Pedagogy Profile: Ryoya Terao

What Department/Program are your affiliated with?Bust photo of professor Ryoya Terao, a man in glasses and a green jacket

ENT (Entertainment Technology)

What is your role in that Department/Program?

Faculty, associate professor, instructor, oversees most of the video courses.

When did you begin working at City Tech?

Fall 2010

Describe your experience joining the OpenLab and when/how you began actively using the platform to support your pedagogy.

I’m not teaching these courses this semester, but actively started using OpenLab a few years ago in ENT 1190 (Video Technology, formerly known as Introduction to Film and Video Production) and ENT 3290 (Digital Video Camera). Currently, the department uses OpenLab for all sections of ENT 4499 (Culmination Project).

Why did you decide to start using the OpenLab? 

For ENT 1190 and 3290, online discussions with some pictures and copying links, OpenLab is more useful than BB, and some students said, they don’t log on to BB often, and they don’t even like the appearance of it.

Can you describe the ways you have integrated the OpenLab into your pedagogical practices?

For online discussions for group projects, it is useful. On OpenLab, it is easy for me to track down who make meaningful contributions actively. I also gave assignments for students to weekly upload some photos (this was in ENT 3290 a year ago).

How has the OpenLab transformed or expanded your pedagogy, and the pedagogical values you’re able to realize in your courses and educational practice? 

As it is more visual and it allows us to upload visual materials than BB, it is useful when I teach video courses.

Aside from courses, how does the OpenLab support your pedagogical practices and ambitions?

For college wide committees, OpenLab is used [robustly], and it is one good way to be informed and communicate with City Tech colleagues.

Recap: Curating Faculty/Staff Portfolios

On Thursday, April 4, faculty and staff from City Tech got together for the second of two Open Pedagogy events the OpenLab hosted this semester where participants discussed “curating a faculty/staff Portfolio.”

Quite aptly, a participant kicked the evening off by reminding us that, whether we are aware of it or not, we tend to leave a trail of digital footprints. Sometimes, like when students pull up our Rate my Professor reviews, these footprints suggest something about our pedagogy. How can we use academic portfolios, we wondered, to curate a more intentional digital presence?

This was one of  the main questions animating the discussion. Folks shared different strategies for building academic portfolios, including chronicling past syllabi, using previous OpenLab course sites as repositories—evidence, even—of previous pedagogical work, archiving invitations to serve on panels and other planned events, and selecting finished researched to showcase. One participant noted the multiple advantages of maintaining an academic portfolio on the OpenLab. For graphic designers, architects, photographers, and videographers, OpenLab academic portfolios lend themselves to showcasing visuals in high resolution—something that is not always a possibility in their print counterparts. Moreover, for those who teach (and learn!) on the OpenLab, the ability to link out to one’s other projects and/or courses is a uniquely helpful practice.

A number of staff—including librarians and members of the OpenLab team—and faculty in non-teaching roles led a discussion about how to present work done outside of the classroom. In these roles, staff often find themselves giving workshops, or training faculty and students in specific and skilled tasks. What would it mean, we wondered, to consider this work as pedagogy?

Finally, we closed our discussion with the question: are portfolios exclusively spaces for perfection—vehicles to portray our best work and successes? Or can they also be spaces for reflection—organic examinations of our “failures” and teachable moments? Many of us had (understandably) defaulted to using portfolios solely as required by our institutions: regular benchmarks of accomplishments made available for institutional review. We asked: how can academic portfolios grow more capacious? How often do we publicly reflect on our pedagogical experiences? Why not use the OpenLab’s affordances to think through teaching and learning—inside and outside the classroom—and invite others into the conversation?

Pedagogy Profile: Jennifer Sears

For this Pedagogy Profile, we heard from Jennifer Sears, an Assistant Professor in the English Department and a Faculty Leader for the First Year Learning Communities program.

Photo of white woman sipping coffee while wearing a black beret and sweater

When did you begin working at City Tech?

