BB Update – June 2018

Open SUNY will be applying the most recent update to Blackboard, which should be solving several problems that you might be seeing.

The list includes the following updates to Blackboard courses:

  • SafeAssign Reports not being generated in certain conditions
  • Adding a Second Math Editor Equation Renders only Text
  • Overdue Notifications sent to Students that Submitted Assignment when Due Date is Changed
  • Actual Score Data Missing in Analyze Evidence Collection Results
  • Error when Attempting to Dismiss Notifications in My Institution Tab
  • Outcomes Evidence Collection – performance improvements

It also includes updates to two ‘building blocks’ — the customization for specific information. This time, the Web Services and McGraw Hill blocks are being updated as indicated.

Blackboard Mobile Web Services Building Block

Blackboard app

  • Supports discussion board file attachments from a device or cloud storage.
  • Remediates issue where test questions that contained inequality symbols, such as < or >, didn’t display appropriately.
  • Fixes issue that allowed some users to access tests beyond their availability date through a link available in the grade override when exceptions were made for other users by accessing the test.
  • Resolves issue where users were able to view unavailable assignments through the activity stream.
  • Provides users the ability to view completion status of surveys assigned to them.

Blackboard Instructor

  • Provides instructors and custom role users with appropriate permissions the ability to schedule announcements with start and end times and to email announcements to students.
  • Resolves issue where some custom roles received an error in Original courses on Ultra-enabled environments.

McGraw-Hill Connect and Create

  • Updates to support ULTRA environments for courses with classic UI.
  • Updates to accommodate support for changes for Time on Task (TOT).

If you have questions, contact Mary Jane Heider ( or Harold Strassner (


“It’s broke”

As you know, I also work on the Help Desk, and try to help folk with whatever their computer-related problems are. Sometimes, it’s as simple as reminding folk about the steps to take, sometimes I have to refer folk to someone else… but sometimes….

Let’s try something from your point of view for a moment.

What do you do when a student doing poorly comes to you (or you drag them into your office) and, when pushed, the student finally admits, “I don’t get it.”

You internally sigh, and ask back, “Don’t get what?”

The student then flails a bit and says something along the lines of, “None of it!”

You then really sigh, sit the student down, and start to back-track. “Okay, let’s go back a week, did you understand [last week’s topic]?” You continue to poke around within the last week (or month) of material to try to identify where the student stopped understanding what you were trying to do. Sometimes, the problem goes back far enough that it’s daunting, or sometimes there’s a fundamental topic / process / concept that the student did not understand (or read or do the homework for or whatever) and, once you go back to that, the student does that “oh!” thing, and then everyone feels better.

Well, that also happens on the help desk. We get a lot of requests (thank you!) that have the details we need to help, but there are calls with “it’s broke” and essentially nothing else.

So when we come back with questions about your problem, we do need you to work with us to be able to help you.

If nothing else, give the “who, what, where, when and why” details. Just because we’re the help desk, doesn’t mean we’re experts on what you do every day — there are lots of things we don’t know. The more information you can give up front, the better we can help you!


Problems Uploading Assignments for Mac Users

There is a known problem for anyone with a Mac who has upgraded to Safari version 11.1.

Students attempting to upload an assignment may have a missing upload button or, more likely, will get an error message: Failed to submit Assignment. Please try again.  When trying again, the student gets the same message.

Students can try the upload in another browser on their Mac, but that also seems to be a problem. The Safari upgrade seems to corrupt the upload process entirely for the student on that unit.

One work-around is to do the upload on a PC.

Faculty: If the PC upload is not a viable option for the student, faculty are encouraged to determine what options may be possible within the scope of the course.

Students: Contact your instructor directly for instructions on what to do next. Do not wait for an assignment to be due, if possible.

The original Blackboard notice can be found on the Blackboard knowledge-base site.

A fix is planned for an upcoming Blackboard update, but there currently (April 2018) is no estimated date on when that may be installed.

If faculty need assistance with this issue, contact Harold Strassner or Judie Littlejohn for assistance. Email can be sent to and the folk there will route your request to Harold or Judie.

System Maintenance – Feb 19, 2018

Computer Services will be doing routine system maintenance on Monday, February 19 from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.


What will not be available:

  • college WWW site
  • Library resources
  • faculty/staff email
  • Banner access
  • remote access to P drives

Work will be done on the firewall and other internal infrastructure; internal access to resources may be affected, if you were considering coming on campus to work.

A formal notice will be sent closer to the actual date. Students will also be notified closer to the actual date as well as a message posted on the front of Genesis.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

Box View in Assignments

Over the winter break, a mandatory update was performed in Blackboard to switch the document management tool in Assignments from Croc-o-Doc to Box. Croc-o-Doc was being phased out by the publisher, and Blackboard found Box as the closest substitution.

But it is different. There are many things Box does not do that CoD did do. Two major changes, as examples:

  • downloaded files do not have any of your annotations
  • you cannot draw on a document (useful in math or other courses)

The good news is that Box will manage more file types than before, so that the student who wants to submit documents in *.odt format can safely do that.

But if you miss some of those previous capabilities, there’s a place for your voice to be heard.

Go to the Blackboard Community site here: Create a free account and vote! Vote for any feature that was take away that you’d like back! Vote for a feature you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw it on the list.

Blackboard watches this site closely and is aware of the general unhappiness with Box. They were pushed into a corner and had to do something, and they are trying to make it better. There will most likely be changes coming out during the Spring semester.

But if you’re missing a feature that was there before, go and vote on it!

Organizing your Course List

Question came up about organizing the course list by sorting out courses and removing older/not needed courses.

Which prompted me to write some help desk documentation!

You can find that here: 

If you are both teaching and taking courses, the sections you teach will appear above the sections you are taking.

Otherwise, this information is useful to both instructors and students! Feel free to share!

Assignment Tool Update

Scheduled for Wednesday, December 20 between midnight and 7:00 am, SUNY will be updating our Blackboard system. Blackboard will not be available during that time.

The major component that will be updated will be in the Assignment Tool. Croc-o-doc, the system that allows for online grading of assignments, is being replace by Box.

Information on the upgrade can be found here: There is a summary of the major differences on that page.

This is a good news/bad news sort of upgrade. There will be a few additional features, and there’s a chance that something you liked will be going away.

This is a required upgrade since Croc-o-doc is being de-commissioned and will not be available at all after January 15, 2018.