Summer Series 2022

start” by nchenga via Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

A 5-Part Self-Guided Series To Get Everyone Started on the OpenLab

Part 1 of 5 of: Get to Know the OpenLab

Every summer, the OpenLab Community Team publishes a 5-part series that provides short tasks to help everyone in the City Tech community get to know the OpenLab, especially new students, staff, and faculty members–we’re hoping that if you’re new, you’re finding your way here to learn more! The OpenLab team has been impressed and moved by the creativity, adaptability, and compassion that faculty, staff, and students have shown on and off the OpenLab; we also recognize that in some ways, as the pandemic wears on, finding connection on campus and online continues to be difficult. We hope that as this series introduces everyone to the OpenLab, it also highlights strategies for cultivating and growing an online community. 

Each week, we will guide everyone through different tasks to start or reinvigorate their work on the OpenLab.  For this first installment, the tasks below will help you create an account and set up your OpenLab profile. 

  • Task 1: Before joining the OpenLab, learn more about the platform. Read the OpenLab’s brief About page to learn more about the ethos and values driving the OpenLab. Take some time to browse through the courses, clubs, projects and portfolios on the OpenLab.
  • Task 3:  Set up your OpenLab profile. You’ll notice as you do this that only some fields are required. You can always come back and complete missing information later when you have time to learn how to manage your account and profile. Your OpenLab profile communicates who you are to the OpenLab community; it can also be indexed in internet search engines. 
    • If you are a student, you may want to specify your major/minor, contact information (remember, this is publicly available, so consider what you include carefully!), pronouns, extracurricular interests, any awards or honors you have received, and even a brief overview of your projects and goals. 
    • If you are faculty or staff, in addition to including your pronouns and contact information (remember, this is publicly available!), you may also choose to detail some of your academic interests, as well as your experiences and roles within the college. 
    • Finally, profiles provide the opportunity for OpenLab members to include a photo associated with their OpenLab display name: please note that your photo can be of anything that you feel represents you adequately, and does not have to be an actual photo of yourself. This avatar will appear wherever you contribute on the OpenLab.
  • Task 4: Practice logging in to your account. Sign out of your account and close your browser. Then open a new browser window, navigate back to the OpenLab, and log in to your account.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of 5, when we look at how others use the OpenLab!

Updated! Job Opportunity: Digital Pedagogy Fellow for City Tech’s OpenLab

Application deadline extended to Wednesday, June 22!

Bubblicious XIII” by Anthony Ross via Flickr CC0

The OpenLab is hiring! Please help us to spread the word. 

The OpenLab team seeks to add a Digital Pedagogy Fellow to our enthusiastic team.

City Tech’s OpenLab (https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/) is an innovative, open digital platform for students, faculty, and staff at New York City College of Technology, CUNY (http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/). Built using the open source blogging and social networking software WordPress and BuddyPress, the OpenLab supports teaching and learning, enables connection and collaboration, and strengthens the intellectual and social life of the college. The project is driven by a community and access-focused ethos, flexible infrastructure, and commitment to openness, and is proud to partner with many initiatives across campus (e.g., First Year Learning Communities, General Education, Open Education Resources) and across CUNY. Since its launch in Fall 2011, the OpenLab has helped to foster openness and experimentation, supporting a growing community, now 39,000+ members strong.

Fellows will join a creative, collaborative Community Team invested in fostering community through open pedagogy and open digital technologies. Team members gain experience in curriculum development, teaching, professional development, the implementation of a variety of digital tools, testing and functionality, and help-documentation creation. Fellows have used the experiences gained as Digital Pedagogy Fellows to successfully apply for full-time faculty and alt-ac positions.

