OFDIT Newsletter November 2023

Dear Faculty,

Fall ahead with OFDIT as we give updates about our OER initiative and our LMS transition and share registration links for an info session on DEI in the SPS Course Review Rubric, the November CUNY IT Conference, and two Disability and Accessibility series events. We want to announce an RFP for the CITA Teaching and Learning Conference and invite your participation in a brief survey about our faculty onboarding programs. Finally, you’ll find both OFDIT’s new captioning request form and a tip about creating accessible hyperlinks in your course materials. We wish you a great month, and we are always thankful for SPS faculty’s demonstrated commitment to student learning needs and preferences!

OER Initiative Update

The SPS OER Initiative is excited to share that Zero-Textbook-Cost and OER courses have now saved SPS students over $3 million! SPS currently offers three undergraduate Z-degrees, allowing students to graduate without any textbook costs at all, and we have a fourth Z-degree in the works.

Check out our new Z-Degree badge designed by OFDIT’s Sharon Jorrin! This badge will appear on the program pages for our Z-degree programs. 


The research on OER and open education, such as this recent talk at OpenEd23, consistently demonstrates that ZTC is associated with higher student retention, higher student persistence, and higher overall grades, so we appreciate you, SPS faculty, for your work in support of our OER Initiative. OFDIT is here to help you reduce textbook costs and develop open pedagogical practices–just reach out at  facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu.

Upcoming OER Initiative Workshops

Mark your calendars! For Open Spring at CUNY SPS 2024, we’ll once again be presenting the Open for All Workshop & Discussion Series (March 1-28). This hybrid workshop covers the intersection of Open Education and Inclusive Pedagogy. Live online discussions featuring the themes of representation, accessibility and inclusion, and student agency will take place Fridays at lunchtime and are open to the whole SPS community. Over the course of this 5-week workshop, faculty participants review their own courses with the help of a course review rubric annotated with suggested DEIA educational practices, culminating with a proposal for increasing inclusivity and student belonging in their course design and instruction. The discussion series portion will be open to our whole community of SPS faculty, staff and students. 

Interested in boosting student engagement? Consider interactive videos!

In January, we’ll be running the Open & Active Video Workshop (January 8-22, 2024). This 2-week workshop covers how to source and create openly-licensed content for an educational video, how to film and edit the video, how to add interactive components to the video by incorporating questions right into the Panopto player or by incorporating the video into an interactive VoiceThread, and how to openly license and share the video. Faculty who complete the workshop are eligible for compensation of 7 NTA hours and are invited to produce a second video for an additional 4 NTA hours. Registration is open now!

LMS Transition News

The core staff managing the transition at SPS have been working with D2L and CUNY CIS to set up our SPS Brightspace organization within the CUNY-wide platform. We have been exploring how to manage courses and users, and have been testing the third-party applications we use at SPS (Panopto, VoiceThread, Digication, etc.).  

The CUNY LMS Transition team is making progress on providing access for faculty and staff to explore the Brightspace platform. Once you have access, you will be able to work in practice course sites so that you can get some hands-on experience with Brightspace. The course migration test from Blackboard to Brightspace is also in process. The university plan is to migrate past course content, and SPS has also requested migration of our course development sites. 

In the meantime, the OFDIT team is preparing training resources tailored to SPS, while the CUNY team still has a few more sessions of the CUNY Brightspace Demo and Q&A workshops scheduled:

Brightspace Demo for Faculty: Register Here 

  • Nov. 29 at 11:00am

Brightspace Q&A: Register Here

  • Nov. 16 at 11:00am
  • Nov. 30 at 1:00pm

Finally, we share with you the following message from the CUNY University Faculty Senate. 

Dear Colleagues,

As part of its responsibilities for this academic year, the University Faculty Senate’s Library and Information Technology Committee (UFS-LIT) is charged with tracking the transition to the new Learning Management System (LMS), Brightspace. In preparation for our December 5th UFS Plenary meeting, where we will be meeting with the LMS transition team at CUNY, we are trying to gather feedback from the faculty regarding the transition to Brightspace. Please complete this short form to share any questions or concerns you have about the LMS transition by Friday, November 17th.

UFS-LIT Committee

Have more questions about the LMS transition? Please visit our Brightspace Transition site or reach out to us at brightspace@sps.cuny.edu.

Your Input Requested!
OFDIT’s Faculty Onboarding Programs Survey

As you know, CUNY will be transitioning to the Brightspace Learning Management System (LMS) over the next two years, and SPS will be delivering courses on Brightspace starting Summer 2024. This presents OFDIT with an opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of our faculty onboarding programs, including the Blackboard Basics self-paced course, the Preparation for Teaching Online Workshop, and our Faculty Peer Mentoring Program. We will use your input as we review these programs and redesign them for your future colleagues. 

When you have a few minutes, please fill out this 5-10 minute survey. Your insights are invaluable and will directly impact how we revise these programs over the coming months. The survey will close November 30, 2023.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
in the SPS Course Review Rubric

Friday, December 8, 12-1 pm Register here

Join Professor Kenya Harris (Nursing), OFDIT’s Sarah Kresh, and faculty participants in the March 2023 Open for All Workshop for an info session describing the DEI and Open Pedagogy annotations to the SPS Course Review Rubric that were created for the workshop. The SPS Course Review Rubric determines the standards and criteria by which SPS courses are created, revised, and launched, thus faculty input on how it can be used to create greater inclusion, access, representation, and authentic learning experiences for SPS students is important! Please join this discussion to make your voices heard in an ongoing consultative process to improve the student experience and student learning outcomes at SPS.

