VoiceThread Docs / VT in your Learning Management System / LMS Administrators / Blackboard

What is LTI?

LTI is an abbreviation for Learning Tools Interoperability, which is a standard protocol developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. It allows services like VoiceThread to integrate with your Blackboard environment as single-sign-on tools.

The resulting experience for instructors and students is simple:

  1. Sign in to your Blackboard account.
  2. Navigate to your course.
  3. Click on the VoiceThread LTI link.
  4. Use VoiceThread.

Clicking on a VoiceThread LTI link will authenticate the user, establish an account for him if he didn’t have one already, and enroll him in his course within VoiceThread. No additional work is required from the instructor or student.

LTI Tool Configuration

Before instructors can use VoiceThread, it must be configured globally for your Blackboard instance by an administrator. The best option is to use the Basic LTI Building Block. Please use the latest version of the Building Block, available here: https://github.com/OSCELOT/bb-basiclti

Once you have installed that block, follow these steps below.

  1. Go into System Admin > Building Blocks > Installed Tools.

  2. Click on the arrow icon next to “Basic LTI tools”, and select “Settings”.

  3. Click on “System Settings” at the top of the page, off to the left-hand slide.  In that section, make sure “Outcomes” are enabled.  Save to go back to the main Building Block page.

  4. Click on “Services” at the top of the page, off to the right-hand side this time.  In that section, make sure “Outcomes” are enabled and signed.  Save and go back to the page from step 2.

  5. Click “Register a new tool”.

  6. Fill out the form. Any items skipped below are optional.

    • Name
    • Name: “VoiceThread” or something else of your choice
      • Connection Details
    • Launch URL: Provided by Voicethread after your license purchase
    • Consumer Key: Provided by Voicethread after your license purchase
    • Shared Secret: Provided by Voicethread after your license purchase
    • Signature method: HMAC_SHA1
      • Services
    • Outcomes: Used but not required by tool
      Note: If this section is missing, go back to steps 3 and 4 above.
      • Registered LTI Services
    • Check all 3 or 4 boxes in the “Registered LTI Services” area (the number of boxes will vary depending on which version of the Building Block you have installed).
      • Other Settings
    • Icon file: https://voicethread.com/image/branding/circle_logo_50x50.png
    • Emulate core LTI: check this box
      • Submit
  7. Now that you’re back on the Basic LTI Tools page, hover over the registration you just set up, click on the arrow icon, and select “Edit data settings”.  Fill out the form according to the instructions below.  Any items skipped are optional.

    • Context Data
    • Context ID: Check this box
    • Value to use for context ID: Optional, but make sure your choice is unique even across semesters
    • Context SourcedId: Check this box
    • Context Title: Check this box
    • ID history: Check this box
      • Personal Data
    • User ID: Required by tool
    • Value to use for user ID: Optional, but make sure it’s unique and static over time
    • SourcedId: Check this box
    • User name: Required by tool
    • Email: Required by tool
    • User Avatar: Check this box
    • User roles: Check this box
      • Course Role Mappings
    • Role name: Recommend settings are “Learner” for learner and guest roles, and “Instructor” for all others.
    • Submit
  8. You can also decide where the VoiceThread tool appears in the instructor interface.  To do that, check the box next to your new registration, and click on “Content menu” button at the top.  From there, select your preferred location(s).

Note: If you’ve followed all the instructions above but VoiceThread is still not appearing in your Tools or Build Content menu as expected, you might need to follow these steps:

  1. Go into your System Admin area.
  2. Find the “Tools and Utilities” section, and click on “Tools” there.
  3. Find the “Basic LTI” section, and make sure VoiceThread is enabled.
  4. Save.


Built-in LTI Integration

If for any reason you cannot use the Basic LTI Building Block, there is an option to configure an LTI integration outside of that.  Just note that this version of the integration does not support copying of course templates, Mashups, or future Blackboard-specific features that may exist in the future.