Digital Pedagogy Fellow responsibilities include providing professional development, supporting the OpenLab community, and project development. Weekly responsibilities include OpenLab team meetings and email and open-hour support for faculty, staff, and student members with varied experience with technology. Fellows develop and lead workshops, seminars, and class visits, and create help documentation. They also teach OpenLab members about best practices for developing OpenLab content, how to incorporate technology in the classroom, and what it means to have an online presence. Fellows maintain an active presence on the platform, test new features and fixes, and provide feedback on OpenLab functionality. Fellows also have the opportunity to represent the OpenLab team in campus and external venues. 

Ideal candidates will possess the following qualifications:

  • familiarity with the OpenLab or other WordPress/BuddyPress installations (e.g., the BMCC OpenLab, CUNY Academic Commons, Macaulay ePortfolios, and Blogs@Baruch)
  • teaching experience, including expertise in digital pedagogy
  • experience with developing and leading workshops for a variety of users
  • strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • willingness to work collaboratively with a team
  • communications skills for responding to support requests with speed, empathy, and creativity
  • good understanding of socially networked online spaces and a variety of digital tools
  • knowledge of information architecture, usability, and the user experience
  • the ability to create visually attractive, informative, and well-written blog posts, help documentation, and screencasts
  • graduate degree or enrollment in a graduate program

Hours and Pay: This is a year-round position, 12-15 hours/week. The starting rate is 37.74/hour with annual increases.

Start Date: Fellows will begin the position with limited hours for training in August 2022, and shift to 12-15 hours/week for the start of the Fall 2022 semester. Currently work will be done remotely, with in-person responsibilities anticipated in the future to align with the needs of the college community.

Application: To apply, submit a cover letter, CV, and representative samples of your digital work to OpenLab Co-Directors Jonas Reitz (jreitz@citytech.cuny.edu) and Jody R. Rosen (jrrosen@citytech.cuny.edu). Please note any other employment within the CUNY system or for the Research Foundation of CUNY for August 2022 and the 2022-23 academic year. Applications should be submitted by Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Please reach out with questions to the email addresses above.

Job Opportunity: Digital Pedagogy Fellow for City Tech’s OpenLab

The OpenLab is hiring! Please help us to spread the word. 

The OpenLab team seeks to add a Digital Pedagogy Fellow to our enthusiastic team.

City Tech’s OpenLab (https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/) is an innovative, open digital platform for students, faculty, and staff at New York City College of Technology, CUNY (http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/). Built using the open source blogging and social networking software WordPress and BuddyPress, the OpenLab supports teaching and learning, enables connection and collaboration, and strengthens the intellectual and social life of the college. The project is driven by a community and access-focused ethos, flexible infrastructure, and commitment to openness, and is proud to partner with many initiatives across campus (e.g., First Year Learning Communities, General Education, Open Education Resources) and across CUNY. Since its launch in Fall 2011, the OpenLab has helped to foster openness and experimentation, supporting a growing community, now 39,000+ members strong.

Fellows will join a creative, collaborative Community Team invested in fostering community through open pedagogy and open digital technologies. Team members gain experience in curriculum development, teaching, professional development, the implementation of a variety of digital tools, testing and functionality, and help-documentation creation. Fellows have used the experiences gained as Digital Pedagogy Fellows to successfully apply for full-time faculty and alt-ac positions.

Digital Pedagogy Fellow responsibilities include providing professional development, supporting the OpenLab community, and project development. Weekly responsibilities include OpenLab team meetings and email and open-hour support for faculty, staff, and student members with varied experience with technology. Fellows develop and lead workshops, seminars, and class visits, and create help documentation. They also teach OpenLab members about best practices for developing OpenLab content, how to incorporate technology in the classroom, and what it means to have an online presence. Fellows maintain an active presence on the platform, test new features and fixes, and provide feedback on OpenLab functionality. Fellows also have the opportunity to represent the OpenLab team in campus and external venues. 

