Author: Matt Lewis

OFDIT Newsletter March 2023

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Dear Faculty,

We are excited to share a variety of engaging learning opportunities, from our spring faculty development workshops to additional CUNY professional development events scheduled in the coming weeks!

We encourage you to check out the our latest feature on video feedback in our Faculty Corner as well as the upcoming Open for All Discussion Series focusing on the themes of representation, inclusion/accessibility, and student agency through the lens of OER and Open Pedagogy approaches.

Don’t forget to register for OFDIT’s Spring 2023 faculty trainings, which feature some new topics such as Blackboard Ally, sessions on Panopto, OER, ePortfolio, and more!

Looking forward to seeing you at some of the events!

Engaging Opportunities for SPS Faculty

Open for All Discussion Series

Our discussion series on increasing inclusion in online courses continues this Friday, March 17, with the topic of Inclusion & Accessibility. How do students access content? How do they access concepts? Does everyone have equal and equitable access to the full range of materials and ideas in your course? Speakers will include Andrew Marcum, Academic Director and Distinguished Lecturer for Disability Studies at SPS, on the relationship between accessibility and equity, and OFDIT’s Jesse Rice-Evans and Kathryn Larkins introducing some of the features of Ally that go beyond basic accessibility and allow students to choose how to interact with online course content.

On Friday, March 24, our discussion will focus on Student Voice and Choice. How are students invited to represent themselves within the course? Within the field? How can they be given the chance to contribute to the knowledge community of the classroom and of the field at large? Kate Moss, Doctoral Lecturer in General Education and Liberal Studies at CUNY SPS, will share an open pedagogy assignment that exemplifies how students can be knowledge creators in the context of a course.

Discussion sessions are held from 12-1:30pm. All are welcome!  Register Here

Zotero Citation Management

Thursday, March 16, 12:30-1:30 pm

This workshop provides a hands on introduction to Zotero, a free open-source, bibliographic citation management tool that allows you to collect, store, and organize information as you research, and to rapidly generate citations and bibliographies with your word processor in a variety of styles as you write.

You will learn to install Zotero, capture items into your personal library, generate in-text citations and bibliographies, sync to the cloud and utilize many of the software’s functions.

This workshop is open to all CUNY SPS students and faculty
Register Here

CIED: Hidden Figures

Wednesday, March 22, 11:00am – 1:00pm

The Committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity (CIED) is proud to present a panel discussion on Hidden Figures: Developing Student Identity within a Discipline. Attend to learn ways in which a student’s identity can be fostered and supported within a discipline; the tools to develop the identity within the discipline; and how to align a student’s identity with a balanced learning experience and professional success. Register Here

Teaching with Intelligence: Navigating AI in the Classroom

Friday, April 28, 12:00-1:00pm

All SPS faculty are invited to a discussion on ChatGPT and other generative AI in our classes. How do we gauge our students’ temperature and talk to them about it? What approach can we take if students do use it? What might we want to adjust in our course design and assessments?  With: Carolee Ramsay, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards. Ruru Rusmin, Assistant Dean, Faculty Development and Instructional Technology

Register Here

Upcoming CUNY Events

SPRING 2023 CITA Events

CUNY’s Innovative Teaching Academy will be offering the following opportunities:

Hunter ACERT Presents: March Lunchtime Seminars
Tuesday/Thursdays in March, 12:00-1:00 PM (Partner Virtual Event): Please register here.

  • March 21: Integrating career exploration and preparation into the curriculum
  • March 23: Global Learning Experiences- live from New York
  • March 28: Attention! The art and science of student engagement

Environmental Justice Across Spaces
Friday, April 28, 10:00-11:00 AM (Virtual Event) -Please register here.
Rebio Diaz Cardona, Nathan Hosannah, Tomo Imamichi, Ryan Mann-Hamilton, and Ingrid Veras, LaGuardia Community College

Teaching and Learning with Transformative Texts
Friday, May 12, 2:00-3:00 PM (Virtual Event) – Please register here.
Karin Beck, Mila Burns, Alyshia Gálvez, and Julie Maybee, Lehman College

Faculty Corner: Providing Video Feedback

Faculty corner imageDr. Sarah Ruth Jacobs, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Communication and Media and Liberal Studies discusses building rapport with her student using video feedback. Take a look!

Video feedback has a few advantages to traditional feedback: it conveys tone better than the written word, it can show how a reader or viewer is interacting with the student’s work in real time, and it can make it easier to show a student the overall flow and structure of his or her work.

