Welcome to the Fall semester

August 21, 2014


We hope you have enjoyed your summer vacation, and look forward to once again providing assistance in your online learning experience.  We also would like to welcome any comments or suggestions you may have.


Some tips on Blackboard and course availability:

• Instructors have the ability to make courses available when they are ready.

• Your students will not see your courses until they are made available.

• Sign up for Blackboard Training Classes for a hands-on approach to creating content and maintaining your Blackboard courses.

Please feel free to contact us at Blackboard@urmc.rochester.edu, or give us a call at (585) 275-6865.


Friday Aug. 15th: Blackboard continues to be down

August 15, 2014

Blackboard services are now up and running. Users should be able to log in as of about 12:10pm.

Blackboard has been unavailable today.

We received an update and expect that it will be unavailable through mid-afternoon.



Link to specific points in YouTube videos

March 18, 2014

Sometimes when sharing YouTube videos, we only want people to focus on a certain point in the video, not the entire video.

To link to a specific point in a YouTube video, take the video link:


At the end, add &t=1m3s   (Replacing 1 with any numeric value for minutes and replacing 3 with any numeric value for seconds.)

So, in this example, we would have this:


The video now starts at the 1 minute and 3 second mark.

Speed Up (or Slow Down) Videos in Your Courses

March 13, 2014

Have you ever found yourself watching a video lecture and wished you had the ability to either speed up or slow down the presentation?  Now that popular web browsers support HTML5, this is entirely possible.

Embedded Video

Modifying playback speed will differ depending on how your browser is set up to handle the video.  In Internet Explorer and Firefox, right click on an embedded video file (not streaming), and in most cases, you should see options to change the playback speed.  Chrome allows for this as well, but you may have to install a plugin such as Playback Rate first and restart your browser.  Safari users may have to download the video locally first, but if Quicktime is the default player, videos can be sped up by hitting Command+Right Arrow.

YouTube (Streaming) Video

YouTube is embedded with its own player and speed controls which are accessed near the volume and play button.  Click on the gear icon to access settings:


Screenshot of speed settings in YouTube

To see the ‘Speed’ settings, first visit www.youtube.com/html5 and click the button to ‘Request the HTML5 player‘.  After doing so, restart your browser.  There should now be an extra setting for speed when viewing a YouTube video.  You can test your individual settings in the YouTube video below:

Mobile Video

For iPad users, there is an app called Swift available in the App Store.  While it comes with a $3.99 price tag, it allows for controlling video playback speeds on almost any website.  The reviews are very favorable, which is always a plus when purchasing a new app.

Overall, while each browser is built differently and may provide a different experience in playback speed, it’s nice to know this option is available in most cases.  Happy viewing!

New Test/Assessment Feature in Blackboard 9.1 SP13

January 21, 2014

SP13 introduces a new feature to further customize deployment of tests and assessments.

Diverse Learners. Diverse Options. Sometimes there are situations where learners need specific parameters set for them which differ from others when taking a test. Before SP13, separate tests had to be deployed to fulfill these conditions for each version of a test that existed within a course. Now, with Test Availability Exceptions, the process is much more streamlined.  

When setting up your test options, select a student (or one or more groups of students), and make a number of exceptions to the already established availability settings. You can use exceptions to provide an accommodation to a disabled student or provide accommodations for technology and language differences. Create exceptions for number of attempts, timer, availability, and force completion:

Test Availability Exceptions

View more information about this new feature along with other testing features added in SP13. For assistance with this or any of the new features, please contact Blackboard Support.

The New Blackboard Support Webpage and New Employee Education Tool

January 6, 2014

The Blackboard Support webpage has been redesigned with a much cleaner presentation, just in time for the Blackboard 9.1 SP 13 upgrade.  Some of our most useful resources have been updated as well.  Employee educators should be sure to check out the new Employee Education tool, where for the first time, you can do all of the following from one place:

• Request a Course

• Request a Bridge Link

• Receive Course Design Assistance

• Keep Track of Your Requests

• Much More…

Blackboard 9.1 SP13 update

December 24, 2013

We will be updating the Blackboard Learning Management system from 9.1 Service Pack 11 to 9.1 Service Pack 13 on Friday, January 3rd, between 9:00 PM and Saturday, January 4th, at Noon. The Blackboard Learning System functions will be unavailable. Portal services including UR ePay, Student/Instructor/Advisor Access and email will be available.

As always, be sure to check out what’s new in this upgrade, and stay tuned for upcoming information on the newly designed Blackboard Support webpage.

If you have questions please contact Blackboard Support via phone at (585) 275-6865 or via email at blackboard@urmc.rochester.edu.