Join Us for VoiceThread Bootcamp with Lehman College Faculty!

We are excited to announce our next VoiceThread Bootcamp, offered from November 1-10, 2017 collaboratively to faculty from CUNY SPS and Lehman College teaching online and hybrid classes. Join us by registering here.

VoiceThread is a web-based tool that allows faculty and students to have conversations using any mix of text, audio or webcam comments. VoiceThread can be used to record a course topic introduction, create interactive online lectures, extend classroom conversations, enable students to create digital portfolios, or support language practice. Find out more about the tool on Lehman’s edtech page.

This bootcamp is learner-centered: whether you are an experienced multimedia user or new to VoiceThread, this will plant the essentials of cultivating dynamic discussions and creating vibrant content.

Here is what previous participants have said about their experience:

I had heard of Voice Thread (VT) but did not know how to take it and “work it” into my course. Guided by experienced facilitators, the group quickly formed a bond, sharing strategies and barriers with implementing VT in a wide variety of disciplines. Awesome experience!

This experience provided me with the tools that I needed to work with VoiceThread without being intimidated by it. It was a challenging experience but there was a great amount of support and guidance.

The 10-day bootcamp will run online from November 1 – 10, 2017.

There will be some activity required on most days, and during the workshop you will:

  • Acquire the skills to create VoiceThread presentations for your course.
  • Design a learner-centered VoiceThread assignment ready to be used in your course.
  • Develop a technical skill set to create engaging and interactive online learning experiences for your students.

If you’d like to join us for the bootcamp, please use this form to register.

We are looking forward to going on this adventure with you!

Antonia, Krystyna, Anick, and Olena (Lehman College)

Faculty Trainings in September & October 2017

Welcome to a new academic year!

We hope you’ve had a good start to the semester and would like to invite you to register for our fall trainings.

Our trainings this semester are designed to help you make your course student-centered and efficient. For example, Facilitating Group Work Online and Introduction to Collaborate Ultra will showcase tools helping you to design interactive activities that will increase student engagement with course material.

We’ll also offer sessions on Blackboard assessments—Making Sense of Blackboard Test Options and TurnItIn vs SafeAssign – which allow you to tailor graded activities to your needs, and will help you choose the best options for assessing plagiarism.

Finally, the Monitoring Student Progress and Mastering Blackboard’s Discussion Board trainings will showcase how to streamline your Blackboard teaching experience.

See a complete list of trainings we’re offering below and use this form to sign up!

One-on-One Training Sessions. If our trainings don’t fit your calendar, you can request one at your convenience. Sign up using this form by sharing your availability (Monday- Friday, 9am-7pm) and selecting any of our training topics. Sessions can be conducted online or in-person at our office at 119 W 31st Street.

Finally, our Sunday coverage is back up and running! Send your questions to facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu, or join us for a live GoToMeeting session at the same time. Find more details and the link to the session on our website.

We are looking forward to working with you,

Antonia, Krystyna, and Anick

 

Teaching Tip: Using the Re-ordering Button in Blackboard

The re-ordering button in Blackboard is a neat way to re-arrange items on a page, such as discussion forums, weekly folders, etc., without having to scroll and then drag things all the way up and down with your mouse. This feature can be helpful when having to re-arranging items on a long content page, or if you’ve ever re-ordered items on your course site and had them mysteriously return to their previous order. The re-order button also helps users who cannot use the drag and drop feature in Blackboard because of mobility or other issues.

On your Blackboard course page, select the Keyboard Accessible Reordering icon in the upper right-hand corner.

In the Reorder box, select the item you’d like to move from the list. Use the Move Up and Move Down icons to adjust the order and click Submit.

Join Us for Faculty Trainings in July

We hope you’re already enjoying your summer! The first set of our summer training sessions is already in full swing so check out our offerings below and sign up before they’re full!

Image Source: https://static.pexels.com/photos/

This July we’re focusing on how multimedia approaches enhance teaching and learning which we hope will inspire your teaching with online trainings featuring VoiceThreadScreencastomatic Pro, and Collaborate Ultra. We’ll show you how these tools allow you to use a range of audio and media options to address different learning styles as well as proposing new approaches to critical thinking.

