Commons Connect

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Social Media Roundup: Analytics

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Some folks have been up in arms over the announcement of Google Reader shutting down its services, which it officially did earlier this month. I’m not sure what your personal thoughts on RSS are, but I’m of the mind that RSS is not as necessary as it was before social media came into the mix. I actually abandoned Google Reader a few years ago when I started using Twitter as my PLN. I’m not the only one who isn’t bothered by the death of Google Reader because, unlike RSS feeds, Twitter users read and evaluate articles before posting about them (for the most part). The people I follow help me decide whether the article is worth reading and, if I’m interested in saving it to read later, I will “favorite” the tweet.

Why Favorite Tweets?

I typically favorite tweets for one of two reasons:

1. They are hilarious and I get a good chuckle in the belly every time I look at them:

2. They have info or a link I want to save for future reference of some sort:

The last tweet is relevant to this post about analytics (yes, I’m getting there I promise).

As you may already know, sadly @brianfoote left the community team a few months ago, and with his departure we lost a great many things. While I wouldn’t even dream of trying to reboot Footesnotes,  I’ve been dipping my toes in the Google Analytics water and started taking over weekly analytics reporting earlier this month. Before then, I would just add my social media stats to Brian’s weekly analytics and call it a day. Well, since it’s been about a semester since I even looked at the social media stats and I didn’t know much of anything about Google Analytics, I was happy when @admin suggested I sign up for an upcoming workshop hosted by JustPublics356 and CUNY J School called: Analytics and Metrics: Advanced Social Media. I thought this would be a wonderful professional development opportunity not only for my position as Community Facilitator on the Commons, but also for my position as Academic Operations Assistant at CUNY SPS. As part of my duties at SPS, I manage web content and LivePerson FAQs. Recently, I started working with the Marketing team on refining keywords and adding micro data to our School’s website. I figured this workshop would be a great way to learn more about Google Analytics, search engine optimization, and social media metrics (a win-win for both SPS and the Commons).

Analytics Workshop: Friday, June 21, 2013

Our Instructor, Sandeep Junnarkar, the Director of Interactive Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, started the workshop by providing a link to his handout: http://bit.ly/analytics4academics. It was great to refer to Sandeep’s handout as he showed the different aspects of Google Analytics and WordPress.

One of my biggest WordPress takeaways was on permalinks — the links for each blog post. As you can see in the screenshot below, the default link is a strange string of characters and numbers that really have no meaning or relevance. Sandeep suggested changing the default to include the day and name, explaining that it’s better not only for search engine optimization purposes, but also for readers who want to know when a post was published. Lightbulb. So many times when I was attempting to research a new technology or troubleshoot an issue, I’d get miffed when I couldn’t find the published date because I didn’t know if the post was still relevant. I have since switched my permalink settings to include the date and subject in case viewers can’t find the published date within the post itself (you might want to check your blog’s permalink settings as well).

permalink

While the workshop had a heavy focus on WordPress, I would be able to apply much of what I had learned to the SPS Website project. Another terrific SEO resource on the Commons comes from Robin Camille. In her post, Gentle SEO Reminders, Camille lists some helpful search engine optimization tips for businesses and organizations. She also suggests using the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin on the Commons, which automatically adds OpenGraph meta tags to blog content based on the keywords and descriptions entered.

Another great aspect of the workshop was the other people who were there. Some had been blogging for years, while others either just started a blog or were thinking about starting a blog. We may not have stayed exactly on track, but the discourse between workshop participants and the instructor made it much more relevant and rewarding.

Twitter Analytics

When Sandeep started talking about how to measure Twitter traffic in Google Analytics my ears perked up — after trying many tools and going through Twitter streams to parse out data I was super excited to learn how to really do it. Since many folks use different Twitter Clients (such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck), their clicks show up differently in Google Analytics. Obviously Google Analytics has some drawbacks, but Sandeep suggested using Advanced Segments to capture all of the different Twitter Clients; providing more accurate metrics.

Advanced Segment: Twitter Traffic

By including twitter.com, t.co, tweetdeck, hootsuite, and bit.ly, you will be able to get a more accurate picture of how Twitter is (or isn’t) driving traffic to your site. Since we use the cuny.is URL shortener I have to include that in my advanced segment.

