OFDIT Newsletter April 2021

The below newsletter was originally sent out in April 2021 and was not posted to the blog at that time.

April 2021 newsletter banner


April 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,
Spring is here and so is our annual Faculty Development Day– please join us this Thursday and Friday, April 22-23!
In this month’s newsletter, we announce the program and registration information for Faculty Development Day 2021: Looking Back, Moving Forward. We also reveal the new look of our Faculty Community Site, and highlight a unique idea involving Ensemble shared by Curtis Izen. Lastly, we invite you to join our Grade Center training sessions taking place at the end of May.

Faculty Development Day 2021: Looking Back, Moving Forward (Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23)

The theme of Faculty Development Day this year is synthesis and renewal–moving out of crisis and into a renewed commitment to our students, our research and writing, and our school’s mission. On Thursday, April 22nd, SPS faculty will share – a teaching practice, technology tip, scholarly accomplishment, or other positive experience from the past unprecedented year. On Friday, April 23rd, speakers from Kean University and BMCC will present about the world of gamification and how elements of play can be incorporated into online classrooms. Both sessions will be hands-on and lots of fun!
In addition to the live sessions, and after such an extraordinary year, we invite you to share your experiences and reflections on a Vision Board in Padlet. Please post thoughts, images, or links that reflect some of your experiences from the last year, and/or what you are looking forward to in the year ahead. To add a new post, click the + button in the lower right, or simply double-click the screen. Feel free to post more than once, and to interact with your colleagues. We are looking forward to creating a collective vision for 2021-2022 with you!

Faculty Development Day Program:
Thursday, April 22, 2021, 2pm-5pm
  • Decolonizing Curriculum through Empathy and Representation, Niberca Polo
  • Inclusion of LGBTQ+ Health Disparities Across Courseworks at CUNY SPS, Jan Oosting Kaminsky
  • Ensemble Video: A novel way for faculty and students to use multimedia content within their course, Curtis Izen
  • Giving Video Feedback on Blackboard, Sarah Ruth Jacobs
  • Using Active Learning Techniques with Adult Learners in Online Courses, Vicki Caruana
  • Inheritance Problems: Considerations when Adopting a Course, Dino Sossi
  • Reimagining ‘data-driven’ through professional development: Unlocking social learning in online environments, Bradley Gardner
Friday, April 23, 2021, 12pm-3pm
  • How to Create an Academic Escape Room, Vanessa Leonardo, Kean University
  • What’s Your Game Plan? Designing for a Creative Classroom, Joe Bisz, Borough of Manhattan Community College
All in the SPS community are welcome! Please view program details and registration info here.

Disability Awareness Month

As many of you may know, April is Disability Awareness Month. In order to honor Disability Culture, the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, in partnership across CUNY campuses, has organized many free virtual events for CUNY faculty and staff. For the full list of events, please visit the CUNY Disability Awareness Month Events page.

Our Faculty Community Site’s New Look

SPS faculty community site (1)



The SPS Faculty Community Site has a fresh new look! Leveraging the power of CUNY’s Academic Commons, the Community Site has a long history serving as a resource for CUNY SPS faculty. You can still find information relating to upcoming training and workshops, resources for accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), as well as quick guides and tutorials. But we’ve integrated some new features. There is a public calendar with a connection to our live training registrations, we’ve revamped the home page to include a grid of the most helpful resources and updated content throughout the site. OFDIT has further plans to update and revise the Site, so please check back regularly.

Faculty Corner

Faculty corner image


Using Ensemble for Course Videos
Curtis Izen, who teaches BUS 325: Principles of Management Information Systems, shares this tip for organizing videos within his online course using the Ensemble Video Platform. He writes: “In each of my weekly BlackBoard folders, I include multimedia to provide my students multiple means of engagement. Screencasts that I create or YouTube videos are inside the folder that accompanies that week’s topic. I enrolled in a workshop hosted by Matthew Lewis, Instructional Design and Multimedia Manager, on Ensemble; in essence, an “educational YouTube for SPS.” Rather than putting the media in different locations within BlackBoard, I can now host them in Ensemble. Not only does this create a “one-stop-shop” for all media, but I can arrange them by playlist, sort them, perform trim and cut, give in-video quizzes, have ads removed and, upon request, have 3PlayMedia provide professional closed captions. Students can now find any of the entire course videos in one location (including a search feature) rather than sort through weekly folders trying to locate them. As an instructor, this allows me the flexibility to update video content seamlessly from one location. Students can access my video library from my BlackBoard menu and via a Course Link in each folder, providing them direct access.”
Screenshot of the course video gallery in Ensemble in Prof. Izen’s Spring 2021 Principles of Management Information Systems course.

Ensemble course videos

Please note that Curtis Izen and OFDIT’s Matt Lewis will be presenting about this faculty tip during Faculty Development Day.
If you have a useful or interesting pedagogical tip (in 200 words or less!) that has worked well in your online classes, we would love to hear from you! Please use our Faculty Corner Submission Form to submit your pitch.

Spring 2021 Trainings

Grade Center in Blackboard: Beyond the Basics
We will cover how to manage your Grade Center including helpful tools such as color coding, the column organization view, and Smart Views. We will also cover useful tips and tricks which can increase the efficiency and ease of use of your Grade Center.

As always, OFDIT is here to help with any questions you may have. We are available for one-on-one support and would be happy to schedule a Zoom call to discuss any questions you may have. You can contact us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu.
All the best,
Your OFDIT Team