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!

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!

This Month on the OpenLab: March Release

pussywillow buds
Image credit: “March Tree Branch” by _Alicja_

On March 19, we release version 1.7.30 of the OpenLab. It included a number of new features as well as few minor plugin updates and some bug fixes.

New Features

On the OpenLab Courses directory page, we added “Cloneable” as an option Cloneable dropdownunder the “Type” dropdown, so you can now search for courses that allow other OpenLab faculty to clone them.

In another cloning-related update, we made a change to the widget on sites with shared cloning enabled. Anyone who is not faculty, or faculty who are not logged in will now see the text, “Logged-in faculty members can clone this course.” Faculty who are logged in will continue to see a link to “Clone this Course.”

Sharing Widget

We also added a checkbox allowing site admins to control on a more fine-grained level what actions will send email notifications for Notify members checkboxDiscussion, Docs, Files, and Calendar.  Now, any time you add new or edit existing content, you can choose whether or not you want to send an email notification to all members of your group.

 

WP Broken Link Status Checker is a new plugin that allows you to run scans on your site to check for any links that no longer work.  This could be helpful especially for evergreen sites that include links to many external resources, such as OERs.

Bug Fixes

We fixed five bugs in this release.  One caused “Library” to stop appearing as a department choice under the School of Arts and Sciences, meaning there was no way to categorize Library courses.  Now, all projects, clubs, portfolios, and people can choose Library as an option under Arts and Sciences and/or Academic Affairs, and courses can choose Library under Arts and Sciences.  If you teach a Library course this semester, and weren’t able to properly categorize it, you can correct this by going into Profile > Settings, and then choose School: Arts and Sciences > Department: Library.

Another bug was causing the time reported for activity of different kinds in a group (e.g. blog post, comment, discussion post, new doc, etc) as five hours ahead of the correct time in daily and weekly digest email notifications.

There were two bugs fixed in the OpenLab Gradebook plugin.  One caused an issue for people who had cloned a course with Gradebook active on the source course.   The plugin on the new course didn’t allow them to save new gradebooks or add students to a new gradebook.  This issue is fixed for all newly cloned sites, but if you cloned a site prior to March 19 and are experiencing this issue, you can fix it by deactivating the Gradebook plugin and reactivating it.  The second issue was a conflict with the “Page Links To” plugin, which has been fixed.

We also fixed an accessibility issue with the Hemingway theme by adding labels for screen readers for two buttons that were missing the labels that identify the element as a button so users with screen readers are aware of its function.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

In the Spotlight: HMGT4997 – Wine of the New World

In Profs. Karen Goodlad and Robert Dagorn’s course, students are learning about the art and science of wine making, blending, and tasting.  They have recently made two visits to Red Hook Winery, where they were able to take part in the wine-making process and create their own blends to pair with a particular meal.  You can view photos and read their reflections on this visit and the excellent hands-on experience they gained.  If you’re lucky enough to visit the Janet Lefler Dining Room at the right time, you’ll be able to taste their blends!

In the Spotlight: Biology Open Educational Resources

(Image credit)

This site, developed as a collaboration between the Library and the Biological Sciences Department and maintained by Prof. Jeremy Seto, contains many wonderfully rich Open Educational Resources (OERs) for students of biology at City Tech (and beyond!).  OERs are materials for teaching and learning that are not licensed under copyright and thus able to be freely accessed and shared.  (For more information, see the library’s great guide to OERs).  The Biology OER contains textual and multimedia resources organized by topic, including descriptions, images, and videos of different biological processes, research tools, and class activities.  Take a look and enjoy this excellent resource!

 

In the Spotlight: ENG 2720: Writing with New Media

Students in Prof. Jill Belli’s Writing with New Media course are considering the ways in which writing practices have been affected by digital spaces.  The course site is very active, with lots of great discussion.  Students have been posting and commenting on Prezi presentations they created about different types of social media.  Coming up next, they’ll be posting internet memes, and reflecting on a recent visit to the Museum of the Moving Image to see the exhibit “How Cats Took Over the Internet.”  They also recently had a visit from some of The Buzz bloggers, including a great follow-up virtual discussionCheck out their work!

In the Spotlight: LIB/ARCH 2205 – Learning Places

Learning Places is an interdisciplinary course, taught by Profs. Anne Leonard (Library) and Jason Montgomery (Architecture).  Students have been reading, writing, and thinking about the future of Wikipedia, in preparation for an upcoming assignment in which they will choose a Wikipedia article to edit or create, related to the NYC locations they’re studying.  They’ve also added their reflections and site reports about a recent visit to nearby Vinegar Hill and Farragut Houses.  Take a look through this dynamic and well-organized course site!

In the Spotlight: ARTH2101 Healing the Body

Healing the Body is a new interdisciplinary course co-taught by Profs. Sandra Cheng (Art History), Gwen Cohen Brown (Dental Hygiene), and Aida Egües (Nursing).  Students have been analyzing images they’ve chosen from an online database of images about the history of medicine. For their next blogging assignment, they’ll be reflecting on artist Carrie Mae Weems’ ideas and work on race, appropriation, and photography. Check out this excellent course site, and the interesting work students are doing on it!

In the Spotlight: COMD 1167 – Type & Media

Type & Media

Prof. Mary Brown’s students have been blogging about typography by observing, photographing, and writing about examples they have come across in their neighborhoods.  The course site also uses the new theme Twenty Fifteen, with nicely-designed custom backgrounds, and has helpful videos, handouts, and other information on typography.  Check it out — you may think about your corner bodega’s kerning in a new way!

In the Spotlight: Pre-Dental Society NYCCT

This club site is clean and well-structured, and members have been actively writing, with regular posts that include helpful information about dentistry and dental school.  It’s also easy to find out more about what the club does and how to contact them.  Take a look!