Author: Michelle Gastulo

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OFDIT Newsletter September 2021

September 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,
Welcome to our first newsletter of the Fall semester! We would like to take a moment to say hello to our new subscribers and to introduce ourselves. We are the Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Technology (OFDIT for short) and we created this newsletter specifically to reach out to the SPS faculty community. In our newsletters, we share faculty development news and information related to Blackboard and EdTech.
In this month’s edition, we share exciting news about the new OFDIT Faculty Advisory Board and invite you to nominate advisory board members. We also provide information about the Library “E-Reserves” menu link in Blackboard, the Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group, and a quick update on YouTube videos in your courses.
At the end of the newsletter, you can find this semester’s training sessions, including three new sessions on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy, Blackboard Groups, and Blackboard Tests.
Lastly, we would love to hear from you– submit your ideas to be featured in next month’s “Faculty Corner”!
As always, thank you for reading! We look forward to working with you throughout the Fall semester.

OFDIT Faculty Advisory Board

Are you interested in serving on the new OFDIT Faculty Advisory Board at CUNY SPS?
The Board will play an important role in planning and organizing Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Technology (OFDIT) events, and guide the direction of OFDIT programming and activities. Advisory Board members will also serve as liaisons to programs and publicize OFDIT events and initiatives to colleagues. Learn more here and enter a nomination here. Nominations are open until October 25, 2021 for the first OFDIT Faculty Advisory Board, which will convene in November 2021.

Library E-Reserves menu link

You may have noticed a new menu link titled “SPS E-reserves” in your Blackboard site.
This link provides a seamless way for students to connect with items placed on E-Reserves for their classes if the link is made visible.
How does this shortcut work?
  • Clicking on it will bring the student or faculty directly to the E-Reserves page for the class.
  • When clicking on any library licensed materials listed on the page, users will then need to log in with the SPS username and password provided by the Help Desk for access to library content.
What are the benefits of this shortcut?
  • Students and faculty no longer need to enter a class-specific E-Reserves page password.
  • Faculty no longer need to share a separate E-Reserves weblink in their course(s) since the “SPS E-reserves” menu link is present in all SPS Blackboard course sites, hidden by default.
If your class makes use of E-Reserves, please make sure the link is visible so that your students can enjoy a more streamlined experience.
If your class does not have an E-Reserve page but the menu link is inadvertently made visible, the menu link will simply redirect to a research page on the library website.

Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group

The SPS Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group continues to focus on Anti-Racist and Inclusive Pedagogy this semester, with the first meeting scheduled for September 28th from 2-3 pm. The first reading to be discussed is “Anti-racist pedagogy: from faculty’s self-reflection to organizing within and beyond the classroom”, by Kyoko Kishimoto. The meeting will be facilitated by Melanie Lorek, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Human Relations. For information on how to access the meeting or to join the mailing list, please email melanie.lorek@cuny.edu. All are welcome!


Quick Tip: Unlisted YouTube Videos

Have you used YouTube videos in your course that are older than Jan. 1 2017?  If so, please double check that they are playing properly.  As part of a site-wide security update, YouTube has changed the privacy setting of any video marked as “Unlisted” that was added before Jan. 2017.  These older unlisted videos have been set to “Private.”  What does this mean? If you had an older video marked as unlisted in your course, it may no longer play for your students. OFDIT suggests that you take a moment to check that your older YouTube videos are playing properly.  We’ve found this helpful post on How to Change YouTube Video Permissions.


