Get Blackboard data using Advanced System Reporting

Blackboard Data: Connect Blackboard Advanced System Reporting to Power BI

Tech Tips Comments (3)

Recently I was asked to provide business analysts with a regularly refreshed feed of Blackboard data from Blackboard’s Advanced System Reporting (ASR). The goal was to give analysts an updated set of data points that enabled quick reporting and visualization.

Blackboard ASR is a statistics database that gives system administrators access to system-level data. Microsoft Power BI is a Course Availability Blackboard Power BIbusiness intelligence tool that allows regular analysts to quickly put together reports and dashboards. The combination gave analysts the ability to develop and share reports with regularly refreshed data across the organization. A simple example would be a bar chart that shows courses available:

 

While it’s straightforward to connect Blackboard ASR to a SQL client (Blackboard recommends Dreamcoder), pulling this data into a business intelligence tool was much more challenging since documentation on the topic is sparse. After spending several hours running into dead ends, I successfully connected Blackboard ASR to Power BI. Hopefully these instructions save you time:

How to Connect to Blackboard Data

1. Open Power BI Desktop
2. Click on Get Data -> Oracle
 Database
Power BI Oracle Database
3. In the Server field enter the quick connect information in this format
(host name):(port number)/(service name)

For example
55.555.555.555:10053/ORACLE

Server connection Power BI Oracle
You can read more on this string here

4. Next enter the database username and password provided by Blackboard

Once you have authenticated using the database credentials provided by Blackboard, you will select the tables to load into Power BI.

Congratulations, you’re now ready to create reports and dashboards the easy way.

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On October 17, 2015
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3 Responses to Blackboard Data: Connect Blackboard Advanced System Reporting to Power BI

  1. Mangaiah says:

    Is this tested and implemented? do you have any preview of what kind of dashboards were created? We are thinking of using PowerBI to connect to Blackboard learn and create some dashboards.

    • Hi Mangaiah,

      Yes, we used this for quite some time. Now Blackboard has Direct Data Access (DDA) for those who have switched to the SaaS offering. DDA is much better because you’re reporting off of PostgreSQL instead of this Oracle DB. But, yes, if you’re on-premise or haven’t migrated to SaaS on Bb, then you can use these connection settings to connect to ASR DB using Power BI (and Excel for that matter).

      We have quite a few templates that we use for things like retention, log activity, engagement, etc., but I haven’t anonymized the data so can’t share screenshots at the moment. I’ll try to get to that next week if I have some time.

      • Mangaiah says:

        Sorry for the late reply Nathan. This is very helpful. I have to check with other departments responsible for Bb on SaaS. But it would be quite useful if you can share some screenshots with anonymous data. Thank you.

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