Pedagogy Profile: Professor Kate Poirier

Headshot of Professor Kate Poirier.This week we’re profiling Professor Kate Poirier who teaches in the Mathematics Department. Prof. Poirier joined the City Tech community as an Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2013.

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

I taught an Honors Calculus class in Spring 2014 and, since it was a small group of enthusiastic students, I thought it would be a good time to experiment with something new. The experience was so positive—it worked for me and for the students—I’ve never looked back.

Why did you decide to start using the OpenLab?

I’ve maintained my own course websites before and I’ve used Blackboard for communication with students, but I found both of those to be somewhat clunky, annoying to set up, and still not exactly what I wanted.

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

I use the OpenLab to communicate with students throughout the semester, but often the communication is one-way (I’ll post something and they’ll read it; maybe they’ll comment on the post). So I like to experiment with giving students assignments to submit posts of their own on the OpenLab, as well to help them understand that it’s *our* site, not *my* site.

My favorite assignment comes at the beginning of the semester. I ask students to submit a post introducing themselves to the class and to comment on each other’s posts. I usually submit an introduction of my own as well. This has the advantage that students quickly become familiar with how easy it is to use the OpenLab and it gives us all a chance to get to know right away who’s in the class and why they’re taking it. I’ve found out some interesting things about my students this way!

Other assignments depend on what class I’m teaching. I’m teaching MAT 1275 right now. Before each test, students are posting sample exercises from the homework with their full solutions. Students can comment on these posts if they suspect there’s an error or if they have a question about what’s written. These posts all are categorized as “Test Review” so the category serves as a crowd-sourced review sheet for the whole class. Students are submitting similar posts categorized as “Test Solutions.” What I like about these assignments is that they force the students to work together as a team to produce a usable resource and they also force the students take ownership and responsibility for their own test preparation, rather than looking to the instructor to do this for them.

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

I used to feel like I had to cram so much into my lecture since it was the only time I had real contact with my students (except for those who came to office hours). The casual blog format of the OpenLab especially allows for more conversations that aren’t necessarily directly related to course content. At times, I’ve used the OpenLab to try to make connections between material from the course and other topics that might be useful for students even if it’s outside the required content. It’s also helpful for sharing events around the college or even just articles  or resources I’ve come across on the internet that might be of interest the students. I taught a Math Education course recently where the conversations we had as part of the course were so stimulating, they continued on the OpenLab well after the course had ended.

All of this helps to enhance the human aspects of teaching and learning that are more about making connections and not necessarily about specific content delivery. Such connections can be harder to achieve in a traditional setting—sometimes the only opportunity is during office hours with the handful of students who happen to be there at any given time—and I’m grateful that the OpenLab makes it so easy to make these connections public.

Something that is new and particularly useful is the integrated “Ask for Help” feature in WeBWorK. WeBWorK is an open-source online homework program that many instructors in the Math Department use as part of their course. In the past, there was a button students could use to email their instructors with help with particular WeBWorK questions. This was helpful, but instructors might end up answering the same question over and over again. In MAT 1275, now, this button has been replaced with one that takes students to a page on an OpenLab site that serves as a question-and-answer forum about that particular WeBWorK problem. This connects not just the students in a class and their instructor, but *all* students in the college taking the course and *all* instructors teaching it. Students can ask and answer their own questions but they can also see the discussions surrounding the exact problem in mind. This further serves to connect students and instructors to the broader college community, which is certainly in line with the spirit of the OpenLab.

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.)

The OpenLab makes it so easy for any group that is working collaboratively. I’ve used it extensively in all my roles at City Tech for dynamic, effective, and efficient communication among collaborators. I hate using email to work on something with a team, but I love using the OpenLab.

The OpenLab also makes it so easy to collect important resources and documents into a single repository. I work closely with the math tutors in the Atrium Learning Center and have created an OpenLab site with all the resources they might need in one place. The site was so easy to set up and has worked so well, that we’re planning to put together something like it for students seeking tutoring too. One of the things that can be hard for students—especially young students—is knowing where to look for the resources they need—indeed knowing which resources they might need. By putting these things in one predictable place and making them available to everyone, we make it easier for students to navigate college life so that they can focus more on succeeding in their programs and finding their place at CityTech.

