Blackboard Field Mapping

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Blackboard sends user, course and semester information to the Ares database via the Ares Web Service. The circumstances defining what data is sent to Ares is explained below.

The Web Service and the User Agent

All communications with the Ares Web Service require a valid User Agent to be defined in the Ares Administrative Suite. The UserAgent being used by the Blackboard Plugin can be seen by saving settings in the Blackboard Building Block Plugin settings. This must be done to set the Ares WebService URL. Saving the settings will verify a connection can be made and report what UserAgent is being used.

Creating User Records

Any time a user tries to access a course, they will be added to the Ares Users table if a record could not be found for them.

The check to see if they are already a user first looks for Ares Users in 3 possible ways. First is to look for a user where the Ares External User Id = the Blackboard BatchUid. If nothing is found, the next check is where Ares Username = the Blackboard User's BatchUid. If a match cannot be found, the same check happens with the Blackboard Username. If there are still no matches, a new user is created using the Blackboard Username.

The user information is imported into the Ares database as shown below.

Ares Field Name

Blackboard Field Name

Ares User UserName

Blackboard UserName

Ares User FirstName

Blackboard Given Name

Ares User LastName

Blackboard Family Name

Ares User EmailAddress

Blackboard Email Address

Ares User ExternalUserId

Blackboard BatchUid

Ares User Department

Blackboard Department

Ares User LibraryID

Blackboard Student Id

Creating the Course in Ares

The Building Block then looks for a matching course where the Ares ExternalCourseId = the Blackboard Course BatchUid. If the course cannot be found and the Blackboard user is an instructor, course builder or teaching assistant, the course will be created in Ares. If the user is the course instructor, they will be granted instructor privileges in Ares on their User account. The course is then created. If the course cannot be found and the user is a Course Builder or Teaching Assistant, the list of Instructors for the course is loaded. The first instructor found in the list will be considered the instructor. The same check for a user existing in Ares occurs for this first instructor found in the list. If they are not a user, an Ares user account is created for them using the criteria noted above and are given Instructor privileges on the User level. The course is then created.

Each time a user accesses the Blackboard course, they are checked to see if they have already been added to the course. If they have not, they will be added to the Ares course. Instructors, Course Builders and Teaching Assistants are added as ProxyInstructors for the course, otherwise they will be a standard course user (i.e. Student). Depending on the option selected in the plugin settings, the user creating the course will either be prompted to choose a semester or a best guess for semester will occur based on the current date and semester's begin and end dates.

After a semester has been determined using either of the above mentioned methods, the course is created in Ares with the following field mapping.

Ares Field Name

Blackboard Field Name

Ares Course Name

Blackboard Course Title

Ares Course Code

Blackboard Course Id

Ares Course Description

Blackboard Course Description

Ares External Course Id

Blackboard BatchUid

Ares Course Instructor

LastName of Instructor for the course.
Blackboard determines the instructor as described above.

Course Dates/Semesters

If the Blackboard course duration is date range, the Ares course start date and end date will match the Blackboard start and end date. If an error is found in the start or end dates such as a missing month or year, the current semester is used. When creating the course with start and end dates, a semester will still be associated with the course.

The semester used for this will be one where the Blackboard start date is greater than or equal to an Ares semester start date and the Blackboard end date is less than or equal to the same Ares semester end date. If there are multiple semesters matching this criteria, the semester with the latest end date is used. If the semester's start and end dates do not match the Blackboard start/end dates, the Ares course will be displayed in the client as having overridden start/end dates.

The "current semester" is the semester with the latest end date defined in Ares where the current date is within the semester's start and end dates.

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