Aug 16

Summer Series on Fall Teaching: Course Websites and Social Paper

Each Monday until the beginning of the school year, the HLBLL blog will feature a Summer Series on Fall Teaching (SSOFT), with brief writeups and links to resources in the CUNY world and beyond to help you prepare for the upcoming semester of teaching in CUNY.

This week, SSOFT features free website services–OpenCUNY and the CUNY Academic Commons–and the new Commons writing environment, Social Paper.

CUNY Academic Commons

Commons Logo

The CUNY Academic Commons hosts the HLBLL site and provides a social media and website platform for CUNY faculty, staff, and graduate students using the open-source content management system WordPress as its foundation. Read more about the Commons on its Wikipedia page.

Through the Commons, users can create sites for programs, groups/organizations, courses, or for individuals. All sites are free. Users can also create and join groups, both public and private, and connect with individual users of the site as friends.

The Commons can be used to create a course site that is much more dynamic, flexible, and attractive than other Learning Management Systems available, although without some built-in features customary to an LMS like Blackboard. The Commons currently has over 300 plugins available for users to expand the functionality of their site, with everything from an academic citations generator to a widget that displays a Twitter feed. Additionally, pages can be password protected so that they are only accessible by your students.

Follow the Commons on Twitter

Social Paper

Social Paper is a Commons feature that allows for sharing and giving/gathering feedback on writing. Created by PhD students Erin Glass (English) and Jennifer Stoops (Urban Education) with Professor Matt Gold, Social Paper was developed with the Commons team and funded in part by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Read all about Social Paper’s capabilities in this post by Sarah Morgano on the Commons News blog.

The one drawback to using Social Paper as a writing, sharing, and feedback resource for courses taught outside of the Graduate Center is the limitation of the available sharing settings. Papers can be kept private or privately shared via invitation with Commons users selected by the author. But as the Commons’s membership includes CUNY faculty, staff, and graduate students, the students in many CUNY courses are not eligible for accounts. Papers can also be completely public, which would allow non-Commons users to comment on them, but also would make them open to comment from anyone else.

Follow Social Paper on Twitter


OpenCUNY Logo

Predating the CUNY Academic Commons, OpenCUNY is a student-run, student-based, participatory digital medium which provides a free WordPress platform for websites created by the Graduate Center community. OpenCUNY is an affiliate of the Doctoral Students’ Council and is run by three student coordinators. An advisory board of four OpenCUNY student users is elected each spring by OpenCUNY participants.

OpenCUNY sites have been used for everything from personal and course sites to sites for student groups and PhD programs. Over 70 plugins are available for site customization, and pages and/or entire sites can be password protected. The OpenCUNY coordinators maintain an extensive archive of FAQs and tutorials created specifically with the Graduate Center student in mind; OpenCUNY.info assists their users in beginning and maintaining a site. The coordinators are also available for individual meetings with student users of OpenCUNY to assist them in getting started or refining their OpenCUNY sites.

Follow OpenCUNY on Twitter

Apr 16

Teach@CUNY Day is May 2nd! Space Still Available!

The Graduate Center’s Teaching and Learning Center invites the CUNY community to Teach@CUNY day, taking place May 2nd, 2016 from 9am-4pm on the Concourse Level of the Graduate Center.

The day-long event includes a keynote address from Dr. Stephen Brier (Urban Education), six different tracks of workshops, and conversations within disciplinary clusters. Lunch will be provided.

Registration (for all or part of the day) is open to all across CUNY. Please register here.

The workshop tracks include:

  • New to the Classroom
  • Technology in the Classroom
  • Working with the Library
  • Writing Across the Curriculum
  • Experiential Learning
  • Diversity in CUNY’s Classrooms

Read more about the entire day’s events here. And view the complete schedule for Teach@CUNY day here.

The Program Social Media Fellows will be live-tweeting Teach @ CUNY Day. Follow the conversation using the hashtag #tcuny and on the HLBLL Twitter account.

Feb 16

Funding: CUNY Humanities Teaching and Learning Alliance

In the fall of 2015, the Graduate Center was awarded a $3.15 million grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to support a new four-year initiative, The CUNY Humanities Teaching and Learning Alliance (HTLA). HTLA will place fellows from the Graduate Center in LaGuardia Community College classrooms, partnering with master faculty there.

And the really good news? Latin American literature and Spanish Composition courses do form a large part of the need to be filled by HTLA fellows!

More information about HTLA can be found here.

Two-year fellowships of $25,000 per year are available to nine Graduate Center students. Other eligibility notes:

  • Students must be entering years 2-5 of their graduate study during the 2016-2017 school year.
  • The fellowships are available to students in the social sciences and the humanities.
  • Students with DACA status are eligible to apply.

Read more fellowship requirements and apply! The deadline for applications is February 29, 2016. 

Any questions about the fellowships should be directed to the Teaching and Learning Center Forum on the Commons. You must be a member of the TLC Commons group to post a topic on the Forum.

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