Academic Technology


Chris Roth

Christopher Roth
Associate Director of Academic Technology

Chris Roth Bio

Samuel Finesurrey
Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Academic Technology Area Lead

Samuel Finesurrey Bio

Blackboard logoBlackboard is an online course management system that enables instructors to provide students with course documents, online assignments and assessments, individual grades and other learning materials and tools. These online materials and activities can complement face-to-face teaching and can be used to develop hybrid or online courses.

CUNY automatically generates a Blackboard course for every class taught at Guttman. Instructors and students can access Blackboard through the MyGuttman portal or directly through CUNYfirst.

If instructors choose to use Blackboard in their courses, they have to make the course available to students at the beginning of the semester. Below are links to resources to help you get started with Blackboard.

The CUNY “Blackboard Basics” training course is available to you. This self-paced course is a guide for utilizing the various features and tools of the Blackboard platform for your teaching. If you do not see the training listed under My Courses, please contact

Blackboard Basics: Faculty Introduction

Blackboard Basics: Making Your Course Available 

Blackboard Basics: Collaborate Ultra for Faculty 

Blackboard Basics: Invite Attendees to Your Collaborate Ultra Sessions 

CUNY Blackboard Faculty User Guides

Blackboard Videos for Instructors

Blackboard Supported Browsers

Blackboard App: There are separate app versions for students and instructors. When logging into the app for the first time, enter the school name CUNY – Guttman Community College. To see if your content will display in the app, refer to the support guide.

The Ally tool is available for all courses in Blackboard. Ally offers guidance on how to improve accessibility issues with digital course content and provides alternative content formats for a variety of devices and assistive technologies. It is strongly recommend that you upload your course materials into Blackboard for each class regardless of modality, which will help identify accessibility issues using Ally. This greatly extends the flexibility and availability of course content for all students.

Blackboard Basics: Videos for Guttman Students

Blackboard Basics: Student Information Guide

Blackboard Basics: Update Your Email in Blackboard 

Blackboard Basics: Collaborate Ultra for Students

Blackboard Basics: Accessing Collaborate Ultra Recordings

CUNY Blackboard Student User Guides

Blackboard Help Videos for Students

Blackboard Supported Browsers

Blackboard App: When logging into the app for the first time, enter the school name “CUNY – Guttman Community College.”

All students have access to the “Are You Ready? Student Online Readiness Course” in Blackboard (under My Organizations). This course will help you to:

  • Gain awareness of key strategies and resources for successful online learning
  • Become acquainted with essential CUNY digital platforms that will aid your academic path
  • Understand how to navigate and use essential Blackboard tools
  • Gain awareness of the required technology tools for effective online learning
  • Understand the Digital Citizenship principles and apply ethical practices to maintain academic integrity in the online learning environment

The course consists of a pre and post assessment, and five sections which each contain a brief video summarizing the material, a review button, and a quiz. Each quiz must be successfully completed before moving on to the next section. The course takes approximately 45-60 minutes to complete.

Blackboard and Are You Ready? Guide

For Blackboard support, students should contact the Helpdesk:

Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 am–8 pm
Phone: 646-313-8008

Starfish logoStarfish is a student retention and success system that Guttman began using during the 2015-2016 academic year. Guttman uses Starfish to promote engagement among students, advisors, faculty, and staff in order to create a more equitable college. We recognize that success is a moving target and that students need different kinds of encouragement at different times. The challenge is knowing which students are facing which obstacles or having which successes – and then getting that information into the hands of the people who can help.

Guttman believes that students can succeed when they are engaged with an informed, connected campus community. Within any institution, there are a myriad of support services designed to help students overcome challenges and attain their goals. Starfish helps to achieve these goals with early alerts/warnings, online appointment scheduling, and case management. The platform encourages students to engage more deeply in their academic lives by connecting them to the people and resources best equipped to help them succeed.