I became a full-time faculty member in fall 2014. Prior to that appointment, I was a substitute Lecturer and adjunct professor in the English Department and taught in the First Year Summer Programs.

Describe your experience joining the OpenLab and when/how you began actively using the platform to support your pedagogy. Why did you decide to start using the OpenLab?

I first used the OpenLab in March 2014 when I created Words Have Lives, a tutoring site for developmental writing students. Lauri Aguirre, Director of First Year Programs, asked me to design the site as a “commons” with the intention that future Developmental Writing tutors and students might use and develop the materials even further. I remember I had fun figuring out that site! I’d done some blogging already, so some of the functions and the navigation tools were familiar. I liked the title I chose–Words Have Lives–and wanted it to have a “Brooklyn” theme. Some of the photographs are from my Williamsburg neighborhood and a walk over the Williamsburg Bridge on a memorably sunny day. Photo of graffiti on concrete that reads "Brooklyn 4 Life"For that first project, the students were primarily recipients of emails with links to resources and also reminders for upcoming tests.

My next project was for the First Year Summer Program (FYSP) a few months later, in the summer semesters of 2014. I co-wrote a Common Reading Project with a fellow English professor, Robert Ostrom, focusing on Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. I wanted to add an OpenLab site to make the project more visibly appealing for instructors to take into their classrooms. With posts on the OpenLab, they could quickly find online resources about Malcolm Gladwell including video interviews and articles.

The reason it worked for the FYSP Common Reading project was because we had multiple faculty, primarily adjunct instructors working at different times and working in different locations. Building a sense of teaching within a community is difficult when instructors don’t have face to face contact with each other, and the OpenLab facilitates this with more visual impact than sharing files on Google Drive or Blackboard. Though there are other ways to share materials among faculty, what was immediately clear was the visual advantage of using the Open Lab.

The challenge of using the OpenLab in 2014 was an obvious one: most faculty weren’t OpenLab yet, and so we had to make everything available in multiple formats and try to help people learn how to log in. But this has changed dramatically in the past five years.

Can you describe the ways you have integrated the OpenLab into your pedagogical practices?

The first course I integrated with OpenLab was an upper level Professional Writing course. I had students create blog posts to write about their professional interests and to think about the professional audience they were targeting. They created several interesting projects. Two projects that come to mind are “Pimp My Dog,” a student’s project about dog grooming. Another I remember was created by a student from California who wrote a site on surfing and the identification of different types of waves. I still saw the site as a blogging platform, and this is what I used it to teach.

In the First Year Learning Communities (FYLC), we use the OpenLab. For students, we have a “My Stories” project for first semester students describing their experiences at the college. The peer leaders, upper level students, in this program also interact with first semester students on the OpenLab. This is one of the powerful possibilities, I think, that the platform facilitates, students meeting students they wouldn’t otherwise meet.

As an instructor in First Year Learning Communities, the linked courses we teach are more easy to link on the sites. One of the FYLC cohorts that integrated the OpenLab most effectively was created with psychology professor Barbara Chutroo. We developed a class that considered the rising rates of depression and stress during the first semester of college and ways to deal with potential stressors. We used the OpenLab in a couple of ways. One was that they all uploaded their student profile and talked about how they came to City Tech. One of the students, Karan Soekhoe, a photographer, uploaded a photo and talked about how beautiful the area was. Photo of One World Trade and the Brooklyn Bridge across the East RiverOther students uploaded personal images. It was through these courses that I started considering the OpenLab as a place for students to actively contribute.

I’ve been active in OER development in a variety of ways. I did the training for OERs and created the “Brain on the Page” OER course for the combination 92W/ENG 1101 course. I then worked as a co-organizer for four English department ENG 1101 courses that were under the OER initiative. Having been part of those efforts, I now use primarily no-cost textbooks and host most of the materials on the OpenLab. What I like about these resources in addition to the fact that they are accessible to students, is that they allow me to easily refresh my own teaching and pedagogical materials every semester.

