OFDIT Newsletter April 2022

April 2022

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

It is the home stretch for the Spring 2022 semester! We hope your classes are going smoothly.

In this edition, we invite you to participate in our upcoming “Inclusive Teaching: Reaching All Students” Faculty Development Day on May 5th, 2022. We welcome any submissions related to inclusive teaching practices and technology. Please consider submitting a proposal if you have created an OER/ZTC course or used Open Pedagogy. We look forward to reading your submissions!

We also bring to your attention some Blackboard items including Blackboard mobile application messages and course archives.

In exciting news, we provide details about the “Inclusive Zoom Practices” presentation led by OFDIT’s own Antonia Levy and Matthew Lewis, a call for nominations for the upcoming ePortfolio Showcase, and a request for faculty feedback on recognizing and rewarding teaching excellence.

Please read on to find information for the next Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group meeting and our faculty trainings.


Deadline Extended: Faculty Development Day Call for Participation

CUNY SPS OFDIT is hosting

Faculty Development Day 2022

“Inclusive Teaching: Reaching All Students”

Thursday, May 5th, 2022, 2-5pm

Virtual

Have you been experimenting with any new and inclusive teaching practices such as ungrading, assignment choices, and technology?

We would love to learn what you are doing in your courses to increase equity by actively identifying and removing barriers to learning.

Proposal topics can include:

  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Accessibility
  • Anti-racist Pedagogy
  • Representation (e.g. LGBTQI+)
  • Alternative Assessments and Ungrading
  • Building Community and Connection
  • Culturally Inclusive Pedagogy
  • Pedagogy of Kindness/Trauma-Informed Pedagogy
  • CUNY SPS Open Showcase (OER/ZTC and Open Pedagogy)

If you have created an OER/ZTC course or used Open Pedagogy, we invite you to share that as one of the approaches to inclusive teaching. In this spirit, the inaugural CUNY SPS Open Showcase will be one of the day’s afternoon sessions.

To send in your proposal, please submit one paragraph to this short proposal form by Sunday, April 17th, 2022.

Be sure to indicate one of the three formats below and the time you would like allotted for your presentation (10, 20, 30 minute slots). We will try to accommodate requests as best we can while including as many presentations as possible.

Presentation formats:

  1. How-to Mini-workshop/Immersive Demo (on a teaching tool or a process that works well for you)
  2. Presentation on a teaching practice (ex., a new assignment, alternative assessments, a structure for engagement, etc.)
  3. Student/Faculty Presentation (joint presentation that discusses teaching strategies and its impact on the student experience)

We also invite everyone to attend on May 5th, 2-5 pm!


Blackboard Mobile Application Messages

Due to a recent update to the Blackboard mobile application, the “Messages” feature is now prominently displayed in the course homepage. If your students use this feature to message you, you will only see a notification if you use Blackboard mobile.

If you do not use the Blackboard mobile app, we recommend that you either ask your students to avoid the Messages feature, or update your notification settings on desktop.

For more information on updating your notification settings, visit our Quick Guide page on Blackboard Mobile messages.


Blackboard Course Archives

Spring Break is a good moment to make an archive of your course!

We would like to remind you about creating and downloading archives of your courses on a regular basis as a recommended practice, and particularly following significant course activities such as the administration of a critical exam (such as a midterm) or the submission of important student work. We recommend downloading the archive file to personal storage at the time it is created.

For more information on creating archive files of your courses, visit our Quick Guide page on the Blackboard Archive Courses feature.


Workshop: Accessible and Engaging Class Meetings on Zoom

Matthew Lewis and Antonia Levy (OFDIT) have been selected to lead a live, virtual workshop with the CUNY Innovative Teaching Academy as part of its workshop series Teaching Matters.

In this session, participants will learn about the accessibility features offered in Zoom, review best practices for leading accessible and inclusive online meetings, and discuss the implementation of these principles in their own teaching practice.

Please join them on Thursday, April 14th from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m ET.

Register Here 


NullCall for Nominations for ePortfolio Showcase

We invite you to nominate your students to the CUNY School of Professional Studies 2022 ePortfolio Student Showcase! The showcase gives students an opportunity to share their journey as an online learner at CUNY SPS. Winners receive a $100 cash prize, a digital badge, and are shared through social media feeds.

 

Faculty may nominate students using this link, https://bit.ly/ePFacultyApplication, by May 4, 2022. This marks the 7th year CUNY SPS has held an ePortfolio Showcase, take a look at our past winners here: ePortfolio Showcase Site.


CUNY Recognizing and Rewarding Excellence in Teaching Task Force

With the aim of prioritizing teaching and innovative pedagogy at CUNY, Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and the Office of Academic Affairs have established the CUNY Recognizing and Rewarding Excellence in Teaching Task Force.

The Members of the “Rewarding Teaching” Subcommittee is seeking feedback from instructional faculty by April 25, 2022. Please click this link to respond to a four question survey.


Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group

The Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group meeting will be Tuesday, April 26th, at 2pm. The focus will be on Chapter 1 from bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress. All are welcome! For more information, please contact Elizabeth Alsop (elizabeth.alsop@cuny.edu).


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OFDIT Faculty Trainings

Making Efficient Use of Blackboard

During this session, we will cover tools which can make your grading and communication more efficient. Some of the tools we will cover include discussion boards, Needs Grading, Color Coding, Smart Views, Single Student View, Grade Reports, and the Email tool.

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.

More VoiceThread Workshops Available

If you’re interested in VoiceThread, you can find several workshops offered by VoiceThread. Please visit https://voicethread.com/workshops and review their sessions to find one fits your schedule.

Student Engagement in Online Learning

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. Discuss your engagement successes and challenges with colleagues.

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.

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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 2022

March 2022

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

Warmer weather is fast approaching and we hope you are enjoying the rising temperatures and longer days. In this newsletter edition, we bring to your attention the new Blackboard Archive Course Retention Policy. We share information about the CUNY-wide events our OFDIT team will participate in and other exciting events such as the Pedagogy of Kindness series (Queens College CTL), Creating LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Courses sessions (City College CTL), and the next CUNY SPS Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group.

We also announce our next Open Spring event and share the date for our annual Faculty Development Day so you can mark your calendars!

Please also read on to find a Faculty Corner submission by Curtis Izen on grading low stakes assignments, followed by our Spring semester training sessions.


Blackboard Archive Retention Policy

Creating and saving export/archive files of your Blackboard courses for your personal records is always recommended. After creating an export/archive file, most of you know to save it to your computer or other location, though the file also remains in Blackboard. However, starting March 2022, any new faculty-created export and archive files will only remain in the Blackboard course site for 30 days after they are created. In addition, existing faculty-created course export/archive files will be automatically deleted in 90 days.

We recommend downloading the export/archive file to personal storage at the time it is created. Faculty will be alerted to the expiration date of their export/archive files when creating the file, and in the email notification that the file is ready for download. Additionally, the deletion date for export/archive files is displayed within the Blackboard course.

Please note there is no change to the storage or retention of long-term system-wide archives of CUNY’s Blackboard courses.

For more information on creating export/archive files of your courses, visit Blackboard’s Export and Archive Courses Help Page.


OFDIT Team at CUNY-wide Faculty Development Events

Our team will offer two CUNY-wide training sessions this semester, in collaboration with the CUNY Innovative Teaching Academy. Please save the date – registration will be announced soon!

  • Teaching Matters: “Accessible and Engaging Zoom Meetings”, facilitated by Antonia Levy and Matthew Lewis – Thursday, April 14 from 11am-12pm ET
  • CITA Summer Series: Creating Inclusive Classrooms: “Adult Learners, Andragogy, and Active Learning”, facilitated by Vicki Caruana and Matthew Lewis – Thursday, June 16, 1:30-3pm ET

(alt="")Pedagogy of Kindness (Queens College CTL)

Antonia Levy and Michelle Gastulo will lead a session of the Queens College Center for Teaching and Learning Pedagogy of Kindness Series, “A Universal Design Learning (UDL) Approach to Inclusive Teaching,” on March 16th, from 12-1:30pm ET. For more information on this session and the series, see Pedagogy of Kindness: Faculty Excellence through a UDL Approach Across CUNY. (Register here)

 


Creating LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Courses (City College CETL)

City College invites CUNY faculty to two sessions on Creating LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Courses. The first will be a teaching panel, with faculty panelists describing the queer content in their courses and how they use that content to create queer inclusive courses for LGBTQIA students. In the second session, the CCNY LGBTQ+ Student Center provides guidance on best practices for LGBTQ+ inclusivity, from the syllabus to the classroom, and where to direct students for resources.

  1. Session 1 (3/9, 12:30-2 pm): Teaching Panel: Creating LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Courses Register here.
  2. Session 2 (3/16, 12:30-2 pm): Supporting LGBTQIA+ and Questioning Students Register here.

Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group(alt="")
(March 22, 2pm)

The Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group meeting will be Tuesday, March 22, at 2pm. The focus will be on a chapter in the Blum Ungrading book authored by a fully online instructor, Laura Gibbs, “Let’s Talk about Grading.” All are welcome! For more information, please contact Elizabeth Alsop (elizabeth.alsop@cuny.edu).


Open Spring at CUNY SPS

Open & Active Video Workshop (Mar 28 – Apr 11, 2022)

The OER Initiative at CUNY SPS invites faculty to participate in the Open & Active Video Workshop, March 28 to April 11, as part of Open Spring at CUNY SPS. The Open & Active Video Workshop will be hands-on! Each participant will create an accessible OER video, enhanced with an interactive element, to address a pedagogical need in their course. Successful completion is compensated. For more information and to register, see Open Spring at CUNY SPS.


Faculty Development Day – May 5, 2022 – Save the Date

CUNY SPS OFDIT is hosting Faculty Development Day 2022 on Thursday, May 5th, 2022, 2-5pm.

The theme this year is “Inclusive Teaching: Reaching All Students,” and we would like to hear about any tools, approaches, and strategies you have employed in your courses to increase equity by actively identifying and removing barriers to learning.

Call for proposals will be sent out shortly!


Faculty Corner: Grading a Low Stakes Assignment by Curtis Izen

A low-stakes assignment may require the student to complete a task (e.g., adding a BlackBoard profile avatar), which is not included as a calculated grade. In my BUS 325 class, I accomplish this by choosing the “Complete/Incomplete” for my Primary Display (1) and typing a zero for Points Possible (2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a student submits the assignment and a numeric 0 is entered for the grade, it will convert to a green check symbol (√) in the Grade Center and My Grades. If the student doesn’t submit anything, that student’s grade will not change (3).

 

 

 

 

 

If you wish to put a notation for a missed or incomplete assignment, there is a way to achieve this. In the Primary Display, choose “Text.” If a student earns a completion, you will need to put in the ASCII equivalent of the check symbol. In the Grade Center for that student, turn on NUM Lock on your keyboard. Hold down the ALT key and type the number 251 from the numeric keypad. This will convert to a check symbol (√). If you wish to add a negative (minus) sign, it will appear as (√-). If you find yourself using this method, copying the symbol from a prior student and pasting it in the grade for the next student, etc., works well. Since this particular method is a workaround, the check symbol(√) or check minus (√-) will not appear in a green font (4).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


SPS Faculty Trainings

SPS Faculty Trainings

Making your Blackboard Course Content Accessible

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 make your documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Blackboard course content (such as font, headers, images, charts, graphs, hyperlinks) accessible to all your students.

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.

Student Engagement in Online Learning

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. Discuss your engagement successes and challenges 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.

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.

More VoiceThread Workshops Available

If you’re interested in VoiceThread, you can find several workshops offered by VoiceThread. Please visit https://voicethread.com/workshops and review their sessions to find one fits your schedule.

Accessible Multimedia

In this session, we will discuss tools for multimedia such as Collaborate and Zoom. We will cover tips such as how to add captioning and transcription for audio and video as well as how to write alt-text for images.

Making Efficient Use of Blackboard 

During this session, we will cover tools which can make your grading and communication more efficient. Some of the tools we will cover include discussion boards, Needs Grading, Color Coding, Smart Views, Single Student View, Grade Reports, and the Email tool.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

OFDIT Newsletter February 2022

February 2022

The below newsletter was originally sent out in February 2022 and was not posted to the blog at that time.

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

Spring classes are in full swing and we hope they are going well! In this newsletter edition, we bring to your attention a Blackboard login issue that you or your students may experience. We share information on CUNY SPS and CUNY-wide faculty development opportunities, and announce our Spring series of faculty trainings and workshops.


Empty Course List on Blackboard Homepage

We have received a few reports from users who, when logging into Blackboard, saw “You are not currently enrolled in any courses” in the My Courses module (My Organizations is similarly empty). To resolve the issue, you can simply select “Login” in the top right hand of the Blackboard homepage. If this does not resolve the issue, we recommend clearing your browser’s cache and cookies.


Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group (February 22, 2pm)

The CUNY SPS Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group is holding its first meeting of the spring semester on Tuesday, February 22nd, at 2pm. The group will be discussing the introduction to Susan Blum’s Ungrading (West Virginia UP, 2020). For more information, a PDF of the reading, and the meeting link, please contact Elizabeth Alsop (elizabeth.alsop@cuny.edu). All are welcome!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Open Spring at CUNY SPS (Registration open now)

Join our growing community of open practitioners!

This spring the OER Initiative at SPS invites faculty to participate in two workshops, the OER & Open Pedagogy Workshop, February 28 to March 13 and the Open & Active Video Workshop, March 28 to April 11. Both workshops are open to all SPS faculty, including those who have previously completed the OER Workshop. The goal of the new OER & Open Pedagogy workshop is to deepen faculty’s awareness of open pedagogical approaches and participation in open practice with final projects shared with the SPS community in the CUNY SPS Open Showcase (details TBA) and the wider CUNY community on OpenEd CUNY. Upon successful completion of each workshop, faculty will be compensated for 7 hours at their NTA pay rate. See our Open Spring at CUNY SPS page for more info.


The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL, applications due March 15)

The CUNY Faculty Innovative Teaching Academy is initiating a new program to support the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). All full-time CUNY faculty at all professorial ranks are eligible to apply to 1) participate in a week-long intensive professional learning program on SoTL, 2) receive one-to-one feedback to develop a SoTL study, and 3) develop a manuscript for publication. Faculty members would receive supplemental support of $500 per individual participant. The application deadline is March 15th, 2022.

For further information, please visit this information sheet.


LaGuardia Presents the CUNY Cripping the Curriculum Showcase (applications due March 27)

LaGuardia invites all CUNY faculty to participate in the CUNY Cripping the Curriculum Showcase on May 13, 2022, from 10:30 am – 12:00 noon, by attending or presenting. Collaborations with student presenters are encouraged.

The reference to the historically derogatory term “cripple” is intentional. It draws on Crip Theory and the Crip Justice movement, which posits disability as a valuable identity and challenges the traditional understanding of disability as tragic and undesirable. Cripping points to the systemic exclusion of disabled people, especially those who are of color, members of LGBTQ+ community, linguistically diverse speakers, and those with other intersecting identities.

This event will present assignments, activities and other instructional materials that integrate issues of dis/ability in the context of social justice in teaching. We’re especially interested in forefronting course content that (1) directly addresses ableism and disability and (2) centers students’ experiences. We invite participation from full- and part-time faculty teaching in any division. 

If you have already cripped your course or are planning to do so in the Spring 2022 semester, and would like to share your experiences and reflections […], please consider contributing to the Showcase. Applications due March 27th.


Queen’s College Pedagogy of Kindness Discussion Series (March-June)

The Queen’s College Center for Teaching & Learning invites all CUNY faculty to participate in their second annual Pedagogy of Kindness Discussion Series, both as discussion leaders and participants.

The Pedagogy of Kindness is an instruction style that is rooted in the care of the classroom, students, and of the educator. In the past, we have had a combination of both panels and individual faculty presenters to discuss various topics, tools, instruction styles, and so forth, that lend kindness and thoughtfulness to the classroom setting. Previous discussions have included Gamifying Multilingualism; Mindfulness in the Classroom; Trauma-Informed Teaching; Alternative Assessment Panel; Inclusivity, Engagement, and Neurodivergence; and more.

If you would like to participate as a discussion leader or presenter on any aspect of creating a kinder classroom environment, see the Call for Presenters. For more information on the Pedagogy of Kindness, see last year’s discussion series or this article that explains the philosophy of PoK. Look for updates about attending the series in future newsletters.


SPS Faculty Trainings

 

 

 

 

The New Blackboard Text Editor

You may have noticed that Blackboard’s Content Editor has undergone some changes. Join us to review the new shortcuts for the tools you know and love as well as added features that will enhance your content. This session will cover how to add images, enable spell-checker, embed videos, check accessibility, and more!

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.

Making your Blackboard Course Content Accessible

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 make your documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Blackboard course content (such as font, headers, images, charts, graphs, hyperlinks) accessible to all your students.

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.

Student Engagement in Online Learning

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. Discuss your engagement successes and challenges 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.

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.

More VoiceThread Workshops Available

If you’re interested in VoiceThread, you can find several workshops offered by VoiceThread. Please visit https://voicethread.com/workshops and review their sessions to find one fits your schedule.

Accessible Multimedia

In this session, we will discuss tools for multimedia such as Collaborate and Zoom. We will cover tips such as how to add captioning and transcription for audio and video as well as how to write alt-text for images.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Faculty Corner

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 January 2022

January 2022

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

Happy New Year! We hope your Winter classes are going well and you are gearing up for the Spring semester which will be here soon. In this edition of our newsletter, we offer trainings about Blackboard’s content editor, which was upgraded after the SaaS migration, and answer frequently asked questions. We announce that Michelle Gastulo has taken over Blackboard Admin responsibilities for CUNY SPS. We also circulate an invitation to an information session about EAB Navigate, our student success system, and share our “Course Site Checklist for CUNY SPS Faculty”, which you can reference when preparing your course site for the Spring 2022 semester.

Please also read on for our latest Faculty Corner submission from Curtis Izen about how to use VoiceThread as an icebreaker assignment. Thank you, Curtis!


Training Sessions on the New Content Editor

Vanessa Leonardo will be facilitating training sessions on the new content editor on the following dates. We look forward to seeing you there!


Blackboard’s New Content Editor FAQs

How can I remove formatting from my content?

The Content Editor will prompt you after copy and paste to keep or remove formatting. You can also clear formatting after a paste by highlighting the text and selecting the Remove Formatting icon. By selecting this option, all formatting will be removed including bullet points, numbered lists, bolding, line spacing, sizing, and italics.

 

 

 

How can I add files?

Click on the plus button, and a pop-up menu will allow you to insert Local Files from your computer, files from the Blackboard Content Collection, or files from Cloud Services such as OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can I add videos?

For videos hosted on YouTube or Vimeo the upgraded Content Editor allows you to simply paste in the URL (the direct link to the video on YouTube or Vimeo) and when you hit the return or enter key, the video will be automatically embedded. For videos hosted in our Ensemble Video Platform, not much has changed. You’ll find the Ensemble integration button in the Plus (+) menu. As a general rule, we strongly discourage anyone from uploading a video file directly into Blackboard. It causes issues for students to view the video and negatively impacts the size of your course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can I use the spellcheck tool?

The Spellcheck tool is not automatically enabled. In the previous content editor, Spellcheck automatically underlined misspelled words in red; however, in this new editor, Spellcheck works only when you select the Spellcheck icon. A pop-up window will appear with the misspelled word and suggestions.

From the pop-up window, you can choose to change, ignore, ignore all, or close the window.

In the background of the pop-up window, you can see the word is underlined but essentially you will not see the word in context.

 

 

 

 

For further information on the Content Editor, you can reference the below guides and videos:


New CUNY SPS Blackboard Administrator

Michelle Gastulo has taken over Sylvie Richards’ responsibilities as Blackboard Administrator for CUNY SPS. Michelle joined OFDIT in February 2020 as an Instructional Design Specialist. She is looking forward to continuing to assist the CUNY SPS Faculty community in her new role.


EAB Navigate Info Session for Faculty and Advisors

The offices of Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management and Student Services invite you to a webinar to learn about how CUNY SPS is using the EAB Navigate student success management system to help faculty and advisors communicate with students and with each other. In this session you will learn about:

  • EAB Navigate progress reports
  • Changes for Spring 2022 based on user feedback
  • How to open alerts for at-risk students and how to give kudos

When: Friday, February 4, 2022, noon-1PM
Where: https://eab.zoom.us/j/94552221358


Course Site Checklist for CUNY SPS Faculty

Please reference our Course Site Checklist for CUNY SPS Faculty which contains information on what you should update in your course sites for the new Spring 2022 semester. The checklist contains links to Blackboard Help pages for further assistance.


Faculty Corner: Using VoiceThread to Break the Ice

One of the challenges with online pedagogy is students and instructors going through the entire course without knowing their classmates. In my BUS 325 Principles of MIS course, everyone has an opportunity to see, hear and learn from their peers. An effective way to accomplish this is through VoiceThread, an asynchronous video discussion tool.

In week one I ask students to make a video comment and introduce themselves via their webcam. It also allows those who may not be comfortable speaking in front of a camera to break out of their comfort zone. Since VoiceThread integrates with BlackBoard and uses a web platform, no download is required and it works on Windows and Apple platforms.

Next, students watch and listen to their classmate’s video comments. They are required to reply to one or more video comments using either audio or video. I appreciate how this creates relationships among students. I’ve seen them make connections from prior classes, working in the same company, living in the same town, and more.

Using VoiceThread for this initial assignment generates implausible enthusiasm among the students. They have a sense of belonging and are ultimately more engaged throughout the course.

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 December 2021

December 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,
We hope your classes are wrapping up nicely, and that you are getting in the holiday spirit!
In this edition of our OFDIT Newsletter, we want to share important information about the Blackboard SaaS Migration and how it may impact your final grade submission as well as about course prep for the Winter 2022 semester.
In addition, we share some useful tips on how to calculate your final grades using Total Points or Weighted Total. We have an update from the Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group and a Faculty Corner submission from Curtis Izen about using Color Coding in the Grade Center.
Lastly, we have some OFDIT team news: our colleague and friend Sylvie Richards will be retiring this year. She has been an integral part of the CUNY family for years, and she will be missed. See the information at the end of the newsletter on how to join us in wishing her all the best in the next, exciting chapter of her story!

Blackboard Upgrade and Impact on Grade Submission and Winter 2022 Course Prep

A reminder that Blackboard will be offline and inaccessible from Tuesday, December 28th through Thursday, December 30th, 2021 for upgrade and SaaS migration.
Grade Submission: Grades are due in CUNY first by Sunday, December 26, 11:59 pm. Please note that CUNY SPS is closed December 24th-27th. As such, we highly recommend submitting final grades by Thursday, December 23rd, 2021 so you can receive support if needed.
Winter 2022 Course Prep: If you are preparing a Winter session course, we recommend that your Winter course be finalized by December 23rd, 2021 at latest. Once the Blackboard upgrade completes, please review your course site between December 31 and January 2. CUNY SPS is closed December 31 to January 2, and will reopen on Monday, January 3. OFDIT will make Winter courses available to students at 6 am on Monday, January 3.
  • CUNY SPS closed: Friday, Dec. 24 – Monday, Dec. 27
  • Grade rosters due: Sunday, Dec. 26, 11:59 pm
  • Blackboard unavailable during upgrade: Tuesday, Dec. 28 -Thursday, Dec. 30
  • CUNY SPS closed: Friday, Dec. 31- Sunday, Jan. 2
  • Start of Winter 2022 session: Monday, Jan. 3, 2022

Calculating Final Grades using Total Points/Weighted Total

As the Fall 2021 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. 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!

Preview of Blackboard Upgrade

to Content Editor

This migration will upgrade the text editor, renamed the Content Editor, by providing new features and improvements for accessibility.

Please note that you will see these changes once the Blackboard migration has completed after December 30th, and we will be available to provide assistance for the new content editor from January 3rd, 2022. For a preview, see the below quick resources on using the new Content Editor:

Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group

The CUNY SPS Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group is holding its last meeting of the semester on Friday, December 17 at 2pm. We will be reading: Tuck E. and Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1(1): 1-40. For more information or the meeting link, please contact Melanie Lorek (melanie.lorek@cuny.edu). All are welcome!


Faculty Corner: Color Coding your Grade Center

The Blackboard Grade Center has several tools that help manage your course grades. In my BUS 325, Principles of MIS course, I use the Grade Center’s color coding feature to get a “birds-eye” view of my assignments and the entire class. With just a glance at the Grade Center, this feature lets me see if a student needs additional help with a topic, is struggling in the course, or if the class is struggling with a particular assignment. I’ve set up color coding to display high or low scores and the status of a grade. To get started with Color Coding in Grade C
enter, I’ve prepared this brief tutorial.
– Curtis Izen

Sylvie Richard’s Farewell (December 16)

Please join OFDIT as we mark the retirement of our friend and colleague Sylvie Richards, stalwart Blackboard Administrator and founding Media and Instructional Technologist for SPS. Join us in celebrating her years of dedication to CUNY and in wishing her happiness and fulfillment as she embarks on the next leg of her life journey.
On Thursday, December 16, we will be toasting Sylvie virtually from 12:30 to 1:30. We will also be toasting her IRL at Juniper Bar, on 35th St. across from Penn Station, from 4:30 to 7 pm. And please send Sylvie a message on her Kudo Board.
For more details and RSVP please visithttps://bit.ly/SylvieCelebration.

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

Welcome to our Faculty Advisory Board!

""Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

We are happy to announce the Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Technology (OFDIT) has a new Faculty Advisory Board, aka FAB!

The advisory board will play an important role in planning and organizing OFDIT events and activities, as well as serve as liaison to publicize OFDIT programming and initiatives to colleagues. More details on function and selection process can be found on the OFDIT FAB site.

The 2021-22 Advisory Board includes John Bouma, Bradley Gardener, Kenya Harris, Sarah Ruth Jacobs, Linda Paradiso, and Jeanneth Sangurima-Quiles, as well as Chris Kchao from Office of Accessibility and Bronwen Stine from IT as ex-officio members.

The very first meeting, held November 2021, included a discussion on the following topics:

  • Scope of work and responsibilities of the Board,
  • OFDIT / Faculty communication (newsletter, listserv, etc.), and 
  • Teaching Excellence Award.

We want to thank all members of the Faculty Advisory Board for this excellent kick-off, and look forward to our continued collaboration. 

We will keep you posted!

Your OFDIT Team

 

OFDIT Newsletter November 2021

November 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,

It is the home stretch for Fall 2021 classes! We hope your classes are going well.

In this edition, we share information about the upcoming CUNY IT Conference in early December. We also announce exciting news: the first OFDIT Faculty Advisory Board (FAB) has convened, and our SPS media studio is back and ready to help with your multimedia needs. Speaking of exciting, please join us as we welcome our new OER Assistant, Kelly Hammond, to the OFDIT team. Please also see the important information about the upcoming Winter 2022 courses and the Blackboard Migration which will take place at the end of December.

Additionally, you will find information on the Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group and a quick note on helpful support email addresses. With special thanks to Clemente I Diaz, we also share our latest Faculty Corner submission.

At the end of our newsletter, we share the last few training sessions of the semester. As always, we look forward to seeing you there. Thank you for reading!


CUNY IT Conference December 2-3, 2021

The 20th Anniversary CUNY IT Conference, “Technologies for Teaching, Learning and Working at the Future CUNY – Utopias and Dystopias,” is co-organized this year by Bronwen Stine (IT), and features two presentations by CUNY SPS faculty and staff:

  • Arthur O’Connor, Jason Bryer, and Ana Machado of Information Systems and Data Science will be presenting “Online Diagnostics and Curated Content to Prep Non-STEM Majors for Data Science” on Thursday, December 2 at 2:30 pm.
  • Ruru Rusmin of OFDIT will moderate the panel on “Building Flex Abilities through the CUNY HyFlex Initiative and Seminar” on Friday, December 3 at 10:10 am.

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


OFDIT Faculty Advisory Board (FAB)

The first OFDIT Faculty Advisory Board (FAB) has been selected. We thank everyone who stepped forward and offered to serve, and are looking forward to working together with FAB members! Please see our CUNY SPS OFDIT Faculty Advisory Board page for more details.

OFDIT Advisory Board 2021-22

  • John Bouma (ISDS)
  • Bradley Gardener (General Education/Communication and Media/ISDS)
  • Kenya Harris (Nursing)
  • Sarah Ruth Jacobs (Liberal Studies/Communication and Media/General Education)
  • Linda Paradiso (Nursing)
  • Jeanneth Sangurima-Quiles (General Education)
  • Chris Kchao (ex officio) (Office of Accessibility)
  • Bronwen Stine (ex officio) (IT)

The SPS Media Studio is Open!

A high quality video recording studio is available to faculty teaching at SPS! With the campus opened, OFDIT welcomes faculty back to the SPS Media Studio, located at 119 W. 31st Street. You may recall that our Media Studio has professional lights, microphones, and cameras. You can film in front of a green screen or projected slides. Try it out by recording a lecture, a faculty introduction, or even explain a difficult assignment. Make a high-quality video to use in your class. Furthermore, OFDIT staff are here to support you. We have a team to help with editing, post-processing, hosting, and captioning. If you’d like to use the Studio, it’s easy to book an appointment.

Contact us at: FacultySupport@sps.cuny.edu


OER@SPS

The OER Initiative is happy to welcome our new OER Assistant, Kelly Hammond, who has a lot of experience and creativity to share with SPS faculty on Open Educational Resources, Open Pedagogy, and Digital Pedagogy.

Keep an eye on the OER@SPS page of the SPS Faculty Community Site for news on OER Initiative projects.


Winter 2022 Courses

The Winter semester is fast approaching! We recommend that you check your course sites to ensure they are ready for this upcoming Winter 2022 semester which starts on Monday, January 3rd, 2022. Our Course Site Checklist for Faculty, which contains links to our OFDIT quick guides, can be a helpful resource. As always, please feel free to reach out to facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu if you have any questions or need assistance.


Blackboard Migration and Unavailability 12/28 -12/30/2021

As many of you know, CUNY CIS upgrades Blackboard annually at the end of December. This Fall, CUNY will be migrating to Blackboard SaaS, a cloud computing environment. The change will have no pedagogical impact on CUNY faculty or students but Blackboard will be taken offline and remain inaccessible from Tuesday, December 28th through Thursday, December 30th, 2021.

Final grades are due the day before Blackboard becomes unavailable, but all faculty are encouraged to turn in grades as early as possible to avoid the risk of access issues.

  • Last day of regular classes: Monday, Dec. 13
  • Reading Day: Tuesday, Dec. 14
  • Final exams: Wednesday, Dec. 15 – Tuesday, Dec. 21
  • Grade rosters due: Monday, Dec. 27, 11:59
  • Blackboard migration: Tuesday, Dec. 28 through Thursday, Dec. 30
  • Start of Winter 2022 session: Monday, Jan. 3, 2022

Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group

The CUNY SPS Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group continues its fall meetings on Friday, November 19, noon-1 pm. We will discuss Vershawn Ashanti Young’s “2020 CCCC Chair’s Address: Say They Name in Black English: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Trayvon Martin, and the Need to Move Away from Writing to Literacies in CCCC and Rhetoric and Composition” (College composition and communication 72.4 (2020): 623–639. Print.) To RSVP, get a copy of the text, or ask any questions, please contact Melanie Lorek (Melanie.Lorek@cuny.edu). All are welcome!​


Need Help? Support Emails to Keep Handy

  1. Contact helpdesk@sps.cuny.edu for assistance with systems login, access and troubleshooting, use of CUNY SPS computing resources, or other technical issues.
  2. Faculty can contact facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu directly for assistance related to course materials, Blackboard, teaching tools and resources, training, or other teaching-related needs. Faculty support requests sent to HelpDesk are forwarded to us, so please email  facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu directly for fastest response.

Faculty Corner Submission: Curated and Free Resources on the Psychology of Work

“I add a link of helpful “Psychology of Work” resources to supplement my current course materials (podcasts, articles, videos, etc). The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)’s Bridge Builders Committee has curated this extensive list of free educator and student resources. Some items you’ll find in the list include content summaries, PowerPoint slides, information on career paths, and a guest speaker directory. To see the full list visit this link: https://linktr.ee/SIOP_BB. I find students in my class utilize the resources for their own professional development (work psychology career paths, etc.). Please contact me with any questions at Clemente.Diaz@sps.cuny.edu.”

– Clemente I. Diaz, Adjunct Faculty, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, CUNY SPS, and Chair, Bridge Builders Committee,Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

Thank you to Clemente for his submission! 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.


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.

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.

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.

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!


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 October 2021

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

October 2021

Dear CUNY SPS Faculty,
The Fall semester is in full swing, and we hope your classes are going well! In this month’s edition, we provide information on the Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group, the Teaching Matters virtual teaching workshop series, and the In/Visibility: Disability Awareness Film Discussion Event.
We also share a Blackboard tip on the “Search” tool feature for discussion boards as well as a tip on the “Send Reminder” feature, submitted by Curtis Izen through our Faculty Corner.
At the end of the newsletter, you can find a list of our upcoming training sessions — we look forward to seeing you there!
As always, thank you for reading. We look forward to continuing to work with you throughout the Fall semester.

Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group

The CUNY SPS Reflective Pedagogy Reading Group continues its fall meetings on Thursday, October 28, 1-2 pm. Dr. Kate Moss will moderate a discussion of Asao B Inoue’s 2019 Chair’s Address to the Conference on College Composition & Communication, “How Do We Language So People Stop Killing Each Other, or What Do We Do About White Language Supremacy?” (College composition and communication 71.2 (2019): 352–369. Print.) To RSVP or for more information, please contact Melanie Lorek (Melanie.Lorek@cuny.edu). All are welcome!


Teaching Matters Virtual Teaching Workshop

The CUNY Innovative Teaching Academy is kicking off a new virtual teaching workshop series for the 2021-22 academic year. In their presentation “Accessibility as Good Pedagogy: Universal Design for Inclusive Learning,” SPS OFDIT’s own Antonia Levy and Michelle Gastulo will facilitate an interactive conversation on how we can make our courses more inclusive and engaging for all learners. For more details and to register for the event, please visit the events page.

In/Visibility: Disability Awareness Film Discussion Event

The committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity & Office of Student Disability Services Presents a film discussion event on “Deaf in the Military” and “The Power of 504.” These videos are available on Youtube and it is recommended that both videos are watched prior to the event. The facilitated group discussion will be held over Zoom. The program will be presented twice:

Search Tool in Discussion Boards

Have you ever wanted to search your discussion boards for a specific phrase, word, or part of a word, or by author? You can do so using the “Search” tool! This tool can be found on the top-right hand side of your Blackboard screen in the “Discussion Board” area.
Once you click “Search,” you can search by “Current Discussion Board,” or if you have multiple discussion boards, you can select “All Forums in Course.” You can narrow your search by entering After and Before dates and times. Once you are done, you can select “Go.”
From the “Search Results” page, you can reply to posts as well as mark posts read and unread.

Faculty Corner Submission: Using the “Send Reminder” Feature in Blackboard

“In my BUS 325 Principles of MIS, I send email reminders through the Grade Center instead of sending emails through Blackboard or from my college email to remind students of missing work. Using the Send Reminders feature in the Grade Center automatically sends a system-generated email to all students missing work for that assignment. This feature eliminates the time spent searching the Grade Center for students that have not yet submitted. It also helps the entire class avoid notifications (or reminders) about work they already completed.”
-Curtis Izen

Fall Semester Training Sessions:

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.


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 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