All full- and part-time faculty are expected to use Starfish regularly to award kudos, raise flags, and make referrals for students to various support services at the College. Please see the Faculty/Staff Starfish Handbook for more information about the ways you can help students “Connect to Success” with Starfish. Professional development is available online or in person. For more information or questions, please email

The CUNY Academic Commons is an academic social network created by and for the City University of New York.

CUNY Academic Commons Help
CUNY Academic Commons FAQ

Resources for Teaching Remotely

To be prepared in case of a temporary disruption, take the following actions now:

Make sure that you can log into all the Guttman Systems that you might need from your home computer and other devices. Make sure that you know the password for each of these systems and that all your operating systems are up-to-date and compatible with any software you might use. Contact the Guttman service desk for assistance if you encounter any problems.

Save any course teaching materials from your office computer to a place that you can access outside the office. Options include your CUNY Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365, or a portable drive.

Make sure your students know the best way to reach you. In the event of a temporary disruption of campus operations, you may opt to communicate with students via email, voice mail, personal phone, or other tools.

Make sure you can change your voicemail message and access your office voicemail from home. Practice changing your office voicemail message. If you do not currently receive your voicemail message via email, contact the Guttman service desk to set this up.

Make sure you and your students can access library materials from home. Practice logging in to the Guttman Information Commons from home and remind students how to access materials.

Collect students’ preferred email addresses or phone numbers. This will give you an alternative way to contact students if you are unable to reach them in other ways.

Make basic information about your class available on Blackboard. At a minimum, post your syllabus, and create an announcement with information about how students can contact you. If you plan to use another tool for course activities, link to it from Blackboard. If you plan to use Blackboard, be sure to make your course available.

Make a plan for continuing to teach your course. In the event of a temporary disruption of campus operations, you will need a plan for accomplishing normal course activities, such as sharing course materials, communicating with students, collecting assignments, and giving exams.

  • Start by reviewing your course activities and selecting the comparable online equivalent to your teaching activity (discussion posts instead of in-class discussion, recorded lectures, online quizzes, etc.)
  • Communicate the plan with your classes and spend some in-person time going over the plan, the platforms they will need to access, and their limitations in terms of access to technology in their homes. Accommodations may need to be made on a case by case basis.
  • Instructions for specific tools and strategies, see the Remote Teaching Resources on the Guttman working remotely website:

General Considerations for Assignment Re-Design. In making any significant adjustment during times of disruption, it is also helpful to consider four overarching questions:

  • Key Objectives: What are my most important course objectives, or the knowledge, skills, and capacities a student in my class should achieve?
  • Accessibility: How can learning materials provided to students be accessible?
  • Transparency: How can I support students in understanding new assignments or expectations? The Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) framework offers three core areas that instructors should intentionally communicate to students in any assignment (Winkelmes et al., 2016):
    • Purpose, or goals of the assignment
    • Task, or what you expect students to do and how they should complete the task
    • Criteria, or models of how students can be successful at the assignment, such as a rubric or examples of past student work (which students have given you permission to share)
  • Student autonomy: In rethinking key assessments that align with those objectives, what are ways to give students a sense of control to mitigate anxiety about unforeseen disruptive events? Ideas for heightening students’ sense of flexibility and choice include allowing students to choose formats (e.g., a cell phone-recorded video or a written script of a presentation) or grading proportions (e.g., drop your lowest grade).

Communicate with Students

The most important thing you should do is communicate with your students early and often to give them information about changes to your course.

  • Let students know how often they can expect to hear from you (e.g., daily, weekly, etc.) and through what channels: (e.g., e-mail, Blackboard, or text messages).
  • Explain to students how they can communicate with you (e.g., e-mail, Blackboard, phone, etc.).
  • Inform students of the expectations for attendance and participation under your modified teaching plan.
  • Tell students how the class will operate during the period of instructional modification.
  • Direct students to campus resources for addressing non-instructional needs (e.g., health and wellness, other campus websites).
  • Tell students to monitor official campus communication for updates from Guttman College.