How has the OpenLab transformed or expanded your pedagogy, and the pedagogical values you’re able to realize in your courses and educational practice?

OpenLab has expanded my pedagogy in a couple of ways. I’ve incorporated a wider range of materials with an emphasis on current materials. I find I’m exploring more ways to get students working online and interacting with other students. I’ve had to rethink what online writing is as a genre and consider how to approach it. This is an increasingly important part of our students’ professional lives.

In 2014, students floundered and often needed help to get started. In 2019, many students need little assistance to get started. More first semester students are posting and uploading materials with relative ease. This shows change in our students and in the continuing development of the OpenLab. I’m still learning about widgets and techniques to make this easier for students and at the same time, they are getting more and more fluent before they get here.

Open Pedagogy Event (4/4): Curating a Faculty or Staff Portfolio

Brooklyn-NY DUMBO by alh1

Curating a Faculty or Staff Portfolio

Thursday, April 4, 2019, 4:30-6:00pm (Faculty Commons, Namm 227)

*Refreshments will be served. (Thanks to the Provost’s Office for its generous support of this event!)

*Part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation.

*Please RSVP by commenting on this post. Please share this invitation with your colleagues!

Join the OpenLab Team, City Tech faculty and staff, and CUNY colleagues at our next Open Pedagogy event, where we’ll be discussing using Portfolios for faculty and staff on the OpenLab. While Portfolios are often associated with student work, faculty and staff have embraced the opportunity to create dynamic, compelling collections of their work in teaching and learning, research, student success, and academic initiatives across the college, as well as a space to reflect on these experiences. We’ll work to expand the portfolio beyond a “teaching” portfolio so as to consider its role for faculty and staff in non-teaching roles. We’ll discuss how Portfolios offer opportunities for authoring a professional identity within the context of the City Tech community, and some strategies for curating work in the open, public-facing space of the OpenLab. We’ll consider the following questions:

  • What are the affordances of creating and maintaining a digital portfolio on the OpenLab (or another digital format) instead of a collection of printed-out materials?
  • What curation strategies are important for Portfolios on the OpenLab? Is this the place for reflection or perfection?
  • How might Portfolios help you as you move through your career in higher education? In what other educational contexts could you see a Portfolio as a useful tool?
  • Considering the recentering of the teaching Portfolio, what opportunities and challenges arise when the teaching isn’t just in the classroom (e.g., OpenLab project, administrative responsibilities, committee work, altac careers)?

This event is the second of two in our Spring 2019 Open Pedagogy series on curation in open digital pedagogy. We’re excited to continue our conversation around how “curation”–practically and conceptually–can be integrated into professional development on the OpenLab.

Save the date for our upcoming linked workshop, “Curating Faculty and Staff Portfolios, ” where we will share best practices for developing a reflexive and professional teaching portfolio (Thursday, April 11, 2:30-4:00 PM Room L441A).

Recommended Readings:

Pedagogy Profile: Librarian Nora Almeida

This month we’re profiling Professor Nora Almeida, an Instruction and Outreach Librarian. Professor Almeida assumed her current position in 2015, after joining the City Tech community in 2013 as an adjunct librarian.Headshot of Nora Almeida, Instruction Librarian

What Department/Program are you affiliated with?

City Tech Library

Describe your experience joining the OpenLab and when/how you began actively using the platform to support your pedagogy.

I started using OpenLab in 2013 when I joined City Tech as an adjunct and was teaching LIB1201 “Research and Documentation for the Information Age.” I used the platform to host course materials, the course schedule, and assignments but also wanted to build some kind of online community for students. Blogging is a big component of the course and I like that students can read and respond to each other’s posts. I think that making my course ‘open’ and involving my students in decisions about who can (and should) see their work also presented a great opportunity to talk about online identity, intellectual property, and digital privacy—concepts that relate directly to LIB1201 course content.

Why did you decide to start using the OpenLab?

I’m pretty comfortable with WordPress and like the flexibility of designing my own curriculum AND the platform that I present it on. Many of the out-of-box Learning Management Systems I’ve used at other institutions are constraining and clunky to use. They are built like silos and it’s hard to have any input into the online identity of your course, which I think is important in terms of reflecting what the class is about. I know that OpenLab is intimidating to some new students but it’s more practical to have some fluency in a WordPress-based platform when you graduate from college than it is to have used a proprietary platform that no one outside of higher education has event heard of. So I present it to my students as a way to learn a little bit about a technology that they might actually encounter again in a job.

Can you describe the ways you have integrated the OpenLab into your pedagogical practices?

Aside from blogging, I have had students in my credit-courses create project sites on OpenLab for collaborative high-stakes assignments. I do research assignments with students but have stopped requiring formal research papers because students aren’t forced to think about structure or rhetorical mode—they just write a standard 5 paragraph essay and try to shove a few quotes in there. So, in response, I have integrated projects into my curriculum that involve producing podcasts, creating maps, or developing photo-essays based on research. The students then design part of an OpenLab project site that includes all of the project components—an annotated bibliography that summarizes the sources they found, written reflections, and their podcast or essay or map. I leave the site organization and visual design up to them but that’s a formal part of how the projects are evaluated. I emphasize that designing their project site should be intentional and thoughtful.  We do a lot of field trips for the placed-based interdisciplinary courses that I teach and I have started to try to frame primary source “documentation” as something that students actively participate in creating on OpenLab.

How has the OpenLab transformed or expanded your pedagogy, and the pedagogical values you’re able to realize in your courses and educational practice?

In both credit courses and library instruction, I think about context and collaboration as a central elements of my pedagogy. I usually co-teach a special topics interdisciplinary course called Learning Places and I also spend a lot of time in other people’s classrooms, which has made me really cognizant of the (sometimes fraught) expectations and emotions we all carry with us into classrooms. I think that intentional, critical pedagogy is always context aware and that if I’m doing my job, I’m acknowledging that we’re all in these shifting and precarious positions in relation to each other, in relation to institutional structures, and in relation to what we’re learning. So I try to approach pedagogy (in physical and digital spaces) in a way that engages people and makes them feel like they are actively involved in shaping outcomes. I try to highlight that what we (all) bring to the table matters.

Prof. Almeida's students get involved with DACA activism

In terms of what this has to do with OpenLab, as a librarian and critical pedagogy proponent, I’m coming from a place where cultivating openness (in the form of accessible and interactive environments—digital and otherwise) is really important to me. I’m interested in a digital spaces that my students and I have some power to shape. 

Prof. Almeida's student projects

Aside from courses, how does the OpenLab support your pedagogical practices and ambitions?

I think it’s awesome that the OpenLab team foregrounds pedagogy—that the conversation is about open pedagogy and how that translates to tech rather than trying to make how we teach fit into a proprietary commercial platforms. I also think that as a whole, higher education, hasn’t fully thought through what it means to outsource education to private companies who are making money off student data or automating test scores or selling us copyrighted lecture slides. All this to say, I think it’s great that we’re building the tools that we—City Tech students and faculty—specifically need.

Beyond my role as an instructor, I see OpenLab as a great tool for connecting across disciplines and engaging communities beyond City Tech. The OpenLab team helped the library develop some custom widgets and I think it’s really important that there is less of a divide between the resources the library has to support instruction and the place(s) where instruction happens. I’ve also been involved in the library Open Education Resources (OER) initiative and think the OpenLab has been important to ensure that we have a good infrastructure that is scalable and adaptable. Dealing with the textbook affordability crisis facing our students is important to address right now but we also need an open scalable platform that ensures the initiative is sustainable. The OER committee is also using OpenLab to help faculty learn about instructional design and accessibility and copyright—which they can carry forward into other projects. Projects like the OER initiative and Living Lab illustrate that we can build infrastructure on OpenLab to support each other, to help streamline curricula, and to build on (rather than replicate) each other’s work.