Ideal candidates will possess the following qualifications:

  • familiarity with the OpenLab or other WordPress/BuddyPress installations (e.g., the BMCC OpenLab, CUNY Academic Commons, Macaulay ePortfolios, and Blogs@Baruch)
  • teaching experience, including expertise in digital pedagogy
  • experience with developing and leading workshops for a variety of users
  • strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • willingness to work collaboratively with a team
  • communications skills for responding to support requests with speed, empathy, and creativity
  • good understanding of socially networked online spaces and a variety of digital tools
  • knowledge of information architecture, usability, and the user experience
  • the ability to create visually attractive, informative, and well-written blog posts, help documentation, and screencasts
  • graduate degree or enrollment in a graduate program

Hours and Pay: This is a year-round position, 12-15 hours/week. The starting rate is 37.74/hour with annual increases.

Start Date: Fellows will begin the position with limited hours for training in August 2022, and shift to 12-15 hours/week for the Fall 2022 semester. Currently work will be done remotely, with in-person responsibilities anticipated in the future to align with the needs of the college community.

Application: To apply, submit a cover letter, CV, and representative samples of your digital work to OpenLab Co-Directors Jonas Reitz (jreitz@citytech.cuny.edu) and Jody R. Rosen (jrrosen@citytech.cuny.edu). Please note any current and planned employment within the CUNY system or for the Research Foundation of CUNY for August 2022 and the 2022-23 academic year. Applications should be submitted by Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

In the Spotlight: Ten Years of OpenLab

The OpenLab at City Tech was officially launched ten years ago this semester! As we celebrate ten wonderful years working with all of you, here are ten things we love about the OpenLab:

  1. It’s open! You can share your work with others at City Tech and beyond and can see and learn from work shared by other members.  (And when you need to, you can work in private, too.)
  2. All are welcome: Everyone at City Tech can join the OpenLab–students, faculty, staff, and alumni. On the OpenLab, everyone can create, experiment, innovate, and share the results with the larger community.
  3. It’s built by and for City Tech: Because it’s created here at City Tech, everyone has a voice in how the OpenLab is built. Members come up with great ideas (like early on adding LaTeX to use mathematical language on the OpenLab!)–and those great ideas become new features for everyone to use!
  4. It’s designed for collaboration and community: Members can use the OpenLab to work together even if they’re in different classes or departments, within and across courses, in group projects, departmental projects, and cross-college committees,  and in student clubs. It’s a space where members can connect and share interests and ideas. The OpenLab team also offers asynchronous support, workshops, and community events to foster connection and support.
  5. Open Educational Resources live here: The OpenLab houses City Tech’s Open Educational Resources initiative. Open Educational Resources are zero-cost, available beyond the semester, and free for instructors to remix and adapt, fostering a collaborative style of teaching and learning.
  6. It nurtures open pedagogies: The OpenLab invites students and instructors to discuss what works in and out of the classroom. Through workshops, events, blog posts, and more, we also consider what deserves rethinking and, most importantly, what allows students and instructors to challenge each other in mutually rewarding and respectful ways. 
  7. You can learn new skills: The OpenLab is built on the WordPress publishing platform, which powers more than 43% of sites on the internet. Members can also build out and customize sites using plugins and even more advanced tools like CSS. So, when you’re using the OpenLab, you’re learning technical skills that can help you beyond City Tech.
  8. It’s open source: WordPress and the OpenLab are built using open source software that is free for anyone to use. This makes us part of a larger community of educators and technologists working on innovative, open source projects that pose an alternative to proprietary technologies and learning management systems. We’ve freely shared the OpenLab’s software, so other institutions can create their own OpenLabs just like the OpenLab at City Tech.
  9. Your work: Members are always finding exciting new ways to use the OpenLab. We get to highlight these in our weekly In the Spotlight series, and we keep them archived, for future reference. 
  10. You! The best and most important thing about the OpenLab is its members. Nearly 40,000 students, faculty, and staff members have joined the OpenLab in the past 10 years and have made it the awesome place it is today!

We would love to hear from you! Share what you love about the OpenLab in the comments below. You can also contact us via email. We’ll be showcasing your favorite OpenLab features in our weekly Spotlight series throughout the 2022-2023 Academic Year.

