In the Spotlight: Technical Writing (ENG 2575- E270)

 

This week, we’re spotlighting Professor Ellis’ ENG 2575  Technical Writing course. In the class, students will have “opportunities to learn the theory, skills, and heuristics of technical writing through projects relevant” to their degree program. The course encourages students to write often, and with intention. Assignments are scaffolded, moving from introductory to more advanced, so that students gain a range of skills to apply to many industries. The course’s focus is also on helping students develop a set of documents to include in their professional portfolio. Visiting this course site might be of interest to students thinking about taking the course, as well as faculty/ staff who are thinking through how to organize their course site this semester.

Dynamic Home Page

Professor Ellis has set the course’s home page to the course’s blogroll. This means that all posts to the site will appear on this page in reverse chronological order. This set up works well in a course like this, since the instructor makes frequent announcements. Indeed, announcements made through the class blog will be featured visibly on the course’s landing page. The most recent announcements will be at the top, and older posts will be pushed further down the feed.

However, there can be drawbacks to using a dynamic home page–i.e. a blogroll–instead of a static homepage. With a static homepage, you can display very specific, critical information such as a course description, an overview of the course site, and course office hours. This is harder to do with a dynamic homepage, which will feature all course blog posts–including those made by students.

Professor Ellis, however, finds a way to merge the best of both worlds. His blogroll allows recent content to be featured prominently. But he has also set the featured post to a welcome post that walks students through the course site and reminds them of his email and office hours. Don’t forget: you can always create a featured post by making a post “sticky” in your post editor in the dashboard. This will make your post “stick” to the very top of your blogroll.

An Opportunities Page

Professor Ellis includes a page on his course site in which he posts professional and academic opportunities  students might enjoy. This is an innovative way to use an OpenLab course site to support student development beyond the specific course curriculum. Professor Ellis does this by creating a category called “Opportunities” and inserting this category into the main menu. The “Opportunities” page, then, is visible and easily accessible from anywhere in the site.  For now, the opportunities include CUNY writing contests, and invitations to join professional organizations. More will be added as the semester moves along. 

An Examples Page

In the same vein, Professor Ellis also includes a page with examples of technical writing. These examples model the kinds of writing students will do in the course. The page features full-length documents for students to download, as well as images of more visual forms of technical writing, like posters and infographics. Creating a page like this is a great way of supporting students as they tackle new assignments. Research frequently shows that people learn best through case studies. Professor Ellis provides cases for students to study, and gives them a starting point from which to launch their own technical writing endeavors.

What kinds of opportunities and resources do you want your students to access? Can you include them in your course site? Check out Professor Ellis’ course for inspiration!

In the Spotlight: Privacy in Open Learning

Happy second week of school to all City Tech faculty, students, and staff! At the start of every semester, hundreds of members of the City Tech community join the OpenLab for the very first time. If that’s your case, welcome! We want to take the start of the semester to go over the ins-and-outs of privacy in open learning. After all, the OpenLab is a public-facing platform. While this public-ness is part of what makes the OpenLab a rich environment for teaching and learning, some of you may have concerns about what working in the open means for your privacy. Here are a few things you should know:

The OpenLab is open

The OpenLab is open by default. The site is indexable through search engines, and can be accessed by anyone inside and outside of the City Tech community.

Privacy while working in the open

The OpenLab is open, so can anyone can find your personal information by looking you up on the OpenLab?

The answer is a resounding no! This is because members of the OpenLab can identify themselves using a pseudonym for their user name or display name instead of their real name. Their avatar can represent them without including a real photo or identifying image. Plenty of OpenLab members, for example, use pictures of their cats, their guitars, their cars, abstract sketches of themselves, etc. Check out our detailed overview of the OpenLab’s privacy policy, and best practices for protecting your confidentiality here.

If you are an instructor teaching a course on the OpenLab, or a staff/ faculty member leading a club/ project on the OpenLab, it is essential for you to know that members–particularly students–cannot be required to use their proper name or likeness when creating an OpenLab account.

Participating in courses on the OpenLab

If you are an instructor teaching on the OpenLab, you might wonder how you can identify your students if they are using pseudonyms on the platform.

The answer is that site administrators can identify group members in the site dashboard by full name and email address (as shown below). Therefore, they do not need to rely on usernames to identify members. In other words, members should not be asked to change their username or display name for identification purposes. Remember though: people’s full names are only visible for site administrators in the dashboard. They are not visible anywhere else on the OpenLab.

A screenshot of a site administrator's view of the dashboard. When the site administrator clicks "Users" in the dashboard, they will see the site's users avatars, full names, and email addresses.

We hope this helps explain how your privacy is protected when you work in the open.  Again, please visit our Help documentation on privacy on the OpenLab for a fuller overview of your rights and best practices for protecting your confidentiality.  As always, feel free to comment on this post if you have questions! 

Welcome Back & Fall 2019 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.

Fall 2019 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: 9/3, 9/24, 10/15, 11/12

Wednesdays 1:30-3:30pm: 9/18, 10/2, 10/23, 12/11

Thursdays 11:00-1:00: 9/12, 10/17, 10/31, 11/21

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

Fall 2019 Student Workshops

More information regarding our Fall 2019 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 workshops begin this week! This semester we’ve created an option for students to RSVP to workshops. This can also be done by clicking the links below.

GETTING STARTED ON THE OPENLAB

  • Thursday August 29, 2019, 1:00pm-2:00pm, G604

GROWING YOUR CLUB

  • Thursday October 24, 2019, 1:00pm-2:00pm, L540

PRESENTING YOURSELF ONLINE

Thursday November 7, 2019, 1:00pm-2:00pm, L540

Fall 2019 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 August 29, 2019, 1:00pm-2:00pm, G604

OPEN HOUR ON THE OPENLAB

    • Thursday, August 29, 2:30-4:00pm, G604
    • Wednesday, December 4, 1:30-3:30pm, G604

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)

Fall 2019 Open Pedagogy Events – Faculty and Staff

As in semesters past, we will have two Open Pedagogy events in Fall 2019. The dates are set for Thursday September 19 and Thursday November 7 – 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!

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!

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.

In the Spotlight: Kevelyn Vargas’s ePortfolio

 

A few weeks ago, we spotlighted an ePortfolio that blended humor, self-reflection and professionalism. This week, we spotlight another student site that does much of the same, but with its own flair for design and digital art. Kevelyn Vargas’ ePortfolio is a great example of how to use an OpenLab site to convey both personality and academic  work.

Kevelyn’s site is clean and well-organized, each detail clearly thought through. Her landing page- the Home page– is set to her blog, which she regularly updates with musings on her career plans and coursework. Then, from the top navigation menu, Kevelyn also features an About Me page, an essential component of any ePortfolio.  This page is beautifully and sparsely designed, offering a brief biography, plenty of blank space to the let the reader digest, and a black-and-white photograph (a self-portrait!) to match the overall site design and tone.  

The next two menu tabs allow the reader to navigate to some of Kevelyn’s sample coursework. She takes advantage of the OpenLab’s affordances to showcase multimedia work, from videos she has uploaded to logos she has designed to photographs she has taken. She is building a digital presence on the OpenLab and using more than just the usual blogging tools. She is communicating who she is in multiple ways.

Finally, Kevelyn’s ePortfolio is full of personal touches that suggest her talents as a designer. She tells her readers in the About Me page that she has long made “rose-filled illustrations.” The “rose” imagery sparks reader intrigue. It is carried out throughout the site. Her header images (the image featured at the top of the page in your OpenLab sites) are rotating and are all original illustrations. Most include roses. This gives the ePortfolio coherence, but also a distinctive aesthetic. Clearly, Kevelyn is interested in how to and present and re-present archetypal symbols of beauty- sometimes the roses are rendered mysterious, sometimes they are made  gorgeous, sometimes they are playful (as stand-ins for pepperoni on a pizza slice, for example), and sometimes they are made Gothic and dark.

In OpenLab workshops and events this semester, we have been focusing on curation- the process of selecting, organizing, and taking care of the work featured on your Portfolios/ ePortfolios. Curation really is an art- one that Kevelyn is quite proficient in! Check out the site for yourself and think through you might curate your work in your own ePortfolio!

In the Spotlight: City Tech Super HERO

This week we’re spotlighting the City Tech Super HERO’s OpenLab site. Who is our super hero? Well, she was “born in 1980 as Healthkit Educational Robot (HERO).” As the site goes on to note:

“For the next 15 years she helped countless number of students in colleges and universities across the country learn about Computer and Robotics Technology. Then she went into hibernation. Fast forward to 2017… City Tech Women Engineers Club members have taken the initiative to revive HERO, give her a new life and new features, with the help of modern computer hardware and software technology. Her capabilities will be enhanced with the implementation of Assistive Technology to enable her to help people with disabilities.”

Recently, three City Tech students from the CET department won an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Region 1 Student Research Conference award for this very cool project. Congratulations all! 

The site is worth checking out, both to learn more about City Tech’s Super HERO and to see how OpenLab project sites can help you feature your work and research.  There are a few things about site design to note here:

First, the site makes use of custom header images to showcase the robot. This kind of image catches the reader’s attention: it invites exploration, piques curiosity, and, in its design, parallels well the tech-oriented site content.

Second, the top-level menu is also kept sparse and clear. Separate top-level pages are used for each of the project components: including hardware, software, sensors, devices and applications. This layout is intuitive and makes content easy to find.

Finally, it is worth noting that, as an engineering endeavor, the City Tech Super HERO nicely embodies the “open” and “accessible” spirit of the OpenLab. Not only is the work on the robot being driven by a desire to enhance the HERO’s capacities with Assistive Technology, the engineers reviving the robot have used their site to share their Python code for software testing. They are also building from existing documentation (see e.g. regarding devices), which they link out to every step of the way. The project is public-facing and collaborative and delightful to explore!

Curious about the City Tech Super HERO? Ready to be awed by its powers? Click here to visit the site!

In the Spotlight: Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab

Brooklyn, NY– DUMBO by Alh1

This week, as we prepare for our second 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 (4/4) we’re hosting our first Open Pedagogy event of the semester, Curating a Faculty or Staff Portfolio. The event will be held in the Faculty Commons (N227) from 4:30-6:00pm. Refreshments will be served (thanks to the Provost’s Office for its generous support of this event!). Visit the event posting for more information and to RSVP! We hope to see you there! We also have a follow-up workshop that will look more closely at how to curate  your teaching portfolio (RSVP here!). Part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation in the event and/or workshop.

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