Commons Connect

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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 (, 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 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!

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ keep them Blogrolls Rollin’

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After taking a look at Scott Voth’s (@scottvoth) new layout for his Wiki Wrangler blog I had an idea to revamp my own. I changed my theme from Fervens A 1.1 by Design Disease to Magatheme 1.0.4 by Bryan Helmig. While the new theme wasn’t as flashy as the Fervens Theme, I was tired of the old color scheme and wanted something with more of a newspaper type of feel.

I also reworked the widgets on my sidebar. I wanted a blog that felt a little less cluttered so I deleted the RSS feeds from the Community Team blogs and opted for a simple list of blogs that were associated with the Academic Commons Community Team. My process for this was simple… I selected ‘Add New’ under ‘Links’ on the left navigation bar of my Dashboard. From this point I added the name of the blog’s author under ‘Name’, cut & pasted the appropriate URL in the ‘Web Address’ bar and added the name/tagline of the blog under ‘Description’. Then I added the category ‘Community Team Blogroll’ to better organize the links. I decided to have the links open in a new window by selecting ‘_blank – new window or tab’ under ‘Target’. Lastly, I selected the ‘Add Link’ button on the top right side of the page.

I didn’t stop there because I got thinking about the many blogs that belong to members of the CUNY community that are housed outside of the Commons. I wanted to provide a comprehensive list of blogs for members to browse, get ideas, access information, etc… To facilitate this new idea I searched through blogs linked to a given member’s profile and followed the same process as listed above. The only difference is that I created a new category ‘CUNY Blogroll’ to organize all these blogs.

In order to make the Community Team Blogroll and CUNY Blogroll links appear on my blog, I added the ‘Links’ widget to my sidebar then selected ‘All Links’, ‘Show Link Name and ‘Show Link Description’. Lastly, I chose what position I wanted to links to appear in relation to my other active widgets and selected ‘Save Widget’.

While I have gone through many members’ profiles in order to add blogs to the CUNY Blogroll, (and get to know a little more about everyone) I’m sure there are many missing from the blogroll. If you would like to add your blog please feel free to message me the blog URL and I will gladly add it to the CUNY Blogroll.

PS– The other active widgets on the sidebar of my blog are ‘Subscriptions Options’ and ‘Tag Cloud (Simple Tags)’, which can be found under the ‘Plugins‘ on the left navigation bar of your dashboard (picture above). Interestingly enough I was able to sync my podcast feed URL with the green email icon under ‘Subscriptions Options’. Metablogging is fun.

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