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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.) ⊙.☉

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!

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.

Upgrade Changes For Groups

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Greetings to all Groups on the CUNY Academic Commons! As promised, @boonebgorges has delivered a major upgrade to the Commons which leads us to the inevitable question, how will these changes affect us? Well, I am here to help you better understand our new group features and how to use them.

Group Wire —> Updates & Replies

As I’m sure most of you now know, where once there was a group wire now there is no more. Some of you may have had your Settings>Email Notifications set to receive an email when a member posted to the wire and while that option no longer exists (see *UPDATE below), it has been replaced with something very similar… only more customizable — Updates. This is much more similar to Facebook than the Wire and I will demonstrate via these screenshots below.Group administrators and moderators can post an Announcement to the Group Page, which can be used to quickly connect information to the entire group. Group members can “Reply” to any update, much like leaving a “Comment” on Facebook. When someone replies to a conversation you are involved in, you will be sent an email notification. Replies are no longer limited to Forums — yay!

*UPDATE 5/6/10 –  developer @boonebgorges has just Added an “email to members” checkbox to the BuddyPress group activity stream. This means that administrators and moderators now have the option to push out a specific announcement to all group members via email. Thanks Boone!

@Mention System

There is also another way to include particular members via email notification. You may have noticed in both the screenshot from Facebook and the Academic Commons that a “friend/member” was hyperlinked in the update. While the “tag/@mention” process is done somewhat differently, it has the same effect — it links others to the profile of the individual while notifying the individual of the mention via email. This @mention system was first implemented by Twitter, but has been adapted by Facebook and now us!

If you are trying to reach out to specific group members, simply put the @ symbol in front of their username and it will send a notification to their email address. This is a great way to bring members into conversations that can otherwise be easily overlooked in the frenzy of Web2.0 information overload. Don’t know a member’s username? Just go to their profile page and their @handle will be listed directly below their name.

Filters

The Buddypress upgrade has also made it easier to navigate through Groups via the new filterable Recent Group Activity stream where you can choose to view: Updates, New Forum Topic, Forum Replies, New Group Memberships, Wiki Edits and my personal favorite… No Filter! The main landing page for groups is No Filter, so members can see everything at a glance. If you prefer to view group activity without necessarily being logged into the Academic Commons, there is also the option of subscribing to the group’s RSS Feed.

Reply, Reply, Reply

Another great thing about the new Reply feature is that it’s not limited to Updates. I can welcome members to a group and organize conversations in ways that used to be impossible — as seen by my reply below to a New Group Membership.

Being able to reply to a specific comment or activity allows the conversation to continue in a structured way and hopefully makes it easier for members to keep track of different conversations throughout the Commons.

If you have a request or suggestion for your group please let us know.

How To: Upload Group Files

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**UPDATE 5/15/2011** An exciting new feature called “Docs” has been added, allowing you to write and edit collaboratively with members of your group. In order to avoid confusion with Docs, we’ve changed the old “Documents” tab to “Files”. All the files you uploaded to your group in the past can be found on the new “Files” tab on the left side of your group’s page.

Whether you want to post a related article, power point presentation or a record of minutes from a meeting, the “Files” tab can help members share information and collaborate. Tag your file with a category to easily access minutes, syllabi, or whatever you upload. Want to learn how to upload your files?

Just follow the instructions from the video below… or click here to view in HD.

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