This page contains useful information to help faculty and students transition to online instruction in case of any class disruption due to unforeseen circumstances.

Information will be updated constantly.

Getting Your Course Ready for Distance Learning in Three Steps

This quick guide was created to get your course ready for distance learning and help to ensure the continuity of academic instruction.

Here are a few tips on what to consider:

  • Establish a clear channel and protocol of communication with your students. Inform them about the main channel of communication (e.g. school email, Blackboard announcements), and a potential alternative channel in case the main one is not available, e.g. group chat, phone call, messenger group chat like WhatsApp, Skype or Facebook messenger.
  • Become familiar with the technology you will use to communicate and deliver the course content to your students.
  • Establish clear and reasonable expectations for your students
  • Plan your lesson by keeping in mind
    • what and how it will be delivered
    • what is expected of the students
    • how they will submit their assignments
    • how you will provide feedback and support
  • Identify what support is available for you and students (online resources, EdTech, InfoTech, Student Help Desk, Library Support, etc.)

Blackboard is the official LMS of the university, and can be accessed from the Hostos homepage or CUNY homepage. Every course has a Blackboard instance and is available to students in order to establish a viable line of communication and delivery for online instruction.

* click on the links above to get more information about the tools

Recommendations

The Office of Educational Technology has developed resources to help faculty and students become familiar with Blackboard and other technologies used for online instruction. You will be able to learn in detail about these tools, as well as identifying how you can get support.

  • The Roadmap to Teaching Innovation course is a self-paced online guide for those faculty interested in having an online presence in their teaching and bringing instruction to the online environment. Every faculty is enrolled in this course and you will find in the list of courses you are enrolled in the Blackboard homepage.
  • The Student Online Readiness Course “Are Your Ready” is a self-paced online guide to prepare students for taking an online course. Students can self-enroll in this course by clicking on the Are You Ready banner in the Blackboard homepage.

When considering online teaching, often the primary concern among faculty is how to manage tests and other assessments, and especially how, if at all, to prevent cheating on online exams and plagiarizing content for assignments and test essays. Maintaining academic integrity in an online course may seem an impossible task given students are unproctored and working from a remote location. This potentially allows them to associate with classmates, have access to books, notes and the internet, and use more than one device such as phones and other mobile devices. However, there are practices and strategies that an instructor can implement into their pedagogy as well as tools available, both outside and built into Blackboard, that make cheating difficult and working in combination almost impossible.  Read more

With Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (a web conferencing application integrated into Blackboard) you can conduct live videoconferencing lesson with your class, which includes breakout rooms, whiteboard, application and document sharing and live chat. The application is accessible by faculty and students directly from their Blackboard course page. Visit the CUNY Blackboard website to access how-tos and tutorials for the various Blackboard tools, including the Collaborate tutorials for both faculty and students.

Cisco WebEx Access: WebEx is now available for all faculty and staff across the University under a 90-day license. They can initiate calls with students now, and student-initiated calls are being enabled. It is also integrated WebEx within Blackboard for setting up a collaboration workspace, online meetings and online office hours for courses. See the ConnectCUNY WebEx Quick Start Guide for instructions on accessing and information on using WebEx Meetings and WebEx Teams.

NOTE: Given the increase in usage of these tools due to transition to online learning of all CUNY courses, it is recommended that you have a plan B in case you experience poor connections or difficulties to connect. Some tips:

  • If using Collaborate switch to Webex or viceversa
  • Record the session for your lesson with Collaborate or Panopto and make it available for your students to review it asynchronously. Use the discussion board to provide a venue for students to communicate with you and their classmates
  • Limit the times of synchronous sessions with your students and use a flipped learning approach

With Panopto (a video recording and lecture capture application integrated into Blackboard) you can record a lecture-capture lesson, record short videos, and also upload videos. These capabilities allow you to share your lessons asynchronously with your students. It is recommended that you establish a channel of communication with your students such as a Discussion board, to monitor the progress and provide feedback and support as needed.

TIP: Use a flipped learning approach to create a more dynamic and interactive learning environment for your students.

It is important to consider what to keep in mind, change, adapt when working from home. Steelcase offers very useful tips to consider when working remotely in its article Suddenly Working From Home? Four ways to help you stay productive — and sane.

