Faculty Academy 2012

Dreaming of 100 Million Posts a Year: On Federating Open Ed at CUNY

Presenters: Luke Waltzer Mikhail Gershovich, Michael Branson Smith


Michael Branson Smith on the Question of Federation:
The CUNY Academic Commons supports faculty, staff, and graduate student collaboration across CUNY’s 24 campuses. The Commons allows faculty to host graduate courses, but undergraduates are not allowed. Presently there’s no easy way to host inter-campus coursework and student interaction.

If the goal is to create a federated system of linked WordPress installations, does it make sense to build outside of the institution first and then hope it will later become sponsored? Is that possible given the number of students and the resources it might need to support it?

Recently, the CUNY Academic Commons received a grant from the Sloan Foundation to build a ‘Commons-In-A-Box’ – an easily installable version of WP/BP with a tested set of tools and plugins included. The project plan includes a methodology to build relationships between BP/WP platforms allowing for ‘federations’ to form. If campuses adopt WP/BP platforms for their students, how could connections be made between courses? How might disciplinary and interdisciplinary interests accrue? How might it all work? Would we ever get each campus to host a WP/BP install? Could a hosting co-op that supported CUNY WP/BP installs based on the Commons-In-A-Box model be a viable solution?

Luke Waltzer on the Question of Curriculum:
What should making knowledge through open publishing with digital tools look like at different moments in a student’s career? What does a commitment to building “digital knowledge” mean for more traditional notions of “content,” “methodology,” and “specialization”? And what curricular possibilities emerge when you imagine federating publishing platforms at a place like CUNY?

Luke will discuss a range of assignments being done on Blogs@Baruch at different points in the curriculum and in different disciplines, and then share some thoughts about how they help us begin to answer those questions.      

Mikhail Gershovich on the Question of Management:
Curricular innovation often requires the navigation of complex institutional structures and, in the case of academic technology initiatives, negotiations with central IT, whose priorities don’t always coincide with those of faculty. In my talk, I will use the development of VOCAT and  Blogs@Baruch at Baruch College, CUNY as a case study in (sometimes strained) collaboration between academic departments and academic service units and central IT in enabling and supporting curricular innovation. I will argue that the culture of central IT units has a tremendous impact on the broader culture of an institution including on curricular development and support efforts and will offer a few lessons learned in close collaboration between units whose priorities and cultures are not often aligned. I will consider the implications of such collaborations for future efforts to federate publishing platforms across a large university system like CUNY.

Author: Martha Burtis

Special Projects Coordinator

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