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OFDIT Newsletter May 2021

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

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May 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,
We want to thank everyone who attended our Faculty Development Day and made it such a success. In particular, we would like to thank all our speakers for their thoughtful, engaging, and fun presentations! Please feel free to check out the recordings which are now available on the Faculty Development Day page, as well as the vision board created collaboratively over the two days of the event. We encourage you to provide feedback and comments about our latest Faculty Development Day in our survey. Thank you!
In this month’s newsletter, we share information about calculating final grades, details about Blackboard Academy’s Instructor Webinar series, VoiceThread’s new assignments feature, and the CUNY Central OAA’s Innovative Pedagogy Team’s Mindset mini course. We also provide information on the new Food Access Initiative at CUNY SPS and our last training sessions of the semester. Last but not least, please check out OFDIT’s summer reading recommendations!

Final Grades using Blackboard’s Grade Center

As the Spring semester draws to a close, we wanted to share some helpful information about calculating the final grades for your classes. Blackboard allows you to use Total Points or Weighted Total to calculate your final grades.
The Total Points column is created by default in Blackboard. The Total points column will calculate final grades by simply adding up all the points a student earned and dividing it by the total points possible  (if you have selected “Calculate as Running Total”).
The Weighted Total column calculates a final grade based on the respective percentages assigned to categories or individual columns. The final grade is calculated independently of the points assigned to each graded item. It is important to note that the Weighted Total column is created by default in Blackboard, but it is empty unless you set it up.
Please keep in mind that you can change the format in which grades are displayed in both the Total and Weighted Total columns. When you change the Primary Display, this is the format that appears in the Grade Center and My Grades area for students. When you change the Secondary Display, this is only visible to you as the instructor in the Grade Center. Students do not see a secondary display. We recommend changing your Secondary Display to either SPS Undergrad Letter or SPS Grad Letter, whichever is appropriate, as this converts the final grade into the appropriate letter grade which you’ll have to enter into CunyFirst.
Please visit our Quick Guides for further Grade Center help, or contact us for any questions!

Blackboard Academy’s Instructor Webinars

Blackboard Academy has designed webinars on topics such as Collaborate Ultra, the Grade Center, Building Mobile Content, Using Groups, and much more. For further details, please visit Blackboard’s Instructor Webinar Series page.
Please note that we use Blackboard Learn Original at CUNY SPS, so Blackboard Ultra sessions would not be applicable to our faculty.

A New VoiceThread Interface Coming Soon!

VoiceThread (VT) has a major update to the assignment feature coming June 2021. The update includes a major overhaul and redesign of the assignment experience for both students and instructors. They have added new features, tightened the integration with Blackboard, and streamlined workflows to better guide everyone through the process.
Starting June 30, 2021, all courses at SPS will be upgraded to the new assignment. More information can be found on SPS Faculty Commons VT Page.
The New Voicethread Assignment Workshop
Join a live training session on how to begin using the new features with your students. In the sessions below, we will review all of the workflows, new features, and options for VoiceThread assessments. The workshops are led by VT instructional designer and online educator George Haines. George will share his expertise to help you get the most from VoiceThread.
For other workshops titles visit the VT Workshop page.

Mindset Mini-Course

CUNY Central OAA’s Innovative Pedagogy Team will be offering a 3-hour mindset mini course which will provide an introduction to the Mindset GPS (Growth mindset, Purpose & Relevance & Sense of Belonging) model originally developed by the Motivate Lab at The University of Virginia. The course will be asynchronous; however there is a live kick-off meeting on Friday, June 11th, from 11am-12pm.
For further information, please visit this mini course flyer. If you are interested in applying, please complete the application form by Friday, May 14.

CUNY SPS Food Access Initiative

The CUNY School of Professional Studies’ Food Access Initiative aims to provide support to eligible students experiencing food insecurity. Students can submit a registration form every 30 days for a food assistance micro-grant of $50 which can be used to purchase groceries. We encourage you to share this information with your students. For additional information and eligibility requirements, please visit the Food Access Initiative website.


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.

OFDIT Corner

OFDIT Corner

Summer Reading List

With the summer weather shortly upon us, may we suggest these summer reads to enjoy while at the beach or relaxing in your hammock?
Michelle is currently reading “UDL in the Cloud: How to Design and Deliver Online Education Using Universal Design for Learning” by Katie Novak and Tom Thibodeau. The book introduces the Universal Design for Learning guidelines and provides practical tips on how a UDL approach can be incorporated into online classes. Some of the topics covered in the book include creating a UDL syllabus, cultivating instructor presence, and time management.
UDL in the cloud book title
Antonia recommends Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education by Thomas Tobin and Kirsten Behling for your summer reading list. The book is a great resource for how UDL can be a useful framework for enhancing access and engagement for all students, including those with disabilities. It includes real-world case studies, active-learning techniques, UDL-adoption guidance, and use-them-now resources.
Perk: Save 25% off the paperback list price on the WVU site by entering code “REACHTEACH”!

Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone book title


Finally, we would like to say a heartfelt congratulations on bringing another successful semester to a close in this extraordinary time. It’s been quite a year together, and we look forward to seeing you back in summer or fall!
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