Fall Semester Training Sessions

Student Engagement in Online Learning
Join us for a discussion of best practices for generating and sustaining student engagement in the virtual classroom. This training will review approaches to enhance student engagement, including different ways to present content, the role of feedback in sustaining engagement, activities to promote student interaction, active learning approaches, and connecting your course content to the real world. You’ll have an opportunity to discuss challenges and successes you’ve experienced and share strategies with colleagues.
Trauma-Informed Pedagogy
Estimates of the percentage of the general population that had experienced trauma *before* the Covid-19 pandemic were in the 80% range. Since Spring 2020, the relevance of Trauma-Informed Pedagogy has become clearer, but what is trauma? How does it affect learning? What can educators do about it? Please join us for a discussion of the principles of Trauma-Informed Pedagogy and of strategies for implementing these in a practical way that supports both you and your students.
Using Blackboard Groups
Wondering how to set up student group work in your courses? In this session, you will learn how to use the Blackboard groups tool effectively, including how to create groups and how to create group assignments. The training will also cover how to grade group work.
Introduction to Blackboard Tests
In addition to covering the basics such as creating tests and pools, this training answers some common questions: how do I import/export a test? How do I grant an exception? What are all those options on the Grade Details page? And what do all these feedback option settings actually mean? Join us as we answer your questions on Blackboard Tests.
Blackboard Grading Tips 
This training is all about grading! We will cover Grade Center basics, the Needs Grading area, Grade Center vs My Grades, how to create and use rubrics, and more!
Introduction to BB Mobile
Over half of participants in SPS’s New Student Orientation plan to use mobile devices as a part of their online learning experience – will your online courses transfer well into this interface? 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.
A Cut Above: Making Your Videos More Professional
Learn simple steps to create engaging media for your class. Many of us are finding ourselves in front of a camera for synchronous virtual meetings or recording content for our online courses. Having your students see and hear you can create a sense of connection, build rapport and spark excitement for learning through seeing your passion for the discipline. No matter if you’re trying this for the first time or have been creating media for a while, this session we’ll give you tools to make your videos look more professional.
Screencast-o-matic Pro: Level 1
This session will cover the basics of how to create and edit audio/video screencasts for your course using Screencast-o-matic Pro, an online tool offered by SPS. The session will demonstrate a production workflow including set up, recording, and post-production (editing). Finally, we will discuss options for captioning and sharing your newly created video.
VoiceThread for SPS Faculty
This training will introduce VoiceThread, a collaborative, multimedia program that allows faculty (or students) to upload various media like slides, images, or video and engage the class in an enhanced discussion.  You and your students can add commentary by means of microphone, webcam, keyboard, or phone. In this session, SPS faculty will learn how to create a VoiceThread and how to integrate it into their Blackboard course.
The VoiceThread Grader
VoiceThread, an asynchronous audio/video discussion board integrated into Blackboard, can be set up for efficient grading. Join this session to learn about the three different assignment types, their advantages/disadvantages, and common obstacles students encounter.  By using the assignment builder your VoiceThread will be contained inside a grading tool that aggregates student comments, provides a gallery of student work, and pushes grades to a column in the Blackboard Grade Center.

Call for Faculty Corner Submissions

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.

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

OFDIT Newsletter August 2021

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

August 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

We hope you are all enjoying these dog days of summer! The back-to-school sales have been on for a couple weeks now, and with the new semester quickly approaching, we wanted to welcome you back with another edition of our newsletter.

In this edition, we share two quick tips about our course site checklist and column organization view. We also share updates on VoiceThread Universal, our new multimedia site, and OER@SPS.

Lastly, we would love to hear any pedagogical ideas you have used in past semesters or plan to use in your classes in the upcoming semester. Please submit your ideas via the Faculty Corner Submission Form below.

Again, welcome back and thank you for reading! We look forward to working with you throughout the Fall semester.


Quick Tip: Course Site Checklist for Faculty

Our Course Site Checklist for Faculty can be helpful when preparing your online course for the new semester. In this checklist, you will find a list of all the elements that need to be updated in a live course site for an upcoming semester, such as:

  • Your welcome announcement
  • Instructor card
  • Syllabus/Course Schedule
  • Due Dates
  • Etc.

You will also find useful SPS quick guides from our OFDIT team as well as links to Blackboard Help pages.


Quick Tip: Column Organization View

When preparing your Fall semester site, we highly recommend that you perform a Grade Center check for accuracy. One way to do this is to compare the grading breakdown in your syllabus and Grade Center. Your students will consult your syllabus for information on how they will be graded in your course so you’ll want to be sure that these two match!

An easy way to perform this check is to use the Column Organization View. This can be found at the top of your Full Grade Center.

Using the Column Organization View, the grade center will appear in list form, making it easy to see all your assessments without need to endlessly scroll to the side. Here, you can check categories (this is important if using Weighted Grading), due dates, and points possible (if using Total Points). You can also make changes to your grade center, such as changing assessment categories, re-ordering columns, and hiding assessments from yourself as the instructor. Please note that to hide assessments from students in My Grades, you have to hide it from the regular Grade Center view (not the Column Organization View) by clicking on the drop-down chevron at the top of the grade center column title and selecting “Hide from students (on/off)”.


