CUNY Syllabus Project featured in a CUNYDHI Lighting Talk!

The CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative will hold its second annual “CUNY DHI: Building a Digital Humanities Community at the City University of New York” on Monday, November 7th. The event features a series of lightning talks on digital projects from across the CUNY campuses and presentations from graduate student winners of Provost’s Digital Innovation Grants.

The CUNY Syllabus Project will be featured as a lightning talk: a short presentation that highlights the mission and progress of the project. Please check out the event!

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PDF: cuny-dhi-program-2016

The CUNY Syllabus Project Wins A Second Provost’s Digital Innovation Grant!

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-9-06-58-pmMy most recent digital project, The CUNY Syllabus Project, has been awarded a second Provost’s Digital Innovation Grant for the 2016-2017 Academic year!

The CUNY Syllabus Project’s purpose is to collect, archive, and visualize syllabi from courses taught in the CUNY system in order to surface patterns within and across disciplines, creating a robust resource for use by novice and master educators alike. During this second grant cycle, we intend to greatly increase the size and breadth of our database beyond the proof-of-concept phase. 

Keep an eye out for project updates on our blog, especially as we plan to post our first round of data visualizations later this year!

The CUNY Syllabus Project Officially Launches!

For the past year I’ve been working with Andy McKinney (a former colleague) to launch a collaborative repository of syllabi at CUNY called the CUNY Syllabus Project. Our hope is that the CUNY Syllabus Project serves as the foundation for a CUNY-wide community of educators who are interested in broadening and diversifying the content in their syllabi by analyzing what has been taught in the past.

We’ve just launched the site today and are hoping to build our database so that we can begin the next phase of our project. Our press release is included below. Please visit the site and submit a syllabus!

Introducing: The CUNY Syllabus Project!

We are excited to introduce a new collaborative database for the CUNY pedagogical community aimed at exploring the learning pathways that educators at the CUNY campuses create through their syllabiThe CUNY Syllabus Project plans to collect, analyze, and visualize syllabi across campuses, disciplines, and departments at CUNY.

We’re focusing on CUNY because we believe that, as the largest public urban university system in the country, CUNY is both unique and vast enough to warrant asyllabus analysis project of its own that is specific to its situation. As of 2014, CUNY’s total enrollment (both part time and full time students) was nearly 250,000 students, over 70% of which were students of color. Teaching those students are 18,573 full and part-time faculty. Understanding the depth and breadth of what’s happening at CUNY is a worthwhile task.
We also think that inviting submissions from CUNY educators – rather than scraping the web for syllabi – will lay the groundwork for a robust community of educators that have an interest in analyzing CUNY’s pedagogical history and building upon its pedagogical future.

A database allowing members to upload and search syllabi by topic, text or author would enable teachers in the CUNY system and beyond to build on one another’s work while reflecting upon pedagogical trends within and across disciplines. It would also create a lasting archive of CUNY instructional materials and ​an institutional history of teaching and learning at the university.

To build our database, we need your help! 

We invite contributions of syllabi from courses taught throughout CUNY from any department or discipline, any course level or topic, at any time in CUNY’s history. The more submissions we receive the more dynamic our database will become, and the more significant and meaningful data we will be able to share with the CUNY community. The goal of the CUNYSyllabus Project is to empower teachers to be able to be more creative and innovative with their pathway building. Please contribute for a chance to make a lasting impression on the pedagogical future of CUNY!

Accessible Future: New JITP Website and Reflections on Accessibility Design

I have just completed a redesign of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy website, and had some thoughts to share about the process of making an accessible website. You can visit the newly designed website here: The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy.

Crosspost from the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy website:

Greetings, and welcome to the new Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy website! We are excited to unveil a new website design that is clean, responsive, easier to navigate, and easier to read. We have incorporated several new features to make our website accessible to more readers, including skip links and an accessibility toolbar that gives readers the option to adjust the font size and toggle the contrast. Please have a look around – and enjoy!

Designing for Accessibility

Although our newly designed website has more accessibility features, it is not as accessible as we would like it to be – yet. Prior to designing this website, I had not had any experience designing for accessibility, and I wasn’t really aware of how different the design principles were. I was excited to take on such an exciting and important project, but I was a little unsure about where to begin. There seem to be many approaches to making a website accessible, and as a result, different degrees of accessibility. For instance, some resources suggest that the inclusion of alt tags and text descriptions on all media is one of the most important steps toward creating an accessible website, while others suggest that ease of operability (easy to understand navigation choices, site maps, alternatives to keyboard and mouse navigation) and alternative presentations of content (visual adjustment options of text size, contrast, color, and alternative media formats) are paramount. So, it was difficult to find a starting place for implementing the changes I wanted to make to the site.

After researching accessibility plugins for WordPress themes, I decided to focus on alternative displays and presentation of site content. The JITP website already featured alt tags on the majority of its content, so I thought that the best way to immediately improve and expand our site’s accessibility was to incorporate alternative visual and screen-reading features.

Using the plugin WP-Accessibility, I was able to include an accessibility toolbar to enhance the browsing experience of the site. This toolbar enables readers to adjust the color scheme, the font size, and the contrast of the website. Another feature that I was able to add with WP-Accessibility is skip linksfor screen readers. Skip links enable screen readers to immediately jump down to an anchor that displays the main content of the page instead of requiring the user to manually move through every link and navigation option. The process for making the skip links was not obvious, and I’m sure that I will need to revise the anchors that I specified. Still, I thought that adding these features was a step in the right direction for our site, and a foundation for making our site as accessible as possible.