Teaching and Learning with New Majority Students: Lessons Learned from the CUNY Humanities Alliance

We’re excited to share with you The Futures Initiative’s final event of the semester:

The Futures Initiative is pleased to invite you to the final event in our Thursday Dialogues series this year:

Teaching and Learning with New Majority Students: Lessons Learned from the CUNY Humanities Alliance
Thursday, May 3 | 12:15 to 2:00 PM | The Graduate Center, Room C201

Join The Futures Initiative and the CUNY Humanities Alliance for a discussion about community college student-centered teaching and learning in the humanities and social sciences! In this roundtable discussion, Graduate Teaching Fellows will discuss their experiences and what they have learned through their participation in the program, which combines faculty mentorship, professional development workshops and resources with the opportunity to design and teach a course during three semesters at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY.

Our roundtable of speakers are all Mellon Graduate Teaching Fellows with the CUNY Humanities Alliance, and will include:

  • Kahdeidra Monét Martin (Urban Education)
  • Jenn Polish (English)
  • Micheal Angelo Rumore (English)
  • Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie (Music)
  • Inés Vañó García (Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages)
  • Alison Walls (Theatre)

The discussion will be moderated by Kitana Ananda, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for the CUNY Humanities Alliance and the Futures Initiative.

The discussion will address questions such as:

  • What does it mean to teach the humanities at a community college? How do doctoral students translate their specialized research into their teaching of introductory and general education courses?
  • What kinds of connections have been forged between community college faculty, doctoral students, and undergraduates in the first two years of this program?
  • What are the lessons of this program so far for doctoral education and the future of the professoriate, at the Graduate Center and beyond?

Co-sponsored by the CUNY Humanities Alliance. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided.

About the program:
The CUNY Humanities Alliance is dedicated to training Ph.D. students in the most successful methods for teaching humanities courses in some of the country’s most diverse undergraduate classrooms, while creating new opportunities and pathways for the “new majority” of students in today’s community colleges. The program is a partnership between the Graduate Center and LaGuardia Community College, with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

If you have any questions about the event, contact Kitana Ananda at

Thank you, and we hope to see you on May 3rd!

Pedagogy Profile: Professor John De Santis

headshot of Professor De Santis.This week we’re profiling Professor John De Santis who teaches COMD2427 Typographic Design III in the Communication Design Department. Prof. De Santis joined the City Tech community as an adjunct professor in the Fall of 2016.

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

In my first semester here, after speaking with my course leader, I took a look at the OpenLab. I attended a seminar on it and then created an OpenLab course. The site contains basic information, online resources and assignments. My current course load is multiple sections of Typography III, which focuses on advanced typographic design principles and applications for web, print and motion. In subsequent semesters the subject kept evolving and naturally expanded my OpenLab course and project content.

Why did you decide to start using the OpenLab?

It has an intuitive interface that allows for easy creation and management of dynamic course content. The OpenLab’s quick ability to share and communicate typographic topics pulled from online sources in the field directly to students was a key factor.  The support staff was also very helpful with any questions, etc. It made it more efficient than trying to integrate Blackboard into course.

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

I utilize the OpenLab in a variety of applications. My goal was to create a focal point for typographic design principles, history, creative process and current trends. Students are able to refer back to relevant information for projects, assignments, and lectures as needed during project design and production. The OpenLab also enhances the depth and accessibility of assignment/project content. 
I also incorporate it into assignment/project administration and grading outcomes. The OpenLab is part of my method of instruction, design evaluation, assessment, as well as communication.

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

The OpenLab enables me to incorporate time constraints and technical requirements of the real world environment in the classroom.

By requiring usage of OpenLab and specific upload protocols such as file and post naming conventions, correct categorization of posts etc, students learn how to meet specific requirements, which will be essential to their future careers in design and other fields.

Screenshot of Type Talk assignmentThe OpenLab has also assisted in developing student-critique skills and process. For example, in a weekly critique series of industry typographic work called “Type Talk”, students comment on the work posted and can interact with the other student critiques.

It gives me the ability to expand on the timeliness of relevant content and topics pulled from design industry.

I am also able to incorporate course curated multimedia content from,, interactive learning tools, portals, social media feeds and news.

“Type Challenges” are in class typographic and creative exercises I created on the OpenLab; they enhanced instruction of the design and creative processes with time constraints including uploads to the OpenLab as final outcome.

Screenshot of Type Challenges

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.)

Technology usage in pedagogy is an integral part of instruction. OpenLab utilizes appropriate applications within course structure which drives and enhances learning outcomes and awareness. I have found that students get a sense of accomplishment in their course assignments when the public is given access and exposure to their work. For example one of my assigned projects, the OpenLab Brooklyn Historical Society Project, was assigned to multiple sections of Typography III.

 Screenshot of Brooklyn Historical Society course posters

Publics, Politics, and Pedagogy: Remaking Higher Education for Turbulent Times

Our colleagues at The Futures Initiative pass along an invitation for this coming Wednesday:

Poster for FI Event-Publics, Politics, PedagogyThe Futures Initiative is pleased to invite you to attend our Spring Forum on “Publics, Politics, and Pedagogy: Remaking Higher Education for Turbulent Times” on March 28 at The CUNY Graduate Center (9:00am-6:00pm | The Skylight Room, 9100 | RSVP ).

Part of our “University Worth Fighting For” series, this event is an opportunity to think through the unique intersections between interdisciplinary research, pedagogy, equity, and institutional change. We hope that you will join us for a series of roundtables and interactive workshops featuring faculty and students involved in our team-taught courses, the CUNY Undergraduate Leadership Program, and Humanities Alliance to address topics ranging from the current states and stakes of higher education to the relationship between aesthetics, politics, and citizenship.

Featured speakers include: Gilda Barabino, Claire Bishop, David Caicedo, Katherine Chen, Colette Daiute, Cathy N. Davidson, Shelly Eversley, Ofelia García, Amita Gupta, Wendy Luttrell, Ruth Milkman, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Rosario Torres-Guevara, and many more, including graduate and undergraduate students across CUNY. There will be a reception to follow.

Please see the attached flyer for the full program schedule. You can also find the schedule and other event details on our website. Please RSVP today and share this invitation widely with your network.

If you have any questions about this event, feel free to contact Frances Tran, Postdoctoral Fellow and Interim Associate Director of the Futures Initiative, at

Open Pedagogy Event (Th 3/22): Gateway Courses in Open Digital Pedagogy

Wooden and steel gate with hand pushing it open.
Image Source: Max Boschini

Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:30-7:30pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

UPDATE: In anticipation of the impending snowstorm, we’re postponing this event. We’ll work on rescheduling and will let you know when this event is back on our calendar.

*Refreshments will be served.

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

*Please RSVP by commenting on this post. Please share this invitation with your colleagues at City Tech and beyond!

Join the OpenLab Team, City Tech faculty and staff, and CUNY colleagues at our next Open Pedagogy event, where we’ll be discussing gateway courses in open digital pedagogy. We’ll be discussing how to help students be successful in introductory courses in the curriculum, looking to the successful model of City Tech and BMCC’s Title V grant-funded project, “Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM.” While this grant focuses on math courses, we will be extending the conversation to look at other gateway courses across the disciplines. You’ll have the opportunity to learn strategies for helping your students succeed in these courses, and how open digital pedagogy can scaffold their learning experiences in these courses and the rest of their academic careers.

We’ll consider the following questions:

  • What are gateway courses, and what are some of the challenges students face in them?
  • What strategies can we share across disciplines to support students in these classes?
  • How does open digital pedagogy help students succeed in these courses and their majors?

Suggested Readings:

Recap: Accessibility in Open Digital Pedagogy

A word map highlighting the different aspects of universal design.
Image Source: Giulia Forsythe

On Thursday February 22, a group of faculty and staff from City Tech and CUNY more broadly gathered to discuss Accessibility in Open Digital Pedagogy. Similar to our Fall 2015 event entitled, “Accessibility, Disability, and Open Digital Pedagogy“, this conversation approached accessibility from the frame of universal design, and asked, how can we design the college and classroom experience in ways that benefit our communities as a whole? To help facilitate discussion and provide insight, we were joined by invited guest, John Currie, Director of The Center for Student Accessibility.

Attendees brought their own ambitions to the evening’s discussion as well. One attendee was interested in thinking about the role of the human in mediating accessibility and disability practice in digital technology. Another was particularly interested in thinking about accessibility in relation to OERs (open educational resources): “How ‘open’ can an OER be if it’s not accessible?”, he asked. A related and unifying interest among the group was a desire to think about and address accommodations before they are needed; to plan and design our courses, classrooms and colleges with accessibility in mind from the get go.

