Online teaching hardware/software suggestions


Writing Pad:

Wacom tablet:

XP Pen:

Can also do Ipad/Other tablets




Microsoft Onenote: Download from CUNY E-mall:


Kevin Wolf’s tip on Blackboard Test Best Practices

The information at this link (put together by my colleagues at Hunter) has some recommended practices for working with high stakes tests in Blackboard:

If you are using force completion for the test, then students should not navigate away from the test.  This will force the students out of the test, in which case they will not be able to re-enter to continue.   If you as the instructor do not choose “force completion” in the test options, students who get kicked out will be able to get back into the test to complete it.

To ensure the best test-taking experience, students shoul

  • use a laptop or desktop computer if possible
  • close other programs prior to taking the test
  • open one browser (Firefox is recommended) with one window open
  • disable pop-up blockers
  • access the test using a wired internet connection unless their wireless connection is strong and reliable
  • avoid using the browser’s “back” arrow or refresh button on their browser
  • avoid navigating away from the test window or opening a new browser window
  • avoid clicking the buttons more than once (e.g., after clicking the “Submit” button, it may take a few moments to submit)

Finally, I would recommend asking the students to take screenshots or photo of any errors that they encounter while taking the test.

I would recommend also asking the students to take screenshots when the problems occur.


Here are some resources from CUNY about Blackboard Tests:

Changyun’s tip on creating exams on McGraw-Hill Connect

It’s quite handy to create midterm exam on McGraw-Hill Connect. One thing with Connect is that you can create a question pool for each chapter and then randomly draw a specified number of questions from the pool. As a result, students take test on Connect are facing different questions. You can follow this Youtube video to create pool of questions on Connect with its test bank.
However, I do not use Connect test bank because it’s been said that some students may have access to test bank somehow. In this case, I have to further import my own questions one by one into Connect, which is quite time-consuming. If anyone knows a better way importing questions into Connect, please share with us. You can follow this Youtube video to import your own questions into Connect.
Last but not least, sometimes we do not want our students to have access to our test questions once they complete the test. You can do that by setting up the exam policy as “no feedback” after submission. 

Somayeh’s tip on creating Blackboard exams

If we want each group of students to get a different version of the test, then we may need to create several versions of each numerical questions. I have never done that, but we can try it. An easier way of randomization that we currently follow is just set up the test to appear in a different order for each student.
We have created an online exam instruction emphasizing students for making sure they all use the firefox browser and have access to high speed internet during the test to reduce the technical issues. We can also share that with all.
Another way of randomization is to create a pool of questions like 50-60 questions and set the BB to select only 25 or 30 questions from the pool each time. This way, each student will see a different version of the test.
More Q&A:

1. Does one create the questions in Word, say, and then upload them to BB.
No, we have to insert each question into the BB manually unless we use the Cengage test bank questions. We can modify the questions if we decide to use the Cengage test bank. Cengage provides a zip file of the textbook test bank that can be imported easily to the BB. We can modify the questions on the BB if we decide to use the Cengage test bank.

2. How do you handle graphics such as graphs and tables? Do they need to be created in a special format?
We need to save all the figures and tables as a picture and then insert it as an image into BB.

3. When you randomize one version of the test, and the questions are renumbered, how do you control the reference to a Table or Figure?
If say question 1 pertains to Figure 1 in test A, but that is question 10 in version B, does it still refer to Figure 1?

For example, If we have three questions refers to the same graph/table/scenario, we have to repeat the common parts for each question. In other words, tables/figures can not be renumbered automatically. 

It would be also better if we don’t write a question that can be solved based on the answer to another question.

4. Do you allow a fixed amount of time on the test?
Yes. We make the test available for two hours but students have only 90 minutes to complete it. If they start the test late, their exam will be submitted at the due time automatically.

5. Do you have any evidence of cheating? If so, how did you detect it?
It is really hard to detect cheating. One recommendation to reduce the possibility of cheating is not to give too much time to students for completing the test. Having a limited time makes harder for them to chat or share their ideas during the test.


Aparna’s tip on Blackboard ultra collaborative

I use blackboard ultra collaborative. The features of white board which can be used to write on using writing pad ( I have wacom writing pad) is an excellent feature of it especially for courses like Econ 4000. Today, we had trial online classes for both my classes and it was very successful.

This is my contact ( I will be glad to help any faculty if they needed any suggestions or help with blackboard ultra col​laborative.