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A Faculty Commons Quarterly Volume 9

Winter 2018


Volume 9 | Winter 2018


N EW YOR K CIT Y COLLEGE OF T ECH NOLOG Y of the City University of New York

Faculty Commons

Russell K. Hotzler President

A Center for Teaching, Learning, Scholarship and Service

Bonne August Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Miguel Cairol Vice President for Administration and Finance Marcela Katz Armoza Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Gilen Chan Special Counsel/Legal Affairs Designee

Julia Jordan, Director Arianna Bollers, College Assistant Philip Zeng, College Assistant Assessment and Institutional Research Tammie Cumming, Director Yimi Zhao, Assistant Director Isana Leshchinskaya, Research Associate Stephanie Haughton, RF Technician Johnathan Liu, Research Associate

Stephen M. Soiffer Special Assistant to the President/ Institutional Advancement

Office of Sponsored Programs Barbara Burke, Director Patty Barba Gorkhover, Associate Director Eleanor Bergonzo, Assistant Director

Pamela Brown Associate Provost

Grants Outreach Coordinators 2017-2018 Professor Geoff Zylstra

Justin Vazquez-Poritz Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

US Department of Education Title V Opening Gateways Charlie Edwards, Co-Director

Kevin Hom Dean, School of Technology and Design

Design Team Professor Anita Giraldo, Artistic Director Kevin Rajaram, Web Master Julie Bradford, William Luperena Erin Mayoyo, Marlon Palmer Ashley Valera, Lu Xue, Designers

David Smith Dean, School of Professional Studies Carol Sonnenblick Dean, Division of Continuing Education

Curator Professor Sandra Cheng

Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC) Lubie Alatriste Daniel Alter Esteban Beita Nadia Benakli Marianna Bonanome Karen Bonsignore Juanita But


Candido Cabo Gwen Cohen-Brown Susan Davide Rebecca Devers Lynda Dias Mary Sue Donsky Aida Egues


Boris Gelman Pa Her Louise Hoffman Paul King Darya Krym Janet Liou-Mark Karen Lundstrem

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Zory Marantz John McCullough Djafar Mynbaev Tony Nicolas Susan Phillip Marcia Powell Estela Rojas

Rebecca Shapiro Kimberly Strickler Ryoya Terao Shauna Vey

Pamela Brown, Chair


Winter 2018

It’s Not About Counting


Mid-Career Faculty Publication Program


Academic Works


Opening Gateways


A Cultural History of Digital Technology


Bonne August

Pamela Brown

Monica Berger

Marianna Bonanome, Charlie Edwards, Laura Ghezzi Ariane Masuda, Andrew Parker, Jonas Reitz

Sandra Cheng, Anne Leonhardt Satyanand Singh, Peter Spellane


“Purpose of Plunder” Jennifer Sears

“I cannot wait to start next semester teaching MAT 1275 and using some of the strategies and resources that we all shared.” Opening Gateways Faculty Fellow


The Internet (2003)

Cover by Barrett Lyon / The Opte Project

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

E d itor s, Ba rba ra Bu rk e and Ju li a Jo rd an | D e s i g ne r, Ma rlon Palm e r | P r i nt i n g , D ig ital Im ag ing C e nte r at C it y Te ch NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

Volume 9 | Winter 2018


It’s Not About Counting: Bonne August approach ineffability. The same is true for assessing faculty work.


ifteen or twenty years ago, when we at CUNY were just beginning to grapple with the idea of formal assessment, I was part of a team of colleagues that attended a national conference on the subject. The experience was extremely helpful in clarifying what formal assessment was and was not and how it might help achieve some of the goals that were important to us as teachers. Coming from the humanities, however, I remained keenly aware of goals I had for my students that were not quantifiable, or not meaningfully so. Therefore, I appreciated one of the strands in the conference program: “Assessing the Ineffable.” How do we/ can we really know whether, as a result of our teaching, our students respond differently to a work of art, if they are more aware of the concerns of others, more tolerant of different perspectives, better able to discern fact from misinformation, more curious? We can have students write or speak about their experiences and how they perceive their own growth, but can we quantify it usefully or meaningfully? I have found assessment, especially classroom-based assessment, very useful in improving my own teaching and in strengthening programs, but I continue to rely on qualitative methods to probe factors that



This issue of Nucleus, as always, showcases many facets of faculty work in scholarship, teaching, and service, fields of engagement often challenging enough to assess with blunt quantitative instruments and methods. It also highlights the faculty’s contributions toward creating a vibrant intellectual climate at City Tech, in this case through a cross-disciplinary NEH seminar on the humanities and technology. A beautifully rendered piece of fiction by Professor Jennifer Sears, recent recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, closes the issue. Here, as in the institution at large, the work of the faculty is varied and multifold. No two professors have exactly the same portfolio or percentages of effort.

“Most of us who have experienced the tenure track and promotion process as candidates know something about radical uncertainty…” Sometimes faculty members ask, “Can’t you tell us how many [articles, committees, conferences] we need for reappointment or promotion.” “Can’t we have a point system so we know exactly where we stand?” The desire for confirmation is understandable.