The evening began with a free write and discussion about needs and accommodations in relation to our own learning, pedagogical practice and disciplinary standards. Specifically:

  • Think about your optimal working/learning environment. What strategies have you developed based on how you work/learn best?
  • Think about planning your courses or programs. What accommodations have you made either in general, or in response to a student self-identifying a particular need. What challenges have you faced in doing so?
  • Think about your discipline. What are the unique ways your discipline approaches needs and accommodations?

Thinking about how we make accommodations for ourselves and our learning – whether finding a quiet space, cutting oneself off from the internet, annotating text, and more – and how these personal accommodations differ in pursuit of similar goals, raised questions and key points that set the tone for the evening.

In thinking about making accommodations in our classrooms, one common anxiety among participants was how to create an inclusive learning environment without overcompensating for students in damaging ways. As John pointed out, the transition from high school to college is an adjustment for all students. For students with disabilities, the transition can be further complicated by both a shift in the level of accommodation they can expect from their faculty and school, and a growing need to learn to advocate for themselves and their needs on their way to full adulthood. Stunting this growth through overaccommodation or otherwise could create future challenges farther down the road.

Ultimately, a reframing of ‘accommodation’ at both the individual and classroom level is needed. Oftentimes we approach accommodation as a process of making things easier for students. However, at an individual level, we should focus on meeting students where they are, helping them to understand the skills they currently have and creating pathways for them to consciously realize the skills they need to acquire going forward. This is true of all students. At a classroom level, the principles of universal design can be helpful. Universal design asks that, instead of making specific accommodations on a student-by-student basis in hindsight, you should prepare your course spaces, practices, and material with a broad understanding of capabilities in mind. John described this as approaching your planning and praxis with an expanded notion of normal; with the understanding that students are not made the same, that many have challenges even if they aren’t officially recognized by The Center for Student Accessibility, and that creating multiple pathways to success is a good rule of thumb. Despite planning efforts, however, we must be open to adaptation – we must expect that things will come up and changes or additions will be made; universal design is not a one and done, but an iterative process that evolves through the course of our (pedagogical) practice.

Wondering how you can apply these principles of accessibility to your OpenLab sites?

Join us for an Accessibility-a-thon on Thursday March 8th from 1:30pm – 3:30pm in A441 (smaller library classroom). We hope to see you there! RSVP

As always, thank you to everyone who was able to join us for this event, and for your contributions to the conversation! And thank you to the Faculty Commons for your generous support of this event.

We have one more Open Pedagogy event this semester on Thursday March 22nd from 5:30pm – 7:00pm. Through this event we’ll discuss open digital pedagogy in relation to our gateway courses. Stay tuned for more information!

Open Pedagogy Event (Th 2/22): Accessibility in Open Digital Pedagogy

Art installation of small piles of different colored sand on a table.
Image Source: Bruno Cordioli

Thursday, February 22, 2018, 5:30-7:30pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

*Refreshments will be served. (Thanks to the Faculty Commons for its generous support of this event!)

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

*Please RSVP by commenting on this post. Please share this invitation with your colleagues at City Tech and beyond!

Join the OpenLab Team, City Tech faculty and staff, and CUNY colleagues at our next Open Pedagogy event, where we’ll be discussing accessibility in open digital pedagogy. This is a follow-up event to Accessibility, Disability, and Open Digital Pedagogy held in Fall 2015 and we’re excited to extend the conversation about how designing the college experience with accessibility in mind benefits our communities. We’ll learn from one another about how standards and accommodations vary across the disciplines. Our discussion will focus on universal design and how it can be incorporated into our pedagogy, mentorship, and administrative work on campus and beyond.

We’ll consider the following questions:

  • What is universal design, and how does foregrounding it help to address accessibility without tokenizing or stigmatizing disability?
  • How does reframing accessibility as an ethical and pedagogical imperative open up new possibilities for universal design?
  • What are the disciplinary challenges and pedagogical benefits of universal design?
  • What opportunities does digital pedagogy offer for universal design and accessibility efforts?

Suggested Readings:

OpenLab Help Documentation on Accessibility:

Join us for an accessibility-athon!

This event will have a follow-up workshop, where we’ll teach and implement practical strategies for making your OpenLab sites and content accessible. Stay tuned for more details!

A word map highlighting the different aspects of universal design.
Image Source: Giulia Forsythe

Recap: Teaching and Learning with Annotation

A annotated google map of downtown Brooklyn
Screenshot of Map-Annotation Activity by Professor Rosen’s class.