For the first time we’ll be offering sessions comparing SafeAssign and Turnitin, the anti-plagiarism tools available to you in Blackboard at CUNY. Learn about enhanced feedback options and new approaches to teaching academic integrity as well as proper citation.

And we’ll also hold sessions on Using Blackboard Efficiently. We’ll cover best practices for managing discussions, due dates, grading, and saving yourself some time with Blackboard’s many tools and features you might not yet know about.

See the whole schedule of trainings for July here and sign up using this form!

We’ll also be offering additional trainings in August so keep an eye out for our next announcement and the schedule for August!

We are looking forward to working with you,
Anick, Antonia & Krystyna

Finishing Up the Semester and Preparing for Summer

The semester is winding down and soon, final grades will need to be submitted through CUNYFirst. If you’re new to this process, or just need a reminder, see our video tutorial on entering grades in CUNYFirst:

While we’re on the subject, maybe you’d like a some help calculating final grades? You don’t even have to ask your friend who’s good at Excel. The Grade Center in Blackboard makes this easy and accurate. If you use “weighted total” (ie. if your grading scheme is set up so exams are 20% of the overall grade, discussions are worth 30%, etc.) then check out our quick guide on using weighted total to calculate final grades. If your course is set up to simply add points for an overall final grade, check out our quick guide for using total points. Whichever your preference, we’ve got you covered!

If you’ll be teaching this summer, or would like an early start with your fall course site, consider attending one of our remaining “Preparing Your Dev Site for Course Copy” trainings. See our website for dates and times and sing up here using our registration form.

In these trainings we’ll also introduce Date Management, a useful Blackboard tool which allows you to easily adjust due dates and availability dates in your course site when moving from one semester to the next. Find out more about this tool on our Date Management resource site.

Don’t forget that we’re here for you on the weekend as well! Faculty support is available from 2pm-4pm every Sunday for any questions you have. You can meet us online through GoToMeeting during that time, or email us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu.

Write us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu with any questions you have and to get in touch about one-on-one training sessions. We always look forward to working with you!

Antonia, Krystyna, and Anick

Join Us for Faculty Trainings in April & May

Happy Spring! Warmer weather is on its way and so is our spring training series.

For April and May, we will continue to offer sessions on Turnitin and making engaging videos for your course. But wait, there’s more…

As the semester’s end begins to sneak up on you, we’re here to help! Before you know it, it will be time to enter grades into CUNYFirst for your spring courses. Get your Grade Center ready to go; calculating final grades will be easier and faster, without compromising accuracy, when you format the Grade Center to do the calculating for you. Attend a session of our upcoming trainings on “Optimizing Your Grade Center to Calculate Final Grades” to learn how to make Grade Center work for you, whether you use weighted totals or total points. 

We’ve also got summer faculty covered. Dev sites will soon need to be updated for course copy and we’ll have sessions devoted to how it’s done. Fall faculty who’d like to get started on this can also attend one of our sessions to get a sense of what this will entail. “Preparing Your Dev Site for Course Copy” training sessions will begin in May and you can sign up here to secure your spot.

See the whole schedule of trainings for April/May here and sign up using this form!

We are looking forward to working with you,
Anick & Antonia

Navigating Discussion Threads on Blackboard

After the latest Blackboard upgrade in December 2016, a new (old) feature has been re-introduced to your course sites: arrow buttons for navigating threads on the Discussion Board.

You’ll find these buttons in the top right corner of each thread page. If you use individual threads for each student in your weekly discussions, you might find these buttons particularly helpful for navigating from thread to thread, or to jump to the first / last thread with one easy click.

Happy navigating!

A few spots left: SafeAssign & Turnitin Workshop

Don’t miss out on our brand-new workshop “SafeAssign and TurnItIn: Which Is Best For My Course?” from March 27-30, 2017.

We only have a few spots remaining, so if you are interested sign up today! Registration closes tomorrow, March 21 at 5pm.

