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New Release: Conference Template and OER Showcase

The CUNY Academic Commons team is pleased to announce a series of updates focused on the use of the platform for open educational resources (OER) and academic conferences. This release is not the official software version milestone we usually hit each semester, as we’re continuing to adjust to the impact of the pandemic on our work and planning, but there’s plenty we wanted to let you know about right away. We’re looking forward to returning to our usual Fall/Spring release routine in the coming months, though we’re proud of what we’ve been able to build during these demanding times.

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Faculty, staff, and students across CUNY continue to use the Commons to publish open educational resources, especially in this time of increased digital teaching and learning. We’re excited to announce our new OER showcase, which highlights a range of exciting projects across the system, and which we look forward to expanding in the coming semesters.

Through our ongoing partnership with the CUNY Office of Library Services, we’re continuing to develop new tools for surfacing OER content on the Commons. Users will soon be able to search our Courses Directory more easily for OER material. Our team will also be better equipped to connect with and highlight those working on innovative Commons OER projects, including making sure these projects become part of the OpenEd CUNY OER hub. We plan to have even more features available on this front by the start of the fall semester — we’ll amend this post and spread the word as things progress!

In the meantime, please let us know of any OER work you think we might have missed, as well as any feedback on any of these new features.

Conference Template

selecting templateIt’s hard to believe that our creation portal has been available to members for over two years now, and our site templates and plugin packages for even longer. It’s even harder to fathom all of the amazing projects you’ve launched with these tools.

Today, we’re excited to launch the Conference Template, a new option you’ll see in the site creation process for spinning up a full-featured conference or event on the Commons with ease. Building on the many conference websites and events that have been published on the Commons — take a look at the conference showcase for an inspiring set of examples — the new conference template allows event organizers to create a conference site easily. You can view the working demo of the template here.

You can select this option right now when creating a new site. Each conference site will feature several pages out-of-the-box that can be customized to suit an event’s general details, schedule, registration, and other key elements. This default content is already arranged within a WordPress theme handpicked to tie the event presentation together with a clean interface, easy navigation, and important information highlighted in the sidebar and footer.

All conference-template sites also contain a curated selection of plugins to make managing and publicizing your event easier, including Gravity Forms, an embed shortcode for Google Docs, and Eventbrite functionality for streamlining submission and registration.

conference template screenshot

Check out our full documentation on the Conference Template as well as this help article explaining how Commons groups and sites can be used by organizers from event conception to execution.

To learn more about past conferences on the Commons, please check out the conference showcase to see how a number of event organizers have used our tools.

On the Commons, we ask “what will you build?” We’re excited to see your answers to that question in the coming months, and we wish you a restful and relaxing summer.

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