Category: Trainings

css.php

Welcome to the Fall Semester! – September 2020 Faculty Newsletter

September 2020

We hope everyone is having a smooth transition into Fall semester! The Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Design (OFDIT) will be sending out a newsletter a few times each semester with updates on tools and resources from individual teams within OFDIT, and professional development events to assist with your online teaching needs.

We are pleased to present our first newsletter here!

Ensemble Video
Have you heard of Ensemble Video? If you’re using video in your SPS course, then Ensemble is something to consider. It’s features match, and in some cases, exceed those found in video hosting platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. Think of Ensemble like you own SPS YouTube channel but with significant advantages for educators, like no social media interruptions, no advertisements, no suggested videos. Furthermore, it’s integrated into Blackboard and tied to the SPS captioning service. More details on our Ensemble Video SPS Faculty page.

If you’d like to learn more, please consider registering for one our information sessions coming up. In the session, we will introduce the tool’s more 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.

Annotate Tool in Blackboard
We would like to introduce everyone to Annotate, a new integrated grading tool in Blackboard, replacing Box View. Annotate allows instructors to provide customizable feedback to students’ assignments when they are submitted as any of the supported file types (not when entered as text directly). Annotate is integrated directly in the Grade Center; i.e. submitted files will open right in your browser so you can readily use available grading tools, such as free-hand drawing and erasing, or highlighting and underlining. Another option is to use images from your computer as well as ready-made or customized stamps (e.g. “approved” stamp or “draft” stamp). Annotate also features options for both in-line commenting and written comments, which appear in a side panel. Finally, Annotate allows you to download a student’s submission with your annotations, and to search for specific text within a submission.

To learn more about Annotate, please watch this video and review the Annotate support site by Blackboard (which includes a list of accepted file types when using Annotate). Reach out to our team at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu for any questions you might have.

Important Note on Grading: CUNY Blackboard times out after 60 minutes. Be sure to save any grading comments before the 60-minute time limit or else you might lose your work.

Before you go, please remember our fall trainings and events! We are continuing our regular informal meetups on Oct. 21 and November 18. We also hope to see you at our upcoming faculty discussion on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy on October 2 from 12.45-2 EST. Please register using this link. Our fall trainings include sessions on Zoom Meeting for Student Hours, A Cut Above: Making Your Videos More Professional, VoiceThread: Humanize Your Online Course, Student Engagement in Online Learning, and more. Find more information and registration links on our SPS Faculty Community Site.

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 October!

Your OFDIT Team

 

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

 

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:

YouTube player

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

Happy New Year with SPS Faculty Trainings


cup-coffe-laptop-
Happy New Year to SPS faculty from all of us at OFDIT!

We’d like to invite you to spend part of your winter break with us — brushing up your technology skills, preparing your courses for the spring, and learning about new multimedia tools for teaching and learning.

We just announced our trainings for this month, including sessions on how to create engaging course videos or interactive VoiceThread discussions for your students.

date managementIn “Getting Ready for Spring: Preparing Your Dev Site for Course Copy,” we will walk you through the steps of how to get your course ready for a seamless course copy. As part of this training, we will also introduce Blackboard’s Date Management tool which can greatly speed up one of the most time consuming steps in preparing a course for the next semester. The tool allows to change all due or availability dates for items like assignments, tests, and discussion boards in your course at once either by setting the start date of the semester or by changing all the dates at once by a certain number of days. Join us for one of the trainings by registering here.

collaborate ultraCUNY Blackboard’s upgrade in December also included a new version of Blackboard Collaborate, a tool to set up real-time online sessions with your students. Now called Collaborate Ultra, the upgraded version offers all the same functionality but in a sleeker, more intuitive interface. For example, users can now focus on the action in the session by tucking unnecessary features away into hidden menus. Also, it now uses less bandwidth, which will mean fewer disruptions and technical problems for you and your students. Register for one of our Collaborate Ultra trainings this month where we will introduce the streamlined tool, go over the basic features of Collaborate Ultra as well as the steps to create your own session.

 

See all the trainings scheduled for this month and links to register on our Training Site.