Recap: Curating Student Work in ePortfolios

 

summer_grass by lia510

On Thursday, February 21st, faculty and graduate students from across CUNY got together over wine and cheese to discussing curating student work in ePortfolios. The evening marked the first of our two Open Pedagogy events this semester and drew faculty participation from departments like Communication and Design, Art History, English, and Biology. Each participant shared their concerns and hopes for student ePortfolios.

ePortfolios on the OpenLab are designed to allow students to create professional websites to showcase and reflect on their academic/ professional experiences. That said, providing students with built-in opportunities and guidance to curate their online work has not always been an obvious task. First, we might ask whose task it is: should it be the role of academic advisers, faculty instructors, or departments to work with students on their ePortfolios? To the extent that advisers, faculty, and departments are already doing this work, how can their efforts be better coordinated in service of guiding students in (dare we say?) the art of curating their work, reflecting on their City Tech career and academic growth, and transitioning, even, to building a professional portfolio they can share with employers? These were some of the questions animating the discussion.

We began by tackling the first of these questions: how and where to help students select their best work to showcase on their ePortfolios? Is the classroom the best space to do this? If that is case, then who should be providing students with feedback? Instructors only? Peers? Participants at the event shared some strategies. Some instructors set up detailed guidelines early in the semester, emphasizing to the class as a whole that seeming minutiae like Avatar images and usernames on the OpenLab can project an online image. They encourage students to think through how they would like to present themselves creatively, but thoughtfully. Others suggest to students that when coursework takes the form of public, multimedia writing-i.e. through blog posts and other reflective assignments-then the audience is not just the instructor grading the work: the audience is a larger online public.

Moreover, by reflecting in blog posts on their academic careers, students are writing for their future selves, giving themselves a record of their trajectories: milestones to commemorate and, yes, even early work to cringe at. Instructors hope in this way to equip students with a variety of perspectives, so that they can be the final curators of their own work. A challenge noted by participants was that advising sessions–which could theoretically be ideal spaces to guide students through curating an ePortfolio-are more often than not bureaucratic, demanding attention to administrative requirements such as course registration, rather than a broader vision for a student’s academic career. We wondered whether having more streamlined use of ePortfolios within departments might make ePortfolios easier to incorporate into advising sessions. Would this, we asked, lead to more robust portfolio use?

In the hard sciences, such as Biology, which are less writing-intensive, instructors wondered how they might effectively incorporate ePortfolios. Participants suggested having students blog to reflect on the ethical implications of experiments, as well as their own growth and challenges in learning scientific material. In photography courses, an instructor noted a more technical challenge: storage space-and limits- on the OpenLab! This is a broader concern for students whose coursework takes the form of larger files like images and videos. We noted that CUNY is hoping to soon offer unlimited Dropbox storage to students and faculty, which should be a good workaround.

A final question was when students should begin curating their ePortfolios? Are ePortfolios, which offer all of the affordances of open digital tools, best taken advantage of early in college careers? Or are they better saved for later, to avoid overwhelming students who are transitioning to higher education? Both perspectives were endorsed. Some noted that having students begin early gives them time to curate and look back at their work, if only to reflect on how far they’ve come and to select later, perhaps more polished, work to keep on their sites. It also improves buy-in from students to begin early, allowing them to gain familiarity with the digital tools of the OpenLab. Others argued for a more structured approach, streamlining ePortfolio use across classrooms, at least within departments, and easing students into the process. A long-term vision along these lines is to develop streamlined, but scaffolded ePortfolio assignments that help students iteratively build up their online presence.

Do your students use ePortfolios? Do you have ideas for how to help students with curation? Keep the conversation going by replying to this post and sharing your thoughts.

