Pedagogy Profile: Professor Javiela Evangelista

Prof. Evangelista headshotThis month we’re profiling Professor Javiela Evangelista, an Assistant Professor and Caribbeanist in African American Studies department. Professor Evangelista  joined 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 platformed 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, 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 wikipedia model table of contents 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 the expansive geographical content (the entire African diaspora) and timeframe (14thc – present) of the course, 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 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 AFR 1130 and also in the new course AFR 2402ID The heritage of Imperialism 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, they learn about the value of independent media as a corrective within our society.For AFR 2402 (which I am currently developing an Openlab site for) in preparation for the visit to DN!, students analyze how stories are framed through comparing CNN’s coverage of the “riots” in Baltimore with DN!’s coverage of the same events as “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.

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 understand the legacy of imperialism as not solely oppressive, but also resistive. As reflected in the course schedule, the range of readings assigned and discussed reflect multiple points of view. 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 activists, educators and media (many who are local), students engage in place-based learning and further contribute to NYCCT’s interdisciplinary mission. As a cultural anthropologist, I center ethnography and the use of testimonyr to amplify marginalized concerns. As a result, I also aim to address discussions of omissions and misrepresentations in knowledge production in my classes and to provide strategies that may serve as correctives. The Openlab provides an important space 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 the Openlab.

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.

CUNY IT Conference 2018

Please see below the invitation to the CUNY IT conference next Thursday and Friday, November 29th and 30th, as well as a link for registering for the conference.

The OpenLab team will be presenting, so come join us: Friday, 9:30am: “Opening Education at CUNY with Commons in A Box OpenLab” and Friday, 1:00pm: “Opening the OpenLab at City Tech: Meeting CUNY’s Challenges.” Reply with a comment to let us know when you’re presenting, too!

****************************
TO:                      The CUNY Community
FROM:               Brian Cohen
DATE:                November 6, 2018
RE:                      Invitation to the 2018 CUNY Instructional/Information Technology Conference

I am delighted to extend to you and your colleagues this invitation to attend the 17th Annual CUNY IT Conference, which will take place this year on Thursday, November 29 and Friday, November 30 at John Jay College. I hope you will join me in attending; registration is free for members of the CUNY community. Please be aware that pre-registration is important as we need to be able to estimate attendance. You will find an overview of the Conference, the full program and the keynotes, and the link to register at www.centerdigitaled.com/events/CUNY-IT-Conference.html

The theme for this year’s conference is “Technology and Education: Challenges and Opportunities,” which will include the following topics:

·         How does technology provide challenges and opportunities for multiple stakeholders at CUNY and across the varied sectors of teaching, learning, research, and administration?

·         How do educators perceive the challenges and opportunities of technology in the classroom? And how do they balance them?

·         How can technology create new opportunities for students? What challenges does technology present that may also be viewed as opportunities for teaching and learning?

As with prior conferences, this year will feature two keynote speakers. The Thursday keynote is the author and NPR lead education reporter Anya Kamenetz, who will offer new ideas on the evolution of education and learning, including reforms and actions necessary to advance workforce training and reduce student debt. The Friday keynote speaker is Professor Stephen Brier from the Graduate Center’s Urban Education PhD program and founder and first coordinator of the Graduate Center’s Interactive Technology and Pedagogy certificate program.

The Conference begins at 12 pm on November 29, followed by two sets of concurrent presentations, Anya Kamenetz’s keynote address at 3:30 pm, and Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz’s Welcome to the Annual CUNY Technology Awards at 4:30 pm. Day 2 (November 30) begins with continental breakfast at 8:30 am, concurrent sessions starting at 9:30 am, Professor Brier’s keynote address at 10:45 am, lunch, two more sets of concurrent sessions, and finally an end-of-day drawing with prizes from the vendors.

I look forward to seeing you there.

 

Data & Society Faculty Fellowship

Call for Faculty Fellows


Deadline for applications: December 17, 2018

Data & Society is now accepting Faculty Fellows applications for our 2019-20 Class of Fellows. In addition to Faculty Fellows, the 2019-20 class will include Organizational Bridge and Arts & Culture Fellows. We will open a separate call for Organizational Bridge and Arts & Culture Fellows in January 2019.