Towards the end of the workshop when Sandeep was discussing various tools that can be used to measure Twitter metrics I remembered that tweet from TechCrunch that I favorited only a couple of weeks before (see, I told you the tweet would be relevant :-) ). Turns out that many of the third-party applications that once measured Twitter metrics no longer worked because Twitter changed their API. I informed the group of Twitter’s recent announcement of their new analytics and Sandeep said that he was interested in checking it out. While we’re on the subject of Twitter’s API messing up stuff, it also recently interfered with an awesome new feature set for the Commons 1.5 release (more on that in an upcoming social media roundup)…

Twitter Analytics

Above is the new Twitter Analytics dashboard, which is great because it’s built directly in Twitter. From what I’ve read around the web (mostly in the comments section), it seems that Twitter hasn’t rolled this out to all of their users and some features vary depending on the user. Since the @cunycommons account was on the right list (no, I didn’t have to pay off Jack Dorsey), I started using it last week to measure RT’s, mentions, favorites, replies, followers, and clicks. You have the ability to download the data in a CSV file, but unfortunately it currently only provides metrics for favorites, retweets, and replies so you still have to scroll through the stream to view all of the metrics. While I can access the Timeline Activity dashboard (screenshot above), I still don’t seem to have access to the Followers dashboard. I expect that more users will be able to use Twitter Analytics in the coming months and that they will refine and expand their metrics as time goes on, but I wasn’t overly impressed with what it had to offer.

@cunycommons Analytics

It was a strong week for us on the @cunycommons Twitter account. Our followers list increased by 2% to 1847. This week’s retweet rate was 28% and, out of the original 36 tweets, the 10 retweets resulted in 9 additional retweets. We also received 24 mentions, 11 favorites, 3 replies, and 152 clicks via Twitter.

Since we attach cuny.is links to all Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ posts, the click through metrics cover all of these platforms in addition to clicks from others’ retweets. This week, according to the cuny.is dashboard, URLs were selected an average of 60 times per link and 1,631 times in total. Our top tweet (below), received 24 clicks in our Twitter stream and 156 altogether via http://cuny.is/1bl.

Many thanks to CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and JustPublics@365 for hosting the analytics workshop! If you are interested in signing up for an upcoming workshop, check out JustPublics@365′s upcoming events.

Retweets of the Week — May 27- June 2, 2013

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This week WordPress, which powers blogs on the CUNY Academic Commons, celebrated it’s 10th anniversary — Happy Birthday WordPress! The Commons development team also pushed out Commons 1.4.29, a maintenance release with a number of plugin and theme updates. While we’re on the subject of plugins, community facilitator @scottvoth recently wrote about a bunch of the new WordPress plugins available to Commons bloggers including: Google Fonts, Pinterest Pinboard Widget, and Twitter Mentions as Comments. I just enabled the last one on this blog and I’m super interested to see what it looks like (so I’ll have to tweet this on the @cunycommons). For more information about different plugins available for blogs on the Commons check out the Commons Codex, which has detailed instructions for 40 of the 219 plugins available on the Commons. If there is a plugin you are interested in learning more about that is not yet listed please let us know!

Our top retweeted tweet this week is to a post by @cirasella on the Mina Rees Library blog about how to use Google Scholar better. It’s a great read… and you should.

And now, the rewteets of the week…

This edition of retweets of the week was brought to you by the referendum of No Confidence in Pathways. :razz:

Retweets of the Week — May 20-26, 2013

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With the release of Commons 1.4.28 and Commons In A Box version 1.0.4, it was an exciting week both on the Commons and our sister project, Commons In A Box. With the latest CUNY Academic Commons release, some new goodies for bloggers include Chartboot, a plugin that lets you create, edit and embed Google Charts, and Leaflet Maps Marker, a plugin that allows you to pin, organize and share your favorite spots using maps from OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, Google Earth, Bing Maps or custom maps. If you decide to enable them on your blog feel free to leave a comment with a link to your site so we can see what these plugins look like in action!