On Thursday October 26, 2017, a group of faculty and staff from City Tech and across CUNY sat down for a discussion of Teaching and Learning with Annotation. This conversation intentionally built upon an earlier Open Pedagogy event entitled “Annotating Texts in Open Digital Pedagogy” held in February 2017. Whereas the initial event was an introduction to annotation in open digital pedagogy, this follow-up event narrowed in on how to increase engagement with the resources we build and share on the OpenLab.

The evening began with an interactive activity that asked participants to co-annotate an image of a painting displayed on a screen at the front of the room. Specifically, participants were asked to write their annotations on post-it notes and stick them to the digital version of the text at the front of the room. In reflecting on the experience, the conversation gravitated to thinking about close reading as a teaching and learning strategy that allowed students to reflect on intricacies of the image they may otherwise have missed. Extrapolating from this activity, participants shared examples of how they had or might apply a similar strategy to other media in their courses, including films, poems, and photography. In general, this strategy helps students move from the general to the specific – and with texts specifically, it is useful in having students find quotes that can back up their claims and assumptions about what the text is aiming to convey.

In summing up this initial conversation, Senior Digital Pedagogy Fellow Andy McKinney framed annotation as evidence of the learning process – highlighting how our initial questions and points of inquiry can take us deeper into texts of multiple mediums. However, what happens to these layers of the learning process over time – do they just sit in closed books on the shelves of our personal libraries or jotted down on printed pdfs that are ultimately discarded or recycled? Relatedly, how can annotation in open digital environments like the OpenLab give a longer or more meaningful life to our annotations? Can annotations take on a collective nature? Annotating in open digital environments may resolve some of these issues.

From there, Andy took the group through some existing tools for and examples of annotating in digital environments. In particular, we looked at a co-annotated mapping activity Professor and OpenLab Co-Director Jody Rosen asked her students to participate in and how other professors have used the stand-alone applications like Genius, SoundCloud and Social Paper or WordPress based applications like CommentPress to have students comment on written and audio texts. Moreover, we discussed how some of these tools, particularly the text-based applications, can be useful for processes of peer review as well. However, these standalone applications can be tricky. What about the ethics of the closed, proprietary sites, which may be at odds with the values underpinning your pedagogy or scholarship? Or the reality that projects like Genius may be abandoned or morphed towards other ends over time, which may mean your content and annotations may become lost or inaccessible? How do issues of fair use factor into the use of these platforms?

The third portion of the evening was dedicated to introducing participants to a newly available application on the OpenLab, is a open-source, web-based annotation tool that allows for annotation of pdfs, posts and pages. It allows for annotation in public- or private-based web settings, and allows users to embed links and videos in the annotation, creating a multi-media, co-annotating experience. can be used through adding a Chrome extension, or as a plugin on WordPress-based sites, including sites on the OpenLab! The plug-in feature of this tool is a particular draw for us because it doesn’t ask students to do anything technical on their end; instead faculty need only activate the plug-in on the site and voila, the site is open for annotation!

Curious to learn more about using in your course? Join us for a hands-on workshop titled Annotating Text on the OpenLab, on Thursday 11/2 from 2:30-4:00pm in Room G604 (RSVP). We hope to see you there!

As always, thank you to everyone who was able to join us for this event, and for your contributions to the conversation! And thank you to the Faculty Commons for your generous support of this event. This is our final Open Pedagogy event of the Fall, but we will be back in the spring with more discussions of open digital pedagogy! Stay tuned!

Open Pedagogy Event (Th 10/26): Teaching and Learning with Annotation

An abstract image of stacked blocks.
Image Source: MANYBITS

Thursday, October 26, 2017, 5:30-7:30pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

*Refreshments will be served. (Thanks to the Faculty Commons for its generous support of this event!) 

*Part-time City Tech 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 annotation. This event is a follow-up to our Spring 2017 Open Pedagogy event on annotating texts in open digital pedagogy, and we’re excited to continue the conversation about how annotating digital texts can impact student learning and the teaching process. Our discussion will focus on how to increase engagement with the resources we build and share on the OpenLab. We’ll cover rationales and strategies for annotation, how its process and impact changes when moving from analog to digital annotation tools, and how it can foster collaboration.

This is a follow-up event to Annotating Texts in Open Digital Pedagogy, held in February 2017. Read the Recap here.