VoiceThread Update – New Accessibility Features

Many CUNY SPS faculty use VoiceThread, an asynchronous, online voice and video discussion board that simulates a live conversation. Using such a visual medium for learning may limit the accessibility for some students. VoiceThread allows users to switch to VoiceThread Universal, an accessible version of the tool. It’s designed to allow those that use screen readers full access.  A screen reading app will detect VoiceThread Universal and students can set it as their default view.  Voicethread has recently updated the Universal site to include these features:

  • Sharing a VoiceThread
  • Threaded commenting
  • Private replies
  • Changing playback speed
  • Comment moderation
  • Editing text comments
  • New comment notifications

Accessing live links on slides

 

All users may access VT Universal here: https://cunysps.voicethread.com/universal/

Here are the full details on VoiceThread Universal and its accessibility features.


New Multimedia Section on SPS Faculty Commons

OFDIT maintains the SPS Faculty Commons site to serve as a resource for CUNY SPS faculty by announcing trainings and workshops, offering accessibility resources, as well as publishing technology guides and tutorials. We are pleased to announce the addition of a new section on Multimedia!

The Multimedia section contains help and support for faculty looking to create video, use various multimedia tools, and integrate media into Blackboard.  Pages have been created to outline a process for planning, producing, and publishing video as well as support for captioning video and adding it to Blackboard. If you have a question about your next media project, please visit the SPS Faculty Commons site.

 


 

Open Educational Resources and Open Pedagogy

CUNY SPS continues to embrace the open educational resources and open pedagogy movements. To date, conversions of courses from traditional materials to Zero-Textbook-Cost have saved our students 1.4 million dollars! We will continue to support faculty interested in converting their courses to ZTC with the OER Workshop. If you are interested in OER and open educational practices, we will also be offering a variety of discussions and training workshops on open pedagogy and active learning through open practices and use of open platforms throughout this coming year. Keep your eyes on this spot, or the OER@SPS page of the SPS Faculty Community Site for updates!


Call out for Faculty Corner

If you have a useful or interesting pedagogical 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.


 

 

Thank you for reading! As always, please contact us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu with any questions or support requests. See you at one of our upcoming events, or for our next newsletter in September!

Your OFDIT Team

 

 

OFDIT Newsletter May 2021

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

OFDIT newsletter banner

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

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

 

OFDIT Newsletter March 2021

March 2021 newsletter banner

March 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

Spring is on its way! We hope you and yours are staying safe, and that your classes are going smoothly.

In this month’s newsletter, we invite you to join us for our Accessibility & UDL workshop in April and any of our upcoming training sessions. In addition, we share information about the new Reflective Reading Pedagogy Group, events hosted by CUNY’s Transformative Learning in the Humanities, and highlights of our CUNY SPS ePortfolio work. We also debut our new “Faculty Corner” segment where faculty share a useful or interesting pedagogical tip (in 200 words or less!) that has worked well in their online classes. If you have an idea, we would love to hear from you! Please use our Newsletter Suggestion/Faculty Corner Submission Form to submit your pitch.

Last but not least, we are pleased to announce the dates for our next Faculty Development Day which will take place over two half days, April 15th and 16th — save the dates!


Accessibility & UDL Workshop (April 5th – April 18th, 2021)

There are still seats available for our Accessibility & UDL Workshop offered in April! This two-week, online workshop provides an in-depth introduction to accessibility and Universal Design in Learning (UDL) for online and hybrid education. Participants will review the principles of UDL, learn about best accessibility practices in Blackboard, and get hands-on practice creating accessible documents and multimedia. In applying the skills acquired in this workshop to course design and your teaching, you will create an online experience that is welcoming to all learners, including those with disabilities. Please join us by registering here.


Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group

Below is an invitation to join the Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group:

“We’re excited to announce the Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group, which offers members of the CUNY SPS community a space to regularly meet and reflect on issues related to their teaching practice. We welcome all faculty—full- and part-time—and any staff who would like to engage in critical discussions about teaching and learning. Our focus for the current semester is on Anti-Racist and Inclusive Pedagogy. Please join us for our first meeting on Tuesday, March 23, at 2 p.m., for a discussion of Chapter 10 of bell hook’s Teaching to Transgress (“Building a Teaching Community”) facilitated by Melanie Lorek, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Human Relations. For more information or to join our mailing list, please email elizabeth.alsop@cuny.edu.”