This past week one of our members created CUNY CRAFTS!, a public group for CUNY crafters to share ideas, discuss projects and seek advice from each other. With 7 members, there are already a bunch links to some great projects and resources. I also want to give a shout out to @rlsalois, who joined the Commons specifically because of this group — and found about about it through our @cunycommons Twitter account — w00t!

tweetjk

Before I post the retweets of the week I first wanted to share our top retweeted tweet this week, which happens to be for an awesomely awesome Data Visualization Assistant position on the PSC-CUNY Research Award-funded Undergraduate Study Habits Ethnography Project (hosted on a Commons blog). If you know anyone who is interested in working with some great CUNY folks over the summer please tell them to apply!

And now, the rewteets of the week…

(The NYCDH Community Site is powered by Commons In A Box and hosted at the Graduate Center by the GC Digital Scholarship Lab.)

That last retweet was a rewteet of a retweet of our top retweet. (Try to say that 5x fast.) ⊙.☉

Retweets of the Week — May 13-19, 2013

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The CUNY Academic Commons Twitter account (@cunycommons) was created to promote and share the work of the CUNY Academic Commons community with the rest of the Twitterverse. Instead of limiting our Twitter use to tweeting out new activity on the Commons, when we come across something from one of our Twitter followers that we believe to be relevant to the CUNY community, we retweet the heck out of it! With that being said, welcome to the first ever ‘Retweets of the Week’  — enjoy!

We encourage you to follow all of the folks who were retweeted here:  @citytechopenlab, @jitpedagogy, @jetmirtroshani, @mkgold, @gdonovan, @gc_philosophy, & @erikaherzog_. Don’t forget to check back next week to see if your tweet made the list! You can also visit the CUNY on Twitter Wiki page to browse different CUNY Twitter accounts.

Follow the @cunycommons on Twitter and Facebook!

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With more and more CUNY faculty and staff connecting every which way on the world-wide-web, the Commons is still committed “to grow in a flexible manner” by making sure that conversations aren’t happening in silos. Part of doing that is by posting upTwitter/Facebook Iconsdates and sharing resources across multiple social networking sites. And, being the total nerdbot that I am, I happily agreed to maintain our social media presence on both  Twitter and Facebook.

Every day the Commons brings me news of a new event, resource, or CFP, and I love being able to share that with as many people as possible. For example, since the CUNY Instructional Design group is public I was able view the group update from Chandra Hanke (@chanke) with details about the CUNY Instructional Design Council’s first meeting. I then posted that information on both Facebook and Twitter linking directly to the group update in an effort to help spread the word about their meeting. The CUNY Instructional Design group was only created about a month ago and it’s great to see so many members on the Commons, who might not necessarily be instructional designers on their campus, take an interest and join this group (there are currently 25 members).

#cunyevents tweet

I started to incorporate the #cunyevents hashtag (shown above) to help people find different events taking place across CUNY. If you’re posting about an event at CUNY on the Commons, I will try my best to help promote it by creating an event on Facebook and using the #cunyevents hashtag on Twitter. (A special note to my fellow CUNY twitterers: please feel free to use the #cunyevents hashtag if you are posting about an event at a CUNY campus to help us all stay connected!!)

As a shout out to our growing Math Matters group, I’d like to share some numbers with everyone. To date, we have nearly 100 Facebook fans and over 400 followers on Twitter. Clearly, Twitter is the big winner among CUNY grad students, faculty, and staff. I think this is because Facebook and Twitter are used in different ways. Facebook is a way to connect to friends and family and Twitter is a way to find people and connect to content. Also, I’d say that a decent amount of @cunycommons Twitter followers span the national academic community — a trend I haven’t found in Facebook.

Since many people use Twitter to stream live from conferences using themed hashtags, it’s easier for academics to connect with people and ideas from across the globe. And, with so many great ideas and resources bouncing around the Commons, it’s nice to be able to showcase what we are up to! Speaking of showcasing, Scott Voth created a new page on the Commons News blog called “Commons Buzz”, which highlights recent press coverage of the Commons. If you have a few minutes I would highly recommend checking it out!!

