Event: Acknowledging Neurodiversity and Removing Barriers for Autistic College Students (ACS)

Universal Design for Learning
Acknowledging
Neurodiversity and Removing
Barriers for Autistic College
Students (ACS)

JUNE 15, 2022
12:00-1:00 PM

Project Reach
Kartika Kumari, Gloria Livai, and
Sally Izquierdo

Register here: https://forms.office.com/r/erfdvUU05N  

On Behalf of the Queens College Center for Teaching and Learning & Queens College Project Reach (QCPR) 

Please join us as we embark on another journey of our continuing discussion revolving around Universal Design Learning. 

Over the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the number of Autistic College students (ACS) enrolling in postsecondary education. However, there are distinct challenges faced by ACS and neurodivergent students in their path to graduation. We will discuss learner variability and some of the difficulties that may be experienced by students and instructors. We will also describe how both knowledge of neurodiversity and use of principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) may create a supportive, inclusive learning environment for all students, which may improve student outcomes. 

This event will be virtual (via Zoom) from 12 noon to 1:00 pm on June 15th, 2022. Register for the session here: https://forms.office.com/r/erfdvUU05N  

For event and presenter information visit https://pokudl.commons.gc.cuny.edu/acknowledging-neurodiversity/ If you have any questions, please reach out to CTLOnline@qc.cuny.edu

EcoFest 2022 – TODAY!

New York City College of Technology presents EcoFest 2022 Conference: IT'S TIME TO TAKE ACTION! CRISIS
April 28, 2022
8 AM - 5 PM
Register Here [QR code linked to Zoom registration link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN__ed4gDXVRF6G732_oHKFEw]

The OpenLab is a great place to host a website for an event, taking advantage of its openness to make it available to members of your group both inside and outside of City Tech and the public in general.

Today’s EcoFest 2022 Conference is a great example of this. You’ve probably seen the EcoFest site pop up in the Projects section of the OpenLab. If you want to learn more, attend their conference today! Please also share with students, colleagues, and friends!

Here’s what the conference organizers shared to welcome everyone to the EcoFest conference today:

Greetings City Tech community,

EcoFest has been the College’s Earth Day-centered event for the past 7 years. It is an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to celebrate environmental successes and educate each other concerning the huge challenges we face.

The theme of this year’s EcoFest Conference is Crisis: It’s Time to Take Action. The event will have a hybrid format: there will be live panels and presentations in the Academic Building lobby and theater, and it will be shared synchronously as a Zoom webinar. Last year’s conference had 140 viewers and more than 50 participants. We are planning on even more viewers for EcoFest 2022. The conference schedule is designed so the panels coincide with the times college courses are taking place. Faculty are encouraged to bring their classes. Join us in person in the New Academic Complex Theater or, if you cannot attend live, join via Zoom webinar (registration required). See the full schedule or download the full schedule.

We look forward to seeing you on the 28th!

Thank you,
City Tech Campus Sustainability Council

Open Pedagogy Recap: Ungrading Pt. 2

On Thursday 1 April 2022, the OpenLab Community Team hosted three emerging scholars exploring abolitionist pedagogies, resisting increased institutional surveillance of students, and ungrading strategies. Co-authors Marianne Madoré, Andréa Stella, and Anna Zeemont shared their experiences with pedagogical practices and activism. We were excited to welcome faculty from City Tech and Baruch to this workshop, the second in a series on Ungrading.

Dr. Zeemont wanted to discuss the process of putting together a collaborative article including NTT and precarious academic workers alongside students for the article, while Adjunct Assistant Professor Stella discussed the importance of including citations in her own course syllabi, both to help explain ungrading policies to students, but also to stave off any potential conflicts with administration. Including citations provides scholarly context for ungrading and demonstrates that an instructor practicing different forms of ungrading is not a rogue agent, but rather part of a larger movement towards equity and anti-racism in higher education. 

PhD student MadorĂ© shared more important historical information about activist group Free CUNY and the 2020 As for All manifesto co-authored by members of the CUNY community working towards liberationist pedagogy and antiracist education.  

Zeemont closed the co-authors’ discussion by reminding attendees that ungrading is not reserved for expensive private colleges, and that incorporating understanding of students’ material conditions is necessary for liberatory pedagogy. 

One of our discussion questions for this event asked participants to consider the connection between ungrading and open digital pedagogy, which is really the focal point of all the OpenLab Open Pedagogy events we plan each semester. While we did not come away with easy answers, we were better able to understand how material inequalities impact our students. Unstable wireless, shared and out-of-date devices, and other technological deficits impact student access to their online courses, while unstable housing, surging inflation, and exploitative working conditions all impact our students’ ability to focus on their studies, and also impact precarious academic workers such as adjunct classroom instructors, non-teaching adjuncts, and college assistants. 

