OFDIT Newsletter November 2022

November 2022

Dear Faculty,

Winter is coming! As you cozy up with your hot beverage of choice, we invite you to read this month’s newsletter and catch up on the latest OFDIT and CUNY-wide news.

First, we share information about the many faculty development opportunities that are taking place soon, including the CUNY IT conference, the Teaching Matters series, and events from the CUNY Innovative Teaching Academy.

Please read on for tips on setting up your Final Grades column, as well as information about our captioning and transcription service which we encourage you to use for the instructional videos in your course.

Speaking of videos, we invite you to watch Dr. Jennifer Sparrow, CUNY SPS’ Interim Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, speak with Jeffrey Yan of the Digication Scholars Conversation Podcast. Last but certainly not least, don’t miss this month’s Faculty Corner! In this video, Dr. Linda Paradiso talks with OFDIT’s Matt Lewis about the benefits of incorporating reflective learning opportunities into your course.

Thank you for reading and happy sipping!

Faculty Professional Development Opportunities

The CUNY IT Conference, whose theme this year is “The Power and Perils of Scripting,” will be taking place in-person at John Jay College from December 1-2, 2022.

CUNY SPS speakers include conference co-chair Bronwen Stine (IT), as well as Tara Barca, Joe Foy, Ed Knox (all of Business) and Ruru Rusmin (OFDIT), who will be presenting “Paving the Path: Online Course Frameworks for Consistent, Frictionless Curriculum Delivery.” To register for this free event, please visit the CUNY IT Conference Events page.

Continue expanding your instructional practice with events from the Innovative Teaching Academy (ITA) as well as the Teaching Matters Series. Upcoming workshops include:

  • Teaching Matters: Modeling Your Assignments after Your Own Writing Practices with Karen Miller. Friday, December 2, 2022, 10 – 11 AM ET. Register here.
  • Community Inside and Outside of the Classroom (Online). Friday, December 2, 2022, 12—1:30 PM. Register here.
  • Not the Master’s Tools: Building Community in the Classroom (Online). Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 4—5 PM. Register here.
  • Equity through Creativity: Examples of Transformative Teaching Across Disciplines (Online). Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 4—5 PM. Register here.

Training is also available on Ally, a Blackboard tool which evaluates content uploaded into a course and provides instructors with steps on how to improve the accessibility of that file. In addition, Ally provides students with multiple formats of the original content so students can select a format which best fits their needs.

  • Friday, December 2nd – 12:00-2:00pm. Register here (Registration closes November 30th)
  • Tuesday, December 6th – 12:00-2:00 pm. Register here (Registration closes December 4th)

Open Pedagogy in the Teaching Matters Series

On Friday, September 16 from 2 PM – 3 PM, Shawna Brandle from Kingsborough Community College will present “Choosing Your Own Adventure: Increasing Student Engagement with Open Pedagogy.” For more details and to register, click here! To read more about Teaching Matters offerings, or to submit a proposal for a workshop, please see Teaching Matters – The City University of New York.

Calculating Final Grades Using Total Points or Weighted Total

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. If you have selected “Calculate as Running Total” and percentage as the Primary Display for the column, the total points the student has earned is divided by the total points possible for their graded work, displaying the student’s average grade on the work they have submitted. If a student has missed an assignment submission, this average won’t be affected unless you enter a manual grade for them in that column.

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!

Captioning Videos in SPS Courses

This may not be a big surprise to the SPS community, but captioning a video benefits everyone. At SPS we would like every video added to a course to have captions and/or a full transcript. SPS has contracted a professional captioning service, 3Play Media, to make the addition of captions as easy as possible. Recently, OFDIT updated our caption request form to allow for multiple video submission pathways.

No matter the location (YouTube, Panopto, Dropbox, etc.), you may submit videos used in SPS courses for professional captioning. You may also submit dual language videos (Spanish/English) for captioning. You can even submit videos for captioning that you did not create, such as YouTube links created by a 3rd party.

Get your videos captioned today using the OFDIT Caption Request Form. Please bookmark this link and in the future, when you need a video captioned, you’ll know where to go to get professional captions!


Dr. Jennifer Sparrow interviewed for the Digication Scholars Conversation Podcast

In this episode, “How to Make the Student Experience Better with Outcome-Driven Assessment” on the Digication Scholars Conversation podcast, Jeffrey Yan chats with Dr. Jennifer Sparrow on topics such as outcome-driven education with an emphasis on the use of teaching and learning technologies to improve the student experience.

Highlights include:

  • The Need For Outcome-Based Education
  • Use of Technologies in Education (Teaching and Learning) for Improving the Student Experience
  • The Benefits of Going Online with Educational Technology
  • Measuring the Student Experience Through an Outcome-Driven Assessment

And more…

Faculty Corner Discussion on Reflective Learning

In our first ever Faculty Corner video, Dr. Linda Paradiso speaks to Matt Lewis about the use of reflective learning in the Nursing Organizational Leadership Program. Click on the image to view the video.









Call for Faculty Corner SubmissionsFaculty corner image


If you have a useful or interesting pedagogical or technical tip (in 200 words or less!) that you are excited about, we would love to hear from you and add your submission to our next Faculty Newsletter. Please use our Faculty Corner Submission Form to submit your pitch. Your submission can be in text or video format – whatever you prefer!





Faculty Support Drop-In Hour

Need live faculty support? Stop by during our Faculty Support Drop-In Hour every Tuesday 3-4pm to speak to an OFDIT team member who can help.

You can access the drop-in hour session via the Zoom link.


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