The deadline for Faculty Fellows applications is December 17, 2018

Please direct inquiries about the fellows program or application process to fellowsapp@datasociety.net.

Questions will not reflect negatively on your application. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Overview


“Our Stories” of Becoming a College Student: A Digital Writing Project for First Year Students

I am super excited to share our recently published article in the The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. It expresses a blogging assignment that served as a low-stakes activity that encourages students to make sense of the social, emotional and bureaucratic challenges in their transition to college, and simultaneously develops digital literacy.

Our Stories of Becoming a College Student: A Digital Writing Project for First Year Students

Philip Kreniske, The HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University
Karen Goodlad, New York City College of Technology, CUNY
Jennifer Sears, New York City College of Technology, CUNY
Sandra Cheng, New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Pedagogy Profile: Professor Masato Nakamura

Headshot of Professor Nakamura. This month we’re profiling Professor Masato Nakamura, an Assistant Professor and BTech Coordinator in the departments of Mechanical Engineering Technology and Industrial Design Technology. Professor Nakamura  joined the City Tech community in August 2011.

How were you introduced the platform and when/how did you begin actively using the platform to support your pedagogy?

When I started teaching courses in the programs of Mechanical Engineering Technology and Industrial Design Technology in Fall 2011, I was looking for a platform that had an interactive online communication capability, as well as a simple process for uploading information, such as posting announcements, exercises, and homework assignments. Especially, I was looking for a platform that was publicly available, but there wasn’t much between twitter and a website.

OpenLab is very “open“ for any students who want access to the course information using computers at home, smart phones during their commute from home to campus, and their internship site, as well as during lectures in a classroom. Since almost all students in MECH and IND programs are involved in computer lab projects, OpenLab was a good fit.

Why did you decide to start using the OpenLab?

The OpenLab is a web-based platform that offers students easy access to info from computers, smartphones or any other tablet without any access restrictions. Also as an educator, it allows me to seamlessly share contents that I wrote on a whiteboard into a course page on the OpenLab. Unlike other Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Blackboard LMS, the Openlab is user friendly, even for new students who don’t have a login account yet, which is important for class management as a lecturer.  

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

Students love posting something to instagram, facebook, twitter, blogs, or other messaging systems to communicate with friends and family. In the beginning of the class, I usually post a small question such as “What’s new today?”, “How was the last homework?”, “Did you find any interesting engineering technology news/topics this week?” While taking attendance, I ask students to post their comments. This is a useful way of reminding them with a signal or action that we got together today, here in the classroom, to study mechanical engineering technology and the ways it connects to the industry and real world.

This complements lectures which usually include very narrow topics, and sometimes prompt students ask: “Why we study this topic?” and “How is it connected to the practical?” Through the OpenLab, I communicate this with students.

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

Teaching engineering technology, I see some students are struggling with an exercise, while others are not, especially when we use software and computers. Each student’s progress is so different. For example, some are almost done with a task, while some are still working on earlier steps.

Differences in learning speed cannot be handled using one or two whiteboard(s) or a handout. However, the OpenLab is a system through which I can easily update content (for example the procedure of an exercise) and add more explanation.

For pedagogical practices, this is a real-time interactive update in the classroom based on an observation of students’ real-time learning processes.

Aside from courses, how does the OpenLab support your pedagogical practices and ambitions? (Note: Think broadly about public education initiatives, course coordination, non-academic student support, clubs, and projects, etc.)

For research activities, students and I are conducting research on renewable energy and environmental simulation at MECH Department’s Energy and Environmental Simulation Laboratory. We are using the OpenLab for updating research progress and enhancing lab members’ communication.

Tomorrow: “Equity, Health, and Learning: Social Determinants of Academic Success” at the Graduate Center

Earlier this semester, the OpenLab team hosted an Open Pedagogy event focused on how open digital pedagogy can support student success in gateway courses. There was a great recap of the event. There was also a linked workshop that showcased some tools on the OpenLab and some practices OpenLab members have put in place to foster student success in their courses and at City Tech.

The Futures Initiative has sent an invitation to all interested to join them for “Equity, Health, and Learning: Social Determinants of Academic Success” (details below in the invitation). This event seems like a great way to continue this conversation beyond City Tech. Added bonus: if you attended our event or workshop, or if you’ve gotten to know the OpenLab team, you’ll notice below that OpenLab digital pedagogy fellow Jesse Rice-Evans is one of the speakers at this Futures Intiative event!