This event has a follow-up workshop, Annotating Text on the OpenLab, where we’ll teach you, among other things, how to use the plugin. This workshop will be held on Thursday 11/2 from 2:30-4:00pm in Rm G604 (RSVP).

We’ll Consider the following questions:

  • How can the use of digital annotation tools change the teaching and learning process?
  • How can we use annotation to increase engagement with the resources we build and share on the OpenLab?
  • What are some of the challenges of annotating different media, and what are creative solutions for these cases?
  • How does working individually, publicly, and socially change the way we view annotation and its functions?

Suggested Readings:

Recap: A Conversation about New Possibilities for Teaching, Learning, and Collaborating at BMCC

An image of two intersecting circles with a nucleus in the middle.
Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

On the morning of Friday October 13th, and in anticipation of experimenting with an open digital learning platform in Spring 2018, BMCC faculty from the Media Arts & Technology Department (all but one) hosted members of the OpenLab Community Team for a rich discussion of open digital pedagogy on the OpenLab.

We opened the session with a freewrite and discussion of the values that underpin our pedagogy, the strategies we deploy to implement those values, and the challenges we face in doing so. During the share back portion, the discussion was wide-ranging. Faculty discussed values, strategies, and challenges related to a holistic type of learning that valued not only learning course material, but having a sense of creativity and vitality for learning, and viewing learning in relation to the maturation of students more generally. Faculty also discussed their desires around learning as a classroom community, and building a culture of respect, reciprocity and shared growth among the students. There was also a realization of the challenges presented by the realities of student’s lives (i.e. other demands on time such as work, friends, family; access to software; long commute times) which sometimes impedes our ability to achieve these goals. You can view the full list here, and if you’re like me, you will find yourself nodding your head as you read through the list, seeing many of them embedded in your own pedagogy, whether you previously recognized them there or not.

Ultimately, this conversation was a primer for thinking about how the OpenLab resolved some of these issues at City Tech, and how a similar open digital platform might do the same at BMCC. From striving for 1000 members in its pilot year, to facilitating a community of 23,000 users in its 6th year, the OpenLab has become another place for teaching, learning and community building at the tight, commuter school. As we discussed, in part this can be attributed to the ‘open’ aspect of the OpenLab, which expands the possibilities for both students and faculty along the lines outlined in the table below. Another important factor is the networked aspect of this open community – that through the OpenLab’s homepage, one can peruse (and in some cases, join!) the various courses, clubs and projects taking place at City Tech – and learn more about the members and groups who comprise the community.

Opening Student Experiences at City Tech Open Faculty: Teaching, Research, &  Service
o Supports student learning in Gen Ed core competencies and high impact practices

o Bridges experiential and classroom learning

o Builds student proficiency with digital media, transferrable skills

o Offers professionalization opportunities

o Provides space to network, collaborate, and socialize around shared interests

o Fosters and showcases innovative and engaging pedagogies

o Enables sharing of best practices

o Supports interdisciplinary approaches

o Promotes community and collaboration

Together, this strengthens the college community by providing a space for students, faculty, and staff to interact, supports and enhances major college-wide initiatives and other grant-funded projects, and makes the work of the college more visible & accessible.

This introduction to the OpenLab was followed by a more practical conversation about how we have strived to achieve this – for example, through the different digital tools we use (WordPress and BuddyPress), how we have designed our homepage to showcase recent activity, and what kinds sites one can build on the OpenLab (courses, clubs, ePortfolios and projects). In addition, we shared examples of how various community members are growing the possibilities of the OpenLab, through assignment and classroom activity creation, ePortfolio construction and the integration with external sites, and finding novel ways of sharing across classrooms, departments and sub-fields. In many cases, as came up in our conversation again and again, this growth in use is really the result of the built-in flexibility of the platform, the creativity of our members, their sense of ownership over their content, and their ability to share, borrow and remix from one another quickly and easily in an open, centralized environment.

For examples of the type of innovation taking place on the OpenLab, we encourage you to check out our ‘In the Spotlight’ blog series, where we highlight one site per week, and The Buzz, which showcases the work of our student bloggers. Lastly, if you’re looking share and view assignments or tips related to open digital pedagogy, check out the L4 Library and Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab!

We look forward to continuing to support our peers at BMCC as they adopt and adapt a similar open digital learning platform over the next year, and we look forward to the possible for synergies going forward!