In the Spotlight: National HSI Week and Hispanic Heritage Month

This week is National HSI Week (September 12-18), overlapping with Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15). The HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution) Committee has invited everyone at the college to celebrate, get involved, and join the community.

The HSI Committee is using their OpenLab site to share information about all of the events happening on campus for HSI Week and Hispanic Heritage Month. That means that departments and initiatives are hosting events, and you can learn about them in one central place, their Upcoming Events page.

There are several events taking place this week, including the annual HSI Week Forum on September 15 from 12:45pm-2pm in the Faculty Lounge, L632 in the Library Building. The committee asks all planning to attend to Register Here so they can best plan for the event (and for refreshments, too).

The HSI Committee has invited all of City Tech to “come together to share ideas and next steps as we continue to work towards servingness as an HSI.”

If you haven’t already, check out the list of upcoming events and start participating!

In the Spotlight: Connect Day

Tall tower with interconnecting poles and cables against a blue sky background
Connecting Cables” by Erik Shepers via Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

At the beginning of the each semester, City Tech welcomes new students, and part of that welcome is Connect Day New Student Welcome. This semester, Connect Day takes place on Thursday, September 1st during Club Hours, 12:45-2:00pm. All new students should plan to attend!

New students attending Connect Day will join faculty, student leaders and peers in every academic department for an information session about their major! Students will have the opportunity to learn more about the courses they will take, where to go to receive academic advisement, discover important information critical to success, and learn more about being a member of the City Tech community.

A really exciting development this semester is that students who don’t have a major yet–undeclared students–have a Connect Day, too! Lauri Aguirre, Director of First Year Programs, will be hosting that session for anyone who has yet to declare their major.

Prof. Sue Brandt (from Entertainment Technology in the School of Technology and Design) built the useful Connect Day site as a project on the OpenLab; it includes information for students to find their department’s Connect Day event, including the location on campus or via Zoom. Additionally, the site uses the three schools at City Tech–Arts and Sciences, Professional Studies, and Technology and Design–to organize the list of departments and information about who will be leading each department’s event and a link to the department’s website. Not sure which department is in which of the three schools at City Tech? You can browse through each list to learn more. There is information about the Connect Day session for Undeclared majors in the list for each of the three schools.

Connect Day New Student Welcome
Thurs, Sept. 1, 2022
12:45 PM to 2:00 PM
Find the location for each department’s Connect Day event:

The site also includes other information to help orient students to City Tech and college work.

We hope new students find their way to their department for Thursday’s Connect Day, and that faculty and staff members and returning students share this information to help new students find their way to the right place for Connect Day.

Welcome again, and happy connecting!

In the Spotlight: Fall 2022 Welcome!

Welcome” by Stuart Caie on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Welcome to a new academic year! We’ve heard that this semester, City Tech is welcoming even more new students and faculty members–so welcome to everyone new, and welcome back to everyone returning!

The OpenLab team is excited to work with you this semester as you do great things on the OpenLab–and to help you learn more about using the OpenLab and working in an open community. Check out the Fall 2022 OpenLab support options and join us for synchronous support:

  • Open Hours: students, faculty, and staff can sign up for open hours, one-on-one appointments to ask specific questions or ask to learn more about topics ranging from getting started to using a tool to implementing pedagogical approach. 
  • Workshops: We have workshops slated for the next two weeks, on Getting Started and on Working on the OpenLab. All are welcome.
  • Requested Workshops: Any group can request a workshop on a topic or technique! 

There are also great asynchronous options for support:

Remember, returning OpenLab members will need to reset their password. If you need help, these password reset instructions will guide you through the process. Reach out to us if you need additional help!

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and inspiring start to the semester. See you on the OpenLab!

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 5 of 5: Planning your Semester, Pt. 2

Now that you’ve worked through Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the OpenLab Summer Series, let’s work through Part 5! In this final installment, we wrap up our summer series with two tasks that will get your course up and running for the start of the semester. These tasks involve setting up your dynamic course content as well as your first few assignments.

Task 1: Customize your Posts

  • Read through the posts that come pre-loaded in new courses. By default, these are published all together in the Home page. 
    • Note the function of these posts. Unlike pages, which you used in Part 4 to publish your syllabus and course policies, posts are used to convey dynamic content, new information that will be updated throughout the semester.
    • Note that these pre-written template posts have 6 categories: Announcements, Surveys and Quizzes, Discussions, Student Work, Assignment Instructions, and Class Agendas. These categories can be accessed from the main navigation menu and can always be edited.
  • Edit each of these posts, adapting them to your course’s needs. You may decide that you don’t need some of the posts, in which case you can delete them.