Upcoming TLH Events

CUNY has created the Transformative Learning in the Humanities (TLH) Initiative to reimagine ways to make the humanities more accessible, engaging and imperative to students. The effort, funded with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is part of the University’s renewed focus on pedagogy.

TLH is co-sponsoring a series of events in the spring, organized by CUNY faculty, which covers an exciting range of topics including how to foster play in the classroom, facilitating difficult classroom conversations, and universal design. To see the full lineup of upcoming workshops and to register, please visit here.


ePortfolio Showcase

Karen Gonzalez, ePortfolio Program Assistant in OFDIT, is the featured educator in Episode 13 of Digication’s podcast series. In her episode titled “Meeting Students Where They Are: Building Community in an Online World,” Karen discusses the use of ePortfolios to integrate learning, describes how SPS meets support needs in an online environment, and shares examples of work by students across multiple programs including Rokshana Ali in Disability Services in Higher Education and Richard Shot in Communication and Media.

Coming up soon, we will be honoring excellent student work in our ePortfolio Student Showcase. The ePortfolio Student Showcase gives students an opportunity to share their academic journey at SPS. Winners receive a $100 cash prize, a digital badge, are featured on the SPS website, and shared through social media feeds. Please help us by nominating outstanding student ePortfolios! Faculty can make nominations by May 4, 2021 via this link: https://bit.ly/ePFacultyApplication.


Faculty Corner

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Walter Wang, who teaches Math 102: Math in Contemporary Society, shares this tip for helping students keep track of due dates and work coming up. He includes a list of all the due dates in his course via a direct link in the course menu (see the screenshot). He writes:

“When I taught face to face classes at Baruch College it was easy to remind students of their next assignment at the end of each class. Students could also easily ask me about upcoming assignments so that they could better manage their time. At SPS this is not possible since we meet asynchronously, on line with little direct communication. Most of the SPS students are wearing multiple hats as employees, parents, students and other responsibilities so I thought reminders would be a good idea. My first couple of semesters at SPS I would post an announcement reminding students of the upcoming assignment. I found this strategy to be less effective as we all have too many emails and sites to review on the internet each day. I thought the Summary of Assignment Due Dates would be easily available to students and they would be able to manage their time better each week. Anecdotally, students have told me it is helpful but I have no data supporting its effectiveness. […] I think the ease of access and succinctness are the keys to having it used by students.”

Screenshot - Walter Wang Screenshot of the Summary of Assignment Due Dates course menu link in Prof. Walter Wang’s Spring 2021 section of SPS Math 102: Math in Contemporary Society


Spring 2021 Trainings

Setting up the Grade Center in Blackboard

In this session, you will learn the basics of how to set up your Grade Center. We will cover the different parts of the grade center, the grade center icons, and how to ensure that your assignments are listed and properly categorized for computing students’ final scores, whether you choose to use Total Points or a Weighted Total.

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.

Blackboard on a Mobile Device

Over half of participants in SPS’ New Student Orientation plan to use mobile devices as a part of their online learning experience – will your online courses transfer well into this interface? 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 Desktops and best practices for online course design for mobile devices.

Student Engagement in Online Learning

Join us for a discussion of best practices for generating and sustaining student engagement in the virtual classroom. This training will review approaches to enhance student engagement and instructor feedback in online courses, including different ways to present content and provide feedback, activities to promote student interaction, active learning approaches, and connecting your course content to the real world. You’ll have an opportunity to discuss challenges and successes you’ve experienced and share strategies with colleagues.

Ensemble Video: an Information Session

SPS instructors have access to a robust video hosting platform called Ensemble Video. Think of Ensemble as an SPS-owned platform like YouTube, but designed with education rather than social media in mind. When compared to YouTube, Ensemble Video has several advantages for faculty in terms of streamlining, securing, and engaging students with video. In this session, we will introduce the tool’s most salient features, including student viewing data, the Blackboard integration, and streamlined professional captioning. Auto-publishing, in-video quizzes, and student video submissions will also be discussed. You can learn more here: Ensemble Video for SPS Faculty

Screencast-o-matic Pro: Level 1

This session will cover the basics of how to create and edit audio/video screencasts for your course using Screencast-o-matic Pro, an online tool offered by SPS. The session will demonstrate a production workflow including set up, recording, and post-production (editing). Finally, we will discuss options for captioning and sharing your newly created video.