The first step to incorporating video feedback is to consider what assignment(s) would most benefit from such feedback. I personally choose to give video feedback on a one-page writing assignment that I think would benefit from students hearing my encouraging tone (despite a lot of otherwise critical feedback). Even though it is asynchronous, video feedback gives students the sense of a shared experience where I conversationally look over, point out, and discuss different portions of the assignment in an in-depth way.

When I give video feedback, I use Screencast-O-Matic, and I select the screen only option, so that the student’s work is what is visible. Prior to giving feedback, I read over and highlight different parts of a student’s work that I want to touch on—the good, the bad, and what is promising but needs work, using different colored highlights. This prevents me from having to read over the assignment in its entirety while giving feedback, though that could be an option if you want a student to hear his or her words. For a one-page assignment, I usually give 1 to 3 minutes of video feedback. I then upload the video using Panopto, and I will submit the video for captioning and transcripts.

Generally, video feedback works better for shorter assignments, or for multimedia assignments. Longer assignments may require more extensive line-by-line criticism, which can render video feedback a little bit awkward when students are revising. I therefore tend to give video feedback for assignments that do not require extensive revision. So far my students have responded positively to my feedback, and I believe that it helps to establish and improve my rapport with students.

If you are interested in learning how to give video feedback, you can sign up for one of our OFDIT workshops on Panopto, VoiceThread or Screencast-O-Matic, or contact us for more information.

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!

OFDIT Spring 2023 Trainings

Don’t forget to sign up for OFDIT’s trainings this spring! Our sessions are designed to encourage all faculty to add skills and get inspired about the tools available for your teaching! You may register using our public calendar or learn more below:

Introduction to Blackboard Ally
Learn how our new tool, Blackboard Ally, can increase access and improve the overall learning experience in your course by providing choice and flexibility for how students consume content and access media. We will cover both alternative file formats and the accessibility gauge features that are now available to all in your courses and the support Ally provides in addressing any areas where accessibility can be improved, often very quickly!

Thursday, March 16 at 10am Register Here
Monday, March 20 at 1pm Register Here

Making Your Course Content Accessible with Ally
Want to make your documents and Blackboard course content accessible but don’t know where to start? Join us for a training session to learn how! We will cover accessibility principles and provide practical tips on how to use Blackboard Ally to make your course files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Blackboard content (such as font, headers, images, charts, graphs, hyperlinks) more accessible to all your students.

Monday, April 3 at 10am Register Here
Wednesday, April 19 at 1pm Register Here

Getting Started with Blackboard Mobile
In this session, we will explore the Blackboard Mobile application and gain an understanding of how students experience learning on the go. We will also discuss the major interface differences between Blackboard Mobile and Blackboard for Desktop and best practices for online course design for mobile devices.

Thursday, March 23 at 11am Register Here
Thursday, March 30 at 2pm Register Here

Panopto for SPS Faculty
Creating video content just got much easier! Whether you need to record a welcome message, a lecture, or a recorded announcement for your class, Panopto, the SPS Blackboard-integrated video platform, can make it happen in a few clicks. Participants will learn how to access Panopto and its many features through Blackboard, and how to develop a workflow to create, organize, and publish your video content. Special attention will be paid to viewing permissions, sharing content between courses, and captioning. Join us to boost your video-making skills!

Thursday, March 23 at 10am Register Here
Monday, March 27 at 11am Register Here

A Cut Above: Making Your Videos More Professional
Learn simple steps to present yourself on video to enhance your connection with your students by looking more professional. Nowadays, we have multiple opportunities to be on camera for synchronous virtual meetings or recording content for our classes. Having your students see and hear you builds rapport and sparks excitement for learning. Whether you are trying this for the first time, or have been creating media for a while, this session will give you a set of guides to help make your videos look and sound professionally produced.

Thursday, March 23 at 4pm Register Here

ePortfolio for SPS Faculty: An Introduction
If this is the first time you are using Digication’s ePortfolio in your course or if you need a quick refresher, this workshop will help both new and existing faculty get acquainted with ePortfolio. We will discuss the current practice of using ePortfolio at CUNY SPS, navigate through the tool in a course site, review the responsibilities of instructors when using ePortfolio, and showcase the various support resources available for both students and instructors. There will also be time to answer any questions you might have about ePortfolios at CUNY SPS.