One of the advantages of posting roughly 140-character summaries on new happenings across the Commons is that I’m able to keep up on all-things-CUNY. That being said, if you’re having difficulty looking for something you saw on the Commons last week, last month –  hit me up!

I have to admit that before I began tweeting regularly for the Commons, I was a total Facebook fangirl and didn’t log-in to my Twitter account regularly. In fact, my second blog post on the Commons touched on my (then) use of Facebook and Twitter. Anyway, after reading different blog posts on the Commons about Twitter and coming across some great #ePortfolio resources by using #hashtags, I began to see the value among academics. Also, after reading the NYTimes article, “Twitter Puts Spotlight on Secret F.B.I. subpoenas,” Twitter scored some bonus points (and Facebook lost some). Needless to say I have been spending more time on Twitter and less on Facebook.

Recently, I’ve started to use Hootsuite to manage the various social networking accounts that I oversee. What I like about it (besides for the fact that it’s free!)  is that I can easily schedule updates without having to log-in to multiple websites or applications. Most definitely a time saver!

hootsuite screenshot

Hootsuite Screenshot

One of my long term Twitter goals is to build a robust “follow list” of CUNY twitterers (both inside and outside the Commons). I started by building off the initial @mkgold/cuny list (thanks @admin!) by going through members profiles on the Commons to see if they had a Twitter handle posted on the profile page. I was also able to follow a few new CUNYites through their networks; and as of today we have 202 members on the list!

On another note, February marked our 500th tweet and we just made our 1,000th tweet this past month. I’m really excited about this because it means that I’ve already achieved one of my goals of having our 1,000th tweet by the next scheduled CUNY Pie trip#winning! OK, I promise that will be my last Charlie Sheen reference ever. (Promise.)

Lastly, as a follow up to my original shout out to the Math Matters group, I would like to extend that shout out to all CUNYites (both inside and outside the Commons) and invite you to not only follow us on Twitter and Facebook, but also follow each other. You can start by browsing the @cunycommons/cuny follow list!

Have questions or suggestions? Please post in a comment below or reach out to me via email at smorgano01001 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Favorites of the Week: The EdTech Edition

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Hello CUNYs and happy MLK day!  While most of you are enjoying some well deserved time off to relax and prepare for the upcoming semester, some of you have been quite busy on the Commons (which, of course, I love because it gives me something to write about!) OK, on to my favorites of the week… While major media outlets have been focusing on the vitriol of politics and “the man with the golden voice”, this week I’d like to focus on educational technology related postings, updates, and threads on the Commons.  

My first favorite of 2011 is the latest post from Alevtina Verovetskaya’s  Reading Log.  

Aptly titled January 6, this post highlights a terrific article from latest issue of Clarion (the newspaper of the PSC) entitled, “Meet the new academic superstars: Faculty librarians ideal guides for info age”. After seeing this post, I searched through my recently delivered mail to find the Jan. ’11 Issue. This highly informative article discusses (among other things) how academic librarians, like Jill Cirasella @cirasella from Brooklyn College, routinely assist faculty with scholarly work, noting:    

“Their expect knowledge of specialized databases, public documents, historical archives, online search stategies, and library resources at CUNY… can make them ideal partners for other faculty members’ research projects.”  

The article also highlights the impact of applied research at CUNY. For instance, Maura Smale and Mariana Regaldo are in the middle of a three year study on the scholarly habits of students at six CUNY campuses and, as a result of their initial findings, have already reconfigured the study areas at City Tech’s library to support additional privacy for students. What I really liked about this article was the overall theme of sharing and collaboration which, according to Cirasella, ”are what  librarians are all about”.  

After coming to terms with the fact that newspapers do not have a long shelve life in my home (due to my compulsory nature to over-recycle), I had to figure out another way to keep this article handy for future reading and reflection. Lightbulb! I decided that this would be a great addition to the iBooks on my iPad. To save this document to my iPad, I navigated to Jan. ’11 issue of Clarion (http://www.psc-cuny.org/Clarion/ClarionJanuary2011.pdf), which opened as a PDF document, then selected “open in iBooks” on the upper-right side of the screen. Now I can access this issue anytime without having to be online. (*This works on any iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running the iBooks application.) 


