In the Spotlight: Spring 2024 Welcome!

Welcome to a new year and the Spring 2024 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.

This Winter Break, there were some exciting new features added to the OpenLab, and some updates in response to members’ needs. You can read about them in the January 2024 edition of This Month on the OpenLab. We’re especially excited about this new option to change the visibility of posts made on open sites–now in addition to posts being as open as the course is or private between author and site admin, authors have the option to share their work with only members of the group or only members of the OpenLab.

As the Spring 2024 semester begins, check out the OpenLab’s 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: All are welcome for our calendar of workshops, plus any group can request a workshop on a topic or technique! The next workshops are on Thursday, 2/1:
  • Co-working sessions: for quiet working time with others, with the option to move to a breakout room for conversation or questions. The next co-working session is on 2/16:

There are also great asynchronous options for support:

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and inspiring new year and Spring 2024 semester. See you on the OpenLab!

Photo Credit: “Frozen Peanuts are Slippery!” by DaPuglet via Flickr under the license CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed.

In the Spotlight: Pre-semester Prep

It may be cold and snowy outside, but preparing for the upcoming semester is heating up. The OpenLab team is here to support your course building efforts!

Join a Workshop

Click here to view the full schedule and register to receive the Zoom link for the workshops.

Monday, 1/22/24

  • Getting Started on the OpenLab: 10:00-10:30am
  • Creating a Course Site: 10:30-11:30am
    (30 min break following this workshop)
  • Fostering an Interactive Course Site: 12:00-1:00pm
  • Co-working session: 1:00-2:00pm

Register for the 1/22/2024 Workshops

Tuesday, 1/23/24

  • Getting Started on the OpenLab: 1:00-1:30pm
  • Creating a Course Site: 1:30-2:30pm
    (30 min break following this workshop)
  • Fostering an Interactive Course Site: 3:00-4:00pm
  • Co-working session: 4:00-5:00pm

Register for the 1/23/2024 Workshops

Co-work with us

Last year, the OpenLab team piloted co-working session for quiet working time with others, with the option to move to a breakout room for conversation or questions. You’ll notice there are some co-working sessions listed above–and one just for First Year Writing (your group can request a co-working session, too). Whether you’ve come to the workshops or not, join OpenLab team to work on your course site, build out your portfolio, sort through your email, anything OpenLab or not OpenLab, or just to be a positive force for anyone else joining who needs that energy!

Help is here

Use Help materials and screencasts to guide your work. Search for your specific topic in the OpenLab’s Help section or navigate through the different sections. You can also reach out for email support by sending a message to us at OpenLab@CityTech.cuny.edu or via our contact form.

Want more? Request a workshop or co-working session for your group, or contact us to ask a question, or let us know what else we can do to support you!

Photo Credit

Spring Will Not Be Held Back” by Tim Dennell via Flickr under the license CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed

Reminder: More Co-Working Today!

The semester is nearly over, but there’s so much left to do! Let’s work together to finish something and get closer to being done!

The OpenLab Team is hosting a co-working session today, Friday, December 15th, 1:00-2:00PM. Join us in what we hope is a welcoming space that helps as you focus on accomplishing everything you need to finish. Bring whatever you want to work on, whether it be OpenLab related or not. We’ll bring bring work, too, plus some good energy for checking things off your to-do list.

You can work silently in the main Zoom room or move into a breakout room to talk with a collaborator or with one of our team members if you have specific questions we can help you with. 

Please share this opportunity with colleagues and students–all are welcome!

Photo credit: “Not a yellowjacket” by cotinis via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed

In the Spotlight: Student Surveys

The faculty and staff working on City Tech’s current Title V grant, the STEM Success Collaborative, have developed student surveys and are asking for faculty members to share one or both with students. Here’s a message from them:

We would like to ask you to participate in the Title V STEM Success Collaborative Grant through having your students take a survey designed to help improve life at the college.  The survey takes 10-15 minutes and should be given during the class to help ensure that students complete it. We would ask that you reach out to Anne Leonhardt (aleonhardt@citytech.cuny.edu) to confirm your participation. Students can participate in the surveys through December 21st, 2023.

The Student Surveys

These are the two surveys currently underway, so consider which is most appropriate for the students in your courses as you choose which to invite students to participate in:

Resource Communications Student Survey

Thank you for participating in the Resource Communications Student Survey!

The purpose of this survey is to identify the flow of information from the college and amongst students. We will ask you questions about how you find out about City Tech resources. Your participation in this research project is completely voluntary. You have the right to say no. Your continuing to the next page will indicate your consent to participate in this research. The data for this project is being collected anonymously, so your answers are completely confidential. Your willingness to participate in this survey and your responses will not affect your grades or academic standing with CUNY. Please answer the questions as honestly as possible. Thank you for your thought given to responding to these questions.

If you have any questions about how information from this survey will be used or other questions about this survey, please contact Anne Leonhardt at aleonhardt@citytech.cuny.edu.

Sense of Belongingness / Community

Thank you for participating in the Sense of Belongingness / Community survey!

The purpose of this survey is to understand your sense of belongingness and community within different peer groups, your major/department, and City Tech at large. Your participation in this research project is completely voluntary. You have the right to say no. Your continuing to the next page will indicate your consent to participate in this research. The data for this project is being collected anonymously, so your answers are completely confidential. Your willingness to participate in this survey and your responses will not affect your grades or academic standing with CUNY. Please answer the questions as honestly as possible. Thank you for your input in responding to these questions.
Information from this survey will be used to help us understand how students like yourself perceive City Tech and make changes to ensure that all students feel more welcomed and supported here.

If you have any questions about how information from this survey will be used or other questions about this survey, please contact Anne Leonhardt at aleonhardt@citytech.cuny.edu.

Reminder: Co-Working Today!

As the semester winds down, let’s work together to check things off the to-do lists we all have–or take some time to make to-do lists!

The OpenLab Team is hosting a co-working session today, Thursday, December 7th, 2:30-3:30PM. Join us in what we hope is a welcoming space that helps as you focus on accomplishing everything you need to finish. Bring whatever you want to work on, whether it be OpenLab related or not. We’ll bring bring work, too, plus some good energy for checking things off your to-do list.

You can work silently in the main Zoom room or move into a breakout room to talk with a collaborator or with one of our team members if you have specific questions we can help you with. 

Please share this opportunity with colleagues and students–all are welcome. And save the date for our next co-working session, on Friday, December 15th at

We hope this co-working session is useful for you–and let us know how else we can help!

Photo credit: “Working together again” by Nick via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed

In the Spotlight: Science Fiction Symposium

The Spotlight is on the Science Fiction at City Tech website leading up to the Eighth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium. This year’s event, Science Fiction, Gender, and Sexuality, will take place on