What We Did: Feb 10 (Second Class)

Week 2 – Discussion and Introduction to Mapping

Discussion and Q & A
William Kelly “Forgotten Alternatives”
Cathy Davidson “Changing Higher Ed from the Classroom Up”

  • Issue of preparation before students get to college—biggest indicator of whether they will graduate. CUNY schools provide underprepared students a big lift. Least prepared students are entering community colleges; student issues related to academic performance are often attributed to socioeconomic backgrounds and family dynamics more than ambition and intelligence. “Heartache and heartburn are far more distracting than e-mail.” Students have a different level of attention when issues are weighing on us…duress is documentable.
  • Preparation maps along economic lines may show differences in SES and academic performance
  • Student debt crises is a national issues; it has kept people at all levels from participating in higher ed…carrying a student debt burden is difficult and not dischargeable in bankruptcy.  At CUNY more than 80% graduate debt free
  • Our policies haven’t evolved to meet the realities of new life and work situations

In-class CBOX Refresher and Maps Marker Lab Exercise (Katina)

  • Usage update: 85 members, 11 groups, 14 sites
  • CBOX walkthrough (logging in, accessing important locations)
  • Representing our community: Using the figurative selfie image you brought (see preparation exercises below), add yourself to the Student Selfie map by following the instructions here:
    • MapsMarker is a tool we can use for CUNY maps throughout the semester, and one that everyone can use with their students
    • How might we imagine this as a framework for final projects?
  • Discussion of reading materials, inspirational maps students put in google doc & sociodemographic map discussion (Michael and Kalle)
  • Michael showed electronic journal from International Pollution Issues that we used the map as a TOC for the blog posts written.
  • Think-pair-share activity on how mapping project may work in each of the individual undergraduate classrooms
  • Other WordPress/CBOX questions; copyright questions (Shawn)

The outcome of this session was our first collaborative map:



Reading Materials:

Monmonier M. 1991. “Introduction” and “Maps for Political Propaganda,” (required) From: How to Lie with Maps. Chicago: Chicago UP.

Wood D. 2010. “Unleashing the Power of the Map,” (required) “Counter-Mapping and the Death of Cartography,” (optional) and “Map Art: Stripping the Mask from the Map.” (optional)From: Rethinking the Power of Maps. (For timing, students may want to choose from the Counter-Mapping and Map Art

William Kelly, “Forgotten Alternatives: The Crisis of Public Institutions” Available here

Cathy Davidson, “Changing Higher Ed from the Classroom Up: How the Connected, Peer-led Classroom Can Model Institutional Change” Available here

Podcast: “How to See What We’re Missing in Higher Ed” Available here

“From Digital Humanities to Digital Literacy: Or, Why We Need More Hack And More Yack To Reunite the “Two Cultures” and Tear Down the Disciplinary Silos” Available here

Preparation Exercises:

  • Think about how thinking spatially may be applicable in your own discipline. Do a little preliminary research and bring in something to share with the rest of the class. It might be an image, a map, a drawing you do yourself.
  • Do different genres of mapping matter for your discipline? How might thinking in terms of genre help as you think about projects to do with your class for mapping?
  • Do a preliminary search for maps that you find interesting or that inspire you so that we may discuss them at our next class meeting. Please add them to our shared google doc here:
  • Bring a figurative selfie—an image that doesn’t show you (and that doesn’t give away your personal address)  but that somehow represents you, your studies, and/or your life in the city. We’ll use this for a mapping exercise, so make sure you have access to the digital image either on your laptop or via email/the cloud.

Visualization tool from performance studies and theatre –

Ideas for Final Projects

  • Etymology class: Research behind their name, etymology of names, and map out that
  • [Freshman Composition II] Follow one news story, find three different angles and present on it. Have students map the story.
  • Intro to Art History: Choose artwork or building space that compares to something spoken about in class, and map the comparative images with discussion
  • Chemistry: Co-teaching exercise—Have students draw a map of the concept that they will be teaching
  • Professional bio of themselves and/or scientific doppelganger
  • Record the demographics of students within a campus and map any correlations of identifiers from variables. Map students who are taking 100% fully online courses at BMCC by zip code/only identified by UUID (Blackboard identifier). Include major, year of study, home campus, gender, SES, GPA, pass/fail/withdrawal rates. Inputs from administrative unit, not students.
  • Anatomy: Map anatomy as a story. Storyboards of their work in progress. Use it as a way to defuse competitive/high-stakes environment of the course.
  • Bridge: Mapping their successes – Within an enclosed space, mapping spaces of emotion
  • Math: Data on barriers that students face. SES variables in a census tract, plus more personal-level barriers (quiet place to study, etc.)
  • Music: Map concert series that are put on at CUNY campuses. Link to their required concert reports and shows what CUNY offers to the city.
  • Theater: Link performance reflections to a map. Also second-level reflection on prioritizing the visual nature of both the performance and the map.
  • Composition: Literacy narratives
  • Narrative: Let students pick a platform and link their project to our broader map. Might include archival documents, character/biographical trajectory, more

Key takeaway: Maps as propositions, not representations. We are all able to create them.  “Maps are a way of privileging our visuality and our textuality.”

Students in innovative pedagogy classes shouldn’t be required to do more work than in our traditional pedagogy classes.  We want students to think smarter and harder, but not requiring more dedicated hours to coursework–that’s only fair for students and faculty.

Addendum: CBOX Tips

Several of you have set up course websites on our network. This is great! If you haven’t already done so, consider setting up both a group and a site on our CBOX network for your class. Here’s why and how.

Think of your class-specific site as a boat, and the group is the rope that ties the boat back to the dock ( homepage). The site on its own is perfectly functional, but if you also create a group and connect the two, then new activity on the site will also generate activity on the homepage and in the group, tying your class members to one another and the larger community.

To set up a group for your class, start by clicking Groups, then “Create a Group.” One step in the set-up process will ask if you would like to enable a group blog.  Check the box to enable a blog, and in the drop-down box, select the site that you have already created. (If you haven’t created a site yet and would like to do so, you can also create one at this point in the process—or, you can always add one later.) Doing so connects the two so that new blog posts generate activity and notifications in the group. If you’d like students to be able to blog on the site, check “Enable member blog posting” and ensure that the default member role is set to “author”.

As an example, see this group: Click Blog in the left-hand sidebar, and you’ll see activity from the corresponding site,

If you set the group and site up in this way, you can instruct your students to register for an account on the main CBOX site, then once their account is approved, have them join the group. That should be a relatively straightforward first step to get them connected, and you can then ease them into writing blog posts and forum threads. This documentation from CUNY Academic Commons may also be helpful:




The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
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