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


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).


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.


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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