In the Spotlight: OpenLab Help and Distance Learning

A photograph of a pink and yellow flower in bloom.
Photo credit: Uplifting! by Andrea_44

Hi City Tech faculty, students, and staff!  As all of us continue to adjust to telecommuting and working from home, we want to take a moment to highlight the different ways the OpenLab can support your transition to distance education.

New Help Documentation

This semester, the OpenLab added new help documentation titled Distance Education.  It includes resources for:

 TEACHING ON THE OPENLAB

 FINDING EXAMPLE COURSES

ORGANIZING STUDENT POSTS

DESIGNING ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING

…and much more. Please check out this help(ful) documentation on the OpenLab. It offers step-by-step guides for much of what you might need to do at the different points of the semester.

Spring 2020 Virtual Office Hours

As CUNY transitioned to distance learning for the Spring 2020 semester, the OpenLab shifted our events and support online. All workshops for the remainder of the semester have been converted to virtual office hours. We have them scheduled through mid-May: please see our calendar here and sign up for an office hour here.

Email

We are available to support you via email: openlab@citytech.cuny.edu.

Join Our In-House Sites

We encourage you to become members of our in-house sites (you can do so by visiting the profiles of each site). These sites will keep you up-to-date with all things ‘OpenLab’ and offer opportunities for deeper investment with City Tech’s community.

  • Learn more about the OpenLab, including workshops, events, community, and support opportunities on The Open Road. (Profile)
  • Share and discuss resources about open digital pedagogy with other City Tech and CUNY-wide staff and faculty on Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab. (Profile)

We hope you’ll take advantage of these different resources! Wishing you all good health and a smooth end-of-semester!

Transition to Virtual Office Hours

If you’re reading this, you must have the OpenLab on your mind, too. Whether you’re completely new to it, an expert, or somewhere in between, the OpenLab team is working to support you. We’ve revamped our support schedule for the rest of the semester to support distance learning. Here are the highlights:

  • We’ve converted all in-person support to virtual office hours.
  • Please be patient with us, and we will certainly be with you–we’re still figuring out how these remote office hours will work, what we need to be mindful about, what the best practices are. Our trial run will be today, 1:00-3:00pm. You can meet us here.
  • We’re offering more office hours: each week has at least two sessions of office hours, two hours each.
  • We’ve shifted the workshop times to office hours: that way, we can address the specific questions you have rather than focusing on the content of our workshops.
  • We’re asking that if you’re interested in participating in office hours, please let us know by sharing  your contact info etc and in a sentence or so what you’re hoping to work on. It can help us be prepared and make the most of our time together.
  • Here are instructions for joining office hours remotely.
  • As always, we will continue to offer email support–if you can easily ask your question this way, we encourage it. It’s the same as for your teaching: asynchronous (not working at the same time) is going to be more feasible than synchronous (working at the same time) support. Email us at OpenLab@citytech.cuny.edu or use our contact form.
  • Our extensive Help section might have the answer you’re looking for!

As you think about what work you want help with, we want to encourage you to be realistic about what you can reasonably do this semester. Use tools that will make those goals possible, and that you’re comfortable with. During office hours, we might show you how to use the OpenLab to do something, but we might encourage you to use other tools you have available to you that you already know how to use (eg email).

We hope to see you on the OpenLab again soon!

The Transition to Distance Learning: Getting Started on the OpenLab

Welcome to the OpenLab!

As we shift to distance learning, the OpenLab is here for you, and the OpenLab team can support you through this semester. Below are three steps to help you get started on the OpenLab.

Step 1: Join!

Step 2: Get help and support with using the OpenLab

Step 3: Create!

  • Follow instructions to create a Course to support your teaching this semester.
  • Remember that even though courses are shifting to online, you do not need to recreate your physical class in virtual space, nor do you need to be an expert online instructor. This archive of exemplary courses might inspire you, but remember that this is a good time to keep things simple and manageable!
  • Help students join your Course by sending them the URL for the course profile–it starts https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups…. Students can then click Join Now! or Request Membership (depending on the privacy setting you chose when setting up your Course).

