For the past several weeks we’ve been hard at work on a new project that will dynamically insert course-specific library information into each UT Blackboard course.
Students will access this new feature by clicking a “Research Tools” link in the menu bar, which is automatically added to all Blackboard courses at UT (see screenshot below). This new section will provide contact information for the subject bibliographer responsible for the course, a link to the subject guide for the course, search tools, and more research assistance.
The secret to doing this was to use Blackboard’s template variables. They enable you to create a URL that can pass information such as username, course prefix, course number, etc. In our case, we created a link that looked like this: http://www.ourlink.com/file.php?course=@X@course.course_id@X@ … which passed the course ID as a variable to our PHP script. We were then able to look up the course-specific information from our XML file. Click the thumbnail below to view a diagram that details the process:
The end result is a course-specific tool that students can use while conducting research in their courses. It also enables the library to make more students and faculty aware of the services that are available to them. Click here to view screenshots of the final product.