OFDIT Newsletter January 2024

Dear Faculty,

We are happy to welcome you to the new year and hope it brings you health and much fulfillment. In this newsletter edition, we have an announcement about our SPS Faculty Community Site, updates about the LMS transition, and some guidance for preparing your course sites for the spring semester. We’d also like to invite you to upcoming workshops examining generative AI in the classroom, reflecting on the impact of a critical analysis of chattel slavery in the teaching of business, and the Open for All Workshop & Discussion Series. We are looking forward to 2024 and are excited to support your teaching and professional learning in the months to come.

SPS Faculty Community Site
Now a Communication Hub on OpenLab

For more than 10 years, OFDIT has cultivated and shared online teaching resources via the SPS Faculty Community site on CUNY’s Academic Commons, and we are pleased to announce this valuable resource just got even better! We’ve moved it to the CUNY SPS OpenLab, a powerful open-source digital platform for the SPS community to connect and collaborate through blogging, publishing, and social networking. The new SPS Faculty Community Hub is live! You’ll find all the previous teaching and learning content from the Commons, but enhanced with the power of the OpenLab. SPS now has a space where faculty and students can work together, experiment, and innovate. Please update your bookmarks, and come visit the new SPS Faculty Community Hub!

Launch the Hub

Brightspace Update

As we head into the Spring semester, training for faculty and staff in our new LMS is ramping up!

Brightspace Essentials, a self-paced and bite-sized learning experience for SPS faculty and Staff, has launched! This series of self-paced mini-lessons have been crafted to equip you with the fundamental skills for using the Brightspace Learning Management System (LMS). 

The first few lessons will help you:

  • Get familiar with the fundamental navigation and functions of Brightspace
  • Create course content modules
  • Learn about the great features in the Brightspace Editor
  • Become familiar with communication tools
  • Manage discussion

Dive into these 15-minute lessons as a launching point for your Brightspace explorations.

You can also sign up for a Brightspace Demo offered by the CUNY Central team that introduces basic navigation, course structure, the student experience, and accessibility. Register here for 1-hr webinars on Jan 18 at 1:00pm or Jan 23 at 11:00am.  Prefer to watch a recorded session right away? View the Brightspace Demo recorded on Nov. 29, 2023.

Finally, the CUNY Central team has also announced their Spring Workshop schedule, with sessions on:

  • Getting Started in Brightspace: overview of key features and tools, course management – class list, groups/sections, communicating with students, adding content basics, assignment basics, quiz basics, adaptive release, key terms and resources for instructors.
  • ABCs of Content: overview and table of contents, modules; adding content to courses (from existing course content, building it from scratch), creating activities for learners, instructor settings for assignments, discussions and quizzes.
  • Engaging Learners: brief UDL overview and overview of accessibility in Brightspace, tools and features for communication (announcements, activity feed, discussions and virtual classroom), tools and features for engagement (calendar, progress)
  • Assessing Learning: assignments, quizzes, evaluating learners via quick eval and submissions, rubrics, gradebook basics.

February and March sessions are open for registration, with further workshops continuing through June.

Preparing Course Sites for Spring

Our Course Site Checklist for Faculty can be helpful when prepping your online course for the new semester. 

You will find useful SPS quick guides from the OFDIT team and links to Blackboard Help pages, as well as a checklist of all the elements that need to be updated in a live course site for an upcoming semester, including:

  • Welcome announcement
  • Instructor card
  • Syllabus/Course Schedule
  • Due Dates 

Ensuring that all dates for your course are accurate for the new semester is especially important; this includes dates mentioned in text items as well as assignment and folder availability. 

Though you will need to manually update any dates mentioned in any text, Blackboard availability and due dates can be reviewed and updated via Blackboard’s Date Management tool, either individually, as a group of items, or all of the dates at once. This is a great option if you are using content from a previous semester and would like to adjust your dates for the new semester. To learn more about how to use this tool, please see our quick guide, or contact our team for assistance.

Teaching with Intelligence:
Generative AI in the Classroom

An early alert about a series of events exploring generative AI in higher education in February:

Decoding Generative AI: Navigating the Fundamentals

What is AI, and how is it impacting the classroom? What are some current approaches and latest updates in this rapidly-growing area?

  • Friday, February 2, 12 pm
  • Thursday, February 8, 6 pm
  • Open to faculty, staff, and students

Using ChatGPT and other AI tools as a brainstorming tool to enhance course learning outcomes and student success with experiential learning opportunities.

A CUNY Career Success Fellows event, presented by Drs. Joseph Foy (Business) and Isabelle Elisha (Psychology) 

  • Monday, February 5, 12 pm
  • Open to faculty and staff

Let’s Talk AI: Student Roundtable. 

What do CUNY SPS students think about generative AI and their learning? What are advantages and issues regarding the use of these tools? What more would be helpful?

  • Thursday, February 15, 6 pm
  • Open to students, faculty, staff

Hold the date and keep an eye out for an announcement and registration links in the next few weeks!

CIED Workshop

The Committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity (CIED) is pleased to offer a workshop on “Pedagogy Grounded in Reality: Incorporating Chattel Slavery’s Contribution to Higher Education” on Thursday, February 15 from 12:00 – 1:30 PM. 

Presenters: Dr. Tara Barca and Dr. Linda L. Ridley

About the workshop:
Traditionally, the fundamentals of management teaching have been aligned with the belief that conventional management theories were developed separate and apart from the institution of chattel slavery and the management of race (Aufhauser, 1973; Blackmon, 2008; Cooke, 2003; Roediger & Esch, 2012).

This workshop will incorporate the results of a qualitative study that examined the exclusion of chattel slavery in the teaching of the history of American business (Baptist, 2014; Katznelson, 2005). 

Participants will be encouraged to enhance their research knowledge and reshape their pedagogy to include the true origins of educational concepts and theories, and through workshop activities and guided discussion, gain cutting-edge tools to facilitate inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible pedagogy.

This event is open to all CUNY SPS students, faculty and staff. Please register here.

Open Spring

For Open Spring at CUNY SPS 2024, the SPS OER Initiative is pleased to once again offer the Open for All Workshop & Discussion Series (March 1-28). The hybrid online (sync/async) workshop covers the intersection of Open Education and Inclusive Pedagogy. Participants review a course using a course review rubric annotated with open and inclusive educational practices and create a proposal for incorporating new inclusive pedagogy approaches. Registration is open through February 26, 2024.

During the workshop, synchronous 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! The call for proposals for the community discussions is open through February 21, 2024. For more information, the workshop registration form, and the call for participation in the community discussions, see Open for All Workshop & Discussion Series.

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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