Global LTI Configuration

  1. Navigate to System Admin -> Building Blocks -> Basic LTI Tool Providers.
  2. Click “Register Provider Domain”.
  3. For Provider Domain, enter your custom VoiceThread domain (provided by VoiceThread).
  4. Make sure the Provider Domain is “Approved”.
  5. Under Default Configuration, check “Set globally”.
  6. Enter your Tool Provider Key and Tool Provider Secret (provided by VoiceThread).
  7. Under Institutional Policies, check all three options for User Fields to Send.
  8. Save Changes.
  9. To ensure that grading has been enabled, click on “Manage Global Properties” at the top of your list of LTI tools, and make sure that the option for allowing tools to post grades has been enabled.
  10. Note: Depending on your version of Blackboard, you may need to navigate to System Admin -> Course Settings -> Course Tools and ensure that the VoiceThread LTI tool is set to “Enabled”.

Placement Configuration

  1. Make sure you’ve completed the global LTI configuration above.
  2. Go to the LTI Tool Providers page, and click “Manage Placements”.
  3. Click “Create Placement”.
  4. Enter a Label (for example: “VoiceThread”). This will be the name that appears in the user interface.
  5. Enter a Handle. This must be unique in your database, and it will not be visible to end users.
  6. Select “Content Type”.
  7. Select the location where you would like this placement to appear.
  8. Check “Placement allows grading”.
  9. Upload an icon for this Placement if you’d like. If you’d like to use a VT logo, the following URL is sized specifically for the Blackboard display space: https://voicethread.com/resources/vt-logo-3.png
  10. Enter your Key and Secret (provided by VoiceThread) and the URL: https://yourdomain.voicethread.com/ltione/
  11. Click “Submit”.

Troubleshooting Tips

Known issues specific to Blackboard:

  • Assignment due dates do not save within Blackboard.
  • You cannot have a line break or hyperlinked item in the description of any link. Fixed in Q2 2016 release of Blackboard
  • Submitted assignments do not show up in the “Needs Grading” area of the grade center.
  • Apostrophes in the link title result in a blank page. Fixed in Q2 2018 release of Blackboard

Error message: “The authentication failed; the authentication is stale. Please try again.”

This is caused by a bug in Blackboard. If you click on the VoiceThread link in your course and see a “Launch” button, don’t click on it. Instead, try letting the page sit for a few seconds without clicking anything. You should be forwarded to VoiceThread automatically.

To prevent this issue, try enabling the User Acknowledgement Message in your global LTI configuration for VoiceThread. This will require users to click on the “Launch” button before they will be forwarded to VoiceThread.

Error message: “The authentication failed; the signature on your request did not match the expected value” or “Unsupported Signature Method”

If the issue is isolated to a single link, the description entered by the instructor when setting up the VoiceThread link in the course likely contains a line break.  Descriptions in Blackboard must be a single, continuous paragraph.  To correct this, edit the description so that it does not contain any line breaks at all. 
Note: This is fixed in the Q2 2016 update of Blackboard.

If the issue occurs with all links in all courses, check to make sure the Shared Secret is entered correctly in your Global LTI Configuration and Placement.

If the issue occurs with all links in all courses and the Shared Secret is accurate, please make sure the clock on your Blackboard server is accurate.

Error message: “Could not find Org for this launch.”

Verify that the Consumer Key is entered correctly in both your Global LTI Configuration and Placement.

Error message: “Oh, buttons! We are unable to find [path]”

Make sure the URL is entered correctly for your Placement.

Instructors can’t see student submission for grading

The student likely did not click the “Submit Assignment” button after completing his work.  The student can simply go back into the assignment and click “Submit Assignment” at a later time.  He will not need to re-do his work.

Instructors don’t have the option to enable grading

Grading likely has not yet been enabled for LTI tools.  Please see step 7 for the Building Block or step 9 under Global LTI Configuration above.

You are not automatically signed in to VoiceThread when you click on a VT link

Make sure your web browser accepts third-party cookies.

When you click on a VT link, you see a page titled “VoiceThread Account Verification”.

This means you already had a VoiceThread account under your email address, and the system is now trying to connect that existing account with your Blackboard profile.  You’ll only need to complete this step once.  To proceed through this page:

  • Click on the link that says “Set it here” to set a verification password for your account.
  • Proceed through the steps to set a password.  This will involve receiving an email from VoiceThread.
  • Use that password you just set on the verification page.