Academic Technology Research and Development Group

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Academic Technology Research and Development Group’s Docs Letter to Admins Re: Faculty and Staff Participation in CUNY R&D Project

Dear (should be addressed individually),

This letter is written by the CUNY Committee on Academic Technology Research and Development Group (CAT-R&D) on behalf of faculty and staff at your institution who are interested in participating in a CAT-R&D sponsored project.

The CAT-R&D is administered by a subcommittee of the CUNY Committee on Academic Technology (CAT). CAT was formed under the guidance of EVC Alexandra Logue and chaired by University Director of Academic Technology, George Otte. The mission of CAT-R&D is to research, test and recommend new technologies from the perspective of classroom faculty needs and pedagogical effectiveness.

CAT-R&D exists to advance the field of academic technology by consulting with colleagues and groups developing new technologies, conducting classroom trials, and sponsoring programs. The goal is to provide independent evaluations using transparent criteria that are openly reported on the CUNY Academic Commons, at the annual CUNY IT conference, and to other bodies. CAT-R&D fosters academic excellence, efficiencies of scale and collaboration by working with researchers, educators, and developers from across the University.

One of our latest projects, and the reason for this letter, is a project to conduct courses in Fall 2011 using Blackboard Coursesites. The principal investigators for the project are Christopher Stein, Associate Professor of Media Arts & Technology at BMCC and Helen Keier, Blackboard System Administrator at John Jay. Coursesites is a free online service set up by Blackboard, utilizing key features of Blackboard version 9. CUNY is expected to upgrade to Bb 9 sometime during 2012. Blackboard 9 is significantly different from Bb 8 for faculty, staff, and students. The purpose of this research effort is to get a live preview of what it is like to teach with and provide support for Bb 9 so that at the time of a CUNY-wide move to Bb 9 there already exists within CUNY a group of faculty and staff who have experience with the system and can assist with training, administration and general decision making around Bb 9.

In order to manage the scope and complexity of the overall research effort for this project, participation is limited to a handful of campuses, one of which is yours. Also due to the nature of both the research and the way in which Blackboard has set up Coursesites, we are asking that there is a minimum of one faculty and one staff member from each participating campus.

No funding from your institution is needed for the project. Coursesites is provided free by Blackboard and the teaching, research and administrative duties performed by your faculty and staff will fall within the scope of their current job duties.

Due to the key role Blackboard currently plays in course delivery at CUNY, especially in online courses, we believe this project, and the participation of your faculty and staff, will be both important and impactful to academic technology at CUNY.


The participation of faculty and staff from your institution and across the University is extremely important for this effort to succeed and your support of your faculty and staff in their R&D related efforts would be immensely appreciated.

We hope to send you future updates regarding other exciting and innovative R&D projects on which your faculty and staff play key roles. We would be happy to discuss this and our other projects with you in person. We also invite you to visit our site on the CUNY Academic Commons (



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