LMS Customizations and Integrations Request

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Stakeholders Requests for LMS Customizations and Integrations

Overview

The Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application that can facilitate university-related activities such as academic coursework, research project management, recreational and social club activities, internal and external collaborative projects, and serve as a communication vehicle for groups or sub-groups.

Since the LMS is an important community resource, requests for customizations to the LMS must be considered carefully, and customizations must be administered by trained, designated administrators. This policy outlines a process for requesting such customizations and describes the rules that govern their maintenance and use.

Many requests for customizations relate to communicating with the campus community. Please consider using an existing campus communication solution prior to making a customization request. The LMS support team will be happy to review currently available options with you.

Definition of LMS customizations and integrations

This policy governs requests for LMS Customizations and Integrations, which include all of the following:

  1. Sticky content module. Any content item, such as a block of text, a hyperlink, or a menu/navigation item that appears in a permanent or fixed location, and as such is prominently visible to all users of the LMS, or to a large subgroup (e.g., all students, all faculty, etc.).
  2. Opt-in content modules. Any content item that can appear on a user's home page, or in the navigation system, such that LMS users can choose to subscribe and unsubscribe.
  3. Installation of third-party tools, i.e., applications that are embedded into the LMS in order to extend its functionality. These are typically developed by application vendors, textbook publishers or other third parties.
    Note, this policy does not govern the use of Question Banks, SCORM content modules, or other “static” content that is imported into course sites, as these do not alter the functionality of the LMS.
  4. Integration with external third-party tools. This includes tools that exist outside of the LMS, but which are integrated with the LMS for the purpose of authentication, Grade Centre integration, user tracking, etc.
  5. Requests for in-house tool development. This includes but is not limited to the development of reports, queries, and visualizations of LMS activity.
  6. Automation of enrolment/membership. The University provides a limited means of enrolling students into LMS sites based on their membership in SIS course sections. Requests to manage site enrolments in an automated fashion, but which are not based on SIS section membership, are considered LMS customizations. Such customizations include managing “internal” users (such as students, faculty, and staff) as well as “external” users (such as conference and workshop participants, visitors to campus, and colleagues at other institutions).

Policy

Requests must be made by submitting a ticket through TeamDynamix at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp. The LMS Team may need to consult with other parties (Office of the Provost, Legal Services Department, IT Administration, Deans, LMS Advisory, LMS Steering, Data Governance Committee, Research Ethics Board, etc.) or with the requestor prior to approval.

Fulfilment of requests is subject to service capacity. Please allow at least one semester before your expected use for approval.

Your customization request must comply with the following points:

  1. Use of the LMS must adhere to all elements of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) which includes topics such as copyright, FIPPA, AODA, commercial activities, Research Ethics Board approvals, etc. Content that violates the AUP may be removed without consultation and users found in violation may be barred from access to the LMS. All requests for customizations and integrations will be reviewed in the light of AUP and may be rejected if there are concerns that the customization might violate this policy.
  2. Customizations must only be used for University business and need to be related to academic coursework or functionality of the LMS that can only be accomplished by using the LMS.
  3. The decision to approve a customization depends on the rationale provided in the initial request. Please include responses to as many of the following questions below with your request:
    1. Who is the target audience and define the perceived value of the customization to those users?
    2. How important is the customization for the student experience?
    3. Is there a clear relationship to teaching and learning or scholarship?
    4. Is your request for an emergency notification? If so, which users will be affected and define why Blackboard is the best venue for the notification?
    5. Is there a means to maintain the module or tool by the requesting party (please see point 10.2. below)
    6. Will there be any additional costs, and if so, define who will absorb those costs?
    7. Will maintenance of the customization impact future upgrades to Blackboard?
    8. If known, what is the estimated time it might take the LMS Team to implement the customization (e.g. known integration revisions, building block configurations, etc)?
    9. What is the justification for the requested location of the customization? e.g. Is the module to appear on the Home tab for all users, or is it for optional use by users?
  4. Support for core LMS operations such as system maintenance and upgrades must take priority over customization requests. Customizations that heavily impact our support capacity or the stability of the LMS itself, are unlikely to be approved.
  5. Please identify in your initial request where you would prefer to have the module, report, or tool appear, but be advised that the final location of where it resides in the LMS rests with the LMS Team who may need to consult with other additional relevant group(s), as identified above.
  6. For opt-in content modules (see the definition, above), the requestor is responsible for communicating to potential users regarding how to subscribe or opt into the use of the module.
  7. Requestors/administrators are responsible for any testing or documentation of their customizations.
  8. Requestors/administrators will be the primary point of contact for any inquiries regarding the content or use of the customization. To this end, the module must include either the contact information of the administrators or relevant support staff; or it must include a hyperlink to a location where this information is available.
  9. Requestors/administrators must be willing to direct targeted users to the appropriate vendor support where applicable.
  10. Sticky content modules (see definition, above) must also adhere to these rules:
    1. The size of the message in a content module must be kept to a minimum, and should not include graphics, videos, animations, etc. Your content module must not distract from or otherwise dominate other content on the viewer's screen. You may want to provide a web page link within your message to provide more information.
    2. There must be consistent, ongoing administration to maintain a module and you must designate one or more administrators for your content. If administrators change, the LMS Administrator must be consulted by filing a service request at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp.

How to Submit a Request

When requesting an LMS customization or integration, please allow at least one semester (or longer) before your expected use for approval.

To submit your request, submit a ticket through TeamDynamix at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp, and include the following:

  • Title/Subject:
  • Description of the request,
  • Rationale behind the request (see point 3 of the policy above),
  • Who will be responsible for maintaining and administering the customization,
  • When the customization is needed,
  • Target group affected by the request (e.g. all students, students by year, etc.),
  • Preferred location in the LMS for the customization (e.g. Home tab, Courses tab, etc.),
    • Please Note – final approval for the location will be determined by the LMS Team in consultation with relevant parties,
  • Contributions by requesting party (e.g. the user has obtained permission from another institution to use a similar type of object which is being requested, the user can provide pre-approved wording for the module, availability of funding, etc.),
  • The period of time for which the module, organization, managed tool, message, etc. will be needed, and
  • A maintenance plan is identified where applicable (staff identified to maintain customized module, funding sources, licenses acquired, etc.).

Approval Process

  1. Request is submitted through the TeamDynamix Blackboard request
  2. The initial investigation by LMS Team to determine the impact and implications of the request, as well as to identify relevant stakeholders for consultation.
  3. Security/Risk Assessment (mandatory if data is being exchanged with a third party or when licensing with a third party is involved)
  4. Decision and Prioritization. The LMS Team will notify the requestor of the decision and rationale, and provide an estimate of time to completion.

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If you notice any errors or omissions with this material, please advise the LMS Team or submit a Service Request at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp.