Adding Your Own Videos to Your Course

Videos can be very useful in supporting your instruction. And while there’s lots of ‘stuff’ ‘out there’, sometimes you simple need/want to do it yourself.

What we do ask is that you do not upload the video file itself into your course. At some point, space is not the final frontier and not limitless. Even in Star Trek, there were references to “the edge of the galaxy”…

This is especially important if you want to use the same video in several sections. And then you ‘roll’ the course to a new semester, and that (relatively tiny) 25 MB video file is now on the server in a dozen locations. It adds up.

We request that you upload your videos to a video hosting service, and it does not have to be You Tube! Genesee has space on an “Ensemble” hosting service, which is a lot more private than YouTube.

There is a ‘hook’ between Ensemble and Blackboard, so that once your video is uploaded to Ensemble, it’s a simple task to put the video into your course(s).

Instructions on how to do this here: ensemblevideoandblackboard (PDF file!)

If you have questions, or need an Ensemble account, do let me know!

Test Management Issue

I’ve taken to “daisy chaining” the quizzes and tests in my online course.

That is, a student has to take Quiz 1 before Quiz 2 becomes available. Then they have to take Quiz 2 before Test 1 becomes available. After taking Test 1, Quiz 3 become available, etc.

I’ve been, umm, forced to do this to make the point that the Quizzes are required and not an optional part of the course. But that’s not the technical issue here.

It turns out that the “adaptive release” option I use to manage this little trick is negated when I “Edit Test Options” and add names to the “Test Availability Exceptions.”

When I need to make a Test available past the due date for some student (and, sigh, there’s always at least one), then the “adaptive release” is completely taken away.

Which means students who have not taken Quiz 2 now can jump directly to Test 1 — without passing Go, and without collecting $200.

This also means if your test availability dates were in “adaptive release” and not in the “Edit Test Options” section, you need to add your beginning and ending dates to that area… otherwise, your availability dates are totally gone!

Took me a while to figure this one out… thought I’d share!




Using Rubrics to your Advantage

Rather than deal with the ‘discussion’ about late assignments, I allow for them, with an overt penalty listed in the syllabus.

There are 11 ten-point assignments in the course, so remembering who has turned what in, and when, is fully managed by the Assignment Tool. And since it’s only 10 points, every assignment has a rubric attached to it.

I’d rather students do the assignment than not, in the end, and I can be ‘understanding’ by allowing for the late submission. I do have a “last submission date” where I do not take assignments after that date, but during the semester, I’m pretty lenient.

In an effort to keep everyone more-or-less on time, I have penalties listed right in the syllabus. Assignments submitted 2 days late get a 2 point penalty and over 2 days late, it’s a 6 point penalty.

But, heck, when you’re otherwise struggling, 4 points is better than 0!

But as I’m typing “minor penalty for late submission” in the feedback box for the bazillionth time, it finally hits me. I can put that into the rubric!


The rubric tool will take negative numbers, as long as you also have a 0 value in the row.

When an assignment is turned in on time, I can simply click the “0 Points” box and it’s all set. When it’s late, I click the appropriate penalty. The penalty is applied and message sent, right in the rubric.

Date Management Issues

Yet another known bug… 😦

Due dates on tests and assignments may not show up in the “To Do” module in your course. to-do-2

You’ve entered ‘due dates’ on your quizzes and assignments, but they will not show in the To Do module.

To get them to show — at least until the bug is fixed (and we’re hoping for November) — is to enter dates through the grade center.

Go to the Full Grade Center, click on the drop-down for your grade column and select “Edit Column Information.”


You need to somehow edit the existing due date. If you need to keep the same due date, delete what it there, submit, go back into Edit Column Information and re-add it. Or, you can change the date and submit that.


Dates edited through the Edit Column Information screen should now show in the To Do module. (No guarantees!)

Questions? Do ask!

Issue with closed discussions

As of 10/12/16, there is a known problem with accessing closed discussions.

If you click on a closed discussion, whether it is a future discussion or a past discussion, you will get an “Access Denied” message.


The red error message is quite intimidating, isn’t it? 🙂

This is a known issue that is hoped to be fixed in the November updates, but we won’t know anything until then.

You have 2 options if you are looking to grade a closed discussion.

You can use the “grade” option that is available through the drop-down Action Menu. That gives you access to individual student entries and you can see what each student wrote in the discussion. You can enter a grade in that area.


However, the “grade” option does not give you the discussion entries in context.

If you want to see the discussion entries in context, your only option is to re-open the discussion (i.e. take off the end date), while you grade.

As an option, to keep the open time to a minimum and yet allow you to work at your own pace, you can Collect the contents of the entire discussion for offline reading. Select all the threads, then click on the word “Collect”. In the collect options, select “Thread Order” and then you can Print (or Print to PDF for a digital reading option). You can then re-close the discussion while you read the entries in context, at your leisure.


If you need any help with this, contact your favorite Blackboard help person for assistance!

Unexpected “Needs Grading” on Quizzes

There was a question asked about quizzes that unexpectedly appeared in the “Needs Grading” queue. The quizzes had only multiple choice questions, the due date had not passed and yet the quizzes had been flagged as “needs grading” — which means the instructor needs to ‘touch’ every quiz.

It was only a couple of quizzes but that made it seem even more random. Why these quizzes and not others?

The answer turns out to be “system working as (badly) designed.”

The combination needed is that you have a time limit on a quiz and do not have the Auto-Submit turned on. If a student takes longer than the time limit, the quiz is automatically placed in the “needs grading” queue for you to do whatever you want (if you want).


There’s no indicator in the “needs grading” queue, but if you open the “Test Information” section, you can see Time Elapsed and there is the Over Time flag… it would be nice if that also showed in the “needs grading” queue so you knew what was going on.

Emailing Your Class

There are 2 relatively simple ways to send an email message to your students.

Using Banner Self Service

In Banner Self Service, go to Faculty Services and then to your Summary Class List and then to the bottom — look for the button that says “Display Email List” and click it.


You will get a new text window with a list of student email addresses. Simply copy that and paste it into the “To:” line of your email message.

(For full time faculty that are used to the “Email Class” button — that way only worked for folk who had Outlook installed on their computers. Adjunct faculty have never had that option… this process lets everyone have easier access to the email list!)

Using Blackboard

You don’t even have to make your course available to students to do this!

Go into your Blackboard course and click on the “+” sign in the upper left and select “Tool Link”


From there, type in the word “Email” on the top line, and then select “Email” from the list… make sure both lines say “Email” before you click Submit.


You now have an “Email” link in your menu (it goes to the bottom by default — it can stay there if you’re not using Blackboard with your students).

Click on the Email link in the menu and then on “All Users” — that will open a window where you can send your message. It automatically goes to all active students in your course (it does not go to students who have dropped your course).


Let me know if you have any questions!