your file contains only one contact type from one site, or select all if your file contains multiple sites and multiple types, but then make sure you have Institution and ContactType columns. Check one or more boxes under Remove Contact Types Not Provided only if you are uploading a full file, and only for the contact types that are in your file. Check Preserve Data if your file only contains a few columns so that the fields not included are preserved as they are in Connect.  And do not check Refresh Groups when doing a manual upload. After importing, you will get an email with the results, and you can view the results online and even export them for uploads done in the past five days. Contacts that are rejected are not added to Connect; warnings are triggered when a phone number or email address is invalid, or no primary phone or attendance phone column is found. You should always investigate rejected records, while warnings are not as critical.

The To-do List

  1. Create a .CSV data file for upload to Connect 5 using the sample file for your vertical:
  2. Upload the data file into Connect 5 using the Data Importing Guide.