Here’s the invitation:

Dear All,

Please join us on Thursday, November 1, 2018 from 12pm to 1pm at The Graduate Center (Room 9204) for a collaborative discussion that will bring together students, faculty and administrators across CUNY to discuss challenges and opportunities that students face outside of the classroom that impact their success inside of the classroom including access to transportation, healthcare, housing, and food.

Speakers will include Peggy Groce, Former Director, Office of Travel Training, District 75, New York City Department of Education, Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor at CUNY School of Public Health, Chris Palmedo, Associate Professor of Media Marketing, & Communications at CUNY School of Public Health, and Jesse Rice-Evans, Ph.D. Student, English, The Graduate Center, CUNY.

This panel, moderated by Futures Initiative Fellows Jessica Murray and Adashima Oyo, is part of The University Worth Fighting For, a series of workshops that tie student-centered, engaged pedagogical practices to institutional change, race, equality, gender, and social justice.

This event is free. Please RSVP here, seating is limited!

You can also join us:

  • Watching the livestream at bit.ly/FuturesED-live (unedited footage will be available after the workshop for a limited time under “Recent Videos”, and we’ll post an edited version soon)
  • Following the hashtag #fight4edu and tweeting your questions/comments
  • During and after the event, adding your questions and comments to this Google Doc

Please feel free to share this invitation with your network. More details are below.

Panelist Bios

Nicholas Freudenberg is Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Social/Critical Psychology at CUNY and Director of Healthy CUNY, a university-wide initiatives that promotes health for academic success. For more than 30 years, Freudenberg has worked with community organizations, social services agencies, government and others to develop, implement and evaluate policies and programs that promote more equitable access to education and health for children and young people. Healthy CUNY’s recent report Promoting Health for Academic Success is available here. It describes how depression and anxiety, sexual and reproductive health problems, lack of access to health care and food insecurity undermine the academic success of CUNY undergraduates and how CUNY can act to assist students to overcome these issues.

Peggy Groce initiated Travel Training in the NYC Department of Education in 1970 for students with intellectual disabilities who aged out of school at 17 years of age unless they could travel independently to school. Over time, travel training instructional services were offered to students with diverse disabilities in the NYC public schools. Peggy is a strong advocate for including the teaching of disability history and the disability rights movement in our education system, especially to youth with disabilities, parents, educators, and staff of service provider agencies.

Chris Palmedo is an associate professor in the Community Health and Social Sciences department at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. He teaches courses in health communications, social marketing, and health advocacy, and conducts an online certificate program in social marketing for health offered to students all over the world.  As a Healthy CUNY Initiative faculty fellow, his research is concerned with helping improve student access to mental health and health insurance. He recently co-authored a college textbook which covers personal health in a public health context.

Jesse Rice-Evans (she/her/hers) is a queer femme rhetorician and PhD candidate at the Graduate Center researching intersections of language, disability, and digital culture. She’s the author of five books, including HONOR//SHAME, an interactive digital chapbook out from Gap Riot Press (2018), and The Uninhabitable, forthcoming from Sibling Rivalry Press in 2019. She teaches queer texts and composition at the City College of New York.

Moderated by:
Jessica Murray, Ph.D. Candidate, Developmental Psychology, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Adashima Oyo, Ph.D. Student, Social Welfare, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Recap: Remixing and Sharing in Open Digital Pedagogy

Image Credit: starsandspirals

On Thursday, October 18th, CUNY faculty and staff got together for the second of two Open Pedagogy Events planned for Fall 2018, Remixing and Sharing in Open Digital Pedagogy. This event asked: What opportunities for sharing and remixing teaching materials do open digital environments like the OpenLab present? What responsibilities do you have when you share and remix the materials of others? What responsibilities do you have when you make your materials open and available to be remixed? What responsibilities do others have toward you when they remix and reuse your materials?

City Tech faculty from English, Mathematics, Computer Systems Technology (CST), and Biology, and the library  joined us in the Faculty Commons (N227). 

A special thanks to Andy McKinney, former OpenLab Community Team member, who joined us from CUNY Central, where he has been working on scaling up OER (Open Educational Resources) initiatives CUNY-wide. A huge thank you also to Cailean Cooney, OER librarian at CityTech, who has been working with faculty to create OERs on the OpenLab. Thank you both for attending the event, sharing your insights regarding open education and the steps being taken throughout CUNY to promote a culture of responsible sharing and remixing of course materials.

It is fairly common for instructors teaching a course for the first time to begin by looking into existing educational materials that can support them in devising a syllabus, assignments, and lesson plans. Such materials can be shared peer-to-peer among colleagues, as well as consulted—to the extent that they are “open” or publicly and freely available for reuse on the internet and the OpenLab. Many instructors acknowledge that sharing and borrowing educational materials has been part of what has made them successful educators. However, many also have honest reservations about making course materials open and sharing them freely given the significant time and effort they take to create. This recognition prompted and guided the evening’s discussion.

We began with a self-reflection and discussion of: “Creating and teaching a course can be time-consuming and challenging, and sometimes instructors are hesitant to make this work (either the process or product) public. How do you [faculty]  feel about sharing your course materials and pedagogy (syllabi, assignments, lesson plans) with others? What about using someone else’s materials? What benefits are there in doing so? What reservations might you have?”  During the discussion portion, we discussed a number of non-discipline-specific benefits and drawbacks of sharing:

  1. None of us can do it alone! At some point in our careers, all of us have been asked to teach courses we have not taught before. The ability to inherit existing syllabi or consult the OpenLab and other OERs for inspiration has been crucial. Open materials makes the sharing of instructional materials a public practice and validates it as a necessary point of departure for teaching.
  2. Remixing materials makes us better instructors. Whether we are teaching a course for the first or twentieth time, we all benefit from sharing ideas with colleagues and consulting open materials. Open materials get our creative juices flowing, serve as inspiration for new assignments and lesson plans, and introduce us to new readings and open textbooks that support accessible (and no cost!) student learning. When we share, borrow, and adapt, we participate in a process of collaborative pedagogy that puts a diversity of perspectives and tried and true practices into conversation. We are better instructors for recognizing each other’s wealth of experience and building on it. We can also model for students how to properly cite the work of others and debunk the myth that successful scholarship should be done alone.
  3. What is the value of sharing? Concerns and Reservations
  • When materials are open, how can we adequately value and remunerate the labor that an educator put into creating pedagogical tools? We can give proper attribution to the creators of the materials we borrow, but is such rhetorical acknowledgement sufficient? How can we ensure that the labor instructors put into pedagogy is visible and valued in concrete ways?
  • Do we need more time officially built into our instructor/ staff schedules for the sharing of pedagogical practice?
  • Along these lines, discussants expressed concern that creating an OER –or putting together an open textbook—is less well compensated than writing a textbook for a private industry publisher.
  • Quite frequently, instructors do not cite past course content creators when they borrow materials. This makes the labor of those who share invisible.
  • Many courses on the OpenLab remain closed—unavailable for consultation except by course members. This can create a tension for those who chose to keep their work open but find that their willingness to share isn’t always reciprocated.
  • Is it possible that students think less of an instructor who borrows and adapts the materials of others? Or do they recognize the value that is added when instructors build on existing tools and remix them for their own students and course?
  • How can we create a loop wherein, in addition to thanking and crediting those whose materials we borrow and adapt, we give them concrete feedback on how their materials worked in our (adapted) courses? In essence, how can we make reusing and remixing a collaborative and communicative process?

Sharing and Adapting on the OpenLab

As we shared our experiences of sharing and adapting course materials, we noted that the OpenLab, in more ways than one, lends itself to the kind of open, collaborative pedagogy many of us aspire to. Instructors can peek into the courses of others that are left open, consult their syllabi and assignments, and use these as a point of departure in creating and teaching their courses. OERs and the “shared cloning” functionality take sharing a step further, offering built-in mechanisms to keep full courses open, available for reuse and even exact copying. We offered an overview of these two new OpenLab features related to OERs and shared cloning:

  • OERs refer to educational content that is free (educational materials are provided at no cost to students) and openly-licensed, meaning that the creators of the educational content have made their work available for others to use. Learn more here. Faculty and staff have been building OER course sites on the OpenLab. The August release of the OpenLab added an OER badge, which appears on the avatar of course or project designated as an OER. Courses and project with an OER badge can also be searched for in course and project directories. You can learn more about the OER badge and searching for OERs on the OpenLab here.
  • The August release of the OpenLab also made changes to the course cloning functionality, called “shared cloning.” This feature can be enabled to allow other faculty to clone a course that is designated as available for shared cloning. Course creators who choose to enable the feature will be allowing other faculty and staff to clone the course, creating an exact copy of the existing course, including all content created or uploaded by the course admin, which can be reused, remixed, and transformed in the new version. Cloned versions of the course will include a list of credits on the course profile and in the site sidebar with attribution to any of the original courses. If the original course was itself a clone of another faculty member’s course, that course, as well as all previous iterations, would be included in the credits list as well. You can find instructions on shared cloning in our help section.
  • Please note that our linked 11/1 workshop on “Sharing & Remixing on the OpenLab” will cover how to use the shared cloning functionality, and how to search for, link back to, and properly cite OERs. RSVP here. Agenda here.

We also named a few additional resources for those interested in sharing and borrowing, both on and off the OpenLab:

  • In the Spotlight is a blog series on The Open Road that highlights a different innovative OpenLab site each week. Review the archive, and check back weekly for inspiration. The courses/ projects highlighted change every week!
  • The L4 site (Living Lab Learning Library) is “a resource exchange for innovative teaching practices, ideas big and small, and a place where educators within and beyond City Tech can interact with each other, share classroom activities, and search for inspiration.”
  • The OpenLab is home to a growing list of OERs. Find them easily by going to the search page and filtering for OERs.
  • The Teaching and Learning Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY has a site called Visible Pedagogy in which members of the CUNY community dialogue about teaching and learning.

As we wrapped up the evening, we recognized that some of the barriers to valuing open pedagogy are deeply institutionally entrenched throughout academia. To be sure, much work still remains to be done to reinforce the value (financially and otherwise) of open pedagogy. There is much work to be done to proliferate the culture of responsible sharing that undergirds open pedagogy. Proper citation practices are a good starting place, but continued development of best practices for sharing and adapting existing open course materials is also necessary, for  like all things, these will age and need to continually updated. As noted, the culture around sharing and remixing at CityTech is, opening up. The (growing) resources for making digital pedagogy open on the OpenLab are a testament to this.

Have you ever borrowed or shared your instructional materials?

Have there, in your experience, been benefits to keeping pedagogy “open”?

Do you share any of the concerns about sharing and remixing outlined above?

Do you have any additional resources for sharing and remixing you think should be highlighted?

Join the conversation below!

____________________________________________

All-in-all, it was a great evening! Thanks to all who attended the event for a rich and provocative discussion, and for the support from the Provost’s Office.

Join us for our upcoming linked workshop:

  • Workshop, Thursday 11/1 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM (AG-21): A hands-on look at remixing and sharing on the OpenLab RSVP

Learn more about workshops and office hours on The Open Road!

Check out our student blogging team, The Buzz!

Pedagogy Profile: Professor Michael Krondl

This month we’re profiling Professor Michael Krondl, an adjunct lecturer in the Hospitality Management Department who teaches Introduction to Food Service Management and Culinary Tourism. Professor Krondl joined the City Tech community in January 2011.

How were you introduced the platform and when/how did you begin actively using the platform to support your pedagogy?

Honestly, I can’t remember when I started using Open Lab, maybe four years ago?* I first started using it in my Culinary Tourism class since it seemed like a good place to collect short blog posts from students about locations we visited.  Later I started using it in my Intro to Hospitality Management class, mostly because I thought first year students would find it easier to use than Blackboard.

*According to Professor Krondl’s OpenLab profile, he joined in 2012.

Why did you decide to start using the OpenLab?

In the case of the Culinary Tourism course, it allowed me to get students to interact in a way that is similar to the way the general public interacts with review sites, that is by writing their own reviews using the OpenLab as a publishing platform.

In the intro class, the OpenLab just seemed like a more intuitive way to organize material.  Moreover, in this course students are expected to write a variety of assignments in differing formats; the platform provided a forum for yet another form of writing, that is writing a review.

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

I can’t add much to the above. As described, in the tourism class, the OpenLab provides a way of organizing class info for students, and also serving as a place to post and comment on each other’s assignments.  More or less the same story with the intro class.

