Spotlight on: The Open Lab

If you haven’t heard of the OpenLab, it’s definitely worth taking a closer look. In a nutshell, the OpenLab is “an open-source digital platform…where faculty and students can work together, experiment, and innovate.” It’s a robust online community space that continues to be developed entirely here at CityTech, and is responsive to the needs of users.

The Buzz, CityTech’s lively student blog, has some great articles – “Five Expressions in Hatian Creole That You Could Pull Off in English,” and a rumination about names and their meanings, by Pebbles. Even though The Buzz is on a temporary hiatus, the existing content paints a rich picture of CityTech, through student voices.

Faculty and the OpenLab

CityTech faculty members have the option to create whole course sites on the OpenLab, offering an engaging alternative to Blackboard. Class interaction may be encouraged through blog posts, annotation, and other digital interaction. If the site is public, then no login is required, and content from CityTech classrooms can be instantly shared with a worldwide audience.

Many of the college’s Open Educational Resources (OER) are hosted on the OpenLab, and tagged with the special OER badge designation. We’ve written a bit on this blog about the various uses of OER, and their integration across CUNY.

Customized for CityTech

Users can customize the OpenLab to suit their needs, creating Clubs, Portfolios, and Projects in this flexible digital environment. Portfolios can be used to showcase student work, class projects, and give a public-facing representation of student activities. You can add images to represent yourself, change the site’s theme and structure, and otherwise be creative with the look and feel of your site.

A screenshot from Prof. DeSantis’ OER course site for Typographic Design III.

Another newly added feature is the option to add gender pronouns to your OpenLab Profile. We use pronouns to refer to each other every day: e.g., she rode her bike…he took a walk, and so on. The custom of asking for pronouns as a way to accommodate gender identity/expression originated in the LGBTQ community, and has recently been embraced more widely.

Above: new feature in the OpenLab Profile settings

The OpenLab: Yours to Explore

If you’re seeking to learn more about this great resource, feel free to check out their blog, The Open Road, which offers workshops and other ways to get involved. Similarly, there’s an extensive introduction to the site here, and Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab, with its own content relating to digital teaching practices, and more.

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