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Bboogle: Updates and Experience. Patricia Goldweic, Sr. Software Engineer, Northwestern University Brian Nielsen, Project Manager, Faculty Initiatives, Northwestern University Jonathan Smith, Distributed Learning Architect, Northwestern University. Overview.

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bboogle updates and experience

Bboogle: Updates and Experience

Patricia Goldweic, Sr. Software Engineer, Northwestern University

Brian Nielsen, Project Manager, Faculty Initiatives, Northwestern University

Jonathan Smith, Distributed Learning Architect, Northwestern University

  • Introduction: Google Apps at Northwestern
  • Main Features - Updates
  • Demo
  • High Level Architecture
  • Components
  • Experience: Bboogle at NU
  • What does it take to adopt Bboogle?
  • Future Directions
  • Questions
bboogle team members

Patricia Goldweic (Sr. Software Developer)

Jonathan Smith (Software Architect)

Blackboard Support

James Altman (Manager, Faculty Support Services)

Brian Nielsen (Project Manager, Faculty Initiatives)

Technology Support Services

Ron Blitz (Sr. Tech Services Specialist)

Terry Jolley (Manager, Consulting Services)

Bboogle Team Members
introduction google apps at nu
Northwestern University is a private R1 institution with two campuses, one in Chicago, and the other in Evanston, IL, (suburb immediately north of Chicago)

15,500 students, 60% undergraduate

Northwestern has been using Blackboard as its primary CMS since Spring 1999.

Northwestern became a Google Apps for Education campus in Spring 2007, for students only.

Faculty were provided with accounts in this domain after Bboogle was installed, though Gmail is not their official email provider.

Introduction: Google Apps at NU
introduction motivation
Why Google Apps in Blackboard?

To leverage the collaboration features offered by Google Apps

To provide data sharing capabilities in Google Apps not implemented in Blackboard.

To allow students to see class activities integrated into their personal calendars.

To offer wiki features via Google Sites

To model an approach to sharing that is common in many scholarly communities

To offer instructors an easy means of providing information that integrates seamlessly into the students’ information environment

Introduction: Motivation
main features
Embedding of Google Apps Documents, Calendar and Sites into a Blackboard course

Instructors can embed a Google Doc, Calendar or Site in a Blackboard course using Bboogle’s custom content types.

Or, they can use a convenient browser ‘bookmarklet’ to push a Google Doc/Calendar/Site to a Blackboard course site while within the Google Apps user interface.

The embedded content (Google docs, calendars or sites) is automatically shared with the Blackboard course.

Single Sign On to Google Apps domain

Supports automated creation of Google accounts when needed (configurable)

Main Features
main features updates
Google Apps Groups, Folders (since 1.0.2) and Contacts integration (since 1.3)

Bboogle automatically provisions Google Apps groups for all Blackboard courses that use the tool.

These groups are now available for instructors and students to share Google content with their class. They are also the collaboration unit that Bboogle uses internally to automate the sharing of content.

Bboogle-created groups now show up in a group member’s gmail contacts.

Bboogle’s bookmarklet can also be used to embed a Google Apps content folder into a Blackboard course.

Main Features: Updates
main features updates1
Google Apps Sites integration (since 1.1)

Additional flexibility when embedding content (since 1.3)

new choice of collaborator role

Blackboard 9+ compatibility (since 1.2)

Single sign on tools are available also at the user level (since 1.3)

Google Apps Docs, Calendar, Sites and GMail are now available.

Main Features: Updates
course google groups
When used by an instructor, Bboogle ensures that a Google Apps group exists for the course, is fully provisioned, and the instructor owns it.

Also ensures/verifies that the user has a Google Apps account.

Course Google Groups
building block
The ‘SSO Bridge’ Servlet

Runs whenever a user clicks on any of the Bboogle bookmarks/links, including the SSO course/user tools.

Provides the front-end logic to the Google Apps SSO process.

Transfers control to Google ONLY after verifying that that the user is allowed to access the document.

When used by a student, ensures the student is a member of the Google Apps group

The ‘Linking Servlet’

Runs whenever an instructor chooses to embed Google Apps content.

Creates a course document to hold the bookmark/link.

Building Block
google integration service gint
Mediates all communication between the building block and Google.

Uses a small embedded database to store information:

Keeps track of Google content publication and access in Blackboard courses.

Efficiently manages building block requests to avoid unneeded communication with Google.

Provides usage information that could later be used by reporting tools.

Google Integration Service (Gint)
bboogle at northwestern
Northwestern does not offer the Gmail tool, though it is available in the distribution

Deployment began Fall 2009, now have Bboogle 1.3 in production

Bboogle has been used in Bb Academic Suite 8 and now in Bb Learn, 9.1

Bboogle at Northwestern
what does bboogle offer
What Does Bboogle Offer?





Google Bookmarklet


Single SignOn

what does it take to adopt bboogle
Decide on your SSO solution:

Customize your current Google Apps SSO solution so that it can work well with BBoogle. OR

For testing purposes, you can use the provided sample SSO solution. You can also use it as a ‘reference’ implementation that helps you come up with your production-ready version. Alternatively, do limited testing without an SSO solution.

Install the Bboogle building block and the Google Integration Service (a web application) and configure application parameters.

Possibly customize the mapping between Blackboard user ids and Google user ids.

What does it take to adopt Bboogle?
future directions
Provide other convenience tools to instructors (e.g. for creating course calendars, sites or docs, etc.)

Provide instructor tools to facilitate the creation of Google Apps groups for class collaboration in addition to the Bboogle-created ones.

Integrate Blackboard groups and Google Apps groups

Explore the possibility of hosting the Google Apps Integration service in the Google Apps Engine.

Explore the possibility of adopting a relational database within Gint (Google Integration Service).

Future Directions
how to get bboogle
Bboogle is hosted at the Oscelot projects site

The Subversion repository can be found at

You can contact us for more details at:

How to get Bboogle

Please provide feedback for this session by emailing 

The title of this session is:

Bboogle: Updates and Experience