Task 2: Design Student Assignments

  • Read the Designing Assignments section in OpenLab help for links to example assignments created by your colleagues.
  • Decide how you will  collect student work. Consider the following:
    • Do you want students to submit work you can read directly on your Course Site, or files that you can download onto your computer?
    • Do you want students to be able to see and respond to each other’s work?
    • What kind of feedback do you want to provide and where?

You are now well-equipped to start the semester on the OpenLab. The OpenLab Community Team is of course available to help you at any point in your process, so check our Support offerings, read through our Teaching with the OpenLab and OpenLab for Students modules, search through Help, or email the OpenLab Community Team with a question.

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 4 of 5: Planning your Semester, Pt. 1

We hope that Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the OpenLab Summer Series have helped you get ready to plan your semester in Part 4!

In this installment, we suggest two tasks to guide faculty in planning their semester. Both tasks help faculty customize the OpenLab course template to communicate with their students. 

Task 1: Explore Student-Instructor Communication in the Course Template

  • The template is a suggested model for designing your course. It is informed by known best practices for online and  hybrid teaching, but can and should be customized to suit your vision for your semester. Before you begin further customizing the template, ask yourself:
    • What information do students need from me to be successful this semester?
    • How would I like students to communicate with me this semester?
    • What kind of class dialogue would I like to see this semester?
  • Get familiar with the different types of communication facilitated through the course template:
    • The template facilitates communication from instructors to students. Under the Course Info tab, you will notice pages for your syllabus, the course schedule, and your contact information—all crucial content for your students to know and have access to on your site. The template also uses a category archive for your regularly updated announcements to students.
    • The template facilitates communication between instructors and students. For example, the home page includes a survey for your students to fill out at the start of the semester so that you can understand the technology and working spaces available to them as they working both on- and off-campus. Responses to the survey can inform your communication with students throughout the rest of the semester, as well as shape your expectations for course assignments and participation. 
    • The template also uses category archives for students to submit their assignments, and suggests a number of mechanisms through which you can provide feedback and grades on student work. (Note that FERPA protects student record privacy, and student work should not be graded publicly.)
    • The template facilitates communication between students! This is a key part of creating a lively online classroom. A category archive for Discussions creates a suggested space for students to hold class dialogue online. A first assignment is suggested to you in which students introduce themselves to each other, and encourages students to respond to each other’s introductions for extra credit.

Task 2: Customize the Pages on your Course

  • Prepare and gather your course materials for your site. These materials convey information from you to your students, and include:
    • Your syllabus
    • Your contact information
    • Your grading policy/ grading rubrics
    • Your course schedule.
  • Update the pages on your course site with these materials! 
  • If you have course readings that are available online, decide now how you will link to these readings from your OpenLab site. Please make sure to read our copyright guidelines as you do this.
    • Are your readings freely available online? Can you provide links in your syllabus/ class agendas/ course schedule?
    • Are your readings large PDF files? If so, we recommend using an external hosting service to host these files, such as Dropbox, Office 365 or other hosting service provided by the college. You can provide your students with instructions on how to access this service on your OpenLab site. 

In our final installment, we’ll focus on answering the questions “how can OpenLab sites further facilitate communication between students?” and “how can students submit work on the OpenLab?”

End-of-summer support

Dino’s Wonder Wheel” by Eric via Flickr CC BY 2.0

This is not a welcome back post–there’s still a week until the semester begins on August 25th! This is instead a reminder of all the support the OpenLab Team offers students, faculty, and staff members for getting started, setting up your OpenLab site, and continuing your OpenLab work as you get ready for next week.

Summer 2022 Workshops

Join the OpenLab team for a workshop to learn–or learn more–about the OpenLab! These workshops are open to all students, faculty, and staff members.

Use the registration links below to sign up and get a Zoom link for each day’s workshops.

Friday, 8/19:

  • 12:30-1:00 Getting Started
  • 1:00-2:00: Working on the OpenLab
  • 2:30-3:30: Creating a Site on the OpenLab

Register for 8/19 workshops. Please indicate which workshops you plan to attend (you are welcome to attend all).

Tuesday, 8/23:

  • 12:30-1:00 Getting Started
  • 1:00-2:00: Working on the OpenLab
  • 2:30-3:30: Creating a Site on the OpenLab

Register for 8/23 workshops. Please indicate which workshops you plan to attend (you are welcome to attend all).

The OpenLab Team looks forward to supporting you and seeing your great work on the OpenLab. And stay tuned for the Fall 2022 Welcome!

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 3 of 5 of: Create on the OpenLab

We hope that Part 1 and Part 2 of the OpenLab Summer Series have helped you get started, and that you’re ready to start creating in Part 3! In this case, “create” can refer to creating sites, but also to creating communities, collaborations, and dialogue by joining other sites, connecting with friends and colleagues, participating in discussion forums, and more. That said, task 2 below is intended for instructors and focuses on the first steps of course creation, taking a particularly close look at the course template.