During this period of emergency, the college is limited to the capacity of what can be supported; hence the general recommendation is to use systems that the university has licenses and support for. If you have the need to use other applications the college does not support, make sure to read and understand the Acceptable Use of University Data in the Cloud Policy and proceed accordingly.

The reserve textbook collection may not be available to students. The Library recommends that you scan individual chapters that will be required for your course, and upload these to Blackboard for your students.

NOTE: you may upload only one chapter at a time, and take down the previous chapter before posting a new reading.

Support Information

  • Office of Educational Technology: EdTechSupport@hostos.cuny.edu | 718.319.7915
  • Office of Information Technology: itjobrequest@hostos.cuny.edu | 718.518.6646
  • EdTech Leadership Council: Members from the council will serve as mentors and support liaisons for their respective academic departments.
  • CTL Advisory Council: Members from the council will serve as support liaisons for any pedagogical strategies and tips for their respective academic departments.
  • Library Online Services: Guide for up-to-date info about Hostos Library services and support
  •  After Hours Blackboard Support 
    •  Weeknights — from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am the next morning 
    •  Weekends — from 8:00pm Friday night to 8:00am Monday morning 
    •  Dial the following telephone number:1-646-664-2024 
    •  Please read these instructions before contacting Blackboard for support. 

Useful Resources

Students Get Ready for Online Learning in Three Steps

This quick video was created for students to get ready for Online Learning and become familiar with essentials components of Blackboard.

The Office of Educational Technology has developed a lot of resources to help students become familiar with Blackboard and other technologies used for online learning. You will be able to learn in detail about these tools, as well as identifying how you can get support.

Support Information

Useful Resources

CUNY Blackboard Support Resources

Blackboard Collaborate Helpful Tips

General Audio Video Help

Audio Video Best Practices

General Audio/Video setup instructions

Make sure browsers are completely up to date. We only support the current release and the prior two. Older browsers have old versions of webrtc which may no longer work reliably with our software.

If you are setup then continue here with basic Troubleshooting

If you’re are using Windows these steps will help fix Audio and Microphone issues where you may be being blocked in the browser.

Mac Catalina and Mojave require the browser to be given permission for Mic and Camera as well as in the browser.

Edge 18 and below, incoming audio does not work. Update MS Windows or use another browser.

Some versions of Edge can present your camera on its side.

Adobe for Education YouTube channel

CUNY has put together an FAQ page for faculty and staff on accessing and using CUNY technology to support remote teaching, learning and work: https://www.cuny.edu/coronavirus/faq-for-faculty-and-staff/#policies-sharing.

FAQs for Hostos Faculty

Where will faculty workshops be conducted online?
Faculty workshops will continue to be posted in the Workshop calendar along with a link on how they can be accessed online.

What do I do if I miss the workshop?
Several workshops are being offered on the same topic. If the one you wish to go to is full or you miss it for some reason, just sign up for the next one on the schedule that covers the topic.

NOTE: please check your schedule and make every effort to attend the workshops that you register on. If a workshop is at maximum with several people that do not attend, those slots could have been filled by other people at that time.

Are workshops offered in the evenings or on the weekends?
We update the workshop calendar regularly and offer workshops throughout the day during the Office of Educational Technology’s operational hours: Mondays through Thursday from 9am to 8pm, Friday from 9am to 5pm.

What is the difference between an item and a file? 
Uploading a file is for a single file and recommended for its simplicity.

An item in Blackboard is a rich text box that can contain text, images, files, and links.

Is there a hardcopy of the Roadmap course? 
Not at this time.

How can I send e-mails to all my students? 
There are a couple of ways to send e-mail to students through Blackboard. One is to use the Announcements tool, which allows the instructor to post timely notifications for all students that they will see when they log into the Blackboard course. When you create a new announcement, there is an option on that screen you can check if you want to e-mail the announcement to students as well.

The other method is to look for Course Tools in your left side navigation menu (it will be towards the bottom.) Click on it and a longer list options wil show up. Look for the link: Send Email.

What is Panopto?
Panopto is a lecture capture solution offered at Hostos.  Faculty can use it to vedeotape their lecture (record the computer screen, PowerPoint Presentations, Audio) and then make the recordings available to their students for their review.