A Cut Above: Making Your Videos More Professional

Learn simple steps to create engaging media for your class. Many of us are finding ourselves in front of a camera for synchronous virtual meetings or recording content for our online courses. Having your students see and hear you can create a sense of connection, build rapport and spark excitement for learning through seeing your passion for the discipline. No matter if you’re trying this for the first time or have been creating media for a while, this session we’ll give you tools to make your videos look more professional.

Zoom Meetings for Student Hours

All CUNY faculty are now able to claim a Zoom account. Similar to Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom is a synchronous virtual meeting space that offers features unavailable in Collaborate. You may choose to conduct your Student Hours in Zoom not just for the audio and video communication, interactive whiteboard and desktop sharing, but for additional features found in Zoom, like a waiting room, enhanced video and annotation tools. This training will present a Zoom workflow for Student Hours/Office Hours and discuss general best practices for conducting student hours virtually.

VoiceThread for SPS Faculty

This training will introduce VoiceThread, a collaborative, multimedia program that allows faculty (or students) to upload various media like slides, images, or video and engage the class in an enhanced discussion. You and your students can add commentary by means of microphone, webcam, keyboard, or phone. In this session, SPS faculty will learn how to create a VoiceThread and how to integrate it into their Blackboard course.


You can always find our calendar of trainings here. We are also 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

 

OFDIT Newsletter February 2021

February 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

We hope that the Spring semester is off to a great start for you and your students!

In this month’s newsletter, we invite you to join our Accessibility & UDL Workshop in April, share information about the new CUNY IT Help Customer Service Portal, and list the dates and times for our upcoming training sessions.


Live Virtual Training Sessions

This semester we will offer the following live virtual training sessions:

  • Student Engagement in Online Learning
  • VoiceThread for SPS Faculty
  • VoiceThread: The New Assignment
  • Screencast-o-matic Pro: Level 1
  • Introducing SnagIt – Screen Capture from Simple to Advanced
  • Ensemble Video: an Information Session
  • A Cut Above: Making Your Videos More Professional
  • Zoom Meetings for Student Hours
  • Blackboard on a Mobile Device
  • Setting up the Grade Center in Blackboard
  • Grade Center in Blackboard: Beyond the Basics

See below for details. All times are Eastern Standard.


Accessibility & UDL Workshop (April 5th – April 18th, 2021)

This two-week, online workshop provides an in-depth introduction to accessibility and Universal Design in Learning (UDL) for online and hybrid education. Participants will review the principles of UDL, learn about best accessibility practices in Blackboard, and get hands-on practice creating accessible documents and multimedia. In applying the skills acquired in this workshop to course design and your teaching, you will create an online experience that is welcoming to all learners, including those with disabilities. Please join us!

This online, facilitated workshop will be offered from April 5th-18th, 2021. Please register here.


CUNY IT Help Customer Service Portal

CUNY IT Help is now live and contains over 1500 articles in an easily searchable repository of essential how-to instructions, FAQs, policies, forms, and reference material for CUNY-wide applications and services. Some topics of interest to CUNY SPS faculty may include:

  • Accessibility
  • Dropbox
  • CUNYfirst
  • Zoom

CUNY IT Help is managed by the Central Office. To provide feedback, please email: ITHelpFeedback@cuny.edu.


Spring 2021 Trainings

Student Engagement in Online Learning

Join us for a discussion of best practices for generating and sustaining student engagement in the virtual classroom. This training will review approaches to enhance student engagement and instructor feedback in online courses, including different ways to present content and provide feedback, activities to promote student interaction, active learning approaches, and connecting your course content to the real world. You’ll have an opportunity to discuss challenges and successes you’ve experienced and share strategies with colleagues.

VoiceThread for SPS Faculty

This training will introduce VoiceThread, a collaborative, multimedia program that allows faculty (or students) to upload various media like slides, images, or video and engage the class in an enhanced discussion. You and your students can add commentary by means of microphone, webcam, keyboard, or phone. In this session, SPS faculty will learn how to create a VoiceThread and how to integrate it into their Blackboard course.