On a final note, folks interested in ePortfolios might want to take a look at the Association for Authentic, Experiential, and Evidence-Based Learning’s conference on ePortfolios, which will be held at Bronx Community College in New York City, July 15-18.

Here are a few additional resources and readings on ePortfolios that are worth a read:

This article highlights interdisciplinarity of using ePortfolios, which the authors contend is a critical skill for students to develop alongside critical thinking and transferring knowledge across fields. The appendices include assignments from General Education portfolio assignments in the author’s colleges.

  • Yancey, Kathleen Blake. “ePortfolio.” Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments. MLA Commons, 2016.

This resource explicates some basics and highlights creative assignments including ePortfolios.

The sample prompts included in this article are thought-provoking and gathered from CUNY-based research.

By thinking through the public online contexts of different types of ePortfolios, this article presents ways to use ePortfolios to develop digital literacies and tips for maintaining a professional online presence, including considerations of the specific needs of a digital format, architecture and design of a site.

Open Pedagogy Event (2/21): Curating Student Work in ePortfolios

“Red Bull Curates” by Laine Pub Company

Curating Student Work in ePortfolios

Thursday, February 21, 2019, 4:30-6:00pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

*Refreshments will be served. (Thanks to the Provost’s Office for its generous support of this event!)

*Part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation.

*Please RSVP by commenting on this post. Please share this invitation with your colleagues!

Join the OpenLab Team, City Tech faculty and staff, and CUNY colleagues at our next Open Pedagogy event, where we’ll be discussing teaching and learning with ePortfolios on the OpenLab. While ePortfolios are the work of students, faculty and staff have a key role in helping students to build an online presence and curate an ePortfolio that is reflexive, engaging, and professional. ePortfolios on the OpenLab are designed to allow students to create professional websites that showcase their academic and professional experiences, as well as a space to reflect on these experiences. We’ll discuss how ePortfolios can be integrated into class-based assignments, and the challenges of having students curate their work in the open, public-facing space of the OpenLab. We’ll consider the following questions:

  • How can the opportunities available in digital spaces change the way we think about curation in teaching and learning (and how we teach and learn through curation)?
  • How can ePortfolios scaffolded into students’ coursework at City Tech help students curate and reflect on their academic, extracurricular, and personal growth?
  • How can ePortfolios be revised as a student approaches graduation to present a professional portfolio for their career or graduate studies aspirations?
  • How does working individually, publicly, and socially change the way we implement and consider curatorial strategies?

This event kicks off our Spring 2019 Open Pedagogy series on curation in open digital pedagogy, and we’re excited to start a conversation around how “curation”–practically and conceptually–can be integrated into teaching and learning on the OpenLab.

Save the date for our upcoming linked workshop, “Curating Student Work in ePortfolios, ” where we will share best practices for / do hands-on work for incorporating ePortfolios into coursework to facilitate student curation of their academic work (Friday, March 1, 12:00-1:30 PM Room G606).

Recommended Readings:

 

Troubling Race in the Classroom, 2/13

Our colleagues at the Graduate Center’s Teaching and Learning Center send along the following invitation:

Troubling Race in the Classroom
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
3-5pm, Room C204
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10036

Many college instructors struggle to engage students in complex thinking about race and racism. Such work is increasingly necessary, but the range of perspectives in many classrooms can make discussing such topics challenging for both students and instructors alike. Strong feelings and opinions, as well as divergent and disparate experience and knowledge, demand a thoughtful and creative pedagogical approach.

These challenges can make dialogues about race and racial justice uncomfortable, emotional, and difficult. But a classroom that features a range of knowledge and experiences also has the potential to fuel transformative learning. Students and faculty have opportunities to expand their vision of the world through reading and dialog alongside those with very different experiences.

Join the Teaching and Learning Center for a workshop where we will discuss some of the theories that have informed our approaches to teaching about race and racism in our respective disciplines. Together, we will consider both the challenges to and potential for engaging race in classroom spaces, ranging from how to address the unexpected, alarming comment to how to facilitate entire courses. We will conclude by documenting and sharing our collective knowledge about teaching and learning about race in the classroom.