While we’re on the topic of libarians, I wanted to share an update posted in the CUNY Games Network  by City Tech’s librarian Maura Smale @msmale.  

CUNY Games Network  

Hosted by Christopher Jason Smith and the CUNY Games Network Steering Committee, this full-day tabletop games event will be held at LaGuardia Community College on Friday, January 21st and is open to all CUNYs. While this very first tabletop game event will primarily feature mainstream games such as Battlestar Galactica, Magic the Gathering, and Diplomacy,  Maura notes that a few educational games are likely to be thrown into the mix. Those who attend will also be given a  short tour of the ”Games Library” created at LaGuardia to help CUNY faculty examine games for research purposes. If you’d like to stop by for a couple of hours or intend to particpate throughout the day, please try to email cunygamesadmin@googlegroups.com with your name to help the CUNY Games Steering Committee keep a headcount. 


Speaking of  committees, according to an update posted by Adam Wandt @awandt on the  Academic Technology Research and Development Group (a new subcommittee of the CUNY Committee on Academic Technology), Skunkworks will hold their first meeting on January 20th at 10am via Elluminate.  

skunkworks Established by CUNY faculty and staff, its mission is to research, test, and recommend new technologies from the perspective of classroom needs and pedagogical effectiveness. I signed up as a volunteer shortly after Chandra Hanke, Phil Pecorino, and Adam Wandt presented “CUNY CAT Academic Technology Research and Development Group: The ‘Skunkworks’” at the 9th annual CUNY IT Conference. I’m really excited about testing new technologies and sharing our results with the CUNY community and cannot wait to use Elluminate for the first time at our first meeting! 


 My next favorite this week stays with the theme of “collaboration”. Daniel Bachhuber @danielbachhuber posted an update that he is searching for other CUNYs to work on WordPress as a learning management system. 

 Most of you probably already know my thoughts on Blackboard, so I think it’s really important for CUNY to explore additional options for learning management systems. Since many CUNY students are already familiar with WordPress through course blogs or blogs that they’ve created on their own, it seems that WordPress would be a viable platform to consider as an LMS. If you’re interested in exploring the pros and cons of WordPress as an LMS, I’m sure Daniel would be happy to hear from you! 


 Speaking of WordPress, my last favorite this week is a forum thread from the WordPress HELP!!! group. 

After Giulia Guarnieri @giulia started the forum thread “Help with my new blog” asking general questions about how to configure the WP-Creativix 1.5.5 theme on her blog, Scott Voth @scottvoth gave some great instructions on how to use CSS to give Giulia the look and feel that she was going for. I thought it was really cool that Scott has a “sandbox” blog dedicated to testing out new themes and features on WordPress and have since done the same. (*This blog’s theme is Magatheme 1.0.4.)

Well that’s it for this week, but please keep those updates, posts, and forum threads coming!

My Favorites of the Week: The 2010 Blizzard Edition!

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Hello CUNYs and welcome to my last “my favorites” of the year — brrrr!!! I hope none of you were among the 400 stranded on the A train yesterday! I also hope that everyone was able to share the holidays with the ones they love. Speaking of which, I wanted to show some love for my last favorites of 2010…

Starting off the ’2010 Blizzard Edition’ is a blog post from Anthony Picciano (@apicciano), in which he shares some great pics from his POV of the epic blizzard of 2010.

Blizzard 2010 New York!
Although I was visiting upstate, NY during the actual blizzard, I experienced the aftermath of delayed trains and saw lots of abandoned cars while utilizing ill-equipped mass transit services. I had to walk home from the subway with bags around my ill-equipped boots, but at least I had some fully-equipped southern Brooklyn style pizza to welcome me back!
I'd rather be holding this box of pizza than stuck in that stranded minivan!

I'd rather be holding this box of pizza than stuck in that stranded minivan!


