Category Archives: Academic Technologies

SUNY Accessibility Week – 5/18 – 5/22

In honor of the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 21st), SUNY is launching SUNY Accessibility Week.

SUNY Accessibility Week is specially designed to provide informative, practical accessibility knowledge to enhance inclusiveness of digital content for users with disabilities.

Who should attend?   Faculty, instructional designers, distance education leaders and more are welcome to attend one or more sessions offered throughout the week!

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Universal Design for Learning,
  • document and presentation accessibility (Word, PowerPoint, and PDFs),
  • video accessibility,
  • and STEM accessibility.

These webinars are free to SUNY campuses, and will be recorded for your viewing convenience. Recordings will be posted on the SUNY Accessibility Week site on the Playlist tab.

Register Now!

Please direct questions to Jamie Heron  or Nazely Kurkjian

Setting that aren’t easy to find in Zoom

Zoom has a lot of features.



Some of them are not by any means easy to locate.  I mean, even not easy enough that I may have told you that apparently we didn’t have access to those features.

So here is the issue.  You need to create the zoom meeting room through blackboard.  That way it is tied to your course, and has all your students getting easy access.  But after you save the room:

Leave Blackboard.

Go to and login back in

To find the option for preassigning break out rooms:

and click on Meetings and find the meeting room you just made.

Click on it’s name and then go to the bottom and find Edit this Meeting.

Towards the bottom, in the Meeting Options section, you will see Breakout Room pre-assign. This lets you create the rooms manually, or with a CSV file.

Set a Virtual Background, Controlling who can share screens, send invites to meetings in different languages, etc:

Go to Settings on the left menu and dig through this area.  Note that some options are locked by “admin”.

Actually choose the Virtual Background:

This must be done in settings in the Zoom application. (Oiy!)  It will download a virtual desktop package to your machine the first time.

Leave some comments below if you find more “hidden” features in zoom!


This is a crosspost from

Editing ASR Transcripts from Echo360

If you asked for Automatic Speech Recognition to be turned on in echo360 for your course, you also agreed to edit them.  Here is some feedback from Dr. John True on the process that he used to edit them.  Feel free to comment to share your methods.

(1) download raw transcript file from Echo content as instructed by
(2) edit carefully in text editor, replacing only transcript text and keeping all carriage returns and blank lines
(3) save as .vtt by changing the suffix to .vtt in finder
(4) check format at
This will produce a list of errors by line number. Paste entire text into MSWord and turn on line numbering using Line Numbers in Layout tab (ms Word for Mac 2019) to see the line numbering of the file. The line numbers will not be precise; they will be one or two lines off but this should be close enough to find the errors. My first file had three & symbols, which are not allowed and one deleted line break.  & symbols will be listed as incorrect escapes and deleted line breaks (timing cue abuts transcript text when this happens) will be listed as “Milliseconds must be given in three digits.”.
(5) make the changes in .vtt file in text editor and save (should keep the .vtt format)
(6) upload edited .vtt file in both transcript and caption areas as instructed by
(7) turn on closed captioning for video to see the captions


The official PR announcement will follow.  The first thing I want you to do though, is to look at the already existing course content available:

Course Catalog for Lumen Learning  <–  Click here now

You will see that courses have four categories of course materials that may come with them.

Via the SUNY agreement, all of this content is free to use in your class, both for you and for your students.  That means free textbooks filled with valuable and editable exercises, demonstrations, simulations, assessments and guided study.  The textbooks are not rented, but can be yours and your students for as long as you wish to keep them. These resources can work well in face to face, as well as hybrid and online formats.

Contact us at for more information.

Here is the official PR:

System-wide agreement makes evidence-based courseware, technology, and OER support services available at no cost to students

Portland, Ore. (June 12, 2019) – The State University of New York (SUNY) and open education innovator Lumen Learning, building on their prior collaboration, have entered into a multiyear partnership supporting SUNY’s strategy to improve college affordability and student success through wide-scale use of open educational resources (OER). Recognizing the importance of establishing the systemic infrastructure to support an initiative of this magnitude, SUNY selected Lumen as a strategic partner to complement its internal capabilities. Under the terms of the agreement, Lumen will provide digital courseware to replace expensive textbooks, a Ready-to-Adopt OER catalog, efficacy research, and a variety of support services focused on improving success for faculty and students using OER course materials in SUNY classrooms. Significantly, SUNY is making these augmented services available at no cost to students.

“A large, diverse higher education system like SUNY needs a vibrant ecosystem to support our many campuses, faculty members, students, and all the ways they are finding to innovate with OER in the classroom,” said Carey Hatch, Interim Senior Associate Provost for Academic Services at the State University of New York. “Lumen shares our vision for empowering faculty members to make continuous improvements to their course materials to strengthen learning, informed by learning data and their classroom experiences. This is a unique partnership working productively on many levels.”

SUNY and Lumen have worked together since 2012, when SUNY campuses began exploring how OER course materials can impact curriculum and improve college affordability. Today the Lumen team works alongside the SUNY OER Services team of SUNY-employed experts in OER adoption who raise awareness about OER and its benefits for faculty and students. During Spring term 2019, over 10,000 student enrollments at 45+ SUNY campuses used Lumen-supported OER course materials. This represents a 75% increase in the number of students impacted compared to Spring 2018.

SUNY leaders attribute this rapid growth in large part to the confidence SUNY faculty members feel as they explore OER course materials, experience their quality, and take steps to replace traditional textbooks with OER. General education subjects have seen the greatest levels of OER adoption within SUNY as faculty members find well-designed alternatives to expensive textbooks in classes that enroll many students. Another driver may be SUNY’s efforts to increase the competitiveness and quality of its online programs, for which OER courseware is well-suited.

“Open educational resources are a great investment because they not only save students money, but they empower our faculty to regain control over their classroom content and there is mounting evidence OER can improve learning. So if we save students money, empower our faculty, and improve the learning experience, it’s a win for everyone,” said Mark McBride, Library Senior Strategist for the State University of New York. “To implement this innovation successfully across SUNY, faculty and students need to be well-supported with outstanding OER content, reliable technology, excellent learning design, meaningful accessibility, and responsive user support. Lumen is uniquely qualified to partner with SUNY for these strategic priorities.”

OER course materials have emerged as a low or no-cost alternative to expensive textbooks in many college courses. OER also grant permissions that allow people to make timely updates, revisions, pedagogical and content improvements to strengthen how effectively course materials support student learning. Lumen Learning’s work with OER, including the development of its courseware, is grounded in academic research with substantiating evidence about what strengthens learning. With the RISE Framework, contributed recently to Carnegie Mellon University’s Simon Initiative, the Lumen team has developed open analytical tools and methods for measuring the effectiveness of OER content at supporting learning. Using these insights, Lumen invites faculty members and subject matter experts to design content improvements targeting areas in which students struggle.

“Our partnership with SUNY is the largest and most comprehensive initiative to date focused on using OER as a primary tool to encourage teaching and learning innovation, with direct positive impact on students, faculty, institutions, and the system as a whole,” said Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning. “This partnership creates a service infrastructure for discovering, creating, using, and iteratively improving course materials that are highly effective for learning, simple to adopt, and sustainable to maintain over time.”

Today the SUNY community has unlimited access to well-designed OER course materials through SUNY’s Ready-to-Adopt OER Catalog, with no out-of-pocket cost to students. Lumen’s support services include seamless integration for students and faculty to interact with OER content inside any of the multiple learning management systems in use across the SUNY system, including automatic grade return. The Lumen team continues to work with SUNY OER Services and the SUNY Help Desk providing coordinated support for faculty members and students using OER throughout the system.

About Lumen Learning

Lumen Learning provides digital course materials designed to strengthen learning, using open educational resources (OER). Lumen replaces expensive textbooks with affordable digital content that emphasizes interactivity, learning by doing, and ease of use. Adding timely updates, learning design, and technical support to OER, Lumen makes open content simple, reliable, and effective for instructors and students.

Lumen OER courseware includes Waymaker personalized learning courseware and OHM, an online homework system for math and other quantitative subjects. Over 250 colleges and universities across the U.S. use Lumen-supported digital courseware for in-person, online, and blended courses. Materials created by Lumen are published under Creative Commons Attribution licenses and contributed back to the education community. Learn more at, and visit our course catalog at

Media Contact

Julie Curtis, VP Strategy & Communication

Lumen Learning

+1.503.840.5569 |


ASR for Live Presentations in Google Slides & MS PowerPoint

This is super easy.   But a caveat… we have a BIG feature request for Google and MS regarding this technology.

So here is a recording I made using QuickTime Player on a Mac, of myself giving a test presentation in Google Slides.  You will notice that there is no audio.  I think that I don’t have the audio setup right for QT, but in a way it illustrates the power of this ASR.  Technical problems happen while we are teaching.  It does happen.  In this case, because I was using ASR in Google Slides, you can still receive my presentation through sight.

Hover over the video and click on the icon with the box and arrow, to make the video larger, so you can read the live captions.

Next I try the same basic idea in MS Power Point.  It is slightly more complicated to activate, but still not an overwhelming obstacle.  I also fixed my QuickTime Player audio for this recording. MS uses their own “intelligent services” for the captioning, whereas Google used the Macs built in speech recognition.


Now for the Caveat.  When you are finished, the captions aren’t saved.  If I hadn’t done screen recordings, I wouldn’t even have this much.  So you can’t use them for individuals who would have been employing a screen reader, and you can’t use this to jump start your production of a transcript.  This is only for producing captions during a live talk and only useful for sighted individuals.

If you are interested in using ASR for successfully making your course recordings accessible and even fully ADA compliant, please look into turning on ASR within by using this form.

This is a cross post from

Changes in technical support for students

Please include the following statement on your syllabi for Fall 2018 :

Need technical assistance?
The Division of Information Technology provides assistance to all who are having trouble accessing a system and/or connecting to our campus network.  Should you have any issues, please contact our service desk on line at: ; call: 631.632.9800; or visit a SINC Site or our new Tech Station located on the first floor of ECC. 


Blackboard Updates for Spring 2018

Blackboard was updated at the end of  December.  Some of the changes that you will see in your Blackboard  site are:

New Inline Editor – This new inline editor from box allows you to comment and highlight text but does not have drawing tools. For more information please see our updated page and the Blackboard Support site for steps on how to grade in the new editor. If you need more advanced editing tools for papers your students can submit their work in a google doc or you can download papers and use track changes in Microsoft word.

Campus Pack Blogs, Journals and Wikis have been phased out of Blackboard. We have created a new page with the different activities that faculty used the blogs, wikis and journals for and have given different alternatives that can be used for the activities.  

LaunchPad by Macmillian – If you are using a Macmillian text in your class we have connected Blackboard to Macmillian’s Launchpad service to help with importing resources and assessments from Macmillian.