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

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