OpenLab Statistics: 2019

As of December 31, 2019:

Pageviews:
1,270,695

Average time on page:
1:20

Number of users broken down by students, alumni, faculty, staff:
Students: 29,910
Alumni: 74
Faculty: 1137
Staff: 229

Number of courses, projects, clubs, portfolios:
Courses: 2674
Projects: 2,645
Clubs: 129
Portfolios: 6791

As of September 30, 2019:

Pageviews:
1,060,645

Average time on page:
1:10

Number of users broken down by students, alumni, faculty, staff:
Students: 29,624
Alumni: 75
Faculty: 1117
Staff: 223

Number of courses, projects, clubs, portfolios:
Courses: 2654
Projects: 2596
Clubs: 122
Portfolios: 6614

As of June 30, 2019:

Pageviews:
823,828

Average session duration:
3:30

Number of users broken down by students, alumni, faculty, staff:
Students: 27,360
Alumni: 63
Faculty: 1073
Staff: 216

Number of courses, projects, clubs, portfolios:
Courses: 2436
Projects: 2569
Clubs: 121
Portfolios: 6498

As of March 31, 2019:

Pageviews:
1,136,302

Average session duration:
3:46

Number of users broken down by students, alumni, faculty, staff:
Students: 27, 184
Alumni: 63
Faculty: 1062
Staff: 211

Number of courses, projects, clubs, portfolios:
Courses: 2385
Projects: 2506
Clubs: 120
Portfolios: 6348

This Month on the OpenLab: January 2020 Release

polar bear balancing on a barrel in the snow
DSC_0489” by Valerie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

On January  23, we released version 1.7.39 of the OpenLab. It included enhancements to existing functionality and design, a new theme, updates to all themes and plugins, and updates to WordPress and BuddyPress, the software that powers the OpenLab.

New Features and Changes

We made some adjustments to improve and standardize across all themes the grey menu that appears at the very top of group sites.

The new theme added in this release is Twenty Twenty.  This “default theme for 2020 is designed to take full advantage of the flexibility of the block editor.”

We also added a new custom template for COMD student ePortfolio sites.  These sites now have a theme and navigation menu designed for visual artists to display their work, and a custom site menu geared towards what COMD students will need to include in their portfolios.  Students don’t need to do anything different.  The template will automatically be used on new portfolio sites created by students who have chosen COMD as their major on their profile.

We also retired a few plugins that are no longer working or maintained by their developer:

  1. WP DPLA
  2. TinyMCE Comment Field

If they are currently activated on a site, they will continue to appear in the list of plugins, unless they are deactivated. They will not be available for activation on new sites.

We wish everyone a smooth beginning to the semester, and as always, please contact us with any questions!

This Month on the OpenLab: December 2019 Release

Snowman on the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Snowman” by Bradley Weber is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

On December 16, we released version 1.7.38 of the OpenLab.

It was a small release, which included a small accessibility fix for the new Lingonberry theme and an improvement to the Creative Commons widget, which was added in the September 2019 release.  This improvement adds two new fields to the widget, allowing site admins to specify a site author and author URL for their license.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

In the Spotlight: Winter Greetings from the Openab

Brooklyn Bridge lit up at night. Dark, cloudy winter skies over hed.,
Photo Credit: Lerone Pieters

Holiday greetings from the OpenLab and congratulations to all on the closing of another semester! 

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 semester and encourage you to check them out if you haven’t already done so.

Fall 2019 Spotlight Posts

We also continued a retrospective series, looking back at the OpenLab’s evolution over the past (quasi) decade. This time we focused on the OpenLab’s work to improve accessibility, spotlighting:

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

In addition to reviewing these posts from this past fall, 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 winter break– please contact us with questions or concerns.

We will also soon announce our winter programming. We will be in touch as we get more events and workshops on our calendar!

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!

The OpenLab Community Team

 

In the Spotlight: the Fourth Annual Science Fiction Symposium

This week, we spotlight the Fourth Annual Science Fiction Symposium, to be held on Thursday, Dec. 12 in the Academic Building (285 Jay St, A105). Organized by Jason W. Ellis (City Tech) and Emily Hockaday (Analog Science Fiction and Fact), the Symposium will be held in partnership with Analog Science Fiction and Fact and its publisher Penny Publications. It will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Analog Science Fiction magazine.

All are welcome to drop by! The Symposium is all day long but you can dip in and out as your schedule permits. It’s also open to the public, with no RSVP required. The schedule with the editors/writers panels and scholarly presentations is available here. 

Hope to see you there!

In the Spotlight: The OpenLab at CUNY IT

*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 original posts in the series here and here).

For this year’s CUNY IT , hosted at John Jay College, the OpenLab team is reporting back from our ongoing conversations about access in pedagogy and open learning. These conversations have occurred at our two Open Pedagogy events this semester, where we focused on how to broaden the notion of access beyond compliance with the ADA, as well as how to make ourselves more accessible as educators. You can read recaps of these events here.  The OpenLab team is excited to share the many valuable insights that have come out of these discussions, and think through how these insights might be integrated into the OpenLab–City Tech’s homegrown open-source digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating. In keeping with this year’s conference theme, “bridging gaps,” we will showcase the stories of educators who embrace open, digital pedagogy but also have concerns about making teaching and learning accessible to all. 

We’re excited to tackle the three big questions of the conference:

  • What barriers to success do our students face that technology may address? What emerging technologies have the potential to create new solutions to old problems?
  • What are challenges that our faculty and administrators face in using these technologies to bridge gaps at CUNY? How do we best address these challenges?
  • How can CUNY continue to develop and sustain outstanding digital pedagogy, along with a commitment to access and digital equality for CUNY’s students?

OPENLAB CUNY IT 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.  The OpenLab is a perpetual experiment, and development on the platform moves quickly. Still, we make sure to take time to reflect on the work that we do. We hold two events per semester called Open Pedagogy in which educators from CUNY and New York City at large come together over wine and cheese to discuss various questions concerning digital pedagogy. As noted above, this year our discussions are centered on access.

In frameworks of disability justice, the term accessibility conveys the degree to which a space, process, or concept is accessible. By contrast, access denotes the process by which accessibility is achieved. While we think of digital technologies as lowering some barriers to learning—such as the OER initiative at City Tech and our collaboration with BMCC to better serve transfer students—technology can also present new challenges to access. Our CUNY IT presentation will highlight some of our takeaways from our fall programming and will include interactive components to engage participants as we bring the conversation to the larger CUNY community. 

We hope that the presentation (slides below) and the accompanying material helps to provide a sense of how deeply and meaningfully we have taken up the theme of access. The presenters at the conference include a number of members of the OpenLab team: OpenLab Co-Directors, Jody R. Rosen (Associate Professor of English), and Jason Ellis (Assistant Professor of English), as well as the OpenLab Digital Pedagogy Fellows Claire Cahen, Jesse Rice Evans, and Olivia Wood.

*If you’re at the conference, please do come join us in person, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM.

 

In the Spotlight: Arch 2331, Building Technology 2

Header image for the architecture course; it is a rendering of an urban waterfront landscape that includes a bike path by aa river and large, triangular red building siting along the path.

This week, we spotlight Professor Aptekar’s Arch 2331, Building Technology 2. The course features many of the elements of a well-designed and compelling site. These include:

  •  A customized header image. The image here is a rendering of an urban waterfront landscape–so highly relevant for an Architecture course on building technology! Note also that it is a horizontal image and so works well in the header space.
  • A customized tag line that reads simply “Building Technology Support.” By tag line, I’m referring to the short bit of text featured (usually in italics) next to the site title. The default tag line reads: “An OpenLab course site.” Many OpenLab users forget to customize it, but note here that you can actually adapt it to your needs and use it, as Professor Aptekar does, to inform the visitor of the purpose of the site.
  • A search functionality at the top of the page in the widget area. The search widget here is very well-placed in that it is impossible to miss! It sits at the top right-hand corner of the site, such that anyone will know at first glance that they can simply type what they are looking for in the search box, rather than sift through the content of the entire site.
  • Rich and diverse course content, from lecture notes to assignments to additional resources. This content is cleanly-organized in various pages and posts, clearly labeled and accessible from the main navigation menu and its associated drop-downs menus. Lecture notes are featured in chronological order, with first lectures appearing first and last lectures appearing last.
  • An innovative question and answer set up on the home page. Here, Professor Aptekar posts questions that students ask about the course. These questions are updated weekly and range from inquiries regarding due dates for homework to questions about architecture and the course material. Professor Aptekar posts the student questions in green and his answers in black. These colors serve as neat visual cues. This is also a smart and original way to use the blogroll, such that students don’t miss key, up-to-date information and know that they can engage their professor in open dialogue through the OpenLab. Note how much more efficient this is to communicate information than a private, one-on-one e-mail exchange!

Curious about the course? Check it out for yourself here!

This Month on the OpenLab: November 2019 Release

street in brooklyn with scattered leaves

On November 20, we released version 1.7.37 of the OpenLab. It included new features, a new theme, and a few minor updates to plugins and themes.

New Features and Changes

There were six new features or updates to current functionality included this release:

  1. We’re excited to release OpenLab Attributions, a new plugin we’ve built that allows anyone to add attributions for Creative Commons licensed content they’re using on an OpenLab 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, the bottom of this post).
  2. Another exciting new feature is a tool allowing faculty to more easily bulk add members to their course. Found in a course Profile > Membership > Invite New Members, this tool allows faculty to add a list of City Tech emails for students in the course.  If the students already have accounts on the OpenLab, they’ll automatically be added to the course.  Any emails not associated with accounts will be flagged as such, and once those students have created OpenLab accounts they will be able to join or be added to the course.
  3. We’ve created another Library widget, that can be added to the sidebar of any OpenLab site. The Library Subject Guides widget allows you to add links to any of the subject guides created by the City Tech Library.
  4. We made a few visual improvements to the Add to Portfolio feature added in the August release. These include some small adjustments to the appearance of the Add to Portfolio window so that it’s consistent in different themes, as well as a change in the display of the Add to Portfolio button, which now changes to a link to the author’s portfolio Dashboard after content added to their portfolio.
  5. We added a link to ‘My Portfolio’ to the My OpenLab dropdown menu, to make it easier for members to get to their portfolios.
  6. We added one new theme, Lingonberry, described as “a clean, simple, and responsive theme for bloggers.”

Bug Fixes

We fixed a few bugs in the Anthologize plugin for this release. One was causing items in the media library to be duplicated.  Another caused the content in certain posts and pages to be blank after being added to a project.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

In the Spotlight: NYCCT Prism Alliance

header image for prism alliance site: the letters PRISM are spelled out across a rainbow-colored banner.

This week, we spotlight NYCCT’s Prism Alliance. The Prism Alliance at City Tech is an inclusive safe space for all LGBTQIA++ students and allies. The club meets once a week, during club hour on Thursdays from 1-2 pm. The meetings are usually held in the library projection room, but the location can vary. Join the club site to get regular updates about meetings! And learn more about the Prism Alliance here!

 

In the Spotlight: Law 1101- Intro to Paralegal Studies

Header image from Professor Coughlin's Law 1101 site. An picture of two hands holding up a newly sprouting plant.

This week, we spotlight Professor Coughlin’s Law 1101 course, Intro to Paralegal Studies. The course is a great example of how instructors can use their OpenLab site as a dynamic syllabus, by which we mean a one-way communication tool with students. Here, Professor Coughlin provides students with all the information they need to complete their coursework, including a syllabus, class notes and materials, assignments, and answer keys for exams. This is a simple way to use the OpenLab that has a lot of benefits. Course materials live online at a URL students can bookmark and check regularly, and critical information is broken up into small, readable chunks. Site content is clearly labeled and organized in the main navigation menu: a student visiting the site will know at first glance where to retrieve what they need. A few other highlights from the course include:

  • Linking to important documents in multiple places. An advantage of using the OpenLab–and, really, any web platform–is that you do not have to think linearly. A course site is not like a book: information can be included and repeated in multiple places. In fact, repeating yourself–or, in Professor Coughlin’s case, linking to course documents in multiple places–is good practice: it helps ensure that key materials are prominent. We like that,on her Assignments page, Professor Coughlin links back to readings and notes found on the Class notes & materials page.
  • A dynamic home page. Professor Coughlin’s homepage is set to the course blogroll. Since she is using her course as a dynamic syllabus and is the only one posting to the site, her home page exclusively contains her announcements to students. This is a great way to make sure students know, on any given week, what’s on their plate for the course.
  • Using the Google Doc Embedder plugin to upload course documents. While it is best practice to create site content directly from your page/ post editor, it is also smart  for instructors to upload some key documents–such as their syllabus–to their site. This way, students or other site visitors can download and print the docs for themselves.

Thinking about using the OpenLab to teach? Check out Professor Coughlin’s Law 1101 course for a model for how to use a site effectively as a dynamic syllabus.