We are looking forward to working with you!
Antonia & Krystyna

Teaching Tip: Facilitating Group Work in Online Courses

Group work promotes engagement with course material and prepares students for workplace collaboration; still, some students dread it. Careful planning can help you design online group activities that give your students the benefits of working collaboratively while avoiding the pitfalls of online group assignments.

group-work-imageIn online environments, it can take more time to coordinate group tasks and divide responsibilities among the group. It is a good idea to build in at least three weeks for groups to work on a small-scale assignment. Since online students do not have class meetings where they can exchange ideas and arrange their responsibilities, it is also important to ensure that each group has its own workspace, such as a group discussion board. Encourage members to connect early on, perhaps through an ice-breaker you design, before the assignment begins. The ideal group size online is three or four, since it is not uncommon in larger groups for some members to contribute less than others. For more information about best practices for online group work, check out Blackboard’s blog post or this article from Online Learning Insights.

Provide a platform for accountability and peer evaluation.
It’s important that group members be held accountable for the quality of their contributions, their levels of responsibility, and their professionalism in the group setting. Peer evaluations provide you with a way to factor those behind-closed-doors variables into each student’s grade. It’s a good idea to schedule peer evaluations several times over the course of a term in order to provide opportunities for adjustment and improvement. It’s also a good idea for you to check on groups to evaluate their progress and gauge whether all members are contributing. If you see that a group member is not participating, you can send them gentle reminders to get them back on track. You should also decide what kinds of consequences will be in place for group members who don’t participate, and communicate this clearly to students.

Build in opportunities for groups to interact with each other.
There are several ways to implement inter-group interaction. For example, the whole class could work on a single large project, with each group producing one part of the whole. At the end of the course, students can see and experience the final product they all contributed to. Alternatively, each group can work on its own version of a smaller project, and in turn provide feedback and critiques to other groups while seeing different approaches and perspectives. Wikis are a great tool for implementing both methods. As this article on effective online group work states, group activities often fall into one of three categories:

  • There’s no right answer, such as debates, or research on controversial issues.
  • There are multiple perspectives, such as analyzing current events, cultural comparisons, or case studies.
  • There are too many resources for one person to evaluate, so a jigsaw puzzle approach is needed with each student responsible for one part.

Also, see this blog post on four strategies for effective collaborative group work. Ultimately, the goal is to design group work that is truly collaborative, i.e. the students will benefit more from doing the activity as a group than doing it alone.

Want to learn more about facilitating group work in your Blackboard course site? Sign up for our training on October 21 at noon.

Krystyna, Sarah & Antonia

 

Turnitin available in Blackboard! And: Join us for a training.

With both Turnitin as well as SafeAssign available now, SPS faculty have more options for creating and checking writing assignments for originality within your Blackboard sites.

SafeAssign was recently integrated into the Blackboard Assignments interface. To use SafeAssign, simply tick the box in the “Submission Details” section of a regular Blackboard assignment.screenshot Safeassign in Blackboard

You may already know Turnitin from using it outside of Blackboard. It is now available CUNY-wide through Blackboard, as a separate assignment type in the Assessments dropdown menu.

screenshotA Turnitin assignment is fully integrated with Blackboard: students access it like any other assignment in your course, and you can view and grade assignments directly in your course site. Turnitin differs from SafeAssign primarily in that it has a much larger database, including billions of web pages and hundreds of millions of journals, periodicals, books, and student papers against which it compares students’ submissions for plagiarism.

Turnitin offers a user-friendly inline grading function, called Feedback Studio, where you can leave voice and text comments, markup papers with comments or “QuickMarks” (i.e. preset comments with explanations that you can customize to fit your needs and insert into students’ assignments), as well as Turnitin-specific rubrics or checklists for grading.

Also included are functions such as Revision Assignment, which allows you to create assignments with multiple drafts; and PeerMark Assignments, which give students an opportunity to participate in peer review, with Turnitin managing the distribution of papers for review according to settings you choose.