Now that you’ve joined the OpenLab community, you can join some of the collaborative communities that support your use of the OpenLab, such as the Open Road, where you can find updates, highlights, and announcements from the OpenLab, the Open Pedagogy project, where City Tech faculty and staff trade digital teaching resources, and L4, where instructors share sample digital assignments. You can also look for other Courses and Projects in your department to see examples and find resources.

In the Spotlight: Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center

The banner image from the Brooklyn Waterfront Center site. It says the letters "B", "W", "R" and "C" in large letters.

This week, we spotlight the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center, which is an “incubator for new waterfront-related research” and “a venue to bring students into the knowledge-creation process.” You’ll notice that the project has an OpenLab profile but that the site itself was built on our CUNY-wide, sister platform, the CUNY Academic Commons. As a reminder, if you have a site on the CUNY Academic Commons or–for that matter–any other platform, you too can create a profile and presence for this work on the OpenLab by setting up your site as an External Site.

We also wanted to spotlight the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center site because they have a $2000 summer fellowship open to support full-time City Tech faculty wishing to conduct research on the Brooklyn Waterfront. Applications are now open, and applicants can be from any academic discipline. Interested? See below for more details and learn more about the Research Center here.

Download (PDF, 71KB)

In the Spotlight: Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab

This week, as we prepare for our first Open Pedagogy Event of the semester, we’d like to draw your attention once again to our in-house site, Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab. This site operates as a forum where OpenLab community members can ask questions and stimulate discussion related to teaching and learning on the OpenLab and in open digital environments more generally. The site is replete with curated resources you can draw on in your teaching, from examples of digital pedagogy assignments to provocative readings on the value of multimedia pedagogy and public writing to information on best practices and tips for open digital pedagogy.  The site’s blogroll is a great place for online discussion on building a curriculum that integrates the OpenLab; each month, our Pedagogy Profiles blog series highlights a different City Tech faculty member who is using the OpenLab in creative ways. 

In conjunction with this site, our OpenLab team hosts Open Pedagogy Events, organized around particular themes and concerns related to teaching in open digital environments and more specifically with teaching on the OpenLab. This Thursday (2/27) we’re hosting our first Open Pedagogy event of the semester, Access in Service. The event will be held in the Faculty Commons (N227) from 4:30-6:00pm. Refreshments will be served (thanks to the Faculty Commons for its generous support of this event!). Visit the event posting for more information and to RSVP! We hope to see you there! We will also consider the theme of “access” throughout this semester, focusing on how faculty and staff can leverage technology to increase our students’ access to learning and other academic opportunities  at CUNY. Part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation in the event.

As always, we encourage you to join the site, follow along and participate in the conversation!

This Month on the OpenLab: February 2020 Release

Groundhog with light behind it
Groundhog Day” by Alice Popkorn is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

On February 18, we released version 1.7.40 of the OpenLab.  It included one small interface change, a few plugin updates, and some bug fixes.

We removed the phone number field from student and alumni profiles.  Since members didn’t always realize it was public information, we decided that it was best to just remove the option altogether.

There were a few plugin updates that won’t cause any noticeable differences for OpenLab members, but included either minor updates or security-related updates.

We also fixed a number of bugs in this release:

  1. After a change related to the January release, the toolbar at top of the block editor was no longer sticking to the top of the page while scrolling.
  2. When Group admins had email notifications set to ‘No Email’, admins (but not members) were still getting email notifications about file uploads.
  3. There was a bug affecting a small number of groups where  group members were not able to change their email notification settings.
  4. Another bug affecting a small number of groups was preventing admins from choosing OpenLab members to invite to the group because when typing in a person’s name, the dropdown was failing to appear.
  5. When viewing another user’s profile, and then navigating to any group directory (My Courses, My Projects, My Clubs) on their profile, the group description excerpts were missing.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

In the Spotlight: OpenLab Mobile Shortcuts

This week, we spotlight a feature built into most smartphones that can facilitate mobile work on the OpenLab! 

At our workshops, people sometimes ask if we can develop an OpenLab app, similar to the Blackboard app. They say they are pleased with the OpenLab’s mobile functionality, but it’s a pain to have to pull up your phone browser, then navigate to the OpenLab, then navigate to where you want to go. An app on the home screen would provide a handy shortcut. Luckily, you can do that already! 

While app development is not currently in the works, there’s a very easy way to create your own shortcut to the OpenLab on your phone’s home screen. In this post, we will outline how to do it on both iOS and Android. 

Creating an OpenLab Mobile Shortcut on iPhones

  1. Navigate in your phone browser (usually Safari, unless you use another browser) to the OpenLab page you want to create the shortcut to. This might be the OpenLab home page, or your own profile, or the profile or site of a particular course.
  2. Scroll up so that the bottom menu appears, revealing the forward/back buttons, the bookmark button, the share button, and the “view all tabs” button. (See Screenshot 1) 
    Illustration of Steps 1 and 2
    Screenshot 1: OpenLab on mobile with Safari navigation menu visible
  3. Click on the “Share” button. It looks like a square with an arrow pointing upwards out of it. (See Screenshot 2)

    Illustration of where the Share button is on iOS Safari
    Screenshot 2: Share Button circled in yellow.
  4. Scroll down until you see the option “Add to Home Screen.” Click on it! (See Screenshot 3)

    Screenshot of menu that appears when the Share button is clicked, with "Add to Home Screen" circled
    Screenshot 3: “Add to Home Screen” option in Sharing menu
  5. Adjust the name of the shortcut if you wish.
  6. Click “Add.” Now the shortcut to the page will appear as an icon along with your apps! You can delete it or move it around like you can with any of your apps. (See Screenshot 4) 
    iPhone app screen with shortcut to the OpenLab circled in orange
    Screenshot 4: Your new shortcut to the OpenLab

    Creating an OpenLab Mobile Shortcut on Android

    1. Navigate in your phone browser to the OpenLab page you want to create the shortcut to. This might be the OpenLab home page, or your own profile, or the profile or site of a particular course.
    2. Tap the “menu” button on your phone. (The Square button of the three white shapes pictured in Screenshot 1)
      Image of navigation buttons on an Android phone
      Screenshot 1: Android navigation buttons
    3. Then click “Add to homescreen.”
      Image of the menu that appears after Step 2 is completed
      Screenshot 2: Menu for webpage with “Add to Home screen” option
    4. Change the name of the shortcut if you wish, and then click “Add.”
       

      Screenshot of dialog box that allows user to change the name of the shortcut
      Screenshot 3: Name change dialog box

      5. Now you will see a shortcut to your OpenLab page!

Screenshot of Android home screen with OpenLab shortcut visible

We hope this helps you use the OpenLab even more easily on mobile platforms. Many CUNY students, as well as faculty and staff, use their phones for academic work, and creating a shortcut (or more than one!) to the OpenLab can make that work even more streamlined.

In the Spotlight: Attribution Plugin

An image of a typed creative commons license.

This week, we spotlight a new plugin that allows anyone to add attributions for Creative Commons licensed content they’re using on an OpenLab site. The OpenLab Attributions plugin was built specifically for the OpenLab!

How does it work? 

Once you activate the plugin, you can go to your page or post editor and add an attribution to any open licensed material you have on your site. Each attribution will add a superscript number that links to a reference list at the bottom of a page or post (see, for example, how we’ve used the plugin to create an attribution for this post’s image. The attribution appears at the bottom of this post, in a reference list). We recommend using this plugin to attribute any Creative Commons images you’re using on your site and, if you are an instructor, teaching your students to use this plugin to cite open-licensed images and other media content they may be posting on the OpenLab.

In the Spotlight: Inviting Students to your Course!

Happy second week of school to all City Tech faculty, students, and staff! At the start of every semester, faculty ask us how they can get their students set up on the OpenLab for the very first time.  The process can feel intimidating! But below, I spotlight three easy ways that you, as an instructor, can invite your students to join your course.

Have your students join your course in class!

If your course and profile are public, then students should be able to search for your course on the OpenLab. Once they’ve found it, they can join simply by clicking “Join Now.”

A screenshot of an OpenLab course profile page, which includes a course avatar and a button that reads "Join Now." Students can join the course by clicking this button.

 

You can walk your students through these steps in class, using a classroom computer to demonstrate. I recommend having students join on the spot in the classroom from their phones, tablets or laptops. Note that you can have them search for the course from the top toolbar or go into the Courses tab and use the right-hand search function with filters. 

 

 It helps here to give your course an intuitive name that includes the course number and semester!  

 

 

 

Invite your students to your course via e-mail!

This method, too, works only if you keep your course site and profile public. (Note that you can always change your privacy settings later, if you’d like). An easy way to have students join your course is to e-mail them the URL to your course profile. The link will take them to your profile page where, once again, they can simply click “Join Now.” 

A screenshot of an OpenLab course profile page, which includes a course avatar and a button that reads "Join Now." Students can join the course by clicking this button.

 

Invite your students to your course via the OpenLab!

You can invite your students to your course from your course profile page.  Click Membership in the right-hand menu, and then click Invite New Members on the following screen. If your course is on the smaller side, you can search individually for each of your students and invite them to your site in this way. Note that you can search for new members to invite either by typing in their e-mails or Display Names.

 

Screenshot of an OpenLab Site's Membership Setting Page. On this page, users can search form members to invite.

 

Your students will receive an automated confirmation e-mail.  Once the e-mail address is confirmed by the user, they will be added to your site.

I hope this helps explain how you can invite students to your course. Please visit our Help documentation on managing users on the OpenLab for a fuller overview. 

Welcome Back & Spring 2020 Programming

Welcome back to all City Tech faculty, students, and staff!  As you all sink into your semesterly routines, we want to take a moment to highlight the different ways we’re here to support your work on the OpenLab this semester.

Spring 2020 Drop-in Office Hours

Meet with a member of the OpenLab Community Team for face-to- face support. No RSVP necessary.

Tuesdays 12:00-2:00pm: 2/25, 3/17, 4/21, 5/5

Wednesdays 1:15-3:15pm: 2/5,  3/4, 3/25, 4/1

Thursdays 10:00am-12:00pm: 2/20, 3/12, 4/30, 5/14

Office hours are held in the conference room of the Faculty Commons, N227.

Spring 2020 Student Workshops 

More information regarding our Spring 2020 programming is now posted on the Open Road- you can  learn more about Spring events and view their full  schedule on our calendar.

Below is a list of workshops we are offering this spring for students. Note that our first workshop begin this week! 

GETTING STARTED ON THE OPENLAB

  • Thursday January 30, 2020, 1:00pm-2:30pm, L540

STUDENT WORKSHOP

  • Thursday April 2, 2020, 1:00pm-2:00pm, L540

Spring 2020 Faculty Workshops 

Below is a list of faculty workshops we are offering this spring. RSVP for any and all of these workshops here or by clicking the links below!

GETTING STARTED

  • Thursday January 30, 2020, 1:00pm-2:30pm, L540

 ACCESS OPEN HOUR ON THE OPENLAB

  • Wednesday, 2/19, 1:30-3:30 PM, Room G604

 DESIGNING AND ASSESSING STUDENT WORK ON THE OPENLAB

  • Wednesday, 3/11, 1:30-3:00 PM, Room G604

PLUGINS AND WIDGETS ON THE OPENLAB

  • Thursday, 4/2, 2:30-4:00 PM, Room G604

 OPEN HOUR ON THE OPENLAB

  • Thursday, 5/5, 2:00-4:00 PM, Room L540

Support Documentation

We have help(ful) documentation on the OpenLab that offers step-by-step guides for everything from getting started, to thinking about specific plugins that build out the functionality of your sites and portfolios.

Email

We are available to support you via email: openlab@citytech.cuny.edu.

Join Our In-House Sites

We encourage you to become members of our in-house sites (you can do so by visiting the profiles of each site). These sites will keep you up-to-date with all things ‘OpenLab’ and offer opportunities for deeper investment with City Tech’s community.

  • Learn more about the OpenLab, including workshops, events, community, and support opportunities on The Open Road. (Profile)
  • Share and discuss resources about open digital pedagogy with other City Tech and CUNY-wide staff and faculty on Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab. (Profile)

Spring 2020 Open Pedagogy Events – Faculty and Staff

As in semesters past, we will have two Open Pedagogy events in Spring 2020. The dates are set for Thursday February 27 and Thursday April 23 – from 4:30pm to 6:00pm in the Faculty Commons (N227). Learn more here.

We hope to see you around soon! Wishing you all a happy semester!