Campus closings due to a weather emergency can bring major disruption to your course calendar, especially since they are unscheduled. But instructors at Hostos have tools and strategies available to themthat can keep the course on schedule and students up-to-date with the material.
One of the most effective strategies for making up content missed on an emergency closing is to move the class activity online. Blackboard, CUNY’s Course Management System (CMS) is specifically designed to conduct distance learning and the tools are designed to facilitate the transfer of standard classroom activities to the online environment, and as a course instructor each of your courses already have a Blackboard section and you and your students have access to them of you make them available.

Office of Educational Technology (EdTech) The staff at EdTech stand ready to assist you in getting your cancelled class work online so that your course can stay on schedule.  For more information, visit the EdTech site:

Recommended: The “Are You Ready” Online Learning Readiness Course If you never taught online or used an online component in your course and not sure what your students’ experience with online coursework is you may suggest to them that they take the Are You Ready online Learning Readiness Course.  It’s online in Blackboard, students can self-enroll, it takes about an hour, and students receive a certificate when completed.

To learn more about the Are You Ready course, go to the following link:

By Asynchronous we mean that these are tools and resources that can be accessed at any time

Taking attendance Visits to a Blackboard course and to items posted can be tracked and viewed in a report generated in Blackboard, allowing for “attendance” to be taken for items posted to replace a cancelled classroom session.

Slide shows Lecture content can be presented using Powerpoint slides posted in Blackboard and making them accessible to students online. Powerpoint files can also be made available to students through Google Drive and Dropbox, and shared with them directly or through links in Blackboard.

Posting Documents Documents can be posted in PDF format, including Powerpoint slides. The advantage of using PDF files is that they are easy to navigate online, they are transportable, so that students using different platforms can open them if they have Acrobat Reader installed, which is free and downloadable from Adobe. Also PDFs can be made fillable and interactive if you have access to Acrobat Professional, so it can be used submit assignments. Word and Excel files can also be posted in Blackboard.

Submitting Assignments Written activity may be submitted using the Assignments tool in Blackboard, and you can retrieve and grade the submissions within Blackboard through the Grade Center. Blackboard also has the anti-plagiarism tools SafeAssign and Turnitin available.

Tests and Surveys These can be created and posted in Blackboard and taken online. Most  question types are available including multiple choice, essay, short answer, match, true-false and short answer.

Discussion Board Discussions of different topics can be conducted online using Blackboard Discussion Board. Since instructor and students use the Blackboard editor to post, audio and video links, images and links to external sites can be included in the discussions.

Blogs and Wikis Blogs are online journals which students and instructors can post entries to and can be viewed and commented on by class participants. Wikis are similar to blogs but students can work collaboratively on pages within the wiki, so that a group or class website can be created. Both these tools can replace classroom activities that require class participation and collaboration and can be motivators because of the ability for students to communicate and express themselves with rich media.

Group Activities Lessons that involve group or collaborative work can be transferred to Blackboard. You can create groups in Blackboard and all the tools mentioned above, such as tests, Discussions, Blogs and wikis can be organized into group activities. Collaborate Ultra allows for the creation of “breakout rooms” so that students can be organized into online groups and administer their own videoconferencing (see below). With Panopto you can create project folders for groups where students can record or upload their own videos for class projects.

Audio Recordings You can record the spoken lecture you had scheduled and post it online using Audacity, the free, open-source audio recording and editing application. Audio files can be created in WAV or MP3 or other formats and uploaded into Blackboard’s Content Collection or shared through Google Drive, Dropbox, YouTube or other web-based media sharing platforms, and link to the file posted in Blackboard and sent to students via email and Blackboard announcement.

Recording From Video Camera You can record a video of a lesson by simply having a video camera record a normal lecture, using a video camera, webcam or smart phone video camera, and upload the recording, Video files (MP4, WMV) should not be uploaded directly into Blackboard or content collection, because of their large size. YouTube and Vimeo are  convenient places to post video files and can be made available to students through links posted in Blackboard or accessed directly. At Hostos, the Panopto video recording building block in Blackboard (see below) can also be used as a media server where video files can be uploaded and made accessible to students.

Lecture Capture Video Recording The best and most convenient way to record a lecture that can go out to your students quickly is to use the Panopto Building Block incorporated into Blackboard. You can record your voice over a Powerpoint presentation, record your desktop, share an application or record video with a webcam, using the downloaded Panopto recorder. Once completed, the recording can be edited and then uploaded automatically so that your students can view the recording as soon as it is completed through a link in the Panopto tool in Blackboard. The Smart Room computers at Hostos have the Panopto recorder installed, and annotations using the Smart Room tablet can be recorded as part of the lecture recording. Visit the Panopto site for more information and contact EdTech if you’re interested in using Panopto in your class.

To learn more about Panopto, visit the following link:


By synchronous activities we mean those done in real time. A class could have a live online event scheduled for a specific date, time and duration.  Potentially you can schedule this online meeting for the time that your class was originally scheduled to meet before the cancellation.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a live streaming videoconferencing application that is designed specifically for education and accessible through Blackboard. Live streaming video and audio for moderator and participants, live chat, whiteboard, application sharing, Powerpoint slide show presentations and breakout rooms for group activities can be incorporated into a live online lesson. Please contact EdTech if you are interested in using Collaborate Ultra in your teaching.

Panopto One of Panopto’s many capabilities is webcasting, which allows you to broadcast out a live streaming presentation. Webcasting does not allow the type of interactivy with the class you get with Collaborate Ultra, but its an easy way to get a live lecture out to your students.

For more information on Blackboard support for faculty at Hostos, go to the following link:

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