An Overview and Explanation of the Missouri Baptist University Snapshot System

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Aug 15, 2012 (4 years and 10 months ago)

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DIY SIS Integration

An Overview and Explanation of the

Missouri Baptist University Snapshot System

Copyright © 2010, All
Rights Reserved

MBU Blackboard Environment

Original Environment


Blackboard 6.3


Windows 2003


SQL Server 2000


SIS is CAMS Enterprise


SnapshotGenerator 1.0

Current Environment


Blackboard 9.0 SP3


Windows 2003


SQL Server 2005


SIS is CAMS Enterprise


SnapshotGenerator 4.0

All SnapshotGenerator updates from 1.0 to 3.2 were to add functionality,

not because updating Bb broke anything.

Version 4.0 was developed to fix flaws inherent in the original Database Views

on the SIS side, again nothing broke when we updated Bb.

How we got here


2000 offered first online classes using WebCT 3


2004 moved to Blackboard 6.3 Basic


December 2005, I took over as Technical Director
(Blackboard Administrator)


Everything was manual up to this point


2006 moved to Bb 6.3 Enterprise


Snapshot was the main factor


Summer 2006, developed SnapshotGenerator 1.0


January 2007, updated to Bb 7.1


March 2007, SnapshotGenerator 2.0


--
help option, multiple terms

How we got here


November 2007, SnapshotGenerator 3.0


8
-
week scheduling, automated course availability


December 2007, updated to Bb 7.3


June 2009, SnapshotGenerator 3.1


Re
-
configured to use properties file to load config settings


Developed installer for SnapshotGenerator


Developed Snapshot Controller


Prior to this, integration had been accomplished by Windows
shell scripts that were scheduled, but had to be updated
every semester


August 2009, updated to Bb 9.0


December 2009, SnapshotGenerator 3.2


Removed limitation on number of concurrent terms to
process



Today


SnapshotGenerator 4.0 put into production June 18


Nearly complete rewrite of system


Original system made use of recursive SQL functions


The presenter did not write these, our former DBA did


New views were developed in the SIS database


The presenter did develop these


All processing of data now takes place in
SnapshotGenerator


Typical runtime for snapshot generation went from 5
-
7
minutes to a matter of seconds (always less than 1 minute)

Components of the Snapshot Process


The MBU Snapshot System


CAMS Enterprise Database Views


SQL Server 2008


Snapshot Generator


Java application


Snapshot Controller


C# application + Windows Command Script


Blackboard™ Snapshot Tool

Copyright © 2010, All
Rights Reserved

Snapshot System Components

Snapshot Generator


Java application


Developed with NetBeans


Run by Snapshot
Controller


Can be run manually


Generates snapshot files
for each term currently
identified in SIS database
as “current”


Term active now, +30 days,
+60 days

Snapshot Controller


C# application


Run every 15 minutes by
Windows scheduler


Launches Snapshot
Generator


Launches snapshot tool for
each snapshot file
generated

MBU Snapshot System Architecture

Snapshot Controller

Snapshot Generator

CAMS

Snapshot
Command Script

Feed Files

Bb Snapshot
Tool

Blackboard Server

Query

Result

Launch

Launch

Launch

Read

Write

“We’ve never heard of CAMS”


We use CAMS Enterprise from Three Rivers
Systems, inc.


Three Rivers Systems, inc. is 25
-
years old, and is
based in Saint Louis, MO


The important factors


SQL Server database (SQL Server 2008)


Access to the database allows us to create custom views


These principles should apply to any SIS running
on an accessible SQL database

Copyright © 2010, All
Rights Reserved

Features of the MBU Snapshot System


Changes to SIS appear in Blackboard within 15
minutes


Cross
-
listed courses are automatically combined
into a single Blackboard shell


This will require us to develop a custom application for
importing grades from Bb to our SIS


This is in the planning stage now


It will make use of Bb 9.x Web Services


It will reside within our Faculty/Staff Portal, which is part of
our SIS


Students who add a class are automatically
enrolled in Blackboard

Features of the MBU Snapshot System


Students who drop a class are automatically
disabled in the course on Blackboard


Courses are made available to faculty 60
-
days
before the start of the term


Courses are made available to students on Friday
before the course starts


Understanding Snapshot


Snapshot is Blackboard’s method for importing and
updating data within the Blackboard LMS


Requirements


Blackboard Enterprise


Snapshot Files


Students, Faculty, Courses, Assignments, Enrollments


Data Source Keys


SIS.FACULTY, SIS.STUDENTS


For each term: COURSES, ASSIGNMENTS,
ENROLLMENTS

Understanding Snapshot


The key to understanding the Snapshot process is
understanding data sources


A data source is a batch of data which will be
manipulated collectively within Blackboard


You can have any number of data sources, we use
two permanent data sources: Faculty and Students


We also use three additional data sources per term:
Courses, Assignments, and Enrollments


Each data source is identified by a unique data
source key

The MBU Snapshot System

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DIY SIS Integration