VoiceThread: The New Assignment

In this workshop, you will learn how to turn new assignments on for your courses and begin using them with your students. We will review all of the workflows, new features, and options for your VoiceThread assessments. This session is facilitated by VoiceThread. For more free workshops see the VoiceThread tutorial site.

Screencast-o-matic Pro: Level 1

This session will cover the basics of how to create and edit audio/video screencasts for your course using Screencast-o-matic Pro, an online tool offered by SPS. The session will demonstrate a production workflow including set up, recording, and post-production (editing). Finally, we will discuss options for captioning and sharing your newly created video.

Introducing SnagIt – Screen Capture from Simple to Advanced

Join us for an overview of the latest tool available to all current CUNY faculty. TechSmith’s Snagit is a powerful screen capture program with a wide array of options to create, edit and annotate screen captures. It has robust features that include panoramic and vertical scrolling and the ability to blur personal or unneeded information. Several publishing methods make it easy to send professional looking screen captures in a few clicks. If you are currently teaching at SPS you can contact the SPS Help Desk to claim your SnagIt license.

Ensemble Video: an Information Session

SPS instructors have access to a robust video hosting platform called Ensemble Video. Think of Ensemble as an SPS-owned platform like YouTube, but designed with education rather than social media in mind. When compared to YouTube, Ensemble Video has several advantages for faculty in terms of streamlining, securing, and engaging students with video. In this session, we will introduce the tool’s most salient features, including student viewing data, the Blackboard integration, and streamlined professional captioning. Auto-publishing, in-video quizzes, and student video submissions will also be discussed. You can learn more here: Ensemble Video for SPS Faculty

A Cut Above: Making Your Videos More Professional

Learn simple steps to create engaging media for your class. Many of us are finding ourselves in front of a camera for synchronous virtual meetings or recording content for our online courses. Having your students see and hear you can create a sense of connection, build rapport and spark excitement for learning through seeing your passion for the discipline. No matter if you’re trying this for the first time or have been creating media for a while, this session we’ll give you tools to make your videos look more professional.

Zoom Meetings for Student Hours

All CUNY faculty are now able to claim a Zoom account. Similar to Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom is a synchronous virtual meeting space that offers features unavailable in Collaborate. You may choose to conduct your Student Hours in Zoom not just for the audio and video communication, interactive whiteboard and desktop sharing, but for additional features found in Zoom, like a waiting room, enhanced video and annotation tools. This training will present a Zoom workflow for Student Hours/Office Hours and discuss general best practices for conducting student hours virtually.

Blackboard on a Mobile Device

Over half of participants in SPS’ New Student Orientation plan to use mobile devices as a part of their online learning experience – will your online courses transfer well into this interface? 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 Desktops and best practices for online course design for mobile devices.

Setting up the Grade Center in Blackboard

In this session, you will learn the basics of how to set up your Grade Center. We will cover the different parts of the grade center, the grade center icons, and how to ensure that your assignments are listed and properly categorized for computing students’ final scores, whether you choose to use Total Points or a Weighted Total.

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.


We would love to see you at one or many of our trainings and workshops! We are also 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 for a successful spring semester,

Your OFDIT Team

OFDIT Newsletter January 2021


January 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

Happy New Year from the OFDIT Team! We’re hoping that you had a relaxing holiday break, and — if you are teaching during the Winter — a successful start of the term.

Preparing for the Next Semester

Many of you are preparing your course for the Spring right now and might find our checklist “Getting Your Course Site Ready for a New Semester” a useful reference when making these course adjustments.

Ensuring that all due dates for your course are accurate for the new semester is especially important; this includes dates mentioned in text items as well as Blackboard availability and due dates for assignments.

Though you will need to manually update any dates mentioned in any text, Blackboard availability and due dates can be reviewed and updated via Blackboard’s Date Management tool, either individually, as a group of items, or all of the dates at once. You can also use Date Management to see a list of all these dates in your course for review. This is a great option if you are using content from a previous semester and would like to adjust your dates for the new semester. To learn more about how to use this tool, please see our quick guide, or contact our team for assistance.


CUNY Acquires New Screen Capture Tools    

CUNY has secured licenses for TechSmith’s Snagit, a powerful screen capture software. Licenses are available for all current faculty. With Snagit, faculty will have a wide array of options to create, edit and annotate screen captures, including panoramic scrolling when the content is larger than one screen, as well as the ability to blur personal or unneeded information. In the spring semester, OFDIT will offer sessions to demonstrate SnagIt’s most common and useful functions.

