Monthly Archives: April 2010

Announcement: Formation of Faculty Inquiry Group on Teaching Professional Writing

Faculty members interested in teaching different approaches to professional and workplace writing are invited to a meeting at the CUNY Graduate Center to establish a cross-disciplinary, cross-campus forum or “faculty inquiry group” focused on the unique challenges and opportunities of this effort.

DATE: Friday, April 23, 2010
TIME: 12-30 pm – 2:30 pm (Lunch will be served)
LOCATION: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
219 West 40th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
Room 301

While there is ample evidence that students struggle with writing academic papers, many of us are also keenly aware of the special demands posed by workplace writing. Being able to complete workplace or professional documents usually requires knowledge of specific narrative conventions, formatting rules, and reasoning sequences-often taken-for-granted in various fields. In order to enter this very competitive job market, our new graduates are expected to hit the ground running and be competent in these writing styles. Emerging work on pedagogies of professional writing is laying some of the groundwork for addressing this gap in academic and career preparation. We hope that by bringing together faculty from a range of professional and academic fields, we can create a collaborative forum for sharing teaching approaches and piloting and identifying best practices to help students master these critical skills.

This effort is being led by Bonnie Oglensky, Associate Professor in the Social Work Program at York College. She has collaborated with colleagues on an approach to psychosocial assessment writing in social work called “Writing in the Field.” If you have questions about the upcoming meeting and the creation of this forum Bonnie can be reached by phone, 718-262-2612, or email:

Posted in Analytical Skills, Communication Skills, Students' Skills and Abilities | Leave a comment

Creating and Integrating Videos in the Classroom

At Baruch College’s March 26 “13th annual Teaching and Technology Conference” I led a session with the same name as this blog post. I’d like to share the basis of that talk for those with interest.

Disclaimer: When it comes to digital video, I am not the fountain of all knowledge. There are people all over CUNY (and NYU) doing rather innovative things with video—some of whom I had the pleasure of meeting in my talk. That said, technological innovations have made it so easy to weave video into a lecture that the question is shifting from whether you should adopt video to how you should do so. All you need is a $150 digital camera with a movie mode, namely, any camera on the market.  Your iPhone works great too.

Background: In my subject (operations management, a discipline that combines management, economics, statistics and engineering) video can demonstrate complex ideas in large lectures that are difficult to get across in words.  There also seems to be a growing understanding that large lectures benefit from small breaks and changes in the routine, video being an important option (e.g., see the paper here).

For now, I’m not talking about creating instructional video tutorials, but something relatively simpler. The focus is three types of video.

  1. Bringing the real world inside the lecture hall. I always carry a compact digital camera around NYC and shoot video and stills whenever I see something relevant to class: an interesting inventory system in a Soho retail store, the queueing system at Whole Foods, the supply chain strategy posted on the windows of American Apparel, etc. Students always sit up and listen when one shares these videos.  (Hint: it’s always better to ask first, film second.)
  2. Debriefing. My students also learn through games and simulations. I’ve started filming with my iPhone or compact digital camera to capture the students and their game boards as a game progresses. Lots and lots of little movie clips. I’ve begun interviewing during the games—like reality TV—to ask about the situations and choices students are making (one has to be careful to do so without distracting from their play). These efforts have added a level of richness and engagement to the post-game debriefing that I never anticipated.  (Hint: students seem a little less intimidated by an iPhone than a proper camera.)
  3. Improving presentation skills. I now film my students while they give project presentations. For their personal development, they view their presentation videos and give me a critique/reaction of what they saw. The  “iTunes U” is a good place to host such video, but more on this shortly.

Software: Regardless of shooting video clips and stills outside or inside the classroom, my favorite way to present these to a class is by uploading all the content to iPhoto and then dragging and dropping into Apple’s equivalent to PowerPoint called Keynote. Each still image gets its own slide, as does each video clip. It creates the modern equivalent of a slide show, except the slides that contain video play as movies. I prepare this on my Apple MacBook Pro notebook computer, close the computer, carry it to the classroom, open, plug into the overhead projector, and voilà… it’s that easy. (PC users: you can drag and drop stills and video into PowerPoint too.)

Sometimes I shoot a number of short videos that I want to stitch together to create a single video. In this case, Apple’s iMovie (part of the iLife software suite) is a good tool for the job. It’s relatively easy to use, and costs less than $100. PC users can do the same with Movie Maker, included free with Windows XP, Vista and 7.

What if you want students (or the world) to access the videos via the WWW? To restrict access only to students, the best option I’ve seen so far is “iTunes U,” which interfaces through Blackboard, and under the right settings, creates a place for your videos that only Blackboard course users can access (all users will need the free iTunes download). Contact Kevin Wolff in BCTC for details.  I like this option for student presentations. The students can see and critique their presentations in the safety of knowing that the rest of the world will not.

Public sharing options include Vimeo, Blip.TV, Flickr, YouTube, but you’ll need to be careful about obtaining consent of people pictured in your videos before posting to the web. Finally, if appropriate, consider BCTC’s video hosting options.

So… what are you doing with video?


Special thanks to Prof. Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Queensborough Community College for motivating this post, and to the folks in Baruch College Technology Center (BCTC) for the generous grant that allowed this.

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