  • Task 1: Create Connections:
    • Join our in-house sites to stay connected and updated about what’s happening on the OpenLab:
      • The Open Road: Our one-stop-shop for all things OpenLab: news, workshops, events, community, and support!
      • Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab: A site for sharing and discussing resources about open digital pedagogy!
    • Connect with your friends and join other groups related to your interests:
    • Whether you are a student, staff member, or an instructor, you may want to look at the projects for different academic departments and school bodies, which often have helpful resources. These include the College Council, the Math Education Major Project, and Peer Advisement, among many, many others.
    • You can also search for courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the links under the slider on the home page. From the search page, use the filters (top-right) to tailor your search.
    • Want to create a club, portfolio, or project? Learn more here.
  • Task 2: Are you an instructor? Create a course site! The tasks below will get you started on the task of building a site.
    • Get familiar with the course template. Take a video tour of the template and read our help documentation, or review the Course Template Tour site.
    • Follow these steps to create a course site that uses this template.
    • Take time to fill out your course profile:
      • Customize your course avatar. If you do not have an image for your avatar in my mind, you can search for reusable images online. You can also create an avatar of your own; Barbara Smith Mishara from Architecture, for example, has created an avatar that clearly features the name of her course and the semester. This is a great way to make your course easy to find for your students.
      • Include a course description and your contact information in the course profile. A good example of an information-rich  but easy to read course profile is John De Santis’ Spring 2020 COMD1127 class.
      • Get familiar with the tools available on your course profile, including Discussion boards, Files, and Docs. You don’t have to decide now whether  you will use any of these tools, but it’s a good idea to play around and see what each can do.
    • Customize your site’s appearance:
      • You can choose a header image.
      • Under Dashboard> Appearance, you’ll have the option of changing the title to your site (we recommend making this your course’s name!), the site’s tag line (we recommend that it feature your name, the course section, and semester), and the site’s identity.
      • You can edit your site’s widgets. You will want to edit the “About this Course” widget to share your name, office hours, contact information, and a brief paragraph about this Course. You may also want to include a picture of yourself in the “About this Course” widget.
      • As always, as you begin the course creation process, we recommend consulting other courses on the OpenLab for inspiration and model work. You can browse through the Courses section, use the filters to find other examples in your department, or check out these example courses.

In our next installment, we’ll look at facilitating communication between instructors and students–and among students–in courses for Fall 2022.

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 2 of 5 of: Explore the OpenLab and Learn How to Get OpenLab Help

Welcome back–we hope you had an easy time following along with Part 1 last week and now have your account set up!

This week, for Part 2 of the 5-part self-guided series, we focus on how do others use the OpenLab and how you can get help using the OpenLab. The tasks below will help everyone explore how members of the City Tech community use the OpenLab to learn, teach, build community, and pursue other scholarly, pedagogical, and extra-curricular interests. These tasks will also show how to get support using the OpenLab.

  • Task 1: Check out In the Spotlight, our blog series that features a different exemplary site each week. Begin with the  Spotlight Archive:
    • If you are a student, you may want to scroll through some student ePortfolios and clubs.
    • If you are a faculty member, you may want to scroll through some spotlighted courses. 
    • If you are a staff member, you may want to look at some spotlighted projects.
  • Task 2:  Check out our in-house site Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab: A site for sharing and discussing resources about open digital pedagogy. This site will help you understand what we mean when we talk about learning/ teaching online and in the “open”:
  • Task 3: Continue to explore the community using various search and filter options:
    • You can search through people, courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the menu at the top and the magnifying glass in the top-right.
    • You can also search courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the links titled by type of site (courses, projects, clubs, portfolios) under the slider. From the search page, use the filters (top-right) to tailor your search. Here’s some help showing how you can use the filters, in this case to find a project.
  • Task 4: As you explore, you may find yourself inspired to start creating your course, project, club, or portfolio. To get help with these tasks and using the OpenLab you can:
    • Check out our extensive Help section – it has everything you need to get started joining and building sites on the OpenLab. Get help with everything from Creating a Course, inviting students, sharing materials, and using the WordPress block editor to create content on the OpenLab.
    • Throughout this summer, we have virtual office hours that we call open hours: these  one-on-one consultations with a member of the OpenLab team are open for anyone to sign up for and participate in. You’re welcome to meet with us at any stage of your work, whether you are just starting to think through how you will set up your site or whether you’re at a more advanced stage.  

Stay tuned for Part 3 of 5, when we create a site on the OpenLab!

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 ( is an innovative, open digital platform for students, faculty, and staff at New York City College of Technology, CUNY ( 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 ( and Jody R. Rosen ( 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.