OER at City Tech

Author: Bree Zuckerman (Page 1 of 2)

OpenLab Updates: January 2024

There are a number of new features and improvements that have been included in the OpenLab update in January 2024 that may be of interest for OER. 

New features

There are now additional post privacy options that appear on public sites, allowing you to choose from three different privacy options, for more fine-grained visibility choices when working in the open: 

  • Everyone: This is the default setting, which matches the setting of the open site. 
  • Site members: Only logged-in members of the site can see the post. 
  • OpenLab members: Only logged-in members of the OpenLab can see the post.

You don’t need to activate anything. These options will appear automatically when a site is set to either “Allow search engines to index” or “Ask search engines not to index this site.”

Additional privacy options, as described above.


The OpenLab added four new plugins, and retired one plugin, CM Tooltip Glossary, in favor of a more accessible glossary plugin. The new plugins are:

The plugin GTranslate was recently added to the OpenLab, allowing you to add an automatic translation option to your site. TranslatePress allows you to translate it manually, for a more accurate translation.

Reading Time WP 
This plugin adds an estimated reading time to posts and pages. 

WP Reading Progress 
Used alone or together with Reading Time WP, this plugin adds a progress bar at the top of posts and pages, indicating to the reader how far along they are in the text.

Name Directory 
This plugin allows you to create a glossary, or multiple glossaries for your site. You can also allow others to submit glossary entries. 

We also made a few fixes to the OpenLab Attributions plugin to improve keyboard navigation, and to fix an issue preventing existing attributions from being edited.

OpenLab Updates: Summer 2023

There are a number of new features and improvements that have been included in the monthly OpenLab updates over the Spring and Summer 2023 semesters that may be of interest for OER. 

New features

Choose a Template for your Site

When you create a new Course, Project, Club, or Portfolio, the site created uses a template that is appropriate for each type of site. For example, new Course sites come with pre-created pages for Syllabus, Assignments, etc. Now, instead of one template for each type of site, there can be multiple templates for different types of Course, Project, Club, or Portfolio Sites. For example, there are two templates for Course sites: Interactive, intended for use with active student posting and commenting, and Informational, for sites containing course materials, with instructor posts. You can choose the type of site template you want to use when you’re creating your new site. Learn more in OpenLab Help.

Activity Widget & Block

The Activity page that appears on every Course, Project, and Club Profile was introduced in January 2023. It includes all site activity and can be filtered by type (posts, comments, docs, etc). There’s now a version of this activity feed that can be included on a Course, Project, or Club Site. This can be done by adding the OpenLab Activity block to a post or page, or the OpenLab Activity widget to the sidebar or footer of your site. Learn more in OpenLab Help.

Non-active Status for Courses, Projects, Clubs, and Portfolios

This new feature allows admins of a Course, Project, Club, or Portfolio to switch it to ‘Not Active’ status if it’s no longer being actively used. This status change means that new members are not able to join or request membership, unless invited by an admin. A notice will be added to the profile and it will display on the last page of My OpenLab > My Courses, Projects, or Clubs. Faculty may wish to set past courses to ‘Not Active’ so that course materials can remain open and available to the community but students won’t be able to join a past course by mistake. Learn more in OpenLab Help.

OpenLab Connections

OpenLab Connections is a new feature that allows you to link related Courses, Projects, or Clubs and share information between them. For instance, members of one course section can follow activity from a connected section without needing to become members of that section (private content will not be shared). Learn more in OpenLab Help.

Embedding for Padlet, Geogebra, and Desmos

Padlets can now be embedded in posts and pages. Instructions are in OpenLab Help.

For math-specific resources, you can now embed Geogebra and Desmos applets by pasting the URL in a post or page.

New Plugins

Broken Link Checker is the new and improved version of WP Broken Link Status Checker. You can use it to scan for and alert you to broken links on your site.

Editoria11y Accessibility Checker checks your posts and pages for accessibility issues, and displays any existing issues with a thorough description of what they are and how you can address them. It is also helpful as a learning tool, providing easy-to-understand information about making your site more accessible. 

GTranslate allows you to use Google Translate to offer versions of your website in different languages, using Google Translate’s automatic translation service. You can add a widget with a dropdown allowing visitors to choose their language. 

Reckoning is an assessment plugin developed for Blogs@Baruch, and built on by the CUNY Academic Commons, that we’ve brought over to the OpenLab. Made for Course Sites, it allows the instructor to view all member posts and comments in one place. It also incorporates grades from WP Grade Comments, and allows you to export all data to CSV. 

WeBWorK Problem Embed is a new mathematics plugin created as part of City Tech’s “Connect the DOTS” grant that allows faculty to embed WeBWorK math problems on an OpenLab site. Students can interact with the problem directly on the site, rather than having to navigate away to the WeBWorK site.

OpenLab Updates: Fall 2022

There are a number of new features and improvements that have been included in the monthly OpenLab updates over the Fall 2022 semester that may be of interest for OER. 

Rich text and media embedding for comments

The OpenLab now has enhanced commenting functionality, allowing you and your site members and visitors to write comments with rich text (bold, italics, links, etc), and easily embed media by simply pasting the URL, as you would in a post.

When you add a comment, you’ll see buttons to add rich text styles to your comment – bold, italics, underline, and numbered and bulleted lists. There’s also a button for adding a link, and one for embedding media. 

These plugins are already activated on all OpenLab sites, so if you’re a site admin, you don’t need to do anything on your site. There is help for Commenting on a Site, which includes the new rich text and media embedding functionality.

OpenLab Attributions plugin

There are a number of improvements to the OpenLab Attributions plugin. Now when you add an attribution, the window is movable so you can see the text beneath the window to include in your attribution statement. The flow of fields in the window has also been reorganized.

The plugin is also now responsive so it works better on mobile.

Embedding for Miro boards

In addition to other types of media embedding, Miro boards can be easily embedded. Simply paste the URL for the board you want to embed on its own line, as you would for a YouTube video.

Library Subject Guides widget: Gender & Sexuality Studies

There is now a link to the new Subject Guide for Gender & Sexuality Studies in the Library Subject Guides widget. 

New Themes

Two new themes were added recently: GeneratePress and Twenty Twenty One. Either could work well for an OER site.

You can always contact the OpenLab team with any questions about these features or other OpenLab-related questions.

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