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Student Information System (SIS)

Student Information System (SIS) integration helps administrators integrate course, user, and enrollment data with Blackboard Learn. Data may come from various sources and in varying formats. SIS integration provides an easy way to upgrade to Blackboard Learn from another Learning Management System (LMS), such as CE or Vista by supporting the same data feed format generated by those systems for exchanging data. SIS integration also allows system updates to be delegated to other Blackboard administrators, allowing flexibility to be built into the system.

The SIS Framework is a Building Block-extensible framework that provides common functionality to all integrations while facilitating integration creation, configuration, and management within the Blackboard LearnAdministrator Panel user interface. The principle is based on a separation of functionality. The SIS Framework provides the UI-based create, configure, and operation/maintenance capabilities, and the Integration Types (based on Building Blocks) provide the logic specific to each SIS integration type.

This enables the SIS Framework to support a mix-and-match approach to integration while also enabling multiple instances of an integration type. This provides a great deal of flexibility in building out SIS integration solutions as it provides the ability to address integration needs from the simplest to the most complex.

An additional capability available to all integration types is on-the-fly data mapping. This enables custom mapping of incoming data objects to Blackboard Learndata objects. This mapping ability allows you to apply custom scripts (javascript) to incoming data. In the case of the Snapshot Flat File integration type, you can apply custom header mappings to match existing data formats to Blackboard formats. (This enables ANGEL clients to more readily adopt the SIS Framework.)

All integration types can receive data over the wire by directing data to the integration URL. This is useful in the context of Enterprise 1.1 and Snapshot types, as they are now capable of wire data transfer and file based data posting.

Integration Types

Five types of integrations are available, and there is no limit to the number of integrations a system may have. It is unusual, though possible, to have different types of integration on a single system. Communication from the SIS is one-way to Blackboard Learn, so the type of integration used is based on the type of data format produced by the source SIS system.

When using IMS Enterprise XML based integration types - IMS Enterprise 1.1, or IMS Enterprise 1.1 Vista - you cannot create data and update that data with another integration type and then continue to use IMS Enterprise to manage the updated data. This is due to necessary mapping of data within the product. You may however create data using the Enterprise XML based integration types and further manage that data with LIS and Snapshot Flat File.


Integration Types
Integration Type Description
IMS Enterprise 1.1 Use this Integration Type when the source system generates IMS standard compliant XML.

Enterprise 1.1 is the ‘father of LIS'. It has been supported in Blackboard Learnfor many years and is a staple of SIS integrations whether event-driven or snapshot file-based.

To learn more about IMS, see

IMS Enterprise 1.1 - Vista Use this Integration Type when the source system is CE or Vista. To learn more about IMS, see
IMS Learning Information Services (LIS) 2.0 Use this Integration Type when the source system is LIS-compliant, or when upgrading your Banner to the latest LIS-compliant version.

LIS uses web services and is an event-driven model in which the LIS-enabled SIS calls Learn LIS web services passing the data to Learn where it is processed and the Learn database is updated.

To learn more about IMS, see

Snapshot Flat File Use this Integration Type when the source system generates Snapshot Flat Files from Blackboard Learn. This method should reduce or remove the need for the Snapshot Command Line Tool. Snapshot provides the ability to integrate using point-in-time data as provisioned by the SIS with two supported integration types (read: data formats) within the SIS Framework for Snapshot – Snapshot XML and Snapshot Flat File (or delimited data). The latter, Snapshot Flat File, is the ‘go-forward’ supported format and receives updating to support new data objects. Snapshot XML only receives maintenance updates.
Snapshot XML Use this Integration Type when the source system generates Snapshot Flat Files from Blackboard Learn. This method should reduce or remove the need for the Snapshot Command Line Tool.

After the SIS integration has been created, you can map the source fields to the available Blackboard Learn fields. Blackboard recommends that integrations begin in the Testing status. Selecting this status allows you to test the integration and fix any issues that may arise before committing to the integration. Testing status turns on logging and runs through the data mapping and exchange without actually changing your system. Use the log files to discover, diagnose, and repair any errors.

After testing is complete, you can set the status to Inactive or Active. If you set the status to Inactive, the system will not process requests or update data in the database. If you set the status to Active, the system will process requests, update data in the database, and be visible to the users. You can change the status at any time.

Logs are provided in an intuitive format as part of SIS integration. Logs are filtered using an advanced search method that includes the type of error, the integration, and a date range. New log entries are easily visible, with a count attached to the type of log entry. The logs are refreshed to retrieve the latest count, and details of each type of log.

Can SIS Integration Manage Existing Courses and Users?

Courses and users that already exist in your system can be managed going forward and updated with an SIS integration as long as the following requirements are met:

  • Courses: The batchUid from the feed must match the existing course. This is the same for as the course_id for manually created courses and can vary if the courses were created by another data integration.
  • Enrollments: Users can be enrolled in any course as long as the data in the enrollment feed identifying the user matches the batchUid of the user in Blackboard Learn.
  • IMS/XML integration types: Integrate existing courses, and then enroll existing users.
  • Data: The existing course and user data must be in the correct Data Source Key. To lean more, see About Data Source Keys.