In short, expecting learning to take place seamlessly because we have an engaging and flexible platform like the OpenLab does not impact the material conditions that may block student access to the site, and open digital pedagogy cannot be framed as a utopian cure-all. Instead, we learned to focus on student-centered learning, which requires really listening to students’ needs and concerns.

Today! Open Pedagogy: Ungrading, Pt 2

Reminder: You’re invited to join the OpenLab team for an Open Pedagogy event TODAY!

Looking forward to seeing you there. Here are the details:

  • Topic: Open Pedagogy: Ungrading Pt. 2
    Date: Mar 31, 2022
  • Time: 4:00-5:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Register and join via Zoom

Last semester, we met to discuss ungrading! This is part two of a series of Open Pedagogy workshops the OpenLab Community Team is developing to address inequity in assessment and anti-racist pedagogies. For this event, we’ll be joined by co-authors of a recent article from the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy titled “Resisting Surveillance, Practicing/Imagining the End of Grading” to hear about practical strategies for implementing ungrading into classroom settings. 

From the co-authors:

Our article suggests that grading systems in higher education settings are part of a larger network of surveillance technologies that students and faculty are subjected to and/or enact, reflective of schooling’s place in a “carceral continuum” (Shedd) premised on anti-Blackness and colonialism. We do not believe that grading is something that can be made more fair, just, or anti-racist. To resist surveillance in higher education is to embrace the end of grading. After an overview of these contexts and assertions, we offer a series of reflections, tracing juxtaposing moments where we individually or collectively taught, learned, and/or organized outside/against grading systems.

Questions for discussion:

  • Traditional models of education treat instructor and student as adversarial. Instructors often replicate harmful authoritarian structures by embracing institutional surveillance practices and assumptions, including that students are cheating and must be observed at all times, adopting the role of disciplinarian by reporting student misbehavior to the institution. How do we shift this culture of authoritarianism so common in educators?
  • Last time we talked about different motivations for learning; what new perspectives do we have on this from discussing ungrading with these scholars?How can we adjust our focus to the intrinsic versus extrinsic values of teaching and learning? 
  • Why are we talking about ungrading as the OpenLab team? What does this have to do with open digital pedagogy?

Readings:

Resisting Surveillance, Practicing/Imagining the End of Grading by Marianne Madoré, Anna Zeemont, Joaly Burgos, Jane Guskin, Hailey Lam, and Andréa Stella

Open Pedagogy: Ungrading, Pt. 2

You’re invited to join the OpenLab team for an Open Pedagogy event

  • Topic: Open Pedagogy: Ungrading Pt. 2
    Date: Mar 31, 2022
  • Time: 4:00-5:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
  • Register and join via Zoom

Last semester, we met to discuss ungrading! This is part two of a series of Open Pedagogy workshops the OpenLab Community Team is developing to address inequity in assessment and anti-racist pedagogies. For this event, we’ll be joined by co-authors of a recent article from the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy titled “Resisting Surveillance, Practicing/Imagining the End of Grading” to hear about practical strategies for implementing ungrading into classroom settings. 

From the co-authors:

Our article suggests that grading systems in higher education settings are part of a larger network of surveillance technologies that students and faculty are subjected to and/or enact, reflective of schooling’s place in a “carceral continuum” (Shedd) premised on anti-Blackness and colonialism. We do not believe that grading is something that can be made more fair, just, or anti-racist. To resist surveillance in higher education is to embrace the end of grading. After an overview of these contexts and assertions, we offer a series of reflections, tracing juxtaposing moments where we individually or collectively taught, learned, and/or organized outside/against grading systems.

Questions for discussion:

  • Traditional models of education treat instructor and student as adversarial. Instructors often replicate harmful authoritarian structures by embracing institutional surveillance practices and assumptions, including that students are cheating and must be observed at all times, adopting the role of disciplinarian by reporting student misbehavior to the institution. How do we shift this culture of authoritarianism so common in educators?
  • Last time we talked about different motivations for learning; what new perspectives do we have on this from discussing ungrading with these scholars?How can we adjust our focus to the intrinsic versus extrinsic values of teaching and learning? 
  • Why are we talking about ungrading as the OpenLab team? What does this have to do with open digital pedagogy?

Readings:

Resisting Surveillance, Practicing/Imagining the End of Grading by Marianne Madoré, Anna Zeemont, Joaly Burgos, Jane Guskin, Hailey Lam, and Andréa Stella

Ungrading, Part 2

Circular oculus with patterned glass and surround from the Fulton Center Subway Station
Fulton Center Subway Station Oculus” by John Cunniff via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Announcing this semester’s Open Pedagogy event, a new installment of the Ungrading conversation we began last semester! More details coming soon…

Topic: Ungrading, Part 2

Date: March 31, 2022

Time: 4:00-5:00pm

Where: Zoom (link in the soon-to-come details)

For whom: Open to anyone interested in rethinking grading!

Open Pedagogy Event (11/11): Ungrading

Ungrading

Thursday, November 11, 2021, 4:00-5:30pm (Zoom)

OpenLab at City Tech is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Open Pedagogy: Ungrading
Time: Nov 11, 2021 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

*Please RSVP by commenting on this post. Please share this invitation with your colleagues!

As higher education continues to demand rigor and productivity from its workers and students, we’re concerned with the damage of institutional policies that ignore the material realities of many in the CUNY community. The harm of the classroom is compounded by ongoing investment in a “back-to-normal” paradigm without providing any material support to ease the burdens of grief, poverty, illness, and endless demands for productivity. There are no easy answers, especially as individuals working inside institutions over which we have little control. 

Ungrading and its accompanying strategies offer one way to mitigate harm. Ungrading is essentially student-centered and student-led, demanding that we engage critically with the power dynamics of the classroom. By incorporating grading policies that center students’ goals, hold space for critical self-reflection, and value the process of learning over a product, we can practice equity in our evaluation criteria, even if our institutional contexts strip agency and justice at every opportunity.

In this event we will consider the following questions:

Questions

  1. Borrowed from Kathleen Alves: Why do teachers grade? How does it feel to be graded? What do you want grading to do for you? Consider as a student and as an instructor.
  2. Grading rewards performance of knowledge over the process of developing knowledge. What strategies can we use to redirect the focus?
  3. Grades often reward students who have educational, class, racial/ethnic, and language privilege and penalize students without these resources. How do we as faculty challenge our own racist, ableist beliefs about how students *should* behave and perform?

Recommended Readings:

Goldberg, Jesse, Jane Guskin, Vani Kannan, Marianne MadorĂ©, Conor Tomás Reed, and Dhipinder Walia. “A for All (Yes, All!): Transforming Grading during COVID-19.” Medium, 3 May 2020.

Inoue, Asao. “PROBLEMATIZING  GRADING AND THE WHITE HABITUS OF THE WRITING  CLASSROOM.” Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom, 2019.

Kryger, Kathleen and Griffin X. Zimmerman. Neurodivergence and Intersectionality in Labor-Based Grading Contracts. The Journal of Writing Assessment 13.2 2020.

Stommel, Jesse. Ungrading: An FAQ. 6 Feb 2020.

Photo “Abstract Backgrounds” by NichoDesign CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr

Flexible Pedagogy at Bronx EdTech 2021

On May 7, I presented on “Choose Your Own Grading Schema: An Online Learning Experiment” at the 2021 Bronx EdTech Showcase. Keynote speakers at the showcase included Mariana Regalado (Brooklyn College), Maura Smale (City Tech), and Matt Gold (Graduate Center).

You can download my slides with the link below or by clicking on the image of the title slide.

Alt text is in the caption
The title slide of a Powerpoint presentation. Text reads “Choose Your Own Grading Schema: An Online Learning Experiment” Olivia Wood, PhD Candidate in English, CUNY Graduate Center, Graduate Teaching Fellow, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Digital Pedagogy Fellow, City Tech OpenLab

Last semester, after teaching mostly asynchronously with no penalties or cutoffs for late work, the responses I received in students’ end-of-semester reflections were mixed. About half said they were incredibly grateful for the flexibility my class structure offered. The other half said they wished I’d required attendance at the optional Zoom sessions and held them to their deadlines under pain of grade penalty. They recognized that while ideally they would be self-motivated to participate as much as possible, external pressure would have been helpful.

In my presentation, I shared how I revised my syllabus for Spring 2021 to account for both strands of feedback, and how students have responded.

At the beginning of the semester, students chose via Google Form which grading plan they wanted: Structure and Accountability, or Maximum Flexibility. Students on the Structure and Accountability plan were required to attend the weekly Zoom sessions and complete all assignments on the syllabus. Students on the Maximum Flexibility plan were not required to attend Zooms and were only required to complete select assignments marked in bold on the syllabus– unit projects, unit reflections, and a few other smaller tasks– but were still welcome and encouraged to attend class and complete other activities. After each unit, students were given the opportunity to switch grading plans if they wish, after reading an overview of the exact assignment and points breakdown for each plan on the coming unit.

Students responded very positively to this method. About one third chose the Structure and Accountability plan for the first two units, and most students chose the Maximum Flexibility plan for the third unit. Additionally, several students on the flexibility plan also regularly chose to attend the synchronous classes and participate in ungraded activities.

This new system does not appear to have affected the distribution of final grades compared to the Fall 2020 semester, nor was there a clear correlation between the grading plans a student chose for each unit and that student’s success in the course; I have several students making As who chose Structure and Accountability two or more times, but I also have several students making As who chose Maximum Flexibility for all three units.

While the numerical outcomes do not seem to have changed significantly under this new grading system, the students have almost unanimously reported feeling less stressed about the class, feeling trusted and understood, and feeling empowered to make the choices that are best for their own individual lives and situations.

I’m also extremely happy to report that for the first time in my three years of teaching, I don’t have a single student who has withdrawn or “disappeared.” Every student who stopped participating in the course in the middle of the semester has since returned and is turning in work again. While one might assume that no late work penalties will lead to most students leaving the bulk of their work to the last minute (and this is true of a few), most of my students have been turning in their assignments only a few days past the recommended deadlines, and several routinely turn in their assignments early.

After each unit, I asked students to respond to a series of reflection questions, including “What did you do during this unit that helped make you successful?” and “What additional resources/supports do you wish you had had during this unit?” Just as I give them feedback on their writing and ask them to revise, I also asked them for their feedback on my course design that I could use when revising for future semesters.

All but one of my students said that they think I should continue this “multiple-path” grading system in future semesters and wish other professors would do the same. (The other student said they didn’t like the stress of having to choose how they would be graded.)

Take a look through my slides for quotes from my students’ reflections, and if you choose to adapt my system for your own classes, please tell me about it in the comments!

The OpenLab at CUNY IT 2020

Last week, the OpenLab team presented a panel at the 19th Annual CUNY IT Conference. The theme of the conference was “The Next or New Normal?” and in our panel, we discussed some of the initiatives we’ve started since last spring to support City Tech’s faculty, staff, and students during remote learning.

These initiatives include:

  • A new course template designed for remote learning
  • Model courses and/or course hubs for classes in Communication Design, First Year Writing, and Mathematics
  • Self-paced OpenLab training modules for both faculty and students
  • Short OpenLab skills screencasts
  • Setting up a system for online real-time support (office hours and 1:1 appointments with the digital pedagogy fellows)

Check out our slides below!

Click on the image to view our slideshow!

Many members of our team participated in the panel, including OpenLab Co-Directors Jody R. Rosen, M. Genevieve Hitchings, Charlie Edwards, and Jonas Reitz, Senior Instructional Technologist Bree Zuckerman, and Digital Pedagogy Fellow Olivia Wood.

CUNY CUE Conference & OER Showcase

On October 29-30, teachers and researchers from around CUNY came together online for the annual Coordinated Undergraduate Education Conference, this year coupled with the annual Open Educational Resources Showcase. Keynotes from Dr. Robin DeRosa and Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani highlighted issues of equity, access, and open pedagogy for staff and faculty working with OERs at CUNY, and participants shared many resources and ideas between campuses and projects.

The OpenLab team presented on two panels to highlight our ongoing work around access and accessibility in open digital pedagogy. The first panel focused on reflecting on our Open Pedagogy discussion series on the many aspects of access and accessibility in open digital pedagogy from 2019-2020, and Digital Pedagogy Fellow Olivia Wood wrote a great recap of this panel.

The slides for this panel are linked below!

Title slide of Access, OER, and Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab presentation
Click image to view slideshow


The second panel, facilitated by Cailean Cooney, OER Coordinator at City Tech, and Elvis Bakaitis, Adjunct Reference Librarian, highlighted discussion between former OER faculty fellows Prof. Colleen Birchett (English) and Prof. Christopher Swift (Humanities), who shared their work developed during and since their OER Fellowship, and OpenLab Digital Pedagogy Fellow Jesse Rice-Evans (me!) who talked about access and OERs beyond zero-textbook-cost courses.

Prof. Birchett shared her OER site from her summer 2019 course “Home Away from Home: Stories from the Diaspora,” an ENGL 2001: Introduction to Literature (Fiction) course, and discussed how she incorporated OER materials and open pedagogy into her course

Prof. Swift discussed his OER site, THE 2280, “History of Theatre,” which uses mapping software and place-based pedagogies to explore the role of New York City theaters with students through the NYC Theater Research Project. He brought up some of the difficulties of place-based learning during distance learning.

I felt it was important to contextualize the choices that faculty and staff make in creating and using OERs to address some issues of inequity in higher education. To address this, I shared selections from my piece “Open Access Pedagogy: A Manifesto,” which is published in full on the Anti-Ableist Composition Collective site.

I pose a politicization of open access that centers the lived experiences of people doing the teaching and learning. The scholars I am centering here (see bibliography) are speaking to a widespread practice of centering access pedagogy—pedagogy that is culturally responsive, flexible, and reimagines “rigor” as intellectual curiosity, critical rhetorical skill-building, and an embrace of non-normative English.

All participants highlighted how OERs and open pedagogy have influenced their teaching, learning, and research. View the slides below!

Title slide from presentation on Open Pedagogy and OERs in the Classroom at City Tech
Click image to view slideshow