Article on ADA Compliance for Online Courses

For anyone that’s truly familiar with ADA compliance, there’s not a lot new here, but it’s a nice summary of some of the things one can do to help make your courses accessible.

The ‘scary’ part of the article is the list of colleges that have received civil rights complaints about inaccessible information. There are some big names there; students are not bashful about ensuring they can get access to the information they are entitled to!

I had a students with a disability in the summer, which forced me to look at some of the elements of my course and to adjust them to make them accessible. I was lucky since I had only a few (okay, and known!) elements that needed attention.

The changes I had to make were good ones, and helpful to all the students in the course.

Before you’re in the position of having to deal with a required accessibility update, you might want to check out this article from Educause.

ADA Compliance for Online Course Design

The list of “20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course” at the end of the article is useful. Each tip has links to more in-depth information.

The Online Learning Office has staff to assist you in evaluating your course, and can assist you with needed changes. Contact them at Or contact the Disability Services office, found in the Center for Academic Progress. There are great staff in both places!


Public Domain Images from the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently placed over 200,000 images of the collection in the public domain.

Images designated as “Public Domain” can be used — at no charge and with no paperwork — as you wish. Images can be used for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.

In poking through the collection, it’s several lifetime’s worth of work. Some person (most likely persons) has posed and captured each of the items in the Met’s catalog, whether the item is currently on display or not.

More information an a link to the collection can be found on the Met’s web site:

And, my own irreverent use of this new policy!


Managing Maintenance Days

patienceAs a reminder, Monday, February 20 (Presidents’ Day holiday) is a full maintenance day. All systems will be offline from 7 AM to 7 PM. If you gain access during this time, you may be cut off without warning.

We are planning out on a work-around to allow for Blackboard access during times like this, but that’s not in place yet. Since Blackboard is now hosted at Open SUNY (i.e. off campus), that part of the system is available. The issue is that the authentication (i.e. usernames and passwords) are stored on site in Batavia. As a result, Blackboard is up and running but there’s no way to log in.

By the next major maintenance, which would be October, we’ll have an alternative login site available so that you can log into Blackboard. The Library will still not be available, but just Blackboard being available will be helpful.

It’s useful for faculty to make sure your students have something to ‘do’ on that day. A number of students may have the day off from work and will plan to ‘catch up’ on the work they may be behind on. Help them be prepared for the maintenance so they can be productive.

My list of things you can suggest students do:

  • catch up on reading; point out textbook chapters that should be read
  • set up a reading list of online materials and indicate students should download/print the list (the rest of the internet isn’t going to be closed!)
  • if you have tests/quizzes that are not one-time-only or timed, encourage students to download/print the quiz so they can enter their answers later
  • point out discussion entries that may be due; students can write their responses offline and enter them later
  • point out what part of an upcoming writing assignment can be prepped offline; what non-digital non-Genesee materials will they still have access to
  • students who have their Genesee email set up on a mobile device will still be able to access their Genesee email; but you can’t count on everyone having access to that
  • if you use a publisher web site, can your students access that without Blackboard? If they can, remind them how it can be done

You don’t have to work hard to help your students be productive… just give it some thought!

Date Management

If you’re anything like me, anything that’s important in your course has a date on it. Sometimes just a ‘due’ date, but often availability dates.

The Date Management tool is one way to manage all of your course dates in one place.

In Course Tools go to Date Management. The first time into the tool, you get this Select Date Adjustment Option.


I mostly just select the “list all dates for review” but when you have eager students who will be confused by past-due tests and such, doing the “use course start date” is a good option to move all your dates forward auto-magically. You can then edit dates as you need.

It takes a couple of minutes to run, but then you get a list of all your course dates.


The first date column is “Due Date” the second column is “Availability Starts” and the third column is “Availability Ends” — you can manage all three date options for all your elements that have dates from this one location. The image is for discussions, but this can be on Tests, Assignments, and even Items. If an element has at least one of the three types of dates assigned to it, it shows up in this list.

It’s still faintly tedious. You have to click on the pencil at the end, update the date and time for each element and then submit… but it certainly beats having to go into the multiple sections of your course and “edit” the elements individually. Everything shows up here in one place.

Conversely, if an element does not have a date, it will not show up in this list. You do need to go and put a date on it in the course, but there is an option to “Run Date Management Again” and you’ll get the options on that first image. Just select “list all dates for review” and you’ll be all set!

Managing Your Course List

Now that we’ve been on Blackboard hosted at Open SUNY for almost a year (!), it’s time to review how to manage your Course List.

On the My Courses page in Blackboard, look for the top line and point your cursor at the far right end until a letter “S” appears (highlighted in yellow). Click on it.


In that page, click the ticky box in front of “group by term”


You can Submit and quit there, but the cool thing is setting up an order, and turning off old terms from the list.


Point your cursor to the front of the row (where the yellow highlight is) and you can click and drag the semesters in the order you want. That way, Spring 2107 (17SP) can be at the top.

You can “Select all/Unselect all” to turn older semesters off. In this example, Summer 2016 is no longer viewable in my list. If I want it back, I can turn it back on right here.

When you’re finished, click the Submit button and you’re all set!

Once you have set up the Group By Term, it stays on wherever you log in.

If you need help, let us know and we’ll be glad to help you out!

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!