For the intro class this semester, there is an additional component – mainly that the course site is now an Open Educational Resource (OER), so the website acts as a virtual textbook.  I have long been looking for a textbook that we could use in class and finally realized that it would be simpler to organize a set of curated readings on the OpenLab. Thus the site acts as both a forum for interaction and a textbook. And the students don’t have to pay for it!

The reality is that I find Open Lab to be one useful tool among many. It is by no means a panacea so I use it for what it’s good for: an attractive (if not always intuitive way of organizing information) and a reasonably good platform for discussion.

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 classes, my main ambition is to expand the students’ view of the hospitality industry and the world. In both cases they are required to go out in the world and report back via posts on our course site, hosted on the OpenLab.  This varies in effectiveness–students come from a variety of educational backgrounds, often have limited writing skills, and can lack motivation–but it’s a heck of a lot better than just handing in pieces of paper for me to look at.

Aside from courses, how does the OpenLab support your pedagogical practices and ambitions? (Note: Think broadly about public education initiatives, course coordination, non-academic student support, clubs, and projects, etc.)

I don’t use it other than for the courses.

Open Pedagogy Event (10/18): Remixing and Sharing in Open Digital Pedagogy

Abstract image showing colors "remixing"
Image Source: Mary Chadwick

Thursday October 18th, 2018, 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 remixing and sharing in open digital pedagogy. The OpenLab and other open digital environments create new opportunities for developing readily adaptable teaching materials, easily sharing and remixing content, and promoting collaboration within and across disciplines. We’ll introduce improved ways to highlight and search for open content (such as OERs) on the OpenLab and a new “shared cloning” functionality that allows other faculty to more easily adapt OpenLab course content. Together, we’ll explore benefits and uses of these developments for open teaching and learning, as well as the ethics and best practices of sharing and remixing.

We’ll consider the following questions:

  • What opportunities for sharing and remixing teaching materials do open digital environments like the OpenLab present?
  • How does this contrast with more traditional teaching environments?
  • What are the ethics and best practices of sharing and remixing?
  • As someone participating in an open digital environment, what responsibilities do you have? What responsibilities do you envision for others?

Recommended Readings:

Recap: Open Digital Pedagogy in Gateway Courses

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Image Info: “Acrylics” by Tracy Solomon

Thursday September 27th marked the first of two Open Pedagogy Events planned for Fall 2018, Open Digital Pedagogy in Gateway Courses. This event asked: how can open digital platforms like the OpenLab support and help address the challenges present in gateway courses across the disciplines? Faculty who taught gateway courses (or intro courses, which can have similar challenges) in English, Mathematics, Computer Systems Technology (CST), Business, and Biology joined us in the Faculty Commons (N227) from City Tech and other CUNY campuses. 

A special thanks for Jonas Reitz, professor of mathematics and Director of the Opening Gateways project, and Robert Lestón, professor of English and Director of First Year Writing, who led the conversation with their experiences teaching and coordinating faculty in relation to gateway courses.


Before sharing more of the evening’s discussion, let’s clarify what a “gateway course” is:

Officially speaking, gateway courses are courses recognized across CUNY campuses as required, entry-level courses for specific majors. For participating majors, students must take 3 of the defined gateway courses in order to continue with the major and take higher level courses. These gateway courses are transferable across CUNY institutions, meaning students start and finish their degrees at different campuses without fear that credits will transfer. Learn more here.


At an academic level, gateway courses are entry-level courses that introduce students to their chosen fields and disciplines and to skills deemed necessary for success in college. In a similar view, success or failure in these courses has consequences not only for the student’s participation in the course, but for their overall college experience and outcome. This understanding prompted the evening’s discussion.

We began with a self-reflection and discussion of: “What challenges do you [faculty] face when supporting student success in gateway or introductory courses? How Have you [faculty] addressed these challenges?” During the discussion portion, we discussed a number of non-discipline-specific challenges that threaten student success including:

1. The newness of college: College comes with new routines in an unfamiliar setting, a lack of knowledge of the supports and resources available and how to access them, a lack of community connections, a heightened level of academic rigor – lots of newness at once.  