Register to attend this workshop at http://cuny.is/tlc-spring-19.

(note that there are options for non-GC students at the bottom of the list of programs in the registration form!)

Workshop: Hip-Hop Pedagogy, 2/14

Our colleagues at the Futures Initiative (at the CUNY Graduate Center) send along this invitation for a workshop on hip-hop and pedagogy moderated by Futures Initiative Fellow Kashema Hutchinson. It’s at the CUNY Graduate Center on February 14 at 12pm in room 9207.

This workshop will be conducted as a cypher, a hip hop cultural event, such as freestyling or battling that takes place in a circle, to discuss the relationship between the elements of hip-hop culture and pedagogy in traditional and non-traditional educative spaces. Narratives and infographics will be used to examine the different types of hip-hop pedagogy. Topics such as identity, school to confinement pathways and mass incarceration will also be addressed. Participants will include students from the Undergraduate Leaders Fellowship.

Continue reading “Workshop: Hip-Hop Pedagogy, 2/14”

Pedagogy Profile: Professor Javiela Evangelista

Prof. Evangelista headshotThis month we’re profiling Professor Javiela Evangelista, an Assistant Professor and Caribbeanist in the African American Studies Department. Professor Evangelista assumed her current position in 2016, after joining the City Tech community in 2013 as an adjunct lecturer.

How and why did you begin using the OpenLab, and how have you integrated the platform into your pedagogical practices? 

I started using OpenLab actively as Open Educational Resources (OER) Fellow (2017-1018).  I developed the OER website on Openlab Fall 2017 and implemented it in my Africana Folklore: AFR 1130 course, Spring 2018. AFR 1130 is a foundational course for the department. In the course we learn about central concepts, issues and events in the African Diaspora and improve our writing. The course supports the department’s mission to “bring research, critical analysis, and interpretation to bear on the contributions of peoples of African descent to the genesis and the development of human civilization.” By providing a foundational understanding of the African diaspora, the course aims to better enable students to navigate future courses in the department.

The majority of the readings – from ebooks, to peer reviewed articles, websites for cultural institutions, to videos – are accessible from the Openlab. The Openlab provided a central space for the OER which aims to provide greater access, with material that is free of cost to students. This access can serve our students with budgetary constraints and also help the college keep up with relevant material and in a wide range of mediums, which often encourages greater student engagement. Towards this end the Openlab served our course by enabling the organization of the material by theme and in the case of AFR 1130, by geographic area. We added tags to each post to make material easily searchable and to allow for reorganization in the future, by cultural themes or chronologically, for example. The syllabus is posted as a pdf and also imbedded onto the page for easy access and scrolling. We added a table of contents modeled after wikipedia at the beginning of major sections, which helps students and readers know what to expect on the page, and also makes navigation much easier (especially from cell phones, which may be an important consideration for access).

How has the OpenLab transformed or expanded your pedagogy, and the pedagogical values you’re able to realize in your courses and educational practice?

With AFR 1130 as an OER, I was obligated to step outside of my comfort zone and explore a range of materials which the Openlab hosted. In order to cover an expansive geographical content (the entire African diaspora) and timeframe (14thc – present), I made an effort to cast a wide net when searching for material, not only to share in class, but also for students to review at home. This led to students listening to podcasts and watching Ted Talks by some of the same authors that we would have simply read in my other courses. For example, in AFR 1130 to conclude the course, students often read “#Ferguson: Digital Protest, Hashtag Ethnography and the Racial Politics of Social Media in the United States,” by Yarimar Bonilla and Jonathan Rosa in order to evaluate social media as a form of folklore and cultural production.  When researching Bonilla’s OERs I found one of her interviews on the Brian Lehrer Radio Show “How Colonialism in the Caribbean Affects Hurricane Prep and Recovery.” Posted on the Openlab, this new material enabled us to analyze the importance of journalism (particularly independent media) as a form of folklore, while also addressing the politics of Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory.

