By George Rosa, Senior Instructional Designer at EdTech

Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters have brought some innovative changes to Blackboard that faculty, as well as students, will find useful. One change makes it easier to access tools that expand the possibilities for bringing dynamic, media-driven collaboration to the classroom and online pedagogy, increasing student engagement. The Collaboration Link In the orange Navigation Menu on the left in a Bb course you will see a new button “Collaboration.”


a student learning in front of a laptop

This link serves as an entryway for two powerful media tools – Panopto, for lecture capture, and Collaborate Ultra, for live video-conferencing, both having been covered in previous issues of EdTech Innovations. Both of these web-based applications are available to all faculty to use with their students, whether they teach classroom or online courses. Both Panopto and Collaborate are powerful media enhancements that greatly facilitate distance learning and mediation, but they also make for engaging collaborative tools. For instance, in Panopto an instructor can create subfolders that allow students to upload and share videos with classmates using the Panopto Recorder tool as well as video files recorded using their smartphones or cameras, with students assigned as moderators. Collaborate uses a similar concept, allowing instructors to create “breakout rooms”, dividing the class into groups and distributing them among the rooms, with students as moderators.

Of course, there are other collaboration tools available in a Blackboard course not found through this link, specifically the Discussion Board, Blog, Wiki, and Journal tools. Please contact EdTech if you wish to use one or both of these applications in your course teaching. Workshops that cover these are also offered, but you can stop by any time for an overview. Now let’s talk about other changes that make certain tasks in Blackboard easier. It is easier for Faculty to enroll instructors and students into a Bb course Everyone who uses Blackboard is now familiar with the CUNY login to Blackboard. As part of Blackboard’s new integration with CUNYfirst, your CUNYfirst Employee ID is now your Blackboard username. This actually makes it easier for faculty to enroll Blackboard users in their courses manually. Manual enrollment can be useful for special situations, such as when an instructor needs to have another instructor in a course as part of the observation, a student from another cam-pus employed as a peer leader needs access to the course, or the leader of a manually-created Blackboard course, such as a Capstone course, needs to enroll faculty as students. As far as enrolling students into a regular academic course, it’s best to leave it to the automated process that feeds enrollment data from CUNYfirst into Blackboard. Submission receipt for Assignment submissions This new feature is a step towards dealing with the problem of students claiming they submitted an assignment even though it wasn’t received by the instructor. When a student submits an assignment successfully, the Review Submission History page appears with information about the submitted assignment and a success message with a confirmation number. The student can copy and save this number as proof of submission. For assignments with multiple attempts, the student receives a different number for each submission. The student can access submission receipts from the Submitted tab on the My Grades page. They can select the number next to Submission Receipts at the bottom of the list to see submission history.

Akademos Building Block in Blackboard Instructors at Hostos is now required to post the textbook(s) they “adopt” for their courses on the Akademos book-store website. Students can see the textbooks that have been adopted for their courses and purchase them through the site at a great discount. This semester Akademos will be accessible through a module within Blackboard. Faculty will be able to post their adoptions while in Blackboard and students will be able to make their purchases, and these postings will be universal, the postings will appear whether faculty and students access Akademos through Blackboard, through its website, or through the link in the Hostos website. How to manually enroll a Blackboard User into your course Please consult with EdTech before manually enrolling anyone in a course because of security considerations! To enroll someone in your course, she/he must be a “CUNY Blackboard User”. A User must be a currently enrolled student or currently employed faculty or staff, with a valid CUNYfirst Employee ID. These individuals have their status imported into Blackboard in a daily data feed. Normally students registered for courses are automatically enrolled into them based on data entered by the Registrar into CUNYfrst.

Users link from the Bb menu


Users should only be manually enrolled into a course for special reasons, such as giving access to a professor as part of a department observation, enrolling a student as a peer leader, allowing guests from other CUNY campuses to visit courses, or some other special circumstance.

Find users to enroll


Enroll Users in Bb screenshot


IMPORTANT: Note that you can choose the Role of the enrollee in the course. It’s extremely important that a manual enrollee in a course not be given a status other than Student or Guest without consulting with the department chairperson or dean.


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