Part 2 of 5 of: Get to Know the OpenLab


This week, we continue our 5-part self-guided series and ask: How do others use the OpenLab? The tasks below will help you explore how members of the City Tech community use the OpenLab to support their learning, teaching, community-building, and other scholarly and pedagogical pursuits. 

  • Task 1: Check out In the Spotlight, our blog series that features a different site each week. You can review these blog entries by:
    • Scrolling through the blog – this will give you a reverse chronological view
    • Visiting the Spotlight Archive – this will give you a topical/categorical view
  • Task 2: Peruse the OpenLab’s new monthly blog series, Pedagogy Profiles, to learn more about how City Tech’s educators began and continue to use the platform to support their work.
  • Task 3: Read the Winter 2017 Nucleus Issue, which featured pieces from faculty about the creative ways they’ve used the OpenLab in the context of their courses and/or research. See our spotlight post on this issue for more!
  • Task 4: Explore the community using various search and filter options:
    • You can search through people, courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the menu at the top and the magnifying glass in the top-right.
    • You can also search courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the links titled by type of site (courses, projects, clubs, portfolios) under the slider. From the search page, use the filters (top-right) to tailor your search.

We’ll be in touch next week to help you join the OpenLab and figure out how you might use the platform.


The OpenLab Community Team

See 5-Part Series online on The Open Road.

Part 1 of 5 of: Get to Know the OpenLab


This summer, we are rebooting our 5-part self-guided series that provides short tasks to help you get to know the OpenLab. Tasks are oriented around different questions, and will help answer the question by introducing you to various aspects of the platform and opportunities for participating in the growing OpenLab community.

This week, we ask the most basic question – What is the OpenLab? The tasks below will help you get to know the OpenLab by reading about its origins and ethos, taking a quick tour, and visiting our in-house sites.

  • Task 1: Read the OpenLab’s brief About page to learn more about ethos and values driving the OpenLab.
  • Task 2: Take the OpenLab Tour!
  • Task 3: Check out our in-house sites!
    • The Open Road: Our one-stop-shop for all things OpenLab: news, workshops, events, community, and support!
    • The Buzz: Our student blogging team’s site; they post about life at City Tech and beyond!
    • Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab: A site for sharing and discussing resources about open digital pedagogy!

We’ll be in touch next week to help you answer: How do others use the OpenLab


The OpenLab Community Team

See the whole 5-Part Series online on The Open Road.

This Month on the OpenLab: June Release

On June 24, we released version 1.7.33 of the OpenLab. It included a number of new features, as well as a new theme, and a few bug fixes.

Brooklyn Flyer ride at Coney Island
“Brooklyn Flyer” by Studio Sarah Lou is licensed under CC BY 2.0

New Features and Theme

There were five new features included this release.

  1. We added new functionality to the Files section of a group’s Profile, allowing files to be organized into folders. You will be able to create folders for new files as you upload them, or for existing files by editing a file.
  2. We added better printing functionality to posts and pages on group sites. You’ll see this in two different places.  On a site’s Dashboard, when editing a page or post, we added a checkbox asking if you want to display a ‘Print this Page’ link.  If selected, the link will appear on the page or post, allowing readers to print a nicely-formatted version of the page or post.  In the August release, we will make a few adjustments to improve the formatting for Hemingway and Twenty Nineteen themes, but it works well with all other themes.
  3. In group Settings, we added a checkbox to disable or enable the Calendar functionality for a group, similar to the way Discussion, Docs, and Files can be enabled or disabled.
  4. We added the Twenty Nineteen theme, which you will see available in the list of themes for any OpenLab site.

Bug Fixes

We fixed three bugs in this release:

  1. Files uploaded to group profiles were only sorting in alphabetical order, not by newest. Files can now be sorted correctly by any criteria.
  2. For OpenLab members using the new WordPress Block Editor (Gutenberg), we fixed an issue causing the editor sidebar panel to obscure the publish button and some of the other elements, after clicking the settings icon in the top.
  3. We fixed a few very small formatting issues in the OpenLab footer on sites using the Hemingway theme.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

Summer Greetings from the OpenLab

Photo Credit: Ricardo Resende

Greetings from the OpenLab and congratulations to all on the closing of another successful academic year! And a most-important special shout-out to the graduating class of 2019!

While our weekly “Spotlight” blog series will go on hiatus for the season, we wanted to remind you of the sites we featured this past year and encourage you to check them out if you haven’t already done so.

Spring 2019 Spotlight Posts

We also launched a retrospective series, looking back at the OpenLab’s evolution over the past (quasi) decade…

…and improved our practices and incorporated some new functionalities and features:

In addition to reviewing these posts from this past spring, you can find a full curated list of all sites that have been spotlighted in our  Spotlight Archive. This archive offers visitors 3 curated lists to help them sort through the posts:

  1. For everyone (By type of site – course, project, club, portfolio)
  2. For faculty/staff
  3. For students

As always, we also encourage you to check out our in-house sites:

The OpenLab Community Team will continue to offer email support over the summer – please contact us with questions or concerns.

We will also soon announce our fall programming. August workshops for Faculty/Staff have been posted – RSVP & mark your calendars! We will be in touch as we get more events and workshops on our calendar.

Wishing you all a very happy summer!

The OpenLab Community Team

In the Spotlight: Gothic Literature and Visual Culture (ENGL 3407-D613)

A few weeks ago, we spotlighted Prof. Blain’s Writing in the Workplace course site. This site offered great ideas for how to organize student writing assignments. This week, we spotlight another well-organized, creative and visually compelling writing-intensive course: Prof. Westengard’s Gothic Literature and Visual Culture (ENGL 3407-D613). Here are some highlights from the site:

Prof. Westengard makes great, common-sense use of the widget space on the right sidebar of her course site. She posts there the information students will most need throughout the semester. This includes a text widget that gives her contact information, office hours and mailbox location. She also uses the “Categories” widget to provide links to the different blogging assignments students have throughout the semester. This makes crucial information less easy to miss!

Second, Prof Westengard’s landing page (the site’s home page) exclusively features timely announcements. This is a great strategy for communicating with your students!

Note that these announcements aren’t set up as a category archive, which would look similar to the set up the site has now, except that announcements would also populate the site’s blogroll by default.  Prof. Westengard has chosen instead to use a static page for her announcements and to edit it regularly with new content. The advantage of this strategy is that her announcements don’t end up mixed in with the courses’ blogroll, which is reserved instead for student blogging. In this way, neither student blogging exercises nor instructor announcements get buried or lost.

Finally, the site does make use of category archives to organize the different blogging assignments. These are given intuitive names “Blog 1,” “Blog 2,” etc. They are also organized neatly in a dropdown menu. Remember that, by activating the “Require Category” plugin, you can ensure that all members of your site choose a category before publishing their post. The plugin prompts the user to select a category and won’t allow them to publish without doing so. Using “Require Category” is a good way of keeping your site and its blogging exercises organized!

In sum, this is a rich and well-organized course site to return to as you begin thinking of setting up your own site for the fall. Want to learn more? Check out the site here.

In the Spotlight: The Open Road and Summer Programming

On the Open Road you can find:

Summer Programming
Note that we have a full slate of workshops and open, drop-in hours lined up for late August to help you get set up on the OpenLab for the fall. Learn more about these workshops below and mark your calendars now!

Download (PDF, 95KB)

We hope these resources will help you continue using the OpenLab to support your teaching, learning and community building here at City Tech!

Wishing you all a happy end of semester!

This Month on the OpenLab: May Release

fern unfurling
Image credit: “Brooklyn Botanic Garden – May 2013” by David Pizzitola

On May 15, we released version 1.7.32 of the OpenLab. It was a small release, and included two new features, minor plugin updates, and bug fixes.

New Features and Updates

There were two new functionality updates in this release.

  1. We added Course and Project “Type” as a heading on the search results page, when you filter Courses or Projects by Type (e.g. FYLC, OER, or Cloneable).

course type heading on results page

  1. We added breadcrumb navigation to the default site for new courses, in order to improve navigation on a site’s subpages. Currently breadcrumbs are available with the OpenLab Twenty Sixteen and OpenLab Twenty Thirteen themes, but they will now be included by default on all new course sites, created after the May 15 release.  A few things to note:
    1. If you change from the default theme to anything other than OpenLab Twenty Sixteen and OpenLab Twenty Thirteen, the breadcrumbs will no longer appear.
    2. If you want to keep the default theme but don’t want the breadcrumbs, you can remove them by deactivating the Breadcrumb NavXT plugin in Dashboard > Plugins.
    3. You shouldn’t need to change any of the plugin settings, but if you do, you can find them in Dashboard > Settings > Breadcrumb NavXT.

Breadcrumbs navigation on course site

Bug Fixes

We fixed two small issues in this release:

  1. In rare cases where a course was cloned through shared cloning but the original source course was deleted, it appeared in the credits as “Course – “. We made a change so that if the original course was deleted, nothing appears in the credits line.
  2. For OpenLab members using the new WordPress Block Editor (Gutenberg), you may have noticed that the OpenLab toolbar at the top of your site covered up some of the elements at the top of the Block Editor page. We’ve fixed this so that it no longer overlaps.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

A Commons for Open Learning: Voices from City Tech’s OpenLab

*This post is part of the OpenLab’s “Retrospective Series,” through which the OpenLab team and community is curating and reflecting on the ways in which the OpenLab has grown and transformed since its launch in Fall 2011. (You can check out the first two posts in the series here and here).

For this year’s CUNY CUE (Conference on Undergraduate Research), hosted at our home City Tech, the OpenLab team is hosting a roundtable featuring a number of stakeholders and initiatives around the college. The OpenLab team is excited to share with you how various initiatives have integrated the OpenLab–City Tech’s homegrown open-source digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating–into their work, and how the OpenLab has transformed the work they do with students, colleagues, and the world beyond, and in keeping with this year’s conference theme, is central to “transforming teaching into learning.”

We’re excited to tackle the six big questions of the conference, through showcasing successful examples of City Tech stakeholders adopting the OpenLab and integrating it into the work they do:

  • What Transforms Teaching into Learning? Learning as Reflective Practice
  • Who is at the Table? Learning for all
  • Where is the Public Discourse? Learning in the Open
  • Why This Place? Learning Beyond the Classroom Walls
  • How Do Leaders Emerge? Learning to Achieve
  • When Do Transitions Matter? Learning as Power

OpenLab CUE Presentation

Some background: When City Tech’s OpenLab launched in 2011, its team anticipated students, faculty, and staff creatively imagining it as a platform to learn, work, and share within and beyond the college community. The open digital platform, built with blogging and social networking software (WordPress, BuddyPress), thrives with innovative member-generated content. The 28,000+ OpenLab members have pushed it in new and exciting directions. Stakeholder groups have had a significant impact both in modeling effective critical pedagogy and creative usage, and in shaping OpenLab innovations in design and functionality; these include First-Year Programs, First-Year Learning Communities, STEM Success, and their peer mentors; Living Lab General Education Seminar, WeBWorK math homework integration, Digital Pathways (BMCC-City Tech transfer in digital programs); and the Faculty Commons and Provost’s Office. In 2018, the OpenLab team, in partnership with the Graduate Center’s Commons in a Box (CBOX) project, released CBOX OpenLab, which offers institutions the ability to create an OpenLab in their local context.

This session includes lightning-talk presentations from OpenLab stakeholders whose work transforms teaching into learning and underscores that teaching and learning aren’t one-directional but instead networked, and at their best, happening when teachers and students are critical co-collaborators. Presenters will reflect on the conference’s thematic questions, considering what it means to learn and work in the open, and how that is a democratizing and empowering opportunity. Attendees can also join the conversation, ask questions of the presenters, and consider how CBOX OpenLab can share with other schools these opportunities for open learning.

We hope that the presentation (slides below) and the accompanying material helps to provide a sense of the how deeply and meaningfully the OpenLab has been embedded into many aspects of life at City Tech. In addition to the presenters listed below, today’s roundtable presenters also include a number of members of the OpenLab team: OpenLab Co-Directors, Jill Belli (Associate Professor of English), M. Genevieve Hitchings (Associate Professor of Communication Design), Jody R. Rosen (Associate Professor of English), and Jenna Spevack (Professor of Communication Design), as well as the OpenLab Digital Pedagogy Fellows Claire Cahen and Jesse Rice Evans.

*If you’re at the conference (or on campus), please do come join us in person, 12:00 PM – 12:50 PM in the Theater in the New Academic Complex.

Download (PDF, 3.84MB)

Living Lab Seminar

Karen Goodlad, Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management and (former) Seminar Leader for the Living Lab, shares these thoughts about the Living Lab:

“The Living Lab is a seminar which equips faculty to develop their teaching methodology through innovative techniques and reflection, incorporating general education in an interdisciplinary manner that may not otherwise exist. Encompassing high impact educational practices, place-based learning, open pedagogy on the OpenLab and enhanced assessment of student learning outcomes, the Living Lab supports faculty as they develop pedagogy designed to engage students in the general education curricula. Tailored to and integrated into degree-specific coursework, this approach breaks down institutional barriers to faculty interaction and collaboration, encouraging professional growth as both educators and scholars.”

L4: Living Lab Learning Library

Anna Matthews, Associate Professor of Dental Hygiene (stay tuned … coming soon!)

First Year Learning Communities (FYLC)

Jennifer Sears, Assistant Professor of English and Faculty Leader for FYLC, discusses the significant ways that FYLC has made use of the OpenLab:

First Year Learning Communities at City Tech: Extending Community on the OpenLab

I am one of three faculty leaders for First Year Learning Communities (FYLC) at City Tech with fellow leaders Karen Goodlad and Aswhin Satyanarayana. The other leaders are Karen Goodlad and Ashwin Satyanarayana. This program partners 2-3 instructors in different disciplines to work with a shared student cohort. We currently have 13 teaching cohorts. Though each course is taught separately, the paired teachers share a theme and one course activity.   Since a revamping of the FYLC program in Fall 2015 by Office of First Year Program Director Lauri Aguirre and Faculty Commons Director Julia Jordan, the OpenLab has become an integral part of how we organize our First Year Learning Communities program at City Tech.

For Our FYLC Faculty: Using the OpenLab for Faculty Trainings and Assessment

“On the OpenLab, we have an FYLC faculty site where instructors receive spring training materials, meeting reminders, and share meeting reflections. Instructors upload materials they create.” – Jennifer Sears, FYLC
On the OpenLab, we have an FYLC faculty site where instructors receive spring training materials, meeting reminders, and share meeting reflections. Instructors upload materials they create, such as their Learning Community description and plans for their shared activity.At the end of the teaching semester, instructors also upload their assessment and student learning outcomes of their collaboration and propose changes they might make to deepen or improve implementation of their theme.

For Our FYLC Students: The Our Stories Project on the OpenLab

For students, the First Year Learning Communities also conducts an Our Stories project on the OpenLab. In the Our Stories project, students from FYLC classes are given a prompt to share their experiences as first semester students. They are also encouraged to read and comment on the experiences of their peers in other Learning Communities. FYLC Peer Mentors contribute to this project (which Sarah Paruolo will present).  As more experienced students, they comment on the first semester students’ stories, which prompts others in the class to comment as well.

“The OpenLab has provided us with a means to organize faculty activity …. and has offered our students a place to openly reflect on their experience as first semester college students. It’s difficult to imagine our FYLC program without this shared public platform.” – Jennifer Sears, FYLC
The Our Stories Project is a learning experience for students, who can see what others are posting and a learning experience for instructors and administrators. Student concerns are visible and we have looked into patterns that appear in their responses. We have already have written one article and are currently writing a book chapter, based on stories and posts our students have contributed on this site. Other City Tech programs, such as the Student-Ready College committee, have also implemented these narratives into their discussion materials.


To sum up, the OpenLab has provided us with a means to organize faculty activity, has provided a way for faculty to share their experiences and activities, and has offered our students a place to openly reflect on their experience as first semester college students. It’s difficult to imagine our FYLC program without this shared public platform.”

First Year Programs Peer Mentors

Sarah Paruolo, adjunct faculty in the English Department and Peer Mentor Coordinator for First Year Programs, shares more about this important program:

“First Year Programs: Peer Mentors                                                

The mission of First Year Programs is to provide new City Tech Students with guided academic pathways, easing their college transition while supporting academic success. In support of these goals, we offer several programs including: First Year Summer Programs, Immersion Programs, First Year Learning Communities, Peer Mentoring, and Preparatory and Testing Workshops in Math and Reading.

Today, we will focus on the Peer Mentoring Program. Peer Mentors are upper level students who serve as role models to incoming First Years. The mentors are eager to share their knowledge and expertise to help new students adjust to college life. Because they are successful students themselves—both academically and socially—Peer Mentors are able to provide personalized, judgment-free guidance to students who otherwise may be hesitant to seek help from faculty and staff. They are trained to guide new City Tech students in recognizing their academic strengths, as well as in identifying and addressing personal challenges. Peer

Mentors also strive to promote strong connections to the college community, encouraging student achievement and success.

As you may know, Peer Mentor programs can be incredibly effective in retaining students with high dropout probability in general, and first-generation college students in particular. The issue is, as most of us are well aware, how do we get these students to engage with and utilize the Peer Mentors?

One of the ways that we have found particularly effective is utilizing the OpenLab.  Students enrolled in First Year Learning Communities (FYLCs) are asked to participate in the “Our Stories” Project, which invites new students to share experiences of their first semester of college twice during the semester. They write short posts and share them on an OpenLab site that is used by all FYLCs at the college. The shared site demonstrates to first year students that many of their peers are going through the same things, thus normalizing difficulties instead of marking them as failures.  

Although the posts are visible to professors, the site is not intended to engage with or cater to faculty. Instead, the Peer Mentors read each of the posts and then respond to the students individually, as comments on the original post with short personalized suggestions and encouragement. Although it may not seem like a significant interaction to many of us, in the age of social media “likes” and “retweets,” this response is essential. Not only does it reinforce the idea that someone is actually looking at the content the students create (hopefully giving positive reinforcement for future assignments), but it demonstrates that someone cares about what they are going through. The mentee has been heard and acknowledged by their mentor, in a low-stakes environment, and through a medium preferred by most of the students (as compared to face-to-face interaction), thus setting a foundation for a fruitful mentor relationship. It is also worth noting that Peer Mentors are trained in how to respond to these posts, as well as how to identify at-risk students and behaviors.

As you can see with the interactions highlighted on the screen [note: see presentation, slide 11], these do not need to be long, in-depth responses to have a positive impact. What is important to note in each of these is: one, that the responses are specific, and two, that the responses highlight the similarities between the mentors and the mentees. The mentors utilize this not only because it is easy for them to draw on their own experiences when giving advice, but also because it lessens the perceived gap between mentor and mentee. By relating that they too once struggled, the mentors are able to show new students that just because they are having trouble now, doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of success in the future. This really helps to target at-risk students who have trouble envisioning themselves as legitimate members of the college community. And as we know, representation matters.

Although we hope that the interactions that occur between first year students and Peer Mentors on the OpenLab are only the beginning of a more robust relationship, the importance of this medium to facilitate this is immeasurable.”

Opening Gateways

Jonas Reitz, Professor of Mathematics at City Tech and Project Director of “Opening Gateways” offers insight into this exciting grant:

“Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM” is a 5 year collaborative grant between the New York City College of Technology and the Borough of Manhattan Community College funded through the Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (Title V) program.  The project supports student success in mathematics courses that serve as gateways to STEM disciplines, courses that often act as barriers to progress and completion in these disciplines. Our primary activities are faculty professional development and production of high-quality, custom Open Educational Resources carefully aligned with the curriculum.

Opening Gateways project site:

We have relied on the OpenLab in a variety of ways throughout the life of the project, integrating it into our work with faculty and students alike. Our annual faculty development seminar uses the OpenLab as a platform for collaboration and communication among participating faculty fellows. Our management team uses the OpenLab to coordinate activities and share information within and across two campuses. And finally, we are engaging students directly through the WeBWorK on the OpenLab site.

WeBWorK on the OpenLab
WeBWorK is an open-source platform for online homework supported by the Mathematics Association of America and the National Science Foundation. In a typical WeBWorK environment, students with questions are directed to email their instructors. At City Tech, however, we have bridged WeBWorK and the OpenLab: students seeking help on WeBWorK are directed to an OpenLab community space where they can ask questions, and view related questions by other students. For instructors, assistance provided to an individual student is preserved in a public setting that allows other students to benefit. For students, the wealth of existing questions and answers provides a resource that is available on-demand, at any hour of the day and night.

WeBWorK on the OpenLab:”

Office of the Provost

Kim Cardascia, Administrative Executive Officer for the Office of the Provost, spoke about the project the Office of the Provost recently designed for faculty and staff at the college (please note: by design, only City Tech staff and faculty logged into the OpenLab will be able to view the site).

“Office of the Provost Open Lab Site

A way to share information from across Academic Affairs with City Tech faculty and staff. OpenLab offered us improvements in three key areas.

• Flexiblility
• Timeliness
• Usefulness


• Just-right degree of openness
· All faculty and staff auto-invited
· Only faculty and staff able to see, giving us comfort in discussing internal issues
• Defined and limited topics, cross-referenced by semester
• Structure is created over time by the content, saving us from the need to plan a rigid top-down structure that would doubtless need ad-hoc changes almost immediately


• Previously, to post or make any changes online, a ticket system and another office’s workflow
• Now, instant posting and editing
• Allows content responsive to and reflective of the cycles of academic life
• All subscribers are auto-enrolled for weekly summary emails
o Loops them in on current conversations
o Reminds them regularly of the existence of the site as a resource


• Gradually amasses an open and shared archive for reference, and will be able to see change over time
• Takes information out of siloed email distribution channels and allows it to flow across departments and divisions

Thanks to office collaborators and OpenLab team!”

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Cailean Cooney, Assistant Professor / OER Librarian, and coordinator of City Tech’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiative reflects on the synergy among the OpenLab and OERs, and her work on the two:

“My work intersects with the OpenLab in two important ways. As a faculty member involved with OERs and open pedagogy, the OpenLab is primarily where I conduct this work. Why? Because

“I think the OpenLab can reflect individual and collective contributions to teaching and learning at the college in a way that inspires” – Cailean Cooney, OER Librarian
I think the OpenLab can reflect individual and collective contributions to teaching and learning at the college in a way that inspires. Just browsing the OL homepage, I constantly spot groups, course, and project sites that make me want to learn more.

As coordinator of the NYS OER Grant, the OpenLab platform challenged us to put our principles into action by choosing an open, community driven platform to house OERs. The OpenLab is unique among learning platforms because it enables course materials to be shared openly in an unrestricted manner because the course materials don’t expire after a student finishes a course. This can have practical implications for the college community; for instance, by supporting knowledge transfer as students move through course sequences and their major course studies. I think the OpenLab brings us closer to embodying a commitment to lifelong learning at the college by disrupting formal learning sites of education and providing more visibility, and hopefully inviting more critical and generative conversations throughout the community about what it is to work and study at City Tech.”

*Note: learn more by reading the OpenLab team’s Spotlight post on City Tech OERs on the OpenLab.

Commons in a Box OpenLab

Charlie Edwards, OpenLab Co-Directors and Associate Director of the Commons in a Box OpenLab project, highlights the exciting next phase in the life of the OpenLab:

“Now anyone can launch an OpenLab!

Ever since the OpenLab launched at City Tech back in Fall 2011, the OpenLab team has been asked: “How can I get the OpenLab at my campus?” In response, we partnered with the Commons In A Box team at The Graduate Center, CUNY, with generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Office of Digital Humanities, to build a new teaching-focused version of their Commons In A Box community-building software. The result, Commons In A Box OpenLab, which was released in Fall 2018, is free open-source software that enables anyone to create a commons for open learning modeled on the OpenLab. We believe it represents a powerful and flexible alternative to expensive, closed, proprietary educational systems.

Because the software is freely available, faculty members, departments, and entire institutions anywhere in the world can now install and customize an OpenLab of their own. The OpenLab team is already working to help our colleagues at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), who are in the early stages of implementing an OpenLab site there. Interested in using Commons In A Box OpenLab at your institution? Check out the Commons In A Box site for documentation, demo sites, support forums, and more.”

*Note: learn more by reading the OpenLab team’s post on the Commons in a Box OpenLab launch and its Spotlight post on the project.


This post will be updated to include more presenters/initiatives, so stay tuned! A heartfelt thanks to all of our collaborators today, our audience members, and of course, our many many OpenLab members, who make this community so wonderful!

Please stay in touch, by contacting the OpenLab team at, and keep up with all the OpenLab things on the team’s two in-house sites, The Open Road and Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab.

In the Spotlight: Entertainment Technology’s Culmination Project

As mentioned in previous posts, our theme for Open Pedagogy this semester has been Portfolio curation–  the process of selecting, organizing and updating the work featured on one’s Portfolio/ ePortfolio. This week, as we return from Spring Break and inch toward the close of the semester (what? how?), we spotlight the Entertainment Technology’s Culmination Project OpenLab site. This department-wide site is a repository of curated student ePortfolio work, used to help all Emerging Media and Entertainment Technology majors complete, coordinate and archive their final projects.

The site might be of interest to other departments with culmination projects, as well as faculty teaching courses in which students build their e-Portfolios. Here are few resources to check out on the site:

First, Professor Grayson Earle kindly filmed and uploaded a video tutorial that walks students through ePortfolio creation. This is a great example of supporting multi-modal student learning.

It is also always a good idea to provide students with multiple examples of previous student work to use as a model. But featuring too many links and uploading too many documents makes the reader more likely to miss an example that is useful to them. The project site avoids this pitfall by collating samples of several student posters into one single, downloadable Powerpoint. Note that is format allows students to download and print all of the examples of student posters featured on the OpenLab site.

Similarly, links to PDF versions of project instructions and agreements are all featured on the site, under a top-level menu page that collates all project “Documents.”

Finally, the project site uses the Portfolio Widget to showcase student and faculty work . The Portfolio Widget displays links to the portfolios of all faculty and students that are members of the site (provided they have set up their Portfolio/ ePortfolio, of course). This allows site visitors to easily click a number of links to look at student ePortfolios from previous semesters and draw inspiration for their own work.

Interested in having your students incorporate their final course projects into their ePortfolios? Check out the site for inspiration.

This Month on the OpenLab: April Release

person's shadow holding flower drawn on sidewalk
Image credit: “Happy Spring!” by Ian Sane

On April 18, we released version 1.7.31 of the OpenLab. It was a small release, including a few new features as well as few minor plugin updates and some bug fixes.

New Features and Updates

We made two additions related to features added in the March release:

  1. Last month we made a text change to the widget on sites with shared cloning enabled. This release, we’ve made the same change to the course profile so that text “Logged-in faculty members can clone this course” appears beneath the course description. Logged-in faculty will continue to see the “Clone this Course” button that appears beneath the course avatar.
  2. We also made an addition to the email notification checkboxes added last month, and have also included this functionality for Docs.

In addition, on all directory pages (People, Courses, Projects, etc.) we changed the text for group and member counts so it no longer breaks onto two lines. For example, instead of “1 to 12 (of 2,516 Projects)” it now reads “1 to 12 (of 2,516).”

In the footer text describing the OpenLab, we made a small edit to better align with City Tech branding guidelines.

Bug Fixes

We fixed one bug in this release, which was causing the upload date for all files uploaded to a group’s “Files” section of the profile, to display as the current day.

As always, please contact us with any questions!