Here are the steps to replacing existing Blackboard assignments with Turnitin:

  1. Copy the assignment’s instructions and take note of its settings (e.g., in a Word document).
  2. Delete the existing assignment from your course site.
  3. Recreate it as a Turnitin Paper Assignment by hovering over Assessments > Turnitin Assignment. Paste the assignment instructions you had copied, and check all Optional Settings for accuracy.
  4. Remember to make these changes in both your dev and live site.

Note: Turnitin assignments are automatically created in a grading category called Turnitin Assignment. If you use a Weighted Total column to calculate the final grade, be sure to change it to include the Turnitin Assignment category, or change the category of your Turnitin Assignment in the Grade Center.

Some useful resources for learning more about Turnitin:

There is still time to sign up for our upcoming online Turnitin training sessions. Please join us on one of the following dates:
Tuesday, September 27 at 6pm
Thursday, October 6 at 3pm
Tuesday, October 18 at 12pm

Looking forward to working with you!

Antonia, Sarah, and Krystyna

Welcome to the fall semester at CUNY SPS!

Dear SPS faculty,

 We hope your fall semester is off to a smooth start. During the month of September and October, OFDIT is offering a different online training almost every day of the week to help you put new skills in your online teaching toolbox. There is something for everyone, whatever your schedule so please review our training calendar and read more about some of the sessions below.

We are excited to be running trainings on Turnitin, a new CUNY-wide writing assignment tool with a plagiarism checker, an easy-to-use grading interface, and a user-friendly peer-review function that students can use to review their own and their peers’ writing.

We have also added two new training topics to our growing list of one-hour online sessions: Facilitating Group Work and Monitoring Student Progress in Blackboard. Student group work encourages active engagement with course material and develops interpersonal skills that will be vital on the job market. Our group work training covers the technical details of Blackboard’s Groups tool as well as strategies for how to facilitate group work in an online environment. Monitoring student progress can be difficult in an online class. Our training on this topic introduces the tools that Blackboard provides to help you keep abreast of who is doing well in your course, who needs a little encouragement, and who might need more support.

In addition to these new topics, we have several sessions of oldies-but-goodies on offer, such as creating videos for your courses, using VoiceThread as a multimedia discussion tool, and using Blackboard to its fullest potential to make your course more effective and your life easier. Last but not least, Creating Accessible Documents for Your Course covers how to create Word, Excel and PDF files that are accessible to screen reader users and more easily understood by everyone. One of the biggest advances of the online education revolution is the potential for higher ed to be inclusive of all students; this training gives you a couple tools for following through on that promise.

To read about all of our upcoming training sessions, click here. To sign up for scheduled training sessions, fill out this form.

Wishing you a wonderful fall, and looking forward to working with you,
Antonia, Krystyna, and Sarah

What Do OFDIT and Stevie Wonder Have in Common?

Besides our outstanding musical ability? Our goal of promoting accessibility!

If you tuned into the Grammy’s last month then you may have noticed musician Stevie Wonder’s call for greater Disability Rights. His appeal is part of a broader movement of people across the country and around the globe working to make institutions, including universities, more accessible to all people.

Locally, instructors here at CUNY SPS are joining the ranks of other educators to make their schools, classes, and course materials accessible to people with disabilities.

word cloud accessibilityKeeping in mind the diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, including individuals with disabilities, OFDIT collaborates with instructors and administrators to make all of our online learning environments accessible and inclusive, and to contribute to a richer learning environment. In order to fulfill this goal we created an Accessibility Resources Site listing materials on Universal Design in Learning (UDL), as well as how-to guides for creating accessible course documents.

This month we continue our efforts through the introduction of a new Accessibility Training Series covering how to use the tools already at your disposal to make your online courses accessible to all students. Sign up for our short lunchtime training sessions on accessibility features in Microsoft Word, captioning course videos, and more. We look forward to continuing our work with faculty to ensure that we serve all of our diverse students!

Antonia, Dominique & Sarah

PS: Check out our latest UD Nosh post on the third UDL principle, featuring your colleague Prof. Julie Maybee from the Disabilities Studies Program as our co-author! (Thank you, Julie!)