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Most of us who have experienced the tenure track and promotion process as candidates know something about radical uncertainty: unsure about how to evaluate our own work, we are even more uncertain about how others will value it. On the other hand, faculty charged with evaluating the work of their colleagues in light of a single university standard are struck by the variations in the ways faculty work is represented, not only across disciplines but among individuals in the same or related disciplines, not only in scholarly, professional, or creative work, but in teaching and service, and not only in adequate but in superior work. For good reason, the university guidelines enjoin evaluators that “Works should be evaluated as well as listed” (“CUNY Office of Human Resources Management Cope of Practice Regarding Instructional Staff Titles: Title Descriptions and Minimum Qualifications”). We ask candidates for personnel actions, therefore, to provide evidence that can enable others to understand their work and its contribution. For teaching, this includes the perspectives of peers and students as well as the faculty member. We might ask, if a brilliant lecture was observed but there is no evidence that the students learned, is this excellent teaching? Or, conversely, if the lesson was unconventional, but we have clear evidence that students learned and were engaged by the design and delivery of the instruction, how should that be evaluated? It is worth noting, as well, that the role of the professor and the constraints imposed vary greatly among, for example, a dental hygiene clinic, an architecture studio, a history lecture, and an English Composition class. For scholarship and creative work, the guidelines tell us that the evaluation

Evaluating, Supporting, and Valuing the Work of the Faculty should include the view of those “outside his/her own immediate academic community” (“CUNY Office of Human Resources Management Cope of Practice Regarding Instructional Staff Titles: Title Descriptions and Minimum Qualifications”). This requirement is addressed by peer-reviewed publication, reviews of creative work, awards and competitions in some fields. Exactly how it is accomplished is not only varied but fluid as new forms of scholarship and new venues appear; but once again it is evident that the principal value is not the length of the list of publications or creative work, but the nature and impact of the contribution to the field, to interdisciplinary projects, or to knowledge more broadly. Similarly in service, we ask, “What was accomplished and what role did you play in achieving it?” Service for all of us includes the mundane but necessary share in the collaborative work needed for a department to function well and serve its students. It also includes opportunities to demonstrate leadership and creativity in ways that benefit the department, the profession, the community, students, and the entire institution. The service that many faculty members in the Math Department are performing both through the Title V Opening Gateways grant, illustrated in this issue, and through other curricular and pedagogical work to strengthen student performance in introductory courses, promises significant and meaningful change college-wide. The NEH Seminar—arguably scholarship as well as service—creates opportunities for individuals, while also strengthening and enhancing the intellectual environment in which we all work.

In each of these domains—and they often overlap--there is a reciprocal element: To what end? Who benefits? What was the impact? This is why in the Self-Evaluation section of the PARSE, we ask the faculty member to think qualitatively about the work represented, to value not only that you did it, but what you did, and why it matters. It is also suggested that they discuss detours, changes in direction, and process. The Self-Evaluation can help the reader, whether the department chair or peer, the ad hoc or P&B member, or ultimately the president, to appreciate the work, its challenges, and its effects more knowledgeably. Furthermore, it can help not only the evaluator but also the candidate to see the work more clearly in relation to the standard, and to value as well as to evaluate it. As an institution, we have come a long way toward clarifying the expectations for faculty in general and through the Faculty Commons and other efforts toward organizing many kinds of support for faculty work; however, the results of COACHE point out that as an academic community we have more work to do in several areas:

• Ensuring that the climate, not only institution-wide, but in the academic departments, fosters and supports the best work of the faculty in all of its aspects. • Developing and efficiently distributing resources of various kinds needed to support faculty work. As I look forward to the visit from the Middle States team in a few weeks and think about how City Tech has been transformed in the ten years since the last visit, I believe City Tech should take pride in the expansion of the faculty, their development of so many excellent baccalaureate programs, and the opportunities we have created together for our students. Looking beyond that, I see many chances to continue to improve the ways that the institution— by which I mean the real institution that is all of us, faculty and administrators, collaboratively—values and supports academic work [1].

• Using the evaluation process at every level to provide guidance to individual faculty members regarding how to view the progress of their own work in the context of the expectations. • Ensuring that the process explicitly values and rewards teaching, service, and scholarly, professional and creative work.

[1] I am consciously echoing here the conclusion of A Room of One’s Own where Virginia Woolf writes,…I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we have as individuals.”


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Mid-Career Faculty Publication Program Pamela Brown fall afterwards, when I began to make real progress on my book.”


he results of City Tech’s 2015 Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) Faculty Job Satisfaction survey, completed by over 200 full-time faculty, suggested that some mid-career faculty would welcome additional support to advance their scholarly activities. In response, PDAC, in collaboration with the Faculty Commons and Ursula C. Schwerin Library, launched a year-long midcareer faculty publication program, now in its third year. The program, open to all tenured assistant and associate professors, is structured to provide information and motivation. There have been six to ten participants each year. The group meets approximately once a month, for eight meetings over the academic year. At each meeting participants describe their progress since the last meeting and goals before the next meeting, toward the ultimate objective of advancing their scholarly activities and publishing their work. Participants celebrate each other’s successes. Architectural Technology Professor Paul King, who participated last year, reflected on his experience. “What was most helpful was talking about my research with my colleagues and listening to what others were working on; this helped to motivate me. The real benefits began to show the summer and 6


This year’s workshop presenters have included mid-career faculty publication program alumni Restorative Dentistry Chair Renata Budny. She described how, during the program, she parlayed her connections in her professional organizations and used feedback from conference presentations to write about legal regulations in her discipline, leading to a peer reviewed article featured on the journal cover. Mathematics Professor Janet LiouMark spoke on how she developed an educational research program focused on peer-led-team learning, and works with undergraduate researchers to advance her scholarly work while giving her students the chance to apply classroom knowledge to real-world problems. Participants were able to discuss how educational research might fit into their goals. Health Services Administration Professor Katherine Gregory spoke about methodologies and best practices in qualitative research and discussed strategies for incorporating qualitative research into their work. There are also group presentations and opportunities for private consultations with Library Professor Monica Berger, so that each faculty member’s individual research and publishing needs can be supported. This is a great chance for participants to learn about recent developments for conducting literature searches, disseminating their work through social media, finding appropriate journals for publication, avoiding predatory journals, etc. This spring, English Professors Richard Hanley, founding editor of the Journal of Urban Technology and Sean Scanlan, founding editor of NANO will present the editor perspective and help participants develop successful

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strategies for working with editors when submitting peer reviewed articles. English Professor Reneta Lansiquot will present tips/techniques on obtaining book contracts. Nursing Professor Emma Kontzamanis, who is currently in the program, stated, “The publication program provides an organized, structured format to facilitate my scholarship. Conversations with the participants and presenters have inspired me to continue scholarly work.  The resources and support of the program help me to focus on achievable goals.” Radiologic Technology Professor Eric Lobel, also currently in the program, stated, “I’ve enrolled in this program with the hope of kicking off my research and scholarship and I'm happy to say I have been kicked.  Having some accountability to more than just myself is just what I needed.” If interested in participating in the future please contact Julia Jordan, Monica Berger, or myself. It would be great to have you join us!

Scholarly Showcase: CUNY Academic Works Monica Berger


Amplify your scholarship. Writing and publishing a peer reviewed journal article or a book chapter is a challenging, arduous process. Once peer review and acceptance of article are complete, we breathe a sigh of relief and shift our attention to future publication projects. When publication occurs, we spend a few minutes updating our curriculum vitae and PARSE. Why stop? You can maximize the impact of your scholarly labor by sharing your work in CUNY Academic Works, CUNY’s institutional repository. An institutional repository is a platform where faculty can add their scholarship and make it freely available so anyone can read their work. The process of adding one’s work is “self-archiving.”   Almost all universities and many colleges have an institutional repository.  Institutional repositories showcase and document the collective output of faculty scholarly and creative labor. More than merely listing, CUNY Academic Works provides direct, downloadable access to our work. This benefits readers and, in turn, benefits faculty.


Preservation of our work is another key reason why CUNY Academic Works and institutional repositories are so important. The CUNY Office of Library Services and the campus coordinators for CUNY Academic Works received the CUNY Excellence in Technology Award, Collaboration Award at last December’s CUNY 2016 IT Conference. This award celebrates and affirms CUNY’s longterm commitment to Academic Works. How CUNY Academic Works benefits faculty. Access to our scholarship increases our readership. This in turn generates greater citation rates. The Open Access citation advantage proves that scholarship not behind a publisher’s paywall is read and cited far more often. CUNY Academic Works also provides article-level readership reports that helps document the impact of our work. Scholarship in CUNY Academic Works also gets a boost in Google Scholar and Google search results. Lastly, CUNY Academic Works enhances promotion of our scholarship and links with our curriculum vitae without concerns about publisher paywalls and copyright page violations. Most journal publishers,

I self-archived several works on CUNY Academic Works and I find the procedure quick and wellstructured. Professor Monica Berger provided a lot of personal support and prompt response to all my requests. CUNY Academic Works has an Author Dashboard, which includes an interactive Google map with readership distribution across the globe, and a list of all institutions from which people have downloaded your works, along with the countries. I found it illuminating that my personal analytics over the last year include a time series of all downloads from 54 institutions, spanning 45 different countries on 6 continents. Google Scholar indexes all works published on CUNY Academic Works, which increases the scholarly visibility. Boyan Kostadinov Department of Mathematics


continued on page 14

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Opening Gateways Marianna Bonanome, Charlie Edwards, Laura Ghezzi, Ariane Masuda, Andrew Parker, Jonas Reitz Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM” (2015-2020), is a cross-campus collaboration with Borough of Manhattan Community College supported by a US Department of Education Title V Strengthening Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant.


or students entering STEM majors at CUNY, gateway math courses—those high-enrollment, foundational math courses that serve as prerequisites for work in STEM—can present a significant challenge and barrier to progress and completion. Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM is a large, cross-institutional collaboration between the mathematics departments at City Tech and Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) designed to support student success in these courses.  Through the development of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and an intensive faculty seminar, this initiative will directly touch dozens of faculty and thousands of students over its five-year span (and many more in the years beyond).   Supported

by a $3.2 million grant awarded in Fall 2015 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening HispanicServing Institutions program (Title V), the project will introduce open-source digital technologies, OERs, and active learning strategies into the sequence of high-enrollment mathematics courses required for STEM disciplines at each college. The project focuses on one course at a time—the initial course at City Tech, object of the current seminar and resource development efforts, is MAT 1275 College Algebra and Trigonometry, a course that builds fundamental skills essential to success in Precalculus, Calculus, and beyond. The project consists of two primary activities, the development of highquality OERs and the implementation of an intensive annual faculty seminar, as

The project is also developing high quality OERs to refine and support existing course content and facilitate the pedagogical strategies employed by the Fellows. WeBWorK, an online homework system supported by the Mathematical Association of America and the National Science Foundation, provides an open source alternative to the expensive and proprietary systems developed by textbook publishers.  Our team has developed a complete set of WeBWorK exercises for MAT 1275 using the latest WeBWorK technologies including scaffolded problems, targeted feedback with carefully structured error messages, and just-in-time problem sets.  We are also collecting and developing video resources to support both flipped-classroom




well as a number of additional projects, including partnerships with initiatives in the math department and across the college. The faculty seminar, run each fall semester, brings together a cohort of full- and part-time math faculty from both campuses to engage creatively with research-proven pedagogical strategies for active learning, employing modern open digital tools and OERs specifically geared towards supporting these strategies.  Faculty Fellows implement new techniques and resources in the spring semester, providing ongoing feedback on the effectiveness of strategies and materials. The engagement of a large group of faculty within a single discipline will help to inform the departmental culture of teaching and learning, providing common vocabulary and experiences and spurring conversation across the department.

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instruction and asynchronous student support. Furthermore, our Fellows are contributing to OER development by designing and documenting active learning activities and STEM applications that support the course content.   Completed OERs developed by the project will be publicly available on City Tech’s OpenLab and through the WeBWorK Open Problem Library. An exciting component of the project has been the  further development of the OpenLab, in collaboration with the OpenLab team, to integrate with WeBWork.  Students using WeBWorK in our courses are directed to the WeBWorKOpenLab site (openlab.citytech.cuny. edu/ol-webwork) when they seek help with homework, providing a central community for discussion of homework problems.  This contribution will not only benefit students and faculty at City Tech but also, since the code will be released publicly, the mathematics education community worldwide. In addition, the grant has supported a number of unexpected partnerships in the department.  One of our first cohort of Fellows, faculty member Holly Carley, is developing an Instructor Resource site for MAT 1275 on the OpenLab, acting in her role as Course Coordinator and supported in part by the grant.  Once public, the site will provide a central repository for resources and a communications hub for the many fulland part-time instructors of the course, and will serve as a model for other courses.  We are also working to develop assessment materials for MAT 1275 in conjunction with the mathematics department’s Assessment Committee. In the following pages, we invite you to take a closer look.

Faculty Development “I cannot wait to start next semester teaching MAT 1275 and using some of the strategies and resources that we all shared.” “[The most rewarding aspects of the seminar were] the conversation I had with the


participants, the variety of topics the seminar covered, the interaction with another CUNY College.”

C. McAllister, Goretti Ng, Kathleen Offenholley, Lina Wu, Fatima Prioleau, and Shahin Uddin.

“We usually don’t have time to dedicate and prepare different activities that can enhance a lesson. The seminar allowed us to reflect more on these aspects and develop deliverables.”

The fall 2017 seminars focused on introducing the Fellows to active learning strategies, open educational resources, open digital pedagogy, flipped classroom techniques, utilizing WeBWorK and the OpenLab and advisement best practices. Many of the seminars were joint—enabling the Fellows on both campuses to interact with colleagues and share ideas. Time was also allocated for lively discussion, activity development and feedback—all of which was very much appreciated by the participating Fellows.

– Opening Gateways Faculty Fellows, Fall 2016

In Fall 2016, the Opening Gateways faculty seminar co-directors Marianna Bonanome and Laura Ghezzi (City Tech) along with Annie Han and Jae Ki Lee (BMCC) organized and implemented faculty seminars designed to support and inspire the Opening Gateways faculty Fellows from BMCC and City Tech. The 2016-2017 Opening Gateways Fellows were a diverse group from both campuses, comprised of both adjunct and full-time faculty representing a wide range of experience and interests. The City Tech cohort includes Holly Carley, Suman Ganguli, Olga Ghosh, Ezra Halleck, Laura Liang, Ariane Masuda, Lucie Mingla, Pedro Mujica, Sybil Shaver, Edison Teano, and Lori Younge. The BMCC cohort includes Daniela Bardac-Vlada, Liana Erstenyuk, Jorge Florez, Conte Julo, Jingjing Li, Sarah

Guest speakers included Steven Hinds, Director of Adult Learning in Active Numeracy and Mathematics, who kicked off the semester with a seminar where he modeled active learning strategies, Pamela Mills, Lehman College, members of the OpenLab community team, and Cailean Cooney, City Tech librarian. At BMCC, additional seminars helped provide more in-depth information on flipped classroom strategies and video development. At City Tech, the extra seminar time was devoted to developing interdisciplinary STEM activities.


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In spring 2017, Fellows implemented their activities which were inspired by their participation in the fall seminar. They also used WeBWorK and OpenLab in their gateway MAT 1275 and MAT 056 courses. In May 2017 a joint colloquium of City Tech and BMCC Fellows was held. They had an opportunity to present their work and share their experiences. In summer 2017, the Opening Gateways faculty seminar team remained hard at work. In July 2017, the team gave a successful presentation at the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) MathFest in Chicago, IL. Additionally, the co-directors are working on recruiting Fellows for the 2017-2018 academic year, reflecting on the year past and planning for improvements to the program based on feedback. Several Fellows from the 20162017 cohort have continued their participation with the project. The Opening Gateways team was thrilled to have Suman Ganguli of City Tech work with us on WeBWorK and OER development and Kathleen Offenholley of BMCC as a presenter for our fall 2017 seminar on OERs—with a focus on games, her field of expertise! Lucie Mingla of City Tech has also continued to act as a consultant on our WeBWorK development. As a result, the community surrounding the project has been growing steadily and is greatly strengthened through the active participation of prior Fellows. Their valuable institutional memory along with dedication to their work and students continues to enrich the professional development experience and contribute to the project’s success.

WeBWorK Development WeBWorK is an open-source online homework platform originating at the University of Rochester in 1996. WeBWorK quickly spread to Johns Hopkins and beyond. Today, it is used by more than 700 institutions worldwide, and has a library of over 20,000 problems for courses ranging from elementary 10


algebra to real analysis. Numerous grants have supported the development of WeBWorK and its Open Problem Library, many of these from NSF. As a highly procedural subject with well-defined “correct” answers, mathematics is a natural fit for online homework. Instructors benefit from automatic grading; students benefit by being able to access their assignments from anywhere via internet access and receiving immediate feedback on their attempted answers. It should be no surprise, with these obvious benefits, that the number of publishers offering online homework access packaged with their textbooks has expanded rapidly over the past decade. So why WeBWorK? First and foremost, WeBWorK is a service that we can provide free-of-charge to our students. The cost of many proprietary online homework systems presents a barrier to entry for many students, creating issues such as delayed access for students, uncertainty for instructors as publishing companies change textbook editions and departments switch textbooks, and an overall lack of input as these proprietary systems are not developed with our specific needs in mind. Bear in mind, these publishers are selling their textbooks to a very wide range of institutions. On the other hand, it provides a reliable foundation for the creation and refinement of materials targeted directly at our students and our particular curriculum. One might wonder why, with over 20,000 existing problems, the development of more content is beneficial. Beyond the consistency that comes with developing assignments that address the specific needs of our students, WeBWorK continues to develop new features that older problems did not utilize. Moreover, the early years of WeBWorK focused on the automatic scoring of online homework, as many of the instructional features had not yet been developed. Our goal in developing WeBWorK content is to provide a mix of instruction as well as assessment. We aim to challenge

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students with problems that provide more opportunity to construct deeper understanding than rote repetition— problems that extend beyond the limits of what traditional pencil-andpaper homework can offer.

WeBWorK-OpenLab Integration An excerpt of the original educational goals for WeBWorK explicitly stated, “It seems preferable to us that when a student is having difficulty they be encouraged to seek help from humans.” After all, it should not be our aim, when developing online homework, to put ourselves out of our jobs as educators. While online homework represents a huge relief from grading routine homework, it presents a new workload—responding to emails. Students frequently struggle with their homework, this is nothing new. But because their online homework is graded immediately, students more quickly realize when they are failing to comprehend the material. While this is an excellent pedagogical outcome, students are now more likely to pepper their instructors with emailed questions. Moreover, because emails are private interactions, we may now be hearing questions from introverted students who don’t always feel comfortable asking their questions face-to-face. These questions often come at odd hours and students frequently struggle to describe their misconceptions clearly— sometimes resorting to simple questions such as, “how do I do this problem?” Responding in a helpful manner can be very time consuming, requiring a back-and-forth email dialogue that sometimes spans days. It would seem that we’ve exchanged one workload for another. Frequently, multiple students get stuck on the same problem, and often have similar questions. Faculty, at times, copy and paste a response given to one student into an email to another student who is wrestling with the same issue. The very privacy that brings our introverted students out of

the woodwork also restricts the kind of shared response that could benefit many students with less effort. The development of our WeBWorKOpenLab integration site represents our attempt to address these myriad issues. Students with homework questions are directed to an online forum on City Tech’s OpenLab. Questions are organized so that students who have questions about a problem are directed to previously asked questions about the same problem - hopefully reducing the amount of repetition as well as providing instant assistance for frequent questions. By seeing previously asked questions, students get a sense of what a “good” question looks like, what details they should provide in order to receive better help, and at odd hours they may not even have to wait for a response if their question has been asked and answered already. And because all sections of the same course share the same Q&A site, all instructors may participate in answering questions, thereby distributing the workload. Other features include a “like” button for questions and responses, which we use to improve the visibility of the most helpful interactions. This fall we also implemented a feature where students can “subscribe” to a question, so that they will receive an email notification when the question receives a response. Likewise, instructors automatically receive an email notification whenever


one of their students asks a question. With all the obvious benefits to online homework, it is important that we continue to adapt and improve the experience for students and instructors alike.

Video Resources Over the past twenty years technology has changed many aspects of human interaction and communication. When our students wish to learn how to do something, whether how to setup electronics in their home or how to bake a pie, they look for a video online.  The same is true for their mathematics courses. One problem that students sometimes have when they are looking for videos on the internet is that they do not know which key words to use in order to search for the correct videos.  This is due to the fact that students usually struggle with the math vocabulary.   As part of Opening Gateways, we have created a curated list of videos (from Khan Academy and other resources) that correspond with the topics of MAT 1275, one of the initial mathematics courses required for every STEM discipline.  This provides the students with supplemental instructional resources that they can use when they are on their own. The resource is freely available to all, both within City Tech and beyond. We are currently working on making the videos even more accessible by adding links to them on each WeBWorK homework set page.  In this way, whenever students are stuck on a problem, they can watch a video tutorial with a similar problem and follow the steps at their own pace.  They can watch the video as many times as they need until they are comfortable enough to go back to the problem.  We are also planning to have the list of video resources available on the mathematics

department website. Future work will include curating similar resources for the other gateway mathematics courses.

Future Plans As the second year of this five-year project draws to a close, the Opening Gateways team is excited for the future. We look forward to continuing our mission of supporting gateway math courses at City Tech and BMCC through OER development and faculty engagement.  As more faculty and students are affected by the project, we hope that the spirit of creative, research-driven pedagogy and the use of high-quality WeBWorK, video, and other resources will extend beyond the immediate grant participants and beyond the term of the grant itself, suffusing the culture of our departments.  We also look forward to the public release of the WeBWorKOpenLab Integration software, benefitting users of the WeBWorK and WordPress platforms around the world.  As we turn our attention to subsequent courses in our gateway math sequence, students will gain additional benefits from multiple exposure to common pedagogies and resources.  We expect to find many new opportunities to support the work of our departments and colleagues, and we look forward to working within and across our campuses to support student success. For more information about the project, and ongoing access to many of the resources we have developed, please visit the Opening Gateways site: openinggateways/


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A Cultural History of Digital Technology: Humanities Perspectives In our culminating symposium, for the National Endowment of the Humanities grant, A Cultural History of Digital Technology, we participated in a discourse of epic proportions. We stood metaphorically on the shoulders of masters of their craft as the digital humanities unfolded in an unscripted manner that raised new questions, answered old ones, and put us and our students at the forefront of the digital technological revolution. As co-directors of the NEH funded grant, we share some lasting thoughts and impressions from the four scholars:

Scott Hartley — Author - The Fuzzie and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World.

Scott Hartley grew up in Palo Alto, California, where he met the founders of a nascent Google, starting up in his teacher’s garage. Hartley expanded his understanding of technology and project work at Stanford and Columbia universities and in career work at Google, Facebook, and at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. His book, The Fuzzy and the Techie, takes its name from Stanfordspeak that identifies students in the humanities and social sciences (fuzzies) or in engineering and physical sciences (techies). The book’s subtitle identifies his point: “Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World.” Hartley’s message in the book and this symposium concerns the dominant place of any technology’s “soft” effects, the benefits of the technology, no matter how complex, to the persons who use it. His work straddles the fuzzy and techie cultures and leads him to advocate for both. Techies and fuzzies, Hartley says, must work together. The humanities and technology should be part of every school project; the two should be integrated in the design of every new tool. Harley speaks of the essential place of “the liberal arts inquisition of who we are, what we want, and why we matter” in economies driven by the development and use of new hightech tools. He addresses risks that lie 12



at the core of this College’s work: the risk of believing that skill in technology provides economic security, and the greater risk of not appreciating that fuzzy-values, such as history, language, and psychology, are essential to the success of new technologies. Peter Spellane

Department of Chemistry

Juliet Floyd —

Professor of Philosophy, Boston University, with significant contributions to the history and development of twentieth century analytic philosophy as a field.

Juliet Floyd spoke of Alan Turing’s creative use of analogy as the basis of the Turing machine. Turing, the British mathematician and inventor of the computer, also laid the groundwork for artificial intelligence in this analog, hypothetical computing machine

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he developed while working on his PhD. Professor Floyd emphasized the importance of Turing’s education in both the humanities and mathematics to his vision. Without an understanding of literature and philosophy he would not have possessed the necessary intellectual framework to create such a system based on analogy. Turing described three types of intelligences important to the development of computing: intellectual searching, biological, and cultural. By cultural intelligence, Turing referred to an understanding of humanity as a whole, This idea—a focus on the entirety of human existence as a goal for A.I. and computing—has inspired the Andrew W. Mellon-Sawyer Seminar: Philosophy of Emerging Computational Technologies: Humans, Values, and Society in Transition, she directs at  Boston University. The series of seminars has looked at such


topics as the nature of algorithms and their lack of neutrality; journalism and truth in the era of social media; the existence of epistemic bubbles; automation and the concept of a posthuman world; the concept of deference and social hierarchies in the knowledge economy; and the act of speech in Wittgenstein’s philosophy—the harmony that lies behind direct human speaking versus “nonsense” created in online communication. Anne Leonhardt

Department of Architectural Technology

Stephen Wolfram —

Author - A New Kind of Science President/Founder of Wolfram Mathematica, Wolfram Alpha.

We grapple with philosophical and computational realities in the digital context today and it is fitting that Stephen Wolfram’s live presentation manifested from the digital realm. Stephen Wolfram spoke about computation and then projected its reaches into a multitude of disciplines. He alluded to systems in nature that are performing computations all the time and as a key paradigm in a new way of thinking. He forced us to think about the idea of computation and the technology that exists and how it directs the human focus. We do this as instructors on many levels as we ponder and instruct our students using innovative software such as Wolfram Mathematica to enhance their learning experiences and critical thinking. A

significant application in the biological sciences that I find quite intriguing is Stephen Wolfram’s approach towards molecular computation. He spoke about the possibility of taking a random molecule and having it compute and compile. Using biological organisms, in particular, we can create algorithmic drugs that strike at the heart of diseases while they adapt to a specific situation. He also suggested that one can build food using computation, and the list goes on. The possibilities are limitless as we reflect upon Stephen Wolfram’s ideas in computing from a philosophical, historical and digital context. Many of these ideas will be incorporated into an interdisciplinary course that will serve to challenge, educate, and elevate our students as we propel them forward with cutting edge material as they adapt to a changing world. Satyanand Singh

Department of Mathematics

Tony Hey —

Author - The Computing Universe: Journey Through a Revolution, and Chief Data Scientist at the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Professor Tony Hey, a theoretical physicist and Chief Data Scientist at the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, was the final speaker of the day. As a professor whose research relied on early super computers and a former vice president of Microsoft’s research division, Hey experienced the computer revolution first hand. Inspired by the


physicist Richard Feynman’s analogy of a computer’s capabilities to a “dumb fileclerk,” Hey co-authored a popular book on computation, The Computing Universe (2014), which surveyed milestones of computational advancement. His talk, “The PC, the Internet, and the Future: Towards the Third Age of Computing,” served to connect the themes of earlier speakers to the historical timeline of computing technologies. Hey presented the computer era as divided into three ages of computing: ‘simulation,’ ‘communication,’ and ‘embodiment.’ The focus of the First Age of computing was to produce machines, from ENIAC to Apple, to simulate complex calculations. The Second Age of computing focused on developing means for computers to connect to each other. Hey demonstrated how an academic network connecting computers across geographical locations was transformed into the internet as we know it today. Computation evolved through the earlier cycles to our time: the Third Age of computing and emphasis on ‘embodiment.’ Hey discussed the impact of artificial intelligence and the creation of intelligent machines, raising ethical questions of the coming robotics revolution. Asserting that “human consciousness is the last surviving mystery,” Hey suggested areas of future research in computing would need to address consciousness, self-awareness, and intelligence in machines. Sandra Cheng

Department of Humanities



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continued from page 7

as many as 79%, allow some form of selfarchiving and have an explicit policy. Some scholarly book publishers allow self-archiving book chapters. Spreading the word and connecting across campus. City Tech was one of the last CUNY colleges to launch CUNY Academic Works but we are now one of the top contributors! We began our outreach at the Provost’s weekly gathering of chairs and deans. To reach individual faculty, I have been visiting department meetings. I also track the collective scholarship of City Tech via a Google Scholar alert and reach out to individual faculty via email. The personal touch has been by far the most successful approach: I meet with faculty one-on-one in their offices and go over the process of self-archiving in CUNY Academic Works. Phone consultations are available as well.

I find it incredibly gratifying when I meet with colleagues to coach them through the process and we often discuss related topics such as how to retain key rights…

that academic social networks are forprofit companies that seek to monetize our scholarship. Akin to Facebook, they sell advertisements and other services related to their product (e.g., authors can pay to boost their visibility). They use algorithms to manipulate our experience. We should be concerned about our privacy as well as protection of our intellectual property. Did you know that the largest international publishers recently created a coalition to respond to copyright violations? Publishers are sending take-down notices to authors who share their work in ResearchGate. Help yourself and do good. Why not chose the legal route and share your work via CUNY Academic Works? Scholarly collaboration networks have no commitment to preserving your work and they will not provide support. CUNY Academic Works is not only a long-term home for the fruits of your scholarly labor but also a way to give back, to democratize all scholarship by recognizing the importance of sharing your work with everyone: not only your peers but also your students as well as scholars in less developed countries. CUNY Academic Works amplifies your visibility as a scholar and helps others— how can you beat that?

by using the SPARC Author Addendum when you sign a publisher’s contract or even strategies for choosing publishers. “I’m on ResearchGate so I don’t need CUNY Academic Works” Scholarly collaboration networks or social networks for academics, e.g., ResearchGate and Academia.Edu, have benefits. However, we should be aware 14


Volume 9 | Winter 2018

CUNY Academic Works allows me to recognize the impact of my research in the scientific community. It informs me of which of my published articles reaches a larger audience and the geographical areas they come from. In this respect, it not only helps me to substantially increase my visibility as a scholar but also to disseminate my publications, providing free access to my works in order to contribute to knowledge in my discipline.     Search engines such as Google, Google Scholar, and Bing can easily discover these materials, and its connection to Google citation ushers them to a larger audience. Another advantage of this service is how easy the process of uploading the document is. In case of technical difficulties, you can always rely on the extraordinary support of the librarian team. David Sánchez Jiménez Department of Humanities

PURPOSE OF PLUNDER “There are some proper pirates among them, but most do not deserve this name.” Henry David Thoreau, From his account of the 1850 shipwreck of the Elizabeth*

Jennifer Sears And from that old box left in the upper floor of the barn, Angelo frees a silk flower from my father’s collection of German helmets and guns. We inherited that contraband with the barn. “Those old things must be worth something now,” my wife says. But she knows they’re all I have left of my father’s stories, evidence of how he and the others ransacked those fields so quickly after fighting stopped, dust from the rubble still floured the dead men’s mouths. In ’45, during his earliest retellings, when victory’s adrenaline still ignited the country’s veins, those helmets and guns served as proof of heroics instead of death’s accoutrements. My mother polished and arranged each piece in a cabinet with doors made of glass. She’d never touch the silk flower that trembled when my sister and I tumbled past. But years dull all homecomings. Quickly, our father proved useless on the farm, and his factory job gave his mind too much breadth, and the war took him again though nocturnal rages that stole our family’s sleep. In his ramblings, we learned of a gun leveled at a baby in a grandfather’s arms or how a buddy’s hand jerked and clutched until their foxhole became his grave. During that last story’s trance, he gripped my fingers so tight they turned black. Instead of bringing release, those confessions distanced him further from us. We came to fear the tightness that showed around his eyes and made his lower jaw clench, foretelling harsh words or an otherworldly silence that

held him captive before that cabinet, his stew of memories capsizing the present. Later during Vietnam--a war I protested with my mother’s blessing--a friend brought home a “gook’s” ear in a wooden box. Though he wouldn’t answer, I kept asking what that ear meant to him, hoping I might understand what finally made our father wander off between rages, fleeing at last those helmets and guns. Like shipwrecks and storms, war plunders men’s souls. Shamefully, weren’t we all half-glad he had gone? And this too I remember: how our mother, when she was certain our father wouldn’t return, packed up this box and hauled it to the barn as my sister ran after her, carrying that silk flower. “From some Berlin whorehouse,” our mother said. “Throw it in if you must.” Then she climbed up to the hayloft and banished that box, though for years I shivered beneath those guns and their ghosts. 1981. “These old things,” my wife begins again. “They have some kind of spell over you.” I still can’t answer. But sunlight illuminates the petals of that brave flower that trembles in Angelo’s hand while the weapons—rust dulling their edges, their joints calcifying with time—grow eerily benign.

*Epigraph: Originally published online in Midwestern Gothic.


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FACULTY CONTRIBUTORS Monica Berger is Associate Professor, Ursula C. Schwerin Library. Her scholarly focus is on scholarly communications and publishing. She teaches library-based credit courses for students and workshops for faculty including the yearlong Mid-Career Publication program. She proudly helms City Tech’s institutional repository, Academic Works. Marianna Bonanome is Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics. She has a passion for mathematics and physics and so actively researches and publishes in the areas of combinatorial group theory and quantum computation. Sandra Cheng is Associate Professor of art history in the Department of Humanities. Her research interests include early modern drawings, caricature, art theory, and the history of collecting. She teaches courses in the survey of art, photography, and film. Charlie Edwards is Co-Director of Opening Gateways, City Tech’s OpenLab, and related grant-funded initiatives. She is also pursuing a PhD in English at CUNY Graduate Center with research interests in non-canonical Victorian women novelists, digital humanities, and open source software in education. Laura Ghezzi is Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics. Her research is in commutative algebra, with applications to algebraic geometry and computational algebra. She is committed to education and truly enjoys teaching a wide variety of mathematics courses. Anne Leonhardt is Associate Professor and Director of Digital media with the Architectural Technology Department. She is directing the highly interdisciplinary National Endowment for the Humanities project, A Cultural History of Digital Technologies alongside co-Directors Sandra Cheng, Satyanand Singh, and Peter Spellane. Ariane Masuda is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. Her research interests lie in the area of Number Theory. She teaches all levels of mathematics courses, and mentors students through City Tech’s undergraduate research program. Andrew Parker is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. His areas of expertise are commutative algebra, and the development of Technology for Mathematics Education. He teaches a wide variety of courses in Mathematics and Math Education, and he is co-coordinator for OER: Open Educational Resources development on a Title V: Opening Gateways grant team. Jonas Reitz is Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics. His area of expertise is set theory and mathematical logic. He teaches all levels of mathematics courses. Jennifer Sears is Assistant Professor of English. Her short stories have been published in magazines including Electric Literature’s “Recommended Reading,” Guernica, Fiction International, Witness, Ninth Letter, and Fence, and is forthcoming in the NYPL’s Subway Library. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Barbara Deming/Money for Women Fund, and a 2018 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Satyanand Singh is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics. His areas of expertise are Number Theory, Statistics and Analysis. He teaches all levels of Mathematics Courses and is a mentor to several students in Mathematics and Interdisciplinary fields. Peter Spellane is Associate Professor and member of the Chemistry Department. Having participated in several projects that integrate humanities with education in science and technology, he now studies the history and environmental legacy of chemicals production and petroleum refining in Brooklyn and Queens.



Volume 9 | Winter 2018

Nucleus Volume 9 Winter 2018  

Nucleus Volume 9 Winter 2018, a Faculty Commons Quarterly

Nucleus Volume 9 Winter 2018  

Nucleus Volume 9 Winter 2018, a Faculty Commons Quarterly