2. Institutional constraints

  • Space constraints at City Tech, for example, pose challenges to independent and group study among students, and faculty or faculty-student meetings and gatherings (whether academic and/or social in nature).
  • Class sizes for gateway and introductory courses are often overwhelming in terms of size and workload, and limiting in terms of how you can structure the course and discuss the material.
  • Gateway and introductory courses often have predetermined assessments that may contradict a faculty members pedagogical values and strategies for addressing student success.
  • Adjunct, part-time and often short-term faculty increasingly teach gateway and introductory courses. Low pay and minimal contract rights among adjunct and part-time faculty (and the stress of needing to take on other work to fill the gap) limits the support they can provide students, distances them from their department’s community and decisions, and may result in high turnover rates.

3. Home-life constraints: Some of our students lack access to a computer or quiet space at home. Some face time constraints due to household-supporting activities like part-time or full-time work or care work activities. In turn, these time constraints can raise questions about the value of pursuing a degree at all – in the minds of the student and/or their family.

Do you recognize these challenges in your own courses?

In laying these challenges out, we discussed which of these challenges we could and had tried to resolve, and which seemed largely out of our control. We don’t, for example, have much control over the constraints posed by a student’s home-life. However, there are steps we do or could take in supporting students and faculty in overcoming related or other challenges. Faculty attendees discussed crafting scaffolded assignments, group projects, low stakes writing assignments, using mobile-friendly digital platforms (like the OpenLab) so students could submit assignments via their phone as needed, and more.

Recognition of these challenges and more encouraged City Tech’s Math Department to partner with faculty and staff at BMCC and the OpenLab to initiate the Title V grant-funded project, “Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM. Known as Opening Gateways for short, this collaboration integrates the OpenLab with another open source software called WebWorks with the aim of helping students and faculty address (some of) the challenges posed by gateway courses. You can learn more details about the project on their OpenLab site, but in short – this integration allows students to complete individualized homework problems online and get answers and feedback right away, and to ask questions and get support from their professor and fellow students in a community discussion forum. The grant included a Faculty Professional Development component (yearly cohorts of Fellows who attend a weekly seminar) and dedicated resources to building Open Educational Resources – which might replace expensive textbooks and offer faculty more control over the curriculum.

The remainder of the evening was spent discussing how and to what extent Opening Gateways had addressed some of the challenges discussed earlier, and how similar lessons could be applied in disciplines other than mathematics.

Through the conversation, the seemed to be consensus around a few ideals –

1. Professional Development: Sharing of resources and teaching strategies; also helps with curriculum coordination, and social support and community building.

1B. Supporting Inclusion of part-time faculty: Any professional development initiatives should explicitly include resources and additional compensation for part-time faculty (who not only teach the majority of these courses, but of all courses at CUNY – conservatively estimated, part-time faculty make up 56% of all faculty at CUNY). Additionally, course resources should be readily available in an easily accessible place – see the First Year Writing site for a good example of how the OpenLab can be helpful in this endeavor. These qualities are a part of the Opening Gateways fellows program, and a Fellow, who is an adjunct and who attended the even reflected that it was nice to be treated as someone whose ideas mattered; to have an invitation to the table; to feel invested in (to paraphrase).

2. The OpenLab can help: The OpenLab is not a silver bullet – but the platform does have features that can limit barriers to student success in your gateway courses. You can make the information publicly or privately available and mobile responsive by housing resources for your course or curriculum on the OpenLab. The blogging platform can help cultivate community in the classroom by hosting public class discussions; and students can get experience with public writing. For your courses/departments, you may consider creating Open Educational Resources.

Do these strategies make sense for you?

What seemed useful or not about the Opening Gateways project?

What other strategies would you suggest?

What challenges do these strategies pose for you and how might you address them?

Join the conversation below!


All-in-all, it was a great evening! Thanks to all who attended the event for a lively conversation, and for the support from the Faculty Commons and Charlie Edwards.


Join us for 3 upcoming related events:

  • Workshop, Thursday 10/4 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM  (G604). A hands-on look at supporting student success on the OpenLab RSVP
  • Event, Thursday 10/18 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM (N227): A discussion about remixing and sharing in Open Digital Pedagogy
  • Workshop, Thursday 11/1 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM (AG-21): A hands-on look at remixing and sharing on the OpenLab RSVP

Learn more about workshops and office hours on The Open Road!

Check out our student blogging team, The Buzz!