News and Notes

CUNYFirst Sign-On to Blackboard
CUNY is taking a bigger step towards the holy grail of the CUNY digital community – the single sign-on – with the switchover to signing on to Blackboard using your CUNYFirst ID, beginning in July 2017.  It won’t be a true single sign-on, the Blackboard and CUNYFirst systems will remain separate.  But the primary User ID in Blackboard for users (CUNY faculty, student and staff) will be the CUNYFirst EmploID, and the 21 digit UUID of the CUNY LDAP will be retired.  This will help eliminate the  too-common problem of students unable to access their Blackboard courses because of multiple accounts in the CUNY system.  These steps should go a long way towards  eliminating the duplication issue and having students access their Blackboard sections at the beginning of the semester without any problems that require job requests to CUNY CIS.  Also planned is the end of the CUNY Portal.  The eventual hope is that Blackboard, CUNYFirst and CUNY Portal features are unified under one system, but that may be a while down the road.

Preferred Names in Blackboard
In response to many requests from faculty, student and staff over the past few years, CUNY CIS will allow Blackboard users to use preferred names as their identity in Blackboard, beginning March 31, 2017.  Faculty should be very aware of this change because of the potential of confusion this can cause, especially when using the Grade Center.  Reminders and updates on this initiative will be sent out as the change is implemented.

The impetus for this initiative was an article in The KIngsman,  Brooklyn College’s, student-run newspaper,  describing embarrassing and potentially isolating and threatening situations suffered by trans and non-binary students when professors accidentally referred to students by their  legal names instead of their preferred names because they used the course roster in Blackboard  as the class attendance roster.  CUNYFirst recognizes preferred names, so until this change takes place in Blackboard it may be good practice to use the CUNYFirst roster for classroom attendance.  The Kingsman article can be read at:

http://kingsmanbc.com/index.php/article/blackboard-does-not-recognize-preferred-names-creates-issues-for-lgbt-students/

Proposed Blackboard Building Blocks testing on Blackboard Stage
Not many faculty are aware that some of the useful Blackboard tools they may be using are either Building Blocks or LTIs (Learning Tools Interoperability).  These basically are applications, often by third-party vendors that can run in Blackboard.  Among those that many faculty might be familiar with are Panopto and Turnitin, and building blocks associated with textbook publishers like Pearson, McGraw-Hill and John Wiley.  It’s important to know that any faculty can propose the installation of a Building Block into Blackboard. The CUNY site www.cuny.com/blackboard has a section on Building Blocks, listing the ones installed on Blackboard, how to submit a proposal for a Building Block, and the process it must go through until final installation.  The Blackboard site http://www.blackboard.com/partnerships/extensions.aspx covers the Building Blocks that are available for installation.

Some proposed building blocks, such as the Digication e-portfolio building block are already available for trying out on CUNY Blackboard’s Staging (testing) environment.  Contact ETLC if you’re interested in trying out this and other proposed building blocks.

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