Where can I find general information about Panopto?
Please visit the following site https://commons.hostos.cuny.edu/panopto

Is Panopto integrated into blackboard? If so where can I find it?
Yes, you can find Panopto by clicking the “Collaboration” link in the course menu (blue menu at the left-hand side).  Then click where it says Panopto.

Can I use Panopto as a video repository?
Yes, you can upload videos to Panopto from your own computer or from YouTube.

I can record videos on both Panopto and Collaborate Ultra. What’s the difference between the two tools then?
You can pre-record videos of your lectures and presentations on Panopto so your students can watch them any time they log into Blackboard.

With Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, you can hold a synchronous (in real time) streaming session with students. It’s like a virtual classroom where you can hold discussions, explain concepts, and even present a lecture to students who are all in Blackboard at the same time. This is also the tool you can use to have face to face time with students when you hold virtual office hours.

How can I interact with students (and colleagues) more frequently online?
There are several collaboration tools being supported by CUNY to encourage regular interaction with online students. You can now access both Collorate Ultra and Webex through your Blackboard course. With these tools, you can discuss and demonstrate lessons with students in real time.

Where can I find general information about Blackboard Collaborate?
You can get started on the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Help Page.

What is Blackboard Collaborate Ultra?
Blackboard Collaborate is a live video lecture tool where you can share your screen and/or whiteboard while communicating with students via video conferencing.

I want to do live online lectures! What do I use?
We recommend getting acquainted with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. You can access this tool in your Blackboard course under Tools > Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

What are Breakout Rooms in Collaborate Ultra?
You can create separate rooms in which a smaller group of students can work together. If you are recording the session, using the Breakout rooms will stop the recording.

What is Webex?
This is a synchronous tool that allows you to meet with students in real time in a virtual space. As an instructor, you’ll be able to share your computer screen or draw out concepts on a whiteboard, as well as give a student the opportunity to be a presenter so they can share their screen or documents as well.

Webex has been added to the list of tools available for use within Blackboard. Here’s how to add a link to your Blackboard course navigation menu for easy access to Webex.

  1. Click the plus sign at the top of the blue navigational menu (left side of your screen) and a window will pop up. Select “Tool Link.”
  2. Then in the Name field, type “Webex”
  3. For Type, click on the drop menu and scroll all the way down to select”connectcuny webex”
  4. Check “Available to Users”
  5. Click Submit

Can I use Webex for other meetings as well? 
Absolutely. Faculty can use WebEX to hold department or other team meetings.  See CUNY’s official page for more information on how to sign into WebEX to hold meetings.

What is a Discussion Board?
The Discussion Board is a tool in blackboard to allow for asynchronous discussion for instructors and students.

Where can I find general information about Discussion Boards?
Please click the following link to get more information about blackboard Discussion Board: Blackboard Help

Can I require students to participate in a discussion board?
You may decide that in order that students to demonstrate they are regularly participating in the class through Blackboard, they need to post thoughts and ideas on a discussion board. There is an option to award points for their use of the discussion board that gets factored into their final grade.

Where can I find general information about Blackboard Tests? 
Blackboard allows instructors to create tests with a wide range of question types, and makes grading a faster process.  To learn more, please visit the CUNY faculty guide

What are ways to prevent cheating on tests?  
There are various options that can be used to reduce the likelihood of online students cheating. When creating a test, an instructor may consider randomizing the order of multiple choice questions as well as answer options so students are less likely to consult each other. There is also a broad range of question types available in Blackboard for test design, including essay and short answer, and generally it’s best practice to use a range of question types.

Where can I find general information about the Grade Center?
Please visit the CUNY faculty guide to learn about the Grade Center.

What is the Grade Center in Blackboard?
The Grade Center is where you can access information about all your students’ assignments, grades and progress. Here, you can create formulas for calculating students’ final grades.

How can I create a mobile friendly course?
Please review:
https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Course_Content/Mobile_Friendly_Courses

Where can I get started with the Blackboard Learn mobile app?
https://help.blackboard.com/Blackboard_Instructor
Download the app from your App(iPhone) Store or Google Play(Android) Store.

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