We have been using MapleTA for many years (since version 1.5) and have version 8 hosted on a Maplesoft server. Recently, we looked into buying the Blackboard connector. It is disappointing that we have not been able to go through with this because of an inadequacy in the connector. As I understand it from our technicians, in Blackboard a course is identified by four attributes ID, year, calendar and title. These account for different presentations of the same course in different years and within a year eg 4000ME-201213-YR-AUG Engineering Mathematics. When the connector wants to map from a BB course to one on the MapleTA server, it uses only the TITLE as the identifier. Hence, there is clear potential for a non-unique mapping eg. it is not uncommon for two separate engineering departments to have a course with title "Engineering Mathematics". It is clearly impractical to rename and re-design a university system and it may be that other universities use BB in a different way. However, the connector should have been designed to accommodate such situations.

This "error" seems pretty basic to me in software design and I would hope that it is corrected before next academic year so that we may take advantage of what seems to be, in other respects, a very useful addition.

Prof Ian Jones


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