This asynchronous workshop is designed to inform faculty on which plagiarism tool offered in CUNY Blackboard may be best suited for their course and the subject area they teach.  

In the workshop, participants will:

  • Gain first-hand experience in designing and grading assignments using both SafeAssign and TurnItIn.
  • Become familiar with the databases queried and the plagiarism reports for both SafeAssign and TurnItIn.
  • Reflect on past teaching approaches and begin to devise likely strategies for effective assignments and assessments using both SafeAssign and TurnItIn.
  • Share ideas concerning how best to use the capacities of both SafeAssign and TurnItIn to enhance student learning.

Please use this form to sign up for the workshop. We will send out confirmation of your registration and a more detailed schedule by Thursday this week.

Looking forward to working with you!
Antonia & Sylvie

Replacing the Banner in Your Spring 2017 Course Site

As the Spring semester begins, you may be have heard from students that your course banner is not displaying. It’s true – unfortunately, due to a glitch in the Blackboard upgrade that occurred over winter break, most course banners are not displaying to students and need to be re-uploaded. It’s important that you re-upload your banner even if it displays normally to you, because it may still not be appearing to your students.

There are instructions on how to replace your banner below, but you can also watch this short video tutorial covering the same information.

The first thing you need to do is get the image file for your banner. If it is saved to your computer, you’re all set and can jump to the instructions below. If not, you can download your banner file either from your Spring 2017 site (if it is visible to you there), your Dev site, or a previous live (semester) site.

To download the banner file, go to the Announcements page. Right click on the banner image, select “Save Image As” and save the image file to your computer.

To re-upload the banner to your Spring 2017 site, scroll down to the “Control Panel” on the course menu. Click on “Customization,” and then on “Teaching Style.” Scroll down to the “Select Banner” section. Tick the box that appears next to “Delete this banner” and click on “Browse My Computer.” Select the file for your banner and click “open” in the pop-up window. Then click on “Submit” to save the banner file in your course site.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about this issue, or the steps described above.

Have a great start of the semester!
Antonia & Krystyna

Making New Semester Prep Easy With Date Management

One of the most important bits of bookkeeping we all have to do before the beginning of a new semester is to update all of the due dates, availability dates, and adaptive release dates in our Blackboard courses. Fortunately, Blackboard has a tool expressly for this purpose — Date Management.

date managementTo access the Date Management tool in your course site, scroll down to the Control Panel underneath your course menu, click on Course Tools, and then Date Management. Here, you will have the option to change all the due dates and availability dates in your course based on either the semester start date, or by a fixed number of days.

First, you might want to see a list all the dates in your course for review on one screen, which you can also do from this page. This is a great option particularly if you are inheriting an existing course because you can see which announcements, assignments, tests, or folders have dates associated with them and whether these are due dates, availability dates, or adaptive release dates.

To return to the options on the initial screen, click “Run Date Management Again” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Here,  you can now shift all the dates in your course based on the semester start date or by a fixed number of days. This might require a little arithmetic. For example, Fall 2016 began on a Thursday but Spring 2017 classes begin on a Monday. You can adjust all of the dates in your Spring 2017 live site at once using the course start date, but might have to adjust some dates back or ahead to have due dates for assignments follow the day/week system most instructors use at SPS (ex., Test 1 due Sunday of Week 1, Test 2 due Sunday of Week 2, and so on.)

Luckily the Date Management Tool has the flexibility to let you adjust each date individually, to select a group of items to adjust by the same amount, or to adjust all dates in the course at once.

To learn more about this tool, see Blackboard’s Help page on using Date Management and there are a number of videos on YouTube that explain it quite well, including this very short video from the Center for Innovation & Technology at Northern Kentucky University and this recording of a webinar on Date Management from the University of Miami.

We hope this tool will lighten some of the pre-semester work in your course sites. Please email us if you have any questions about Date Management, or any other Blackboard tool while preparing your course sites for the upcoming semester.

Looking forward to working with you,
Antonia & Krystyna