Aside from courses, how does the OpenLab support your pedagogical practices and ambitions?

I am an activist and public anthropologist whose social justice research, addresses civil liberties and human rights in the African diaspora. My research is in service of the public, and as a result, I participate in collaborative work with those impacted by the issues I aim to address, from research design through implementation. At it’s best, academic work expands the classroom and engages the public in support of social justice. The open nature of the Openlab works in concert with my values and pedagogy. It is important that there is transparency and access in our work. Historian Manning Marable argues that due to racial inequality which results in omissions and misrepresentations in knowledge production, African American Studies has always been and should continue to be, not only descriptive, but also corrective and prescriptive.  This is a guiding principle in my research and also my pedagogy. In all of the courses that I teach, students engage in “pracademics,” essentially the theory that those who research inequality should also contribute to changing it, in practice (Davis 2003).

In the new course AFR 2402ID The Heritage of Imperialism (which I am currently developing an Openlab site for) and AFR 1130, we take a field trip visit to Democracy Now Studios! (DN!) in order to view a recording and have a discussion with staff. During the visit, student’s learn about the value of independent media as a corrective within our society. In preparation for the visit to DN!, students analyze how stories are framed by comparing CNN’s coverage of the “riots” in Baltimore, with DN!’s coverage of the same events as an “uprising.” I teach students to define and utilize the concepts of imperialism, race, and diaspora while demonstrating an understanding of the vast application and complexity of these concepts.

Studens sit in semi-circle speaking with Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! studios.
Students speaking with Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! studios.

In AFR 2402ID students also learn to analyze contemporary connections to imperialism for African descendants in consideration of various points of view. For example, students learn that contemporary continuities of imperialism may manifest in communities that are economically and politically marginalized, as well as privileged communities. Likewise, students come to understand the legacy of imperialism as not solely oppressive, but also resistive. I also guide students to analyze how race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, migration, capitalism and labor, the state and militarism, and ideals of expansion and expulsion are related to the historical and contemporary development of various African diasporic societies and hence the heritage of imperialism within the African diaspora. By considering the heritage of imperialism in their own lives and in conversation with guest activists, educators, healthcare providers and journalists for example, students engage in place-based learning and further contribute to NYCCT’s interdisciplinary mission. As a cultural anthropologist, ethnography and testimony are centered in my courses to amplify marginalized concerns and to explore strategies that may serve as correctives. The Openlab provides an important place for these conversations in a space open to the public.

As a result of a year long Writing Across the Curriculum Fellowship at Lehman College,  I initiated a Writing Resource Center within blackboard to support students as they strengthen their writing, which is a central goal in my courses. I plan to add the Resource Center to the Openlab. In the interim, the assignments are posted on Blackboard.

My teaching approach includes scaffolded assignments, formal and informal writing, and high and low stakes assignments to enable student growth through practice and process.More specifically, we use writing to: 1) Understand, summarize, analyze, and critique course material using informal and formal writing. 2) Employ writing as an essential tool for learning course material. 3) Formulate and support a central argument or claim in their formal writing assignments.4) Effectively integrate and organize evidence to support their claims. 5) Practice writing for different purposes, audiences, and in various media. 6) Follow the writing conventions of the discipline and its related professions. 7) Follow the conventions of English grammar and mechanics in their writing. 8) Compose multiple drafts in order to proofread, and revise clear and logical sentences using correct spelling, conventional punctuation, correct grammar and syntax. Use varied sentence structure. Order and connect sentences and paragraphs effectively, using transitions and parallelism. 9) Apply feedback from faculty and peers during the revision process. 10) Cite sources within the text and on a reference page according to APA, MLA or Chicago style guidelines.

A group shot of students visiting Democracy Now! studios.
A group shot of students visiting Democracy Now! studios.