Training Sessions for SPS Faculty

The Office of Faculty Development at SPS offers ongoing scheduled training sessions and one-on-one consultations taught by our Instructional Technology staff. All SPS faculty are welcome to register for any session.

Scheduled Online Training Sessions

Our scheduled trainings will resume in Fall 2021.  See below to schedule a one-on-one session if you’d like to learn about any of the topics listed.


One-on-One Training Sessions

SPS faculty may sign up using this form for one-on-one training sessions, offered weekdays from 9am to 7pm, covering the following topics:

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.

Grade Center in Blackboard: Beyond the Basics. We will cover how to manage your Grade Center including helpful tools such as color coding, the column organization view, and Smart Views. We will also cover useful tips and tricks which can increase the efficiency and ease of use of your Grade Center.

Blackboard Essentials. This training provides you with an overview of the features of CUNY’s Blackboard learning management system, including the fundamentals of how to post announcements, content and assignments, as well as how to create discussion board forums, blogs, and wikis.

Making Efficient Use of Blackboard. This training will discuss how to use Blackboard’s tools to more efficiently manage a number of different teaching tasks. In addition to covering the calendar, the Retention Center, and the discussion board’s Subscribe feature, we will also discuss best practices for using blogs, wikis or the discussion board, and time-saving features in the Grade Center such as inline grading, rubrics, and color coding.

Blackboard on a Mobile Device. Over half of participants in SPS’ New Student Orientation plan to use mobile devices as a part of their online learning experience – will your online courses transfer well into this interface? In this session, we will explore the Blackboard Mobile application and gain an understanding of how students experience learning on the go. We will also discuss the major interface differences between Blackboard Mobile and Blackboard for Desktops and best practices for online course design for mobile devices.

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

Student-to-Student Interaction in Online Courses. Student-to-student interaction as an important part of learning, but how do we enhance and facilitate it in an online course? In this short lunchtime training we will discuss online group work (with and without using Blackboard’s Groups tool), peer evaluation, and collaboration among students. We will consider various tools to facilitate interaction, such as Collaborate, Groups, Discussion Board, and VoiceThread.

Managing Dates Efficiently in Blackboard. This lunchtime training discusses when and where to use due dates in Blackboard, and show how due dates propagate to the calendar tool and reminders. We will explain how to set up availability and due dates in your dev sites for more efficient course copying and updating, and how to use the date management tool to easily adjust dates for the semester.

Setting up the Grade Center in Blackboard. In this session, you will learn how to set up your Grade Center for maximum efficiency and ease of use. We will explain how to check that all of your assignments are listed and properly categorized for computing students’ final scores, whether you choose to use Total Points or a Weighted Total. We will also introduce a few advanced features such as color coding and using “Smart Views.”

Facilitating Group Work in Blackboard. This training covers how to set up and manage group activities in Blackboard. From a pedagogical perspective, we will discuss how facilitating online group work differs from the classroom context, and what types of collaborative activities can be implemented in a course. On the technical side, we will demonstrate how use the Groups tool in Blackboard, including setting up groups in your course site, enrolling students in groups, and assigning various group tools.

Monitoring Student Progress in Blackboard. This training will introduce two tools for easily keeping track of student progress in your course site: the Retention Center as well as using color schemes in the Grade Center. Blackboard’s Retention Center helps you monitor students who are in danger of falling behind by indicating missed deadlines or course activities, low grades, as well as attendance records.In the training, we will cover how to customize notification rules in the Retention Center and how to monitor individual students and their grades.

Blogs, Wikis & Journals in Blackboard. During this session, we will review the purpose of each of these interactive tools, how to create them and best practices related to each. We will also cover how to distinguish among them to determine which functions are most appropriate for particular learning objectives.

Tests and Surveys in Blackboard. In this session you will learn how to use the Tests, Surveys and Pools tool in Blackboard effectively, how to deploy tests and surveys, as well as how to modify test pools provided by publishers. We will also take a look at item analysis, a new feature in Blackboard Enhanced.

Introduction to Turnitin. This training will introduce you to Turnitin, a new anti-plagiarism tool that has just been integrated into all course sites in CUNY Blackboard. In addition to providing anti-plagiarism checking for submitted work, Turnitin also gives instructors powerful teaching tools through their Revision Assignment and Feedback Studio functions.

Introduction to Collaborate. Collaborate is a Blackboard tool that allows you to set up real-time online sessions with your students, including audio and video, an interactive whiteboard and desktop sharing. This training will cover some of the basic features of Collaborate, ways to use Collaborate in your courses, as well as the steps to create your own session.

Creating Video Content for Your Course. This training will cover how to create video content that will engage and help orient students to your course. You will learn about the different approaches to making such a video, easy to use tools for video creation and captioning, and placement in your Blackboard course site.  We will also provide practical tips and best practices for effective short videos.

Screencastomatic Level I. This session will cover the basics of how to create and edit audio/video lectures (screencasts) for your course using Screencastomatic Pro, an online tool offered by SPS. We will also go over the steps of how to add captions to your videos on your YouTube account.

Screencastomatic Level II. Building on Screencastomatic Level I, in this session we will refine and improve your Screencastomatic editing skills and look at some of the best practices for creating screencasts for online learning.

Introduction to VoiceThread. This training will introduce VoiceThread, a web-based program which allows you to upload various media and have you or your students add commentary to it by means of microphone, webcam, keyboard, or phone. We will cover how to create your first VoiceThread, and how to integrate it into your Blackboard course site.

VoiceThread, Level II: Teaching with VoiceThread. This training is for faculty who have some experience teaching with VoiceThread. It will be an opportunity to ask questions about VoiceThread’s features, discuss any issues you’ve had using VoiceThread in your courses, and exchange teaching ideas and best practices. We will also address questions such as how/why to use course view, re-use Voicethreads in future classes, and create scaffolded VoiceThread assignments to be used over the course of a semester.

Preparing Your Dev Site for Course Copy. In this training we will explain how to prepare your dev site for successful course copy. We will cover how to update your course site to reflect any changes you have made, how to personalize an inherited site, and how to use the Date Management tool in Blackboard to update due and availability dates. We will also outline the course copy process.

Making Your Course Accessible to All. This training will provide an overview of how to apply the principles of Universal Design in Learning (UDL) to course design and formatting of course materials to make your classes accessible to all students. We’ll cover how to create accessible Word and PDF documents, caption course videos, and facilitate learning through different modalities.

Turnitin vs SafeAssign. In this training we will compare the SafeAssign and Turnitin plagiarism tools available in Blackboard, for you to find out which one is right for you. We will showcase how to create assignments using either tool, take a look at their respective plagiarism reports and the way those results are relayed to students and the instructor. We will also cover the different feedback and grading options for each tool on Blackboard, including the Feedback Studio features for Turnitin.

To register for one-on-one training, please fill in this form.

One-on-One training may be conducted online or face-to-face, based on your preference. Once your request has been received, your training appointment will be scheduled and verified by email. Please note: If there are other faculty with similar requests, we may suggest a session with you and one or two others.

If you have any questions please contact us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu.