Recap: Getting Hands-On with Research Projects on the OpenLab

Thursday evening brought the last Open Pedagogy event of the semester, Getting Hands-On with Research Projects on the OpenLab. A working session, the workshop focused on tools and strategies to implement research practices on the site. Faculty who attended were especially interested in exploring methods to support web-based student research. The event began with OpenLab Community Team members presenting strong examples of research and collaboration on the OpenLab, including Prof. Raffi Katchadourian’s professional portfolio, the collaborative Opening Gateways site, and Prof. Jody Rosen’s interactive map assignment, a Being in Brooklyn Walking Tour.

Participants then broke into working groups to begin to implement particular strategies according to their needs. For example, one group discussed integrating visual mathematical elements, like graphs, into posts as a way to build resources for students in Economics classes. An OpenLab Community Team member is now looking into possible WordPress plugins to enable this kind of activity. Another group considered using the OpenLab to facilitate the design and implementation of a survey, as well as its results. How exciting to see faculty members begin to implement ideas that they had been developing in Open Pedagogy events throughout the semester!

To that end, thank you to all who participated in Open Pedagogy events this spring! We look forward to following your ideas, projects, research, and collaboration on the OpenLab!

Join us on Th 4/7: Getting Hands-On with Research Projects on the OpenLab

computer from the 1990s
Remember to bring your devices on Thursday — hopefully one a little less dated than this. (Image by Javier Carcamo)

Getting Hands-On with Research Projects on the OpenLab
Thursday, April 7th, 5:00 – 6:30 pm (N227)

Refreshments will be served.

Interested in building a space for your research on the OpenLab? Bring your own laptop or device to this follow-up working session on research projects on the OpenLab, where we will explore and build projects on the OpenLab centered on specific research questions. Participants will leave with a collaborative space on the OpenLab for organizing, archiving, and publicly displaying their research.

Please email us at or comment below to let us know your ideas for the session. What research project do you want to work on?

And remember to bring your devices, as this will be a working session!

Recap: Exploring Research Projects on the OpenLab

Last week’s Open Pedagogy event, Exploring Research Projects on the OpenLab, was a great success, with lots of time for faculty members to explore opportunities for collaboration and research on the site. Attendees agreed on their interest in research design that sends students into the world to investigate a question, followed by opportunities to share and discuss their findings on the OpenLab. There was particular excitement about the possibility of mapping research, as Prof. Jody Rosen’s students did in her2013 course Being in Brooklyn. You can explore her students’ interactive map here.

Our final Open Pedagogy event of the semester, Getting Hands-On with Research Projects on the OpenLab, will serve as a working session to follow-up ideas that emerged from last week’s session. All faculty and staff are welcome, even those unable attend the last session, and all attendees should bring their own devices. Stay tuned, too, for a list of open pedagogy resources for research that we will share in anticipation of that event.

Join us on Th 3/17: Exploring Research Projects on the OpenLab

Exploring Research Projects on the OpenLab 
Thursday, March 17, 5:00-6:30pm (N227)

Refreshments will be served.

Interested in learning more about how scabblethe OpenLab can support your research? Previous events have focused on courses, but we’re seeing more research projects appear on the OpenLab. This session showcases this exciting work happening at City Tech, and explores some of the ways faculty and staff are using the OpenLab to collaborate with colleagues and students on research projects.

Please share the invitation, and feel free to comment on this post to let your colleagues know you’re planning to come!

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

Image credit: janneke staaks

Join us on Th 2/18: Knowing Brooklyn through Place-Based Open Digital Pedagogy

Knowing Brooklyn through Place-Based Open Digital Pedagogy

Thursday, February 18, 2016, 5:00-6:30pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

Refreshments will be served

Interested in using the OpenLab to engage with the college’s current City Tech GenEdge bird's view of the brooklyn bridgetheme, Knowing Brooklyn? A companion event to this college-wide effort, this session takes a place-based approach to open digital pedagogy. Together we will think through ways to integrate place-based learning around City Tech’s Brooklyn location with open pedagogy on the OpenLab, as we design our courses, activities, and assignments. In partnership with the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center.


Photo by The Buzz student blogger, Jean-Luc. See more here.

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

OpenLab Tour 3.0

Since our previous OpenLab 1.0 and 2.0 tours, we accomplished some exciting milestones, including reaching 15,000 members in September 2015, and the release of a significant redesign in August 2015.  The new design made a few UX improvements, such as better readability and more consistent messaging across the site. It also featured our first mobile version of the site, which we’re very excited about, given the large number of mobile users at City Tech. We hope you enjoy our short tour below, and please feel free to add anything else you’d like to highlight in the comments!



The OpenLab homepage offers a dynamic look at the current activity on the site. The courses, projects, clubs, and portfolios that appear on the homepage are constantly refreshed, with the most recently active groups appearing at the top of the page.  We also have a section called “In the Spotlight,” where we can feature great work from around the OpenLab, and a slider where communicate with our community of over 15,000 members.  From the homepage visitors can browse our listings of courses, projects, clubs, and portfolios, as well as My OpenLab (for logged-in OpenLab users) and the Help section.


People: Our Community

We have over 15,000 members, including over 14,000 students, over 600 faculty, and 100 staff, and are growing daily!  We’ve also added an alumni account option so City Tech graduates can continue to use the OpenLab as alumni.


Courses: Extending the Classroom

Each semester we’ve seen more and more faculty from a diverse variety of departments using the OpenLab for their courses.  Courses on the OpenLab provide an open online extension of the classroom learning environment, offering a space to share and discuss each other’s work.  They can provide a forum for students and faculty to maintain ongoing conversations and collaborate outside of a set course time.  Since they can be open to others outside of the classroom, they have the potential to broaden the conversation and share the great work happening in City Tech courses with a wider audience.  Students have told us they enjoyed being able to follow along and learn from courses they weren’t taking.

A sculpture of a camera made out of food.
The Art of Food
(HMGT 1203, HMGT 1204, and ARTH 1100)

The Art of Food is a learning community between Professor Kylie Garcelon’s Culinary Arts I, Professor Joanne Jacus’s Baking & Pastry Arts I, and Professor Sandra Cheng’s History of Photography courses.  In their courses, students explore whether or not it’s possible to appreciate food as art and how food can be viewed in terms of aesthetic categories like beauty and taste.  The course site contains some great multimedia assignments, like photographing food texture, comparing amateur food photography on Instagram with art photos, and blogging about what rock stars eat backstage. You can also find photos of each week’s delicious creations in Baking & Pastry Arts I.

A bird's eye view of downtown Brooklyn.Learning Places (LIB/ARCH2205)

In this interdisciplinary course, taught by Professors Anne Leonard (Library) and Jason Montgomery (Architecture), students took advantage of City Tech’s downtown Brooklyn neighborhood for many of their assignments, including a number of site visits and reports on nearby Vinegar Hill and Farragut Houses.  Students also read about and discussed Wikipedia, in preparation for one of their final assignments in which they added an informative and well-researched article on Farragut Houses to Wikipedia.

Writing with New MediaA sign that states: You do not take a photograph. You make it. (ENG 2720)

In Professor Jill Belli’s Writing with New Media course students considered the ways in which writing practices have been affected by digital spaces.  The course site was very active, with some great discussion.  Students completed a number of multimedia assignments including Prezi presentations on different types of social media, and blog posts on internet memes, reflecting on a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image to see the exhibit “How Cats Took Over the Internet.”  They also had a visit from some of The Buzz bloggers, including a follow-up virtual discussion.  They clearly put a great deal of work into their final projects, which included a significant amount of research, new media composing experiments, in-class presentations, and reflections. Students also worked on their OpenLab ePortfolios, which they used to showcase their final projects.


Projects: For Research and Service

Projects on the OpenLab can encompass anything including research projects, course projects, official City Tech committees, events, and everything in-between.  In browsing through the projects page on the OpenLab, it’s clear that they cover a diversity of purposes.

The L4 LivingLab Learning Library logo.Living Lab Learning Library (L4)

Created by L4 Coordinators, Professors Anna Matthews and Laura Westengard, L4 is a “resource exchange for innovative teaching practices,” and space for interaction among City Tech faculty and beyond. The site is a culminating resource for the Title V grant-funded initiative, “A Living Laboratory: Revitalizing General Education for a 21st-Century College of Technology,” and offers a wealth of different assignments and activities, searchable by Student Learning Outcome, discipline, or High Impact Educational Practice. Faculty can also contribute their own assignments or activities to the resource library.

Gothic NYC

This project was created by students in Prof. Laura Westengard’s course, ENG 3407: Gothic Literature and Visual Culture.  Students posted photographs, video, and wrote about numerous Gothic sites in New York City, analyzing them through the theories and concepts they learned in class.  For those interested in taking their own Gothic tour, the students created a Google Map that includes all the locations on the site.

Type font that states 'Words have lives.'Words Have Lives

Words Have Lives is a companion to the course Developmental Writing.  While the site focuses on specific material being covered in the class, it can nonetheless be helpful to any students who may have questions about the writing process.  The site offers many resources, from help with essay grammar, structure, and strategy, to specific student resources offered at City Tech, such as the Learning Center where students can go for help with their writing.  The site is also well-structured and designed, and makes great use of image and video.

The logo of The Buzz, our student blogging team.The Buzz

The Buzz is the blog for our excellent group of OpenLab student bloggers and photobloggers, who are writing on a wide variety of topics, including fashion, food, recipes, original artwork, and more. The site also includes two photobloggers who post their own photographs from around NYC and beyond. There are new posts nearly every day, as well as active comments.


Clubs: Building Communities

The clubs section on the OpenLab includes both officially chartered student clubs, and also more informal groups using the OpenLab as a space to share information and interact around a common interest.

The logo for the Biomedical informatics club.Biomedical Informatics

This club, for students interested in the new Biomedical Informatics major at City Tech, has a great site featuring plenty of information on club and other local activities and events.  It also includes resources on jobs, internships, and the field of Biomedical Informatics in general.



The logo of the anime gaming club. Anime Gaming Underground

This club is “a social club where people who are interested in animation, Japanese anime, animation/anime card games (such as Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh), role playing games, and video/computer games can hang out and have fun.” While it isn’t an officially chartered student club, it nonetheless has many members. We love that they created a site for their group to coordinate meet-ups and events, and get to know other students with similar interests.


Portfolios: Sharing our Work

A series of 4 images showing people assembling a wheel and ladder.Student Portfolio: Irene Iarochevitch (Entertainment Technology)

Irene’s Iarochevitch’s excellent portfolio is well-designed and structured, highlighting her work in a number of courses through video, photographs, and writing.  The portfolio focuses on her ambitious senior thesis project, or “culmination project,” for which she is building a laser harp, an electronic musical instrument.  Her portfolio was also discovered by another harp-maker, who left a comment with some suggestions for the harp. It’s always great to see these kinds of interactions on the OpenLab, where student work can indeed attract an audience that reaches beyond the classroom!

An image of Professor Raffi Khatchadourian.Faculty Portfolio: Raffi Khatchadourian (Computer Systems Technology (CST))

Professor Raffi Khatchadourian’s portfolio contains information on his own teaching and research, as well as resources for CST students at City Tech. His portfolio also has a blog with professional news as well as opportunities for students.



We have a redesigned help section that includes all the main steps involved in created an OpenLab account and profile, and setting up and participating in a course, project, club, or portfolio.   We continue to add to and improve the help section as we grow.


This concludes our short tour of the OpenLab.  Since we have limited space, there are many great courses, projects, clubs, and portfolios we didn’t include here, but please add a comment with anything you’ve seen or created that you’d like to share.  Also feel free to check out our previous tours, OpenLab 1.0 and 2.0!

The OpenLab at the CUNY IT Conference 2015

We had a great time presenting at the CUNY IT Conference last week, where we showcased recent OpenLab community-building innovations, including L4: Living Lab Learning Library, a faculty-generated repository for General Education assignments; Open Educational Resources; The Buzz student blog for discussion and community building among students; and Patrick Corbett’s usability study that surveyed faculty engagement and recommended best practices. Presenters also discussed the OpenLab’s new mobile-friendly design and future initiatives, including cohort-based projects and collaborations across CUNY.

Thanks to everyone who came to our presentation, and to all our excellent presenters!  They were:

  • Jill Belli, Assistant Professor of English/OpenLab Co-Director
  • Cailean Cooney, Instructor, User Services Librarian
  • Patrick Corbett, Assistant Professor of English
  • Charlie Edwards, Living Lab Co-Director
  • Scott Henkle, Senior OpenLab Community Facilitator
  • Anna Matthews, Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene/L4 Director
  • Andrew McKinney, Senior OpenLab Community Facilitator
  • Jody R. Rosen, Assistant Professor of English/OpenLab Co-Director
  • Laura Westengard, Assistant Professor of English/L4 Director

The presentation slides can be viewed below or downloaded as a PDF.  And, please feel free to leave a comment with any questions or ideas!

Download (PDF, 3.5MB)


Join us on Th 11/12: Accessibility, Disability, and Open Digital Pedagogy

Accessibility, Disability, and Open Digital Pedagogy

Thursday, November 12, 2015, 4:30-6:00pm (Faculty Commons, N227)

*Refreshments will be served

(Please share the invitation with colleagues, and RSVP by commenting on this post)

Join faculty and staff around the college at the next Open Pedagogy event, where we will discuss issues of accessibility and disability in online communities and digital spaces. Together, we’ll explore key issues at stake and brainstorm how we, as faculty and staff, might better serve our students and each other by being aware of and competent in best practices. We will start to think through our open digital pedagogy to become more inclusive of all our members as we teach, research, collaborate, and communicate in open digital spaces. We’ll consider the following questions:

  • What do accessibility and disability mean and look like in online digital spaces?
  • What is universal design?
  • What are our responsibilities (ethical, legal, institutional, personal) to consider accessibility and disability, & implement changes to our pedagogy in response?
  • “Why is accessibility often treated as an afterthought” (Hoffman 2014)?
  • How can we make our work in open digital spaces more accessible?

Disability symbolsWant to learn more about issues of accessibility / disability in open digital pedagogies? Here are a few short pieces for reference:

  • Recent special issue of First Monday on “Disability and the Internet” that is hot off the (digital) press, and explores a wide ranges of issues on the topic (September 2015)

*Image credit: Disability Symbols (Wikimedia Commons)

More on Open Educational Resources

Following last week’s Open Pedagogy discussion, here are a few resources/events of possible interest. Enjoy!

Handout: Quick guide to find and use OER

A free webinar tomorrow  on Accessibility and OER (10/14 at 1 p.m.):

Arranged by the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER). No preregistration necessary:

Library programs (Wine and cheese will be served!):

Tomorrow! (10/14, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. in N227) – Using Open Educational Resources (OER) in the classroom: a panel discussion

Next Tuesday! (10/20, 4 – 6 p.m. in the Faculty Lounge) – Scholarship Matters – Speakers Jesse Daniels and Megan Wacha talk about social justice and making our scholarship more visible

An invitation to an Open Pedagogy Event 10/8, 4:30-6:00


collage of doodles with 'collaborate' written in the middle.

Collaboration on the OpenLab

Thursday, October 8, 2015, 4:30-6:00pm

Faculty Commons, N227

Refreshments will be served

This Open Pedagogy event brings together those interested in teaching and learning in the open, using readily available resources either within or in conjunction with City Tech’s OpenLab. Examples of collaboration among students, and between instructor and students abound in the OpenLab’s 1000+ courses. Emerging as well are collaborations between students and peer mentors, between courses across the college, and among faculty teaching parallel sections of the same course. First-Year Learning Communities can bring two or three courses together in a single space to further facilitate community, and can bring into that community the peer mentor for further student support. Course coordinators have created community within departments through the ability to share materials for better support of instruction across sections. The same kind of openness facilitates the community of pedagogy that draws on the support of Open Educational Resources developed with the support of library faculty. Come hear about these exciting examples from colleagues and OpenLab Community Team members, and share your own.

Can’t join us but want to think more about collaboration in your pedagogy? Here are two short pieces you might read to consider best practices in project-based collaborations:

A Student Collaborators’ Bill of Rights

A Collaborators’ Bill of Rights

Please share the invitation with colleagues–and feel free to comment on this post to let your colleagues know you’re planning to come!

Image credit: Collaborate by Brenderous