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SIS Integration FAQs

What is the Student Information System (SIS) Data Integration Framework?

The SIS Data Integration Framework provides administrators with a simplified interface for configuring, managing, and maintaining SIS integrations. It is conveniently located in the Administrator Panel Administrator Panel under Data Integration.

What advantages does the SIS Data Integration Framework provide?

  • The Framework helps ensure accuracy and consistency of data and quicker response times, reduces time-intensive data entry, and helps you to better manage costs. The Framework helps administrators by:
    • Supporting the IMS Enterprise 1.1 and LIS 2.0 standards
    • Supporting Snapshot XML and flat files
    • Providing the ability to reuse, export, and import existing integration settings
    • Providing logs of SIS integration events for easier administration
  • For those clients who currently use another method for integration, the Framework provides simplicity around management. You are able to install, configure, and manage your integration entirely on your own through the Blackboard Learn user interface.

I am interested in implementing an SIS integration using the Framework. Where do I start?

  • Understanding your institution’s business logic (such as your registrar processes and so on) and data needs, as well as their relationship to Blackboard Learn are essential to determining what direction to take with the Framework. It is also important to understand how to extract the necessary data from your SIS and exactly what data should be extracted. You should work with your institution’s Blackboard Learn, Registrar, and SIS teams to align data needs and capabilities for provisioning that data and making it available to the selected SIS Data Integration type.
  • Blackboard offers the documentation in this section to help you implement the Framework. In addition, the Framework is fully supported by Blackboard Support. However, an optional set of Consulting Services is available to assist you - side by side - in your understanding, planning, and implementation of your SIS integration.

I currently use Snapshot as my integration. Why would I consider the Framework?

  • The Framework version of Snapshot offers several key improvements including:
    • Support for the latest objects (for example, Terms, Institutional Hierarchy, and Course Merge)
    • Access to logging directly in the user interface to visually track integration status
    • Ability to post just-in-time data feeds from the user interface
    • Ability to safely test data files without impacting data already stored in the Blackboard Learn database
    • Full support from Blackboard Support
  • I currently run Snapshot from the command-line. How is this different?
    • You no longer have to rely on the Snapshot command line. You now have a user interface to manage your integration. The key difference between command-line operations and the Framework is how you would post the data into Blackboard Learn. Instead of using the command-line application, you place your data directly to Blackboard Learn.
  • Operations using the SIS Data Integration Framework's Snapshot Flat File use a server-side process to post data to Blackboard Learn through http endpoints based on the target action. This requires changes to your script, which would otherwise call the command-line tool.
    • You may continue to use the processes you have in place for extracting data from your SIS.

Can I continue to use my Snapshot integration?

Yes, you can continue to use your current integration with the caveat that it will not support new Blackboard Learn data objects added after Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP 7, nor will you benefit from the improvements in productivity and integration management offered by the SIS Data Integration Framework.

I have heard that Snapshot is being deprecated. What does that mean exactly?

  • Deprecation is the process of preparing for the end of something, not an end in itself. Specifically, deprecation is the announcement that a product or capability has been replaced or is no longer necessary and will be removed at some point in the future. This allows planning for change management. Additionally, announcing deprecation effectively ‘freezes’ development of the product. For the command-line tools behind Snapshot, this means that they will remain as 9.1 SP 7 capabilities and that the product will receive full support and only critical maintenance until it is removed from the product.
  • When Blackboard determines the release in which Snapshot will be fully removed from Blackboard Learn, we will communicate this with a great deal of advanced notice so that you may plan your transition accordingly.

How will deprecation affect my Snapshot integration?

  • Currently, not at all. However, the best practice of announcing deprecation allows you to begin to proactively assess your integration approach moving forward and identify the necessary changes you will need to make to support the new Framework Snapshot functionality. Note that the Framework Snapshot XML provides a path for those who currently use the XML file format in their Snapshot integration. It does not and will not support new capabilities post-9.1 SP 7.
  • When Blackboard determines the release in which Snapshot will be fully removed from Blackboard Learn, we will communicate this with a great deal of advanced notice so that you may plan your transition accordingly.
  • Because the Framework is fully supported by Blackboard Support,you will not need an Integration Customization Maintenance (ICM) agreement. For planning purposes, if you currently have an ICM agreement for your Snapshot integration, be aware that the transition to the Framework will not be covered under ICM agreements. Should you have questions about your transition to the Framework, contact Blackboard Support.

What resources are available for me to get started with the SIS Data Integration Framework?

  • The product documentation is available in Student Information System (SIS).
  • Technical documents and guides are embedded in the SIS Data Integration interface in Blackboard Learn. Navigate to the Student Information Systems Integration page on the Administrator Panel, and click the Sample Documents link in the top-right corner.
  • Blackboard is planning on delivering in-depth webinars to provide an overview of the integration process.
  • Blackboard Support staff is also available to help answer questions regarding integration.
  • If you would like assistance with your integration setup, Blackboard Consulting can help by providing advanced guidance on SIS integration configuration with the SIS Data Integration Framework Mentoring (Technical Knowledge Transfer (TKT).
  • To learn about Snapshot Integrations, see Snapshot Command Line Tool.

When will LIS support Cross Listing and Institutional Hierrachies?

  • Within the LIS specification, Cross Listing is referred to as Section Assignment. Blackboard plans to approach this in a standardized fashion working with the IMS to achieve the level of specification within the LIS outcomes.
  • Institutional Hierarchies are currently not supported by LIS. The long-term goal with Blackboard’s LIS implementation is to have it be a one-to-one mapping, similar to what is provided through the Flat File specifications. As the LIS specification is still being refined by the IMS, Blackboard awaits further development in this area.
  • Both Cross Listing and Institutional Hierarchy are supported via Flat File and that should be the interim solution for clients. With the SIS Data Integration Framework, clients can use a variety of integration methods for data needs. Therefore, LIS can be used to support some data integration needs, and Flat Files can be used to supplement other data needs.

What are Blackboard's plans for Grade Exchange back to the SIS within the core Blackboard Learn product?

Blackboard recognizes the importance and significance of Grade Exchange. Blackboard wants to approach this in a standardized fashion working with the IMS to achieve the level of specification within the Learning Information Services (LIS) outcomes with the goal of more generally meeting the needs of Grade Exchange in the field. As we close in on that, we will move forward in updating our implementation of LIS.

What is the acceptable character set for integration data?

The inclusive safe character set on the core data fields is:

A-Z a-z 0-9 . ' , " : ! ? $ @ [ ] { } -_

The password and external keys may also contain:

% & # < > = \ + /

Characters not allowed in any field: