Why Teach on the Commons?

Welcome to teaching on the Commons! We are excited to have you here.

Organized in the menu on the left, you will find  custom help pages created for instructors teaching their course on the Commons. These help pages explain the difference between teaching with a group or a site, how to invite students to the Commons, privacy options on the Commons, and provide several course models and ideas for teaching with OER. At the bottom of this page you will find several downloadable “Commons Quick Guides” that might be helpful for you and your students.

You can use the search bar above to find answers to your Commons questions. If you’re still stumped, feel free to get in touch with the Common Community team by sending us a message through the HELP button in the black menu at the top the page.

When choosing technologies to use in your teaching, it is important to consider what types of interactions the tool can foster. While the CUNY-provided Blackboard platform offers a suite of digital tools to manage a course, Blackboard is a “closed,” or “siloed,” environment where course content and student work is only accessible to participants in the course. Hosting a course on the CUNY Academic Commons presents opportunities for instructors to increase the openness of their teaching, employ experiential learning strategies, and integrate open educational resources (OER) into their curricula.

Open Source

The CUNY Academic Commons is built on the open source framework called WordPress, a collaborative web project developed by millions of individuals contributing to shared source code. Because WordPress is open-source, CUNY faculty and staff created and maintain the Commons, our own CUNY-dedicated WordPress platform. The Commons is free to use and can be customized to meet the needs of instructors and students.

Open Education

By moving digital work off of closed systems onto more open platforms, instructors can use increasingly  open and digital pedagogical strategies in their courses.

Courses that use open teaching methods often incorporate some combination of student blog posts, open educational materials, public-facing writing or projects, experiential learning, and/or multi-modal composition.  But you don’t have to do this all at once (or at all). Open and digital approaches can be foundational to the course or only used for a single assignment. Making decisions about incorporating open digital pedagogy (ODP) allows professors to consciously interrogate their current teaching praxis.

Open Pedagogy

Many faculty choose to teach their courses on open platforms like the CUNY Academic Commons because of the freedom and control that they entrust to their users. This freedom and control are core elements open pedagogy, a set of methods, principles, and strategies though which faculty structure their teaching.

  • Open pedagogy is networked, and values the seamless integration of resources on the web.
  • Open pedagogy favors granular privacy controls that allow faculty and students to control who can see and interact with their work.
  • Open pedagogy is explicit about who can access student data and for what purposes, and argues that students should have the ultimate control over what they produce.
  • Open pedagogy acknowledges that online learning spaces are designed and have aesthetic qualities that impact the learning experiences in a course. These qualities should be considered by faculty when constructing online course spaces.
  • Open pedagogy challenges the boundaries erected by the course schedule, the semester, the institution, and the academic discipline, offering faculty and students the tools to circumvent these walls should they desire.

Commons Quick Guides

Below you will find quick guides for getting up and running on the Commons. These PDF guides will be helpful for instructors and students.