Today: BWRC Conference

Friday May 13, 9am-4pm
Sea Level Rise and Brooklyn's Jamaica Bay Communities
Virtual Conference

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center (BWRC) invites you to their annual conference: “Sea Level Rise and Brooklyn’s Jamaica Bay Communities”    

Today, Friday, May 13, 2022, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM ET  

Free – RSVP for Zoom link

Join BWRC this Friday for a full day of online panels and presentations!
This year marks the ten-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, a time when many of the city’s coastal vulnerabilities became glaringly apparent. Since then New York has taken major strides in making the coastline more resilient, yet immediate and long-term risks associated with global climate change and sea-level rise remain. Recent research on sea-level rise outlines the possibility, some would say probability, of the inundation, by the end of the century, of vulnerable communities along the Brooklyn waterfront, especially those along Jamaica Bay.  

This full-day conference will explore these possibilities and the questions they raise for Jamaica Bay: What is the science behind sea level rise predictions? How will sea level rise affect the communities surrounding Jamaica Bay? What actions are underway and what further actions are being planned to mitigate these impacts? The main question the conference will address is: What can be done if none of the planned measures prevents the inundation of Jamaica Bay’s vulnerable neighborhoods?  

Leading these explorations will be local officials, community activists, business leaders, scientists, and academics. Learn more on our website and see the schedule:

BWRC 2022 Conference Schedule
available as pdf at https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/openroad/files/2022/05/BWRC-2022-Conference-Schedule.pdf
Download the schedule

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the ongoing health and logistical concerns of the pandemic, the conference will be taking place entirely online. RSVP to receive the Zoom link

In the Spotlight: Arch 1101– Intro to Architecture

Header image for Arch 1101

This week, we spotlight Robert Christo’s Arch 1101, Intro to Architecture, which “provides a foundation for students entering the BArch / BTech program to develop a ‘visual literacy’ of the built environment.” We really like how the site adapts the OpenLab course template:

  • Note that in the right-hand widget space, Professor Christo links out to Micro board, an online whiteboard where students will submit their work. This is a smart way to use the OpenLab in conjunction with another platform. Remember that many faculty chose to use the OpenLab alongside Dropbox, Google Drive, or even Blackboard. Each of these other platforms may complement your OpenLab course, typically offering additional storage space for multimedia files and readings, or, as is the case with Microboard, another space to create multimedia assignments. This is not to say that the OpenLab isn’t well suited to multi-modal work: it very much is, but, if you are more comfortable with students submitting assignments to another platform, or want more storage, linking out to other spaces in this way is a smart and easy strategy.

  • The site uses the default set-up in the OpenLab course template, where the Home page is dynamic and works as a blog, with class agendas posted in reverse chronological order. This is a great way to communicate with your students: as soon as they get to your course, they will see what they need to do before class, the topics to be covered that week, as well as any homework to complete after class.

  • Note that under the main menu item for Course Info, there is a sub-page with Professor Christo’s contact information. It is a good idea to separate this content from the rest of the syllabus. Arguably, it is the most valuable piece of information that students need. Placing contact info on its own page and rendering it accessible from the main menu makes it easier to find.

This site provides a great example of how you can work with the OpenLab course template to teach your course! Check it out for inspiration!

In the Spotlight: Eng1141-Creative Writing

Eng1141 Header Image

This week, we spotlight Professor Jessica Penner’s OpenLab course on Creative Writing, which focuses “on understanding how form and meaning work together and on understanding the types and complexities of each genre…so that each student can…develop their unique, individual voice.”  Writing-intensive courses such as this one require some careful planning around site design. We especially like that:

  • Professor Penner inserts category archives into their main menu to distinguish student assignments from one another.  Under the menu item Student Work, you will find sub-categories for Discussions, Assignment Posts, Journals, Memoirs and more. This keeps the content in each category relatively short. It thus makes it easier for students to identify where they need to post their work, as well as to read through the work of their classmates.
  • The course makes optimal use of the right-hand side widget space. Professor Penner adds some very nice touches here, including featuring a picture of themselves below their contact information, putting key information (such as how to find their Zoom link for office hours) in bold, and linking out to OpenLab Help pages that students frequently use such as our Getting Started page and the OpenLab for Students module. These are all best practices to make your course welcoming and easy to use.
  • The course assignments are clearly broken down in the syllabus. Two things are noteworthy here. First, each assignment is more or less weighted equally. This is a great way to avoid the pitfalls of high-stakes grading: we are living through extraordinary times and both faculty and students are likely to have hectic days/ weeks where it is simply difficult to keep up with school obligations. When all assignments in a course are weighted equally, students have a much better chance of completing most of the work and doing well than, for example, if they have one high-stakes final exam or project. Second, Professor Penner clearly enunciates assignments at the start of the semester and features them prominently in the syllabus. This is very important: it helps students plan and figure out what the workload will entail as they juggle school with myriad other responsibilities and unknowns. 

All in all, this is a wonderful site. Check out Professor Jessica Penner’s Creative Writing course for inspiration!

In the Spotlight: Mat1275 Co – College Algebra and Trigonometry

Header Image for Mat1275 Co

This week, we spotlight Professor Kan’s Mat1275CO, an OpenLab course on College Algebra and Trigonometry. The course shows how you can loosely adapt the OpenLab course template for your teaching:

  • Notice how clean the site design is. The main menu is sparse and fits on one line, with only four main items. The home page is dynamic, such that Professor Kan’s newest announcements are posted on there in reverse chronological order. This is a great way to communicate quickly and regularly with your students. It is also the default set-up of the OpenLab course template.
  • Professor Kan makes great use of the sidebar widget space. As a reminder, widgets appear on all pages on your site and they are a great space to communicate information you really don’t want your readers/ students to miss. For example, Professor Kan includes information about office hours, class meetings, how to access student email, and a link to the Dropbox where students will be submitting their work. Note that Professor Kan has made a video to show students how to use Dropbox from a smartphone. These kinds of help materials are always appreciated and featuring them in the widget space is a great idea!
  • Finally, we really like that Professor Kan has left an option for students to get points back on their exam. At our last Open Pedagogy event, we discussed how to lower the stakes of grading and make the process transparent, fair, and compassionate. Some students excel at exams. Others find them extremely anxiety-producing. Others might have an off-day (week, month) on the day the exam is given. There is much conversation circulating at CUNY on how to ground our pedagogy in care for students and ourselves, in compassion for the extraordinary circumstances through which we are living. Offering students an opportunity to redo incorrect problems on an exam is one point of entry into this type of pedagogy. This practice lowers the stakes of what would otherwise be a one-time test: it gives students multiple ways to do well in course.

In both its substantive content and its site design, MAT1275CO leaves much to be admired! Check it out for inspiration!

This Month on the OpenLab: April 2022 Release

Cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

On April 19 we released version 1.7.61 of the OpenLab. It included one new and one retired plugin, a few minor plugin and theme updates, a small design update, and two bug fixes. 

Plugins

The Zephyr Project Manager plugin adds some project management capabilities to OpenLab sites, most notably the ability to create, assign, and manage tasks. 

We retired the Expire Sticky Posts plugin because it no longer works with the Block Editor and is not being maintained. It will continue to appear on sites where it is already activated, but won’t be available for activation on new sites.

Design Update

We updated the design of the “Visit Site” link for Courses, Projects, Clubs, and Portfolios to make it more visible. 

Previous Site link
New Site link

Bug Fixes

We fixed a bug in the OpenLab Gradebook plugin that was causing <br /> tags to appear in comments where line breaks were added.

We also fixed an issue with the cloning process where files uploaded via a form created with the Gravity Forms plugin were being cloned to new sites, but couldn’t be deleted because they weren’t uploaded to the Media Library. These types of files are now no longer cloned to new sites. 

As always, please contact us with any questions!