Curious about the OpenLab team behind our 24/7 e-mail support, office hours, and workshops? Right now we’re featuring OpenLab Digital Pedagogy Fellows who do these on-the-ground projects as part of our ongoing Retrospective series. Many thanks to past team members who’ve helped the OpenLab thrive, and to current members who keep everything running smoothly!
What is your role on the OpenLab team?
I’m a digital pedagogy fellow/community team member!
Describe your experience using the OpenLab to support your pedagogy.
Before working for the OpenLab, I had only taught using Blackboard. I love the flexibility of getting to design my own course site and getting to look at what other instructors are doing to get ideas for my own classes. Because I teach rhetoric, I can also use the website itself as a teaching moment to explain my own design choices as a web composer.
Can you describe the ways you have integrated the OpenLab into your pedagogical practices here at City Tech or elsewhere?
I teach at John Jay, so I use the CUNY Academic Commons instead of the OpenLab, but the concept/structure and most of the features are the same. Working with OpenLab users through my position on the community team has helped me learn a lot about how to use the Commons myself. I’m having my students write comments on blog posts on our course site instead of participating in a discussion forum, and they will be doing two mini-projects this semester where they write their own posts for each other to read and comment on. They’re also going to be making digital portfolios for our class. I’m still providing a word doc version of the syllabus, but I’ve also made it web-friendly on our site with a very clickable table of contents, which hopefully makes navigation easier.
How have the OpenLab and other open digital pedagogy tools transformed or expanded your pedagogy, and the pedagogical values you’re able to realize in your courses and educational practice?
As a teacher, I’m nervous about student work (and my own teaching materials) being out in the open, partially because I worry the students will be anxious about it. I believe in the philosophy of openness and the pedagogical value of giving students a real platform and audience besides writing the weird genre of the “college essay” just to send it to me, but the OpenLab showed me how beautiful and useful it can be in practice. So many teachers are already doing exactly the things I was nervous about implementing, and it’s great! In a sentence, the OpenLab has given me inspiration and confidence to take pedagogical risks.
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 can look at my colleagues’ work and share mine with them, learn about WordPress features that I can use for myself or teach to my students, and engage in pedagogical discussions with a much broader range of people. I can see it also being useful to look at the kinds of things students are doing outside of my class so I can make more informed connections with the other parts of their lives.