Along with Snagit, CUNY has secured licenses for another TechSmith tool called Camtasia. Camtasia offers tools to create professional-looking instructional videos. It’s a powerful video editor focused on creating educational content. At SPS faculty have been using Screencast-O-Matic Pro for features covered by both SnagIt and Camtasia. The OFDIT Media Team will continue to support Screencast-O-Matic.

If you are interested in obtaining a license for Snagit or Camtasia, please contact the SPS Help Desk.


For support on any of the above or other questions, please contact our team at: facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu. We are happy to support you via email, phone or a live Zoom session.

All best for the upcoming year,

Your OFDIT Team

 

 


OFDIT Newsletter banner

October 2020

The fall semester is in full swing and we hope your classes are doing well! This newsletter by the Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Design (OFDIT) contains updates on tools and resources from individual teams within OFDIT, and information on professional development events to assist with your online teaching needs.

Follow-Up from Faculty Discussion on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy

Thank you to all who attended the Faculty Discussion on October 2, on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy. Here are the slides and the document we worked in, which includes links to all materials and a page of Mental Health and Wellness resources for students, staff and faculty.

Trauma-Informed Pedagogy may be new to many of us, but its concepts and the pedagogical approaches it supports will surely be relevant going forward. Just like Universal Design for Learning supports all learners, Trauma-Informed Pedagogy is sound practice in general. If you are interested in joining or continuing the discussion of how to incorporate TIP in your courses, we have a Slack channel for faculty discussion that you are invited to join. First, join our SPS Faculty Slack Workspace, then click on Add Channel on the left menu, and join #faculty-discussion-meetup.

Designing Mobile-Friendly Course Sites

Many of our students access their courses via the Blackboard Mobile app on tablets or mobile devices — will your online courses display as well on these interfaces? For example, did you know that any content (text or images)  that is placed outside of a weekly folder or module is not visible when viewed through the mobile applications? See the screenshots below. To avoid loss of information, we suggest adding this content to the inside of the weekly folder or module instead. We’ll share more helpful tips for designing mobile-friendly courses during our upcoming Blackboard Mobile training sessions, where we’ll also review the two different BB apps for students and instructors. Please join us!

Screenshot of Blackboard on desktop and Blackboard on mobile

Or check out our Blackboard Mobile Apps page on our website.

Captioning for educational videos

This may not be a big surprise to the SPS community, but captioning a video benefits everyone. Multiple studies have documented improvements in “comprehension of, attention to, and memory for the video” with captions (NIH Policy Insight, 2015). At SPS, in our online course development, we design to be accessible to all.  To that end, SPS has contracted a professional captioning service, 3Play Media, to caption video content used in academic courses.  Faculty can request captions through OFDIT by completing a brief form.

No matter the location of the video (YouTube, Ensemble, Dropbox, etc.) you may submit your academic video used in SPS courses for professional captioning. You may also submit dual language videos (Spanish/English) for captioning.  Feel free to bookmark this link for your future captioning requests.

Caption Request form 

Links/Reference:

Gernsbacher M. A. (2015). Video Captions Benefit Everyone. Policy insights from the behavioral and brain sciences, 2(1), 195–202.

3Play Media

Presentations at CUNY CUE Conference/OER Showcase 2020

 Three of our SPS faculty, together with OFDIT colleagues, will be presenting “Working with Faculty Working with OER” at the CUNY CUE Conference/OER Showcase 2020 on Thursday 10/29 from 1-2 PM ET: Faime Moussavi (Business), Andrew Palladino (Communication & Media), Jeanneth Sangurima-Quiles (Gen Ed), Sarah Kresh and Ruru Rusmin (both OFDIT).

In addition, Angela Francis and Hannah Miller from GenEd will be presenting “Beyond Savings: ZTC Implementation in the General Education Program” on Friday 10/30 from 1-2PM ET.

For more information and to register for this free conference, please visit the conference registration site.


Thank you for reading! As always, please contact us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu with any questions or support requests. To find registrations links and more information on any of the above please visit our SPS Faculty Community Site.

See you at one of our upcoming events, or for our next newsletter in November!

Your OFDIT Team