Upcoming CUNY Conferences and CFP

CUNY IT Conference

The 22nd Annual CUNY IT Conference, Us and It. CUNY in the Age of Generative AI,” will be held from November 30-Dec 1 at the John Jay campus. Hear about generative AI from speaker David Birss, learn effective ChatGPT prompt management from SPS faculty Joe Foy, and explore sessions about the impact of AI on bias, assessment, and student engagement!

CUNY-wide Teaching and Learning Conference

CITA, the CUNY Innovative Teaching Academy, has put out a request for proposals for the upcoming CUNY-wide Teaching and Learning Conference, which will be held March 22, 2024 at the CUNY Graduate Center. Read more about the conference goals from the link above, and submit your proposals to CITA for talks, panel sessions, workshops, or poster presentations on topics like educational technology, pedagogical approaches to AI, student engagement, or any other topics related to teaching and learning by December 11, 2023 for consideration. All CUNY faculty and students can benefit when you share your expertise!

Engagement Events for SPS Faculty
Growth Mindset​: Using Stewardship as a Model to Develop a Sustainable Learning Environment

This workshop is an immersive experience on how growth mindsets can be used to improve student performance. The workshop will focus on the social nature of a classroom and how to integrate strategies to strengthen the student’s skills when meeting new students, working inside a team to develop critical thinking skills. Stewardship will be used as a model to develop a sustainable learning environment.

  • Presented by Professor Sue Brandt, Entertainment Technology @ City Tech
  • Nov 17, 2023 @ 12:00 pm
  • Virtual workshop — Register Here

Special Series for CUNY Faculty:
Disability & Accessibility

In Spring 2023, CUNY entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with the U.S. Department of Justice. The CUNY Office of Student Inclusion Initiatives and Disability Programs is sponsoring virtual events this fall, open to all faculty and staff. The final session on teaching best practices may be of particular interest. 

Offered on Fridays from 2-3 PM on Zoom.

Get Video Captioned – We Welcome Your Requests!

This may not be a big surprise to the SPS faculty community, but captioning a video benefits everyone. Studies have documented improvements in “comprehension of, attention to, and memory for the video” when captions are present (NIH Policy Insight, 2015). At SPS we use a professional captioning service, 3Play Media, to caption video used in our courses. No matter where your video is hosted or if it is owned by a third party, we welcome your video requests for captioning. Check out our Caption Request page to get started!

Faculty corner imageDescriptive Hyperlinks Makes Documents More Accessible

By Curtis Itzen, SPS Online Business Program

Try using a descriptive hyperlink, rather than copy-pasting a URL, to help your readers better navigate your document. Ideally, descriptive links provide clear information about where the link is pointing. The MS Office Suite and most applications use a common workflow to add descriptive links. For example, in a Word document to add descriptive text for links, you’ll use the “Insert Hyperlink” dialog box. You can open this dialog box in one of two ways:

  • Use a keyboard shortcut: Ctrl-k on a PC or Cmd-k on a Mac, or
  • Use the Toolbar Ribbon: Click the Insert menu tab, and then click on “Link”  

In either case, the insert hyperlink dialogue box opens allowing you to add descriptive text, instead of a long string of characters. For details on adding descriptive text as hyperlinks you can review my guide: Adding Descriptive Hyperlinks. Try it in Outlook, Google Docs, Teams, or PowerPoint. It makes adding accessible links a breeze!

OFDIT Fall 2023 Trainings

November trainings from OFDIT include opportunities to learn more about Panopto and how to create and adapt OER materials for your courses!

You can consult our Faculty Commons Site for a full description of our trainings.

Introducing CUNY Pressbooks

Have you been meaning to adopt, adapt, or create OER for your courses? Do you wish that an OER you use were more inclusive, accessible, or customized for your students? Do you dream of having self-check questions or social annotation built into course readings? CUNY’s Pressbooks Network might be the right tool for you.

The CUNY Pressbooks Network is an elegant publishing platform that offers the opportunity to find, adapt, or create openly licensed course materials. With pedagogical features ranging from glossaries and built-in social annotations to interactive questions and LMS grading functionality, CUNY Pressbooks is a great option for presenting customized course readings. In this hands-on, one-hour training, we’ll preview some of these features, see them in action in resources just waiting to be adopted, and then dive in to get familiar with the platform and its robust tools.

Panopto for SPS Faculty

Creating video content just got a whole lot easier! Whether you need to record a welcome message, a lecture, or a recorded announcement for your class, Panopto, the SPS video platform integrated into Blackboard, can make it happen in a few clicks. Participants will learn how to access Panopto and its features through Blackboard, focusing on a workflow to create, organize, and publish your video content. Special attention will be paid to viewing permissions, sharing content between courses, and captioning. Join us to boost your video skills!

As always, OFDIT is here to help! We are available for one-on-one support and are also happy to schedule a Zoom call to discuss any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at facultysupport@sps.cuny.edu. 

All the Best,
Your OFDIT Team

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