WebAssign Blackboard Building Block
This document explains how to integrate Blackboard with WebAssign.
2. Building Block (System Extension)
2.2. Blackboard System Administrator
2.2.2. Enable Extension
2.2.3. Extension Configuration
2.2.4. Portal Module Configuration (Optional)
2.2.5. Tool Panel Configuration (Optional)
2.3. Blackboard Instructor
2.3.1. Course Tool Configuration
2.3.2. Linking Course
2.3.3. Synchronizing Roster
3. User Accounts
3.1. WebAssign User Accounts
This document is intended to cover all aspects of the Building Block software that bridges WebAssign and Blackboard. The intended audience consists of Instructors, Blackboard System Administrators, and anyone else interested in enhancing the WebAssign Building Block.
WebAssign is an online homework management system. It is a centrally-hosted, subscription service with users from many different institutions. More information can be found at http://www.webassign.net/.
Blackboard, for the purposes of this document, is an online learning system or course management system. It is a locally-hosted system installed on individual campuses. More information can be found at http://www.blackboard.com/.
Blackboard Learning System 6.x-9.x
The Blackboard system allows for the installation of software developed by a third party. This program is called Building Blocks. An individual piece of software is known as a System Extension. More information can be found at http://www.blackboard.com/extend/b2/.
This initial implemention includes a single login which allows users who have logged in to Blackboard to automatically access WebAssign without re-entering their username and password. Course instructors will also be able to synchronize their Blackboard rosters with WebAssign rosters. Information is transmitted between the Blackboard and WebAssign web servers using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol.
A Blackboard System Administrator is responsible for installation and configuration of the WebAssign System Extension.
To install the System Extension, login to Blackboard as a System Administrator. Go to the System Admin tab. Go to Manage System Extensions under the System Options area. Click Install Extension. Select which package to upload by clicking the Browse button. Click Submit.
After the System Extension has been installed, it must be enabled. To enable the System Extension login to Blackboard as a System Administrator. Go to the System Admin tab. Go to Manage System Extensions under the System Options area. Change Status from Inactive to Available for the WebAssign System Extension. Review the System Extension Permissions and click OK.
Before the System Extension can be used, the WebAssign Institution Code must be set. To set the WebAssign Institution Code log in to Blackboard as a System Administrator. Go to the System Admin tab. Go to Manage System Extensions under the System Options area. Click the Properties button for the WebAssign System Extension. Enter the WebAssign Institution Code designated for your institution and click Submit. Clicking Submit will verify that the Blackboard system can communicate with WebAssign. The Institution Code entered will also be verified and a unique key will be assigned. These values will then be stored on the filesystem of the Blackboard system located in the config directory designated for the System Extension.
Included in the WebAssign System Extension is a Portal Module. The module allows users to add a link to their My Institution page for quick access to WebAssign. To enable the Portal Module login to Blackboard as a System Administrator. Go to the System Admin tab. Go to Manage Modules under the Portal Areas area. Click the Properties button for the WebAssign module. The WebAssign module can be made available for Student and Faculty Portal Roles.
Included in the WebAssign System Extension is a User Tool. Enabling the User Tool will give all users quick access to WebAssign by adding a link to the Tools area on the My Institution page. To enable the User Tool login to Blackboard as a System Administrator. Go to the System Admin tab. Go to Manage Tool Panel under the Portal Areas area. Click Tool. Select WebAssign from the Tool pulldown menu. Enter a title and click Submit.
Blackboard instructors and any other user with access to the Control Panel for a given course are provided with tools to help in managing their WebAssign course information including course creation and roster synchronization. Instructors may also add links to their course page so that both they and their students can easily access WebAssign from their Blackboard course.
To add links for quick access to WebAssign the WebAssign extension tool must first be enabled for a course. To enable the WebAssign extension tool for a course login to Blackboard as an instructor or other user with access to the Control Panel. Go to the Courses tab and click the name of the course for which you would like to enable the WebAssign extension tool. (You can also click the course from your My Institution page if available.) Click Control Panel. Click Manage Tools under the Course Options area. Click Enable Extension Tools. Enable the WebAssign extension tool and click Submit.
Now that the WebAssign extension tool has been enabled a link to WebAssign will appear in the Tools Area from your Course Menu. You may also add this link directly to your Course Menu. To add a link to WebAssign to your Course Menu go to the Control Panel and click Manage Course Menu under the Course Options area. Click Tool Area. Select WebAssign from the Area Type pulldown menu. Enter an Area name and click Submit.
To make use of the course tools provided by the WebAssign System Extension there must be a link between the Blackboard course and the WebAssign course. You may create a WebAssign course directly from an existing Blackboard course or you may link a Blackboard course to an existing WebAssign course.
To create a WebAssign course from an existing Blackboard course go to the Control Panel and click WebAssign under the Course Tools area. Click Create WebAssign Course. WebAssign needs more information to create a course than the Blackboard system provides. Enter the additional information needed and click Submit. A new WebAssign course will be created. The new WebAssign course and the Blackboard course will be automatically linked.
To link a Blackboard course to an existing WebAssign course go to the Control Panel and click WebAssign under the Course Tools area. Click Link Course. If you have a WebAssign account, you will be presented with a list of WebAssign courses for which you have access. Click the appropriate WebAssign course to establish a link.
The main WebAssign page from the Control Panel will indicate whether or not the current Blackboard course has been linked with a WebAssign course.
Now that your Blackboard course is linked with a WebAssign course it is possible to synchronize the Blackboard roster with the WebAssign roster. To synchronize your rosters go to the Control Panel and click WebAssign under the Course Tools area. Click Sync Roster. You will be presented with a page giving details about the actions to be performed. Students can be added to the WebAssign roster, their WebAssign information, including fullname and email address, can be updated and students listed on the WebAssign roster but not the Blackboard roster can be dropped from the WebAssign roster. Click Submit to synchronize rosters.
This section discusses how users are linked between the Blackboard and WebAssign systems.
For a Blackboard instructor to utilize the WebAssign System Extension they must already have signed up for WebAssign and received their WebAssign account information. Instructors can sign up for a free trial.
Once a WebAssign account has been created an alias between a Blackboard user and a WebAssign user must be created. This alias merely links a Blackboard username to a WebAssign username. To create this alias, please contact WebAssign.
This section provides more explicit details about how the Blackboard and WebAssign systems communicate including current SOAP APIs for anyone interested in enhancing the WebAssign Building Block.
The WebAssign Building Block uses the SOAP toolkit developed by the Apache group. More information about SOAP in general may be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/soap/. The WebAssign Building Block, written in Java and JSP, makes requests, via SSL, to the WebAssign server for information or for actions to be performed. Each request is sent with an MD5 digest that is verified by the WebAssign server. The digest is constructed using the Fast MD5 Implementation developed by Timothy W Macinta. WebAssign speaks Perl and the server side implementation is done with SOAP::Lite.
For additional information, email email@example.com.