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 (


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.




Preferred Name in Blackboard

Over the past couple of years, there have been students who have requested that the first name that shows in Blackboard be different from their legal name.

However, the Records Office needs to maintain the official identity of the student for legal and reporting purposes, and had no simple way to deal with these requests.

Student have all sorts of good reasons to request this, which I’m not going to deal with; that’s not the goal of this discussion. My focus is on how this update affects Blackboard.

Banner, luckily, has worked out a location to store what is called a “preferred” first name, and the process that moves information into Blackboard from Banner now pulls from that preferred first name field, if it is populated.

What that means to faculty:

  • The names in your Blackboard grade book may not exactly match the names in your Banner Self Service class list. Since this is a “first name only” change, the last names in both locations will be the same.
  • The number of folk who have a preferred first name is relatively finite at the moment, but may increase now that the system will accommodate it.
  • Students cannot enter their own preferred first name into the system; this currently must be done in the Records Office or through a staff member at a campus center. Students will need to show picture ID to the staff in the Records Office before their information will be updated.

If you are not sure that you have matched up names correctly, you can reach out to the Records Office or the Help Desk for assistance.

There will be expanded use of the preferred first name when the college upgrades Banner to Banner 9, which will happen in the next 18 months. With Banner 9, the class list in Banner Self Service will be able to use the preferred first name, which will eliminate the confusion.

If you have questions, do feel free to ask!

Moving Stuff Around!

Fix one thing, break another… sigh. There was a Blackboard update during Spring Break last week… it was snowing, so no one really saw it go in! 🙂

There’s a new uptick in a known problem, being able to move folders or items by drop-and-drag within a menu. You drag things around, finally get everything looking fine and figure you’re done.

You go to another page and then come back and it’s a mess again! It may go back to the original order, or — even worse — a semi-random order.

KeyboardOne solution is to use the “Keyboard Accessible Reordering” option. I’ve put together a 1 page outline on how to do that… click here for the PDF: Moving Folders (even though it’s titled “folders” it’s really about moving anything in a list that should be movable).

Something you should try first is, of course, browser specific.

In Firefox, your browser may need to updates — update to the latest version. Also, clear cache (instructions here), as always. If that doesn’t work, reset Firefox back to its default settings (reset instructions here).

In Chrome, start with clearing cache (instructions here) and, again, if that doesn’t work, you need to reset the browser (reset instructions here).

We keep Firefox and Chrome reasonably up-to-date in your office, but it’s not necessarily the fully latest release. So start with the clearing cache option first before you do anything drastic.

The Keyboard Accessible Reordering will work, it’s just not as pretty as the drag-and-drop options.

Hopefully, this will be fixed in the next Blackboard update…



System Maintenance – July 13, Mid to 7 am

Genesis / Blackboard will be off line for planned system maintenance on Wednesday, July 13 from Midnight to about 7 am.

The system may be available before 7 am, but the midnight is a firm time.

STUDENTS: Plan to complete any tests or submit assignments well before midnight. If you are still online at midnight, you will be cut off without warning.

FACULTY: Please look at your summer course schedule and make allowances for this down time.

Library resources will still be available and students can access email through the link.

Questions? Send them to and we’ll get back to you.


The Moving Plan

GenesisLogoUnlike a lot of other folk, I’ve been lucky to have only really moved a couple of times…

The good news is that gives me a lot of stability. I know how things work, I know where the best pizza place is and I know I have some great neighbors.

What I’ve missed is some maybe awesome regional food that I would never even think to look for, the chance to meet new people and an opportunity to really clean out that basement because I can’t afford to move everything I’ve collected over time.

The move to Open SUNY is that opportunity to weed through the ‘stuff’ you’ve collected, and maybe part with that lamp that doesn’t fit your decor but is too good to simply throw away.

The plan, over the next 4-6 weeks, is to move all Blackboard courses in the listed semesters over to the new site:

  • Summer 2015
  • Fall 2015
  • Winter 2015
  • Spring 2016

If you will need courses from other semesters, we certainly can accommodate that! We’ll be putting out several “tell us!” emails over the next few weeks. Or go ahead and tell me now and I’ll start a list so we have it for you.

Remember, you really don’t need that lamp!

Move to “the cloud”

Okay, I originally typed that title as “the could” — as in “the little engine that…”  😉

Over the next few months there will be a series of posts about Genesee’s moving Blackboard services to “the cloud”… specifically, the Open SUNY hosting cloud. The plan is to send summary information to your Genesee email and to put longer, more detailed explanations here.

In the time that we have self-hosted Blackboard, the system has become larger and more complex, which then translates to more work to keep running.

And, as many of you are painfully aware, the problems we’ve had in keeping the system up and running have become more complex and less easy to solve. Fall 2015 wasn’t necessarily a good semester for some of you (and your students), and you’ve all been incredibly patient. But we’re also aware that Blackboard has become a critical system at Genesee and it needs more support and expertise than we can reasonably give to it.

As a result, we’re going to be moving Genesee’s Blackboard services to Open SUNY. The really great part of this is that the folk at Open SUNY host Blackboard services for 20+ SUNY colleges. They have full time systems folk who are on call 24×7 and their only job is to support Blackboard systems.

What this means, once we’ve made the move, is that Harold, Ken and I can spend time on other projects that also need to be done. We can do more training and look at new technology — something that we have not had the time to do while we’re working on Blackboard systems.

The high-level schedule at this point is to host Winter 2015 and Spring 2016 courses at Genesee, just like we’ve been doing. No changes to that.

We will spend the Spring semester checking out the new system and plan to host Summer 2016 courses at Open SUNY.

For the most part, the final change will be invisible. If you go to — like most of you already do — and click on “Genesis” that click will take you to the new site. It will look like our existing site, have the same information inside on the tabs, and use your existing usernames and passwords. Our hope is to keep the ‘bumps’ down to a minimum.

What will be coming in January is a more detailed schedule and more communication about the entire project.

Questions? Please, do ask!