Over the next few weeks, I will work to expand the accessibility of our site even further, ensuring a better experience for a variety of readers. I plan to verify that all site elements have alt tags, and to comb through these alt tags to make sure that they are as descriptive and relevant to their respective media as possible. I also plan to verify that all of our images, videos, and other interactive media have appropriate captions and, if possible, provide transcripts for video and audio files. Lastly, I will verify that all of our form elements are properly labeled and avoid redirecting or interrupting users in the face of submission errors.

We will provide updates as the site is continuously improved, and we look forward to having as close to a fully accessible site as possible in the very near future.

 

The CUNY Syllabus Project – Soft Launch

For the past few months, I have been collaborating with some of the Digital Fellows to create a new resource for professors, adjuncts, and teaching assistants called The CUNY Syllabus Project.

The CUNY Syllabus Project will create a robust resource that provides ways to search, compare, and visualize syllabi across institutions, disciplines, and departments. It will host an evolving database of syllabi contributed by graduate students, faculty, and adjuncts. These syllabi will cover a variety of disciplines, course levels, and topics, providing a rich foundation for analysis and comparison. Data fields within each syllabus, such as the titles and authors of assigned readings, will assist in future course planning and curricula research within and across disciplines. Read more…

I am happy to report that Andrew G. McKinney and I were awarded a Doctoral Students’ Council Knowledge Grant to build the CUNY Syllabus Project website and begin our data collection! The site has just soft-launched, and we hope to begin receiving syllabi soon. Please visit The CUNY Syllabus Project website and submit a syllabus!

 

The Digital GC: Year-End Showcase

On May 19th I will be presenting the work I have done as a Digital Fellow to faculty, students, and staff of the CUNY Graduate Center, including the University President and Provost. A Livestream of this event can be found here: videostreaming.gc.cuny.edu

The Digital GC: Year-End Showcase

Please join the Digital Fellows on May 19th 2015 for a special event at the Graduate Center showcasing the innovative and diverse digital projects initiated during the 2014-2015 academic year! Presentations will be given by: the Digital Praxis Seminar, the GC Digital Fellows, Provost’s Digital Innovation Grantees, the New Media Lab, the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program, the Futures Initiative, and the GC Library.

Event Details:


The Digital GC: Year-End Showcase

Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 4:15 pm
The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue between 34th and 35th Street
Room 9205

Livestream: videostreaming.gc.cuny.edu

 

UPDATE: Here is the Digital Fellows presentation!

The full video can be found here: http://videostreaming.gc.cuny.edu/videos/video/3537

What’s In It For Me?

Cross-post from the Digital Fellow’s blog:

Just over a year ago, I set out to create a wiki for philosophers – an online, collaborative resource that would help graduate teaching fellows and adjuncts create lesson plans around topics they have never taught before.  I named the wiki Enlightened Educators, and hoped it would be a space for educators with varying levels of experience to come together and offer each other suggestions for overcoming many of the obstacles that we all face when trying to determine the most effective ways to teach our students.  The process of getting my wiki up and running was pretty challenging; I encountered numerous logistical and technical problems that were, at times, extremely discouraging and made me want to abandon the entire project.  Yet, despite the developmental hurdles, the problem I encountered that left me the most dispirited involved the way that some of my fellow colleagues wanted to use the wiki: as a way to get credit for creating certain lesson plans.

My goal for Enlightened Educators is for it to be a collaborative database that contains creative approaches for teaching specific topics to students.  When I invited other students in my department to contribute to the wiki, I had gone to great lengths to explain why the collaborative nature of the wiki was essential to its success.  The structure of a wiki precludes giving formal credit for contributions; instead, it encourages users to engage with one another over the best way to represent a certain topic or idea irrespective of a particular viewpoint.  I want Enlightened Educators to offer some of the best strategies for teaching specific lessons to students, and I believe that a collaborative approach to lesson planning will yield these strategies.  Unfortunately, this kind of approach is in tension with how graduate students are taught to compose and present research (and, consequently, the way we teach): a focus on credit, praise, recognition, etc., leaves many of us weary of collaboration.

A few of my fellow colleagues seemed very interested in contributing to the wiki, mentioning that they had crafted some excellent exercises for specific topics.  Yet, they also inquired about what kind of credit they would receive if others used their exercises.  Granted, we are all at the beginnings of our careers and receiving credit for our projects and endeavors is an important part of establishing ourselves as scholars.  Even still, I was really taken back by how pervasive this need for recognition can be, and perplexed about how we can try and move beyond it.

Academia is becoming increasingly more collaborative – especially with the recent surge in digital humanities partnerships – and this is a good thing.  Collaboration doesn’t preclude the assignment of credit for work done.  Rather, it has the potential to increase the profile of the projects that we work on and the potential to improve how we begin and sustain our own scholarly pursuits.  We stand to gain much more when we collaborate with others – not only because of the potential significance that collaborative projects may achieve, but also because of how our own interests and approaches are shaped and reshaped by our interactions with others, and this substantially affects our growth as scholars.