Asynchronous Activities

Discussion boards are a great way to get students to discuss a topic in writing. They work best for open-ended discussions rather than for content delivery. They can be set up to limit access to other students’ replies until after they have posted their own responses. Professors can encourage discourse by having students post a response to a prompt, and then requiring them to respond to their classmates’ posts with meaningful responses. Such responses should go beyond mere statements that agree with the comment they are replying to and encourage further discussion. The Blackboard discussion board is a versatile tool, and a great choice if you already use Blackboard since you can integrate a rubric and link directly to your course’s grade book.

Virtual Classrooms

You can create a virtual classroom for your students to join synchronously. This is useful if your class uses a lot of real-time discussions, sharing of multimedia resources that will be discussed, and synchronous discussion or group work. Synchronous virtual classrooms require high-speed connections from all participants. If you worry about that being an issue, consider an asynchronous option.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a video conferencing and virtual classroom tool that exists within your Blackboard Course. It allows you to share PowerPoint and resources with your students, host small group discussions, and conduct polls. For best results and access to all features, use the Google Chrome web browser.

Assignments, Tests, and Quizzes

  • Create assignments in your Blackboard course and grade them online. Be sure to use the Assessments interface when you set up the assignments. It creates a virtual dropbox for students to submit their files. Blackboard will automatically attach their names to the files, so it’s easy for you to keep track of them.
  • Blackboard Quizzes and Tests – You can use tests and surveys to measure student knowledge, gauge progress, and gather information from students.

Verification of student identity is the confirmation of two conditions: 1) that the correct student has access to the course for which they are registered; and 2) that this individual is indeed performing the work for the duration of the entire course. Fully online courses at Guttman Community College are set up and conducted to meet both conditions in ways that meet or exceed established practice in classroom-based courses.

CUNY offers a unified CUNY Login service that provides a set of account credentials (username and password) for many University-wide applications, including Blackboard, which is CUNY’s current learning management system (LMS). Underpinning the credentials for these applications is an EMPLID, a unique identification number assigned to every CUNY student, faculty, and staff member in CUNYfirst, the University’s Enterprise Resource Planning system.

All students participating in fully online instruction offered at Guttman must log in to their Blackboard course sites using their CUNY login credentials. To ensure compliance with FERPA privacy rules and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity recommendations, strict access controls that include full encryption are in place for all Blackboard access.

This secure login is a student’s only means of access to the LMS. Students are registered for their online courses through CUNYfirst, which imports registration information directly into the LMS without any action on the part of students, faculty, or staff beyond the regular registration process. Only duly registered students and the instructor of record appear on the roster of any online course. Furthermore, every action within a course site registers on the extensive tracking features of Blackboard, which records the time and duration of every user action by a user and the part of the site involved, even if a student does not post.

Supplementing these technical means of verifying student identity and activity is the extent of student and faculty interaction that characterizes online instruction at Guttman. Students introduce themselves, often through sharing prior knowledge and current interest in a course’s subject, and may write multiple posts weekly, including responses to classmates as well to the instructor’s prompts and discussion questions. Students may also maintain individual or group journals, blogs, and/or wikis, or post videos for assignments and discussion. Such intentional interaction creates a high degree of familiarity and even intimacy within each course. Both student orientation and faculty development stress the importance of “social presence” through self-presentation and interaction, including but not limited to:

  • use of student photos and videos, especially in self-introductions
  • participation in learning communities
  • work in groups and teams
  • plagiarism checkers (to ensure work that the work submitted by the student is the student’s own)
  • synchronous (“real-time”) conferencing (by both voice and video)
  • asynchronous conferencing (by both voice and video)

Though not all of the above tools and practices are implemented in every online course, instructors select and apply those best suited to creating and fostering interpersonal connections in their specific courses (e.g., work in teams and group projects as well as supervision of such work). As a result, the means of verifying student identity in online instruction rival or surpass those used in in-person instruction.