Dave Hallam in our School of Law was kind enough to send me some information that might be useful in understanding how our widgets will interact with our Blackboard system.
First of all, there’s the Sign-Up tool developed by Malcolm Murray at the University of Durham. We have this installed on our Live Blackboard server here at Reading. It enables Instructors of Courses (or Leaders of Organisations) to create appointment slots which students can then sign up to. It’s possible to cap the numbers so that only a limited number of students for a particular slot. It’s also possible to use the resulting list of students for any given appointment to populate a group.
The code seems to be available here. Dave was also kind enough to forward a link to a page containing the latest information about the building block with regards to Blackboard version 9.1.
Dave spotted something further about the tool:
[It’s] very clever, very clever indeed as it looks at your permissions level. I found this out […] using it in our careers organization for signing up for an event. I created the sign up then followed the sign up link and couldn’t work out why there were no control buttons for group, email add etc in the signup list…. I was only after sometime it I work out what was going on.
As a TA or assistant you can create a sign up list, and view the people on it, make some amendments to it but you have to be an instructor or leader to be able to see the tools and admin with the list. Just thought I should pass on my findings…
In a separate e-mail, Dave also forwarded a link to a Building Block that allows groups to be populated via a CSV. This might be less useful for the purposes of our project but it’s interesting to note.
So we know from this that it’s possible to do some potentially very sophisticated things with user information within a Blackboard Course or Organisation. Whether any of the features of the tools mentioned here will provide any information that we can apply to our own widgets (particularly the tagging and recommender widgets) remains to be seen.