Category Archives: OpenLab Help

OpenLab Support

I know that most of you have already used the OpenLab in the past, and are pretty familiar with it. If you need some extra help, consult the series of “OpenLab Help” posts I made on this course site, to help you get started.

But … did you know that the OpenLab Community Team is around to help you with all of your OpenLab needs (in this course, and beyond)? They offer a series of workshops and office hours each semester, as well as blog post series, and email support. This Welcome Back message from the OpenLab team has links to help you find them when you need them. Also, check out the Fall 2018 OpenLab Student Postcard, below.


Creating your Introduction Post

Introduction Posts (HW for Wednesday 8/29)
In order to start exploring our OpenLab course site, getting comfortable with posting/adding media (blogging), practicing reflective writing, and getting to know one another, each student will create an initial post that introduces herself to the class.

*This Introductory Post is due no later than Wednesday, 8/29 @11:59pm, but I encourage you make this initial post as soon as possible to become comfortable with OpenLab and to give others a chance to learn a bit about you.

Content of Posts
Tell us a bit about yourself … what are your interests, hobbies, desires? Current job or internship? Career goals? What did you do over summer break (and what do you plan to do over the upcoming winter break)? Share some photos of you (you can either pull a photo from the web if you have one up there, upload one from your computer, or … you can even take one with your smartphone right now!) and maybe even your family, friends, neighborhood, etc. Practice adding a link and maybe even a video to your post too.

At the end of your post, include at least paragraph addressing address the following questions (not necessarily in this order):

  • What your strengths & weaknesses as a writer, reader, & thinker?
  • What do you enjoy most about writing, reading, & (critical) thinking?
  • What do you disklike most about writing, reading, & (critical) thinking?
  • What is your background with using OpenLab & technology more generally (it’s OK if you don’t have any!)?
  • What is your favorite genre of literature?
  • What is your favorite text?
  • What’s your experience with (and interest in) Science Fiction (don’t do any research for this … just state what you think it is, prior to entering the course)? Favorite books, short stories, movies, TV shows, games?
  • How do you see Science Fiction connecting with your major and career interests (&/or personal interests, hobbies)?
  • What are your expectations for this course/semester (what you think you will learn and what you hope you will learn)? Any questions?

Categorizing/Commenting on Posts
Don’t forget to categorize your post as “Introductions” (and uncheck “Uncategorized” if it is checked already by default). If you forget to do so before you “publish” you post, you can go back and edit/update it after the fact.

I made an Introductory post about myself (if I’m asking you to share some of your personality/background with the class, it’s only fair that I do the same!), so you can get to know me a bit better as well and also so you get a sense of what this type of post might look like/include.

Before our next class (on Thursday, 8/30) browse through everyone’s posts (if you choose the “Introductions” category for the right side of the homepage, you will be taken to all of these posts) and drop comments to get some conversation going and start building our class community for the semester!

How to Add Links, Images, & Videos to Posts

Adding links to your posts is really simple, and it’s also a wonderful way to share resources with the class and to engage in dialogue with other authors/sources. To add a link into your post:

  1. copy the URL of the webpage you want to link to
  2. highlight the text in your post that you want to become hyperlinked
  3. click the “insert/edit link” button (looks like a paperclip above the post screen)
  4. paste the URL into the “URL” space
  5. type in the name of the link into the “Title” space (“title”)
  6. click “Add Link”

And you’re done. It’s that simple! And you can always edit or remove the link later on, if you need to do so.

*Click here to view the OpenLab Help section on adding links

Here’s a quick tutorial about how to add images:

  1. When you decide you want to add an image to a post, click either on the button with the camera/music notes and the words “Add Media” that is on the top left of the editing box. Remember that your image will show up within the post wherever your cursor is when you click “Add Media.” So if you want to insert the image in the middle of your post, make sure to put it there.
  2. If you are choosing a file from your computer, you can then browse for it (the same you would if you were uploading an attachment to an e-mail) by clicking “Upload Files” (if you add to the Media Library first, you can also select your image from there).
  3. Once you find the image you want, click “Select.”
  4. You can then edit the image (e.g., to rotate it) … make sure to click “save” after editing it.
  5. You should re-title the image to make it easier to manage/find later on (ex: Jill Belli, Introduction Photo). If you wish, you can also add a “description” and “caption.”
  6. At the bottom of the screen you can change the “alignment” and “size” of the image
  7. .Don’t forget to click “Insert into Post” (NOT “Save Changes”) at the bottom.  If you don’t click “Insert into Post,” the image won’t show up in your post when you publish it (it will just be added to our site’s “Media Library” … more on that later in the semester).
  8. You can always click “Preview” before you click “Publish” to see what the post will like like after the images are added. Make sure, however, once you are satisfied with your post, to click “Publish” (you can also click “Save Draft” to continue to work on the post later, but no one else will be able to view the post–and I won’t be able to give you credit for it–until you hit “Publish”).