My next favorite is an update from Daisy Dominguez (@daisilla) where she sends Maura Smale (@msmale) a public message about incorporating the Academic Commons feed into her RockMelt Web Browser.
RockMelt

Having never heard of RockMelt, I was eager to do some exploring. I was a little bummed to learn that I couldn’t download the web 2.0 enhancing web browser immediately, but happy to read a conversation between Maura and Daisy in which Daisy explains:

RockMelt keeps me from having to log onto FB & Twitter multiple times since I can kind of see what’s going on with their navigation. They even have a navigation thing on the right for CUNY Academic Commons so I can see what other people are up to kinda like on FB so I like that, too. I have trouble logging onto it sometimes, though, especially from my PC at work.

Thanks for posting about this time saving web 2.0 tool, Daisy. I look forward to receiving my invitation and posting about my experience as well.


My next favorite this week is an update from Guila Guarnieri (@giulia), inviting members of the Commons to view materials developed for the BCC podcasting program.
Podcasting at BCC
I’m quite impressed at the scope of this project and I’m looking forward to learning more about it this upcoming spring semester. If you get a chance, be sure to check out BCC’s podcasting resources and provide some feedback.

Next up is a forum topic from the Open Access group entitled: OA presentation at the CUNY IT Conference.

Maura Smale (@msmale) shares some slides and handouts from the Open Access presentations at the #CUNYIT Conference held at John Jay College on December 3, 2010. Many thanks for sharing some great OA resources, Maura! If you want to learn more about the Day 1 session, please check out @valeriefutch’s terrific blog post where she highlights different sessions throughout the day.


Speaking of conferences (or rather “unconferences”), my last favorite of this week (and year) is a forum topic in the Digital Humanities Initiative group entitled: THATCamp New York.

THATCamp NYC

In this post, grad student Jonathan Eskew (@toomanywords) reaches out to fellow CUNYs to find out who would be interested in putting together a cross-university THATCamp in New York. From the looks of the THATCamp website, the “unconference” will take place November 11th & 12 of next year and from the looks of the forum thread, there are a lot of interested CUNYs!

Well, that’s all for 2010… May you all have a wonderful New Year!

See you next year!! = )

The CUNY Academic Commons Bug-Tracking System

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As Matt Gold highlighted back  in the summer of 2009, the CUNY Academic Commons  rolled out an issues website where the development team could keep track of bugs and issues that are causing problems on the Commons.

The site is an installation of Redmine, a robust open-access project management solution which allows the community and development teams to report and keep track of bugs, feature requests, and support tickets. What I really like about the site is that you only have to log in to report an issue, which means that our work on the Commons is completely transparent. Below is a snapshot of the main page where you can access the CUNY Academic Commons project: Overview, Activity; Roadmap; Issues; News; Documents; and Files.

CUNY Academic Commons Redmine Website

As a quick case in point of how this project management site is used, I wanted to share an experience from an issue that I recently reported…

After reading @brianfoote’s summary of changes for groups associated with the upgrade to version 1.1 on the Commons, I was excited to add the external blog posts feature to one of my groups. I was not as excited to learn that everyone in my group was sent an email notification for every single blog post associated with the external blog. I quickly reported this issue to the development team and Boone @boonebgorges just as quickly disabled the notifications associated with external blogs posts. Now, members will access the external blog posts directly through the group’s activity stream.

external blog posts

Speaking of reporting issues, after the development team  rolled out some recent upgrades to the site I noticed that issues are not only being reported by the community team, but also by members of the Commons. It’s great to see members participating in the back-end process that helps us maintain and enhance the CUNY Academic Commons, especially since we depend on individual feedback to improve the overall experience for all members. Have you come across something  odd while navigating the Commons? Please don’t hesitate to submit an issue associated with your account or the site. It’s quick and painless, just like the homepage states:

“We invite you to submit any bugs that you find as you’re using the site. To submit bugs and track their progress as we fix them, you’ll need to register for an account on the bug-tracking site (it’s quick and painless).”

You will just need to choose a login ID and password, fill out your first and last name, and email address.

register for an account

Whether you report a bug through Redmine or via email, we invite you to help us make the bugs go SPLAT!

Notes from the CUNY IT Conference – Day 2

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9th Annual CUNY IT Conference

I highly enjoyed day 2 of the CUNY IT conference and it wasn’t just because it was held on my home turf at the Graduate Center (although it was nice being able to leave my coat in my office!) What I enjoyed the most about these sessions was that that I knew a little about most of the topics presented and presenters themselves — in part because of the CUNY Academic Commons. A couple examples include the “CUNY Online Composition Pilot: A New Model of Collaborative Course Development” and “Get in the Game: Games to Support Teaching and Learning at CUNY”. It was also great helping new members create accounts and meeting some CUNYs face-to-face for the first time after interacting online via the Commons. What was super sweet was that I already knew a little about their work and academic interests through blog posts, profile details, forum posts, wiki edits, etc… (Try to fit all of that on a nametag!)

Unfortunately, registration filled up pretty quick for day 2 so not as many folks were able to come as would have liked to. While I wasn’t able to do what I really wanted to do – split myself into seven Morgano’s to attend each session – I did take some notes on the sessions that I was able to attend. There were also flurries of tweets about the conference marked with the hashtag #cunyit for your viewing pleasure.

After stopping for some much needed morning java, I headed over to Room C204 with fellow Common Community Team member Boone B. Gorges (@boonebgorges) for a dual presentation:

  • Education Faculty Perspectives towards Teaching Online, by Helen Mele Robinson (@profhmr); and
  • Honorable Technology: Towards a Digital Honors Code, by Joe Ugoretz (@jugoretz).

Helen’s presentation focused on Education faculty attitudes towards teaching online. Helen discussed the results from Sloan’s seventh annual report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education, highlighting that while the number of programs and courses taught online continued to grow, acceptance by faculty has not changed. She also noted the difference between asynchronous courses (wholly online) and hybrid courses (blend of online & face-to-face).

Helen went on to discuss the results from a survey that she conducted at the City University of New York and Indiana University. Using the Likert Scale, Survey Monkey was utilized to measure 109 Education faculty participants’ beliefs and attitudes about teaching online. While Helen will be sending the full results to interested CUNYs via email, I was able to note some general results — among which show motivators and barriers for teaching online. Faculty indicated that motivators include benefits to both  their students and their institution, and the flexibility of an online course. Barriers include lack of time for course design and lack of tech support. Additional effort seemed to be the biggest deterrent among surveyed faculty.

Faculty and staff in the room universally agreed that an online course is more time consuming than a face-to-face course and concerns were raised about the impact that teaching online might have on tenure. I was saddened to hear that many faculty had to downplay their technical skills while going through the tenure process because they feared it would not be viewed favorably.

Helen wrapped up her session by offering some suggestions to help garner Education faculty support for online instruction. In addition to supplying robust technical support and lowering enrollment caps for online classes, Helen suggested that not teaching 100% online would be a way to break stigmas associated with online instruction.

The second part of the dual presentation was by Joe Ugoretz, Associate Dean of Teaching, Learning, and Technology at Macaulay Honors College. Joe discussed recent incidents with Macaulay students involving cyber bullying and wiki vandalism which prompted the creation of a “Digital Honors Code”. After a positive response from students who were sent information about the Digital Honors Code via email, Macaulay IT Fellows engaged with students, faculty, and advisors to make amendments to the honors code, create guidelines for online behavior, and generate case studies. To make the honors code more open and community-based, the materials were put online in Fall 2010.

Recognizing that there are different impulses and temptations online, Joe split the room up into teams and charged each team with reviewing a case study and offering suggestions on how to handle the situation. My team chose “The Difficult Prof” and suggested that the student reach out to the student ombudsman, their advisor, or the academic director of their program instead of tweeting about how terrible their teacher was. Someone brought up that the tweet could have also been picked up by CUNYFail, a twitter account dedicated to retweeting others tweets about “CUNY’s failures”. Incidentally, one of my earlier tweets from the session was retweeted by CUNYFail – doheth!

Joe ended his session by asking everyone in the room how they would get students to participate in the Digital Honor Code site and one of my favorite suggestions was to ask students to develop a collaborative honors code contract.

What I loved about these presentations was that both Helen and Joe really engaged everyone through discussions and activities. Most definitely not a CUNYFail!

Boone B. Gorges discusses key distinctions of open source during the “Building Communities on the CUNY Academic Commons” session.

After listening to a terrific keynote presentation by Virginia Heffernan (peppered with wonderful ethnographic metaphors), taking some pictures, and getting my lunch on, I attended the “Building Communities on the CUNY Academic Commons” roundtable session. Charlie Edwards (@cedwards) did a great job of showing how groups can create resources inside of the Commons (ie: blogs, wikis, forums) and connect them to resources outside of the Commons (ie: Twitter and Gowalla). Overall, it was great to hear similar perspectives from people with different roles on the Commons — which was echoed by George Otte (@gotte) when he wrapped up the session with the stimulating statement:Generativity doesn’t happen without openness.”

Following that energizing session I hung out with fellow Community Facilitators Brian Foote (@brianfoote) and Scott Voth (@scottvoth) at the CUNY Academic Commons sign-up tables, where we engaged in a lively discussion about ways to enhance the overall experience for members on the Commons (i.e. – highlighting our new Codex/Community Portal blog on the homepage).  On that note — If you have suggestions about features you would like to see on the Commons or want to learn more about an existing feature, please don’t hesitate to contact the Community Team.

Overall, I have a terrific experience with day 2 and I’m already looking forward to the 10th Annual CUNY IT Conference! Did you attend day 2?? Share your experience below by leaving a comment or better yet – write about it on your blog!

Maura A. Smale (@msmale) helps a fellow CUNY sign up for the Commons.

Favorites of the Week: Thanksgiving Edition

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Thanksgiving has come and gone and this year I am thankful for many things — including my favorites of the week!

The first favorite I am thankful for is an update from Donna Gruber (@dygruber), linking to Queen College’s Hybrid Bootcamp Winter 2011: Call for Participants page.

Queens College’s Center for Teaching and Learning is inviting faculty to participate in the second round of their mentoring program that focuses on the development of hybrid courses to be taught Fall 2011.  If you have any questions, please contact Michelle Fraboni (@mfraboni, michelle.fraboni@qc.cuny.edu, 718.997.5324). The deadline is Wednesday, December 15th so be sure to mark your calendar!


Speaking of of which, you should also mark your calendar for my next favorite posted on the CUNY Games Network — a demo of an Emergency Shelter Course in Second Life.

On Wednesday, December 15th Andrew Bowarsky from CUNY School of Professional Studies will co-present with Anders Gronstedt from the Grondtedt Group on NYC’s Emergency Management course, which utilizes the Second Life platform. Second Life is a 3D virtual world where multiple users can connect in real time. Attend the presentation either  in-person at the Graduate Center or participate online as an avatar in Second Life at 11a.m. on December 15th. Those interested, please contact @aboyarsky at aboyarsky@gc.cuny.edu.


My next favorite this week is from Maura Smale, who also posted on the CUNY Games Network

Maura started a forum thread about a recently launched Web site called Play the Past (http://www.playthepast.org). This collaboratively edited site is:

dedicated to thoughtfully exploring and discussing the intersection of cultural heritage (very broadly defined) and games/meaningful play (equally broadly defined).

Authors not only span many academic fields, but across the entire country — representing multiple perspectives on complex cultural and technological issues. Thanks for sharing @msmale!


Next up this week is a helpful post from Shawn M. on the WordPress HELP!! forum.

Soon after member @shirablum posted a question about problems she was experiencing installing the Google Calendar plug-in on her WordPress blog, Shawn and I worked together on the forum to trouble-shoot. Shawn posted some great instructions which laid out how to activate the plug-in as a sidebar widget and I explained how to display events on a specific page. If you’re interested in activating this plug-in on your blog, I would highly recommend reading this helpful forum thread. Many thanks @shawnm!


The last favorite activity that I am thankful for a wiki edit from Lee Hachadorian (@leehach) on the Educational Blogs wiki page.

Many thanks Lee for not only have a fantastically great profile picture, but for contributing some great links to the Education Blogs wiki!


And now for some Cherpumple Monster Pie – is your stomach turning too?!

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