Friday, March 24 at 10am Register Here
Wednesday, April 26 at 4pm Register Here


Screencast-O-Matic: Effective Editing Techniques
Screencast-O-Matic (SCOM), a powerful video creating and editing tool, is available to SPS Faculty. In this session, participants will learn effective editing techniques that will direct your audience’s attention to what’s important. Used in conjunction with Panopto, the SPS video hosting platform, SCOM makes advanced editing features simple. The result, you can produce a polished video with a few simple steps.

Tuesday, March 28 at 3pm Register Here
Wednesday, April 5 at 4pm Register Here

VoiceThread for SPS Faculty
This training will introduce VoiceThread, an asynchronous video discussion board. VoiceThread allows faculty and students to create multimedia presentations that creates a classroom community through threaded audio and video discussions. You and your students can add commentary to a presentation by means of microphone, webcam, keyboard, or phone. The ensuing conversation feels like a live classroom, but in an online environment. In this session, SPS faculty will learn how to create a VoiceThread and integrate it into their Blackboard course.

Monday, April 3 at 4pm Register Here
Tuesday, April 18 at 4pm Register Here

Personalizing Your Panopto Video
As many of us have learned, using Panopto to create a video is a simple process. But many instructors have yet to unlock the powerful features inside Panopto that can transform video to maximize its impact. In this session, participants will look inside the Panopto video editor to discover tools for trimming or cutting video, adding additional content (ex. YouTube videos), or challenging students with in-video quizzes. Finally, we’ll review Panopto’s robust viewer analytics that tells us who has watched the video and for how long. Join us to make your next video go from good to great!

Tuesday, April 18 at 2pm Register Here

As always, OFDIT is here to help! We are available for one-on-one support and are also happy to schedule a Zoom call to discuss any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

All the best,
Your OFDIT Team

Faculty Exchange, Learning Labs, and Making Knowledge Visible (ePortfolios)

Faculty Development Day 2020 will take place virtually on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 12-3:30. We are looking forward to seeing new and familiar faces!

This event will be held via Zoom (please click on the link or check the call-in details section of this page). Here are some tips on attending a zoom event, as well as a test meeting you can join to check your connection and equipment.


  • Sip ‘n Chat: 12:00pm
  • Welcome: 12:30pm
  • Faculty exchange: 12:45-1:30pm
  • Student panel: 1:30-2:00pm
  • Faculty exchange: 2:00-2:45pm 
  • Learning labs: 2:50-3:20pm
  • Closing: 3:20pm

Sip ‘n Chat (12-12:30)

Grab your coffee, tea, or drink of choice and join us for an informal gathering in the half hour before scheduled events begin. Let’s check in and see how you’re doing, how your students are doing, how things are going.

Faculty Exchange (12:45-1:30)

Faculty share activities, course features, and other projects related to teaching or research at SPS. 

  • Joseph Foy – An Experiential Learning Field Study in Accounting: Using Nonprofit and For-profit Businesses as Experiential Learning Venues
  • Melanie Lorek – Helping Students to Avoid Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty
  • Kate Moss – Late Work Policies:  Now and during “normal” teaching times

Student Panel: Making Knowledge Visible (1:30-2)

Join us as CUNY SPS students share their stories of transformation through ePortfolios.  In this session, panelists will show how their learning became visible through the high-impact practice of learning portfolios.  They will discuss highlights, lessons learned, and challenges in the production of their curricular (and extra-curricular) websites. Faculty, administrators, and students are welcome to attend to see how ePortfolios impact learning.

Student Panelists

  • Ms. Enriqueta Au Muñoz, Bachelor of Arts in Disability Studies ePortfolio
  • Ms. Jade Powell, Master of Science in Disability Services in Higher Education

Faculty Exchange (2-2:45)

Faculty share activities, course features, and other projects related to teaching or research at SPS. 

  • Curtis Izen – VoiceThread: Transforming from Text to VoiceThreads and Not Looking Back
  • Euny Lee – Video and Communication Tools for Student Engagement & Instruction
  • Elizabeth Alsop – Teaching with Slack: Ideas for Online Instructors

Learning Labs (2:50-3:20)

Join a breakout room to learn more about and/or ask specific questions on the following applications:

  • VoiceThread – Matt Lewis
  • Digication – Karen Gonzalez
  • Screencastomatic – Sharon Jorrin
  • Blackboard / Grade Center – Sylvie Richards
  • Blackboard Mobile – Michelle Gastulo
  • Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning – Antonia Levy

Zoom Meeting Information

Meeting ID: 272 610 433

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Presentation Materials

Copies of presentations are available in the Blackboard course SPS Faculty Development Day 2020, in which participants are invited to self enroll.