*Click here to view the OpenLab Help section on adding images (and other media)

Adding a video to your post from YouTube is about as simple as it gets. Simply copy the URL of the video into your post, and click “Publish” (as with links and images, don’t forget to contextualize the video a bit, and tell us whose it is and why you’re including it in your post). It will automatically appear (and can be played) right from your post. Woohoo!

*Click here to view the OpenLab Help section on adding videos

Editing / Revising your Posts

*Remember, if you don’t like something (either the post or the image), even after it is published, you can go back and change it (just click “Edit” and work away).  That’s the nice thing about blogs … you can keep revising 🙂

Blogging: Writing, Categorizing, & Commenting (on) Posts

If you’re unsure how to get started posting (blogging) on our OpenLab course site, below is a quick overview:

  • Once you’re logged into OpenLab and on our course site, you can easily make a post.
  • Simply click the plus sign (+) on the black menubar (the admin bar) at the top of the screen, and from the dropdown menu that appears, choose “Post.”
  • You can also go to your “Dashboard” from the same grey menubar, and this will take you to the “back end” (the control panel) of the site.
  • From there, you can post (in the lefthand menu, click “Posts” and then “Add new”) and do a number of other things.
  • Don’t forget to “Categorize” your post before submitting it (see below for more details on that), and then to “Publish” your post (if you only click “save” or “preview” it won’t be public).  Happy blogging 🙂

*A quick note about categorizing blog posts:

  • Just a friendly reminder to “categorize” your posts so that the site says navigable and organized.
  • A category is like a folder for posts (or like “labels,” in Gmail). It groups all posts categorized the same way together, so they can be easily accessed/archived. Without categories, everyone’s posts will just get dumped  into one general place and our course site will become very disorganized/chaotic as we produce a lot of content throughout the semester.
  • To categorize, after you finish typing your post up, choose the appropriate “Category” from the right side of the screen (e.g., after you create your “Introduction” post, you should make sure to check off “Introductions). If you forget to choose a category, you will be prompted to choose one before you are able to publish your post.
  • I won’t be able to grade your work if it is not in the right category, so make sure to categorize correctly in order to get credit for your posts.

*Oh yeah … and you should chat one another up!  How do you do this? By commenting on your classmates’ posts:

  • One of the great things about the blog is its interactive, networked nature … people post, others read and make comments, and then conversations happen and ideas get exchanged!
  • Read through everyone’s posts and drop comments if you feel so inspired (you can comment in reply to another comment also). Your comments can serve to affirm what someone has said, ask clarifying questions, provide an alternate viewpoint, etc.
  • To do this, simply type in a short comment in the “leave a reply” box at the bottom of the post.
  • You can respond either to the original post or a specific commenter!

Getting Started on the OpenLab

To sign-up for an OpenLab account, create your profile, and become familiar with the system:

  • Sign in to your City Tech email account
  • Sign up for an OpenLab account ASAP (no later than Wednesday 8/29!)
  • If you have trouble clicking the confirmation link in the email from the OpenLab, try cutting and pasting it into the address bar of Firefox or Chrome
  • Log in to the OpenLab
  • Join our course, ENG 2420: Science Fiction, by clicking on its Course Profile (here is more info. about joining courses)
  • Browse through the OpenLab (even if you’ve used it before, check it out again as there are always new sites, people, and feature), noticing how people use it and what kind of materials they include
  • Click on People & browse through a few pages of OpenLab’s 25,000+ (!!!) members, looking at the avatars and reading about the members in their profile sections
  • Now create your own profile, uploading an avatar and including a bio/profile (remember, this info. is available to the public!).

Questions? If you need technical support, you should check out the (very detailed/helpful!) Help section of OpenLab, &, if you still have questions, attend a workshop or an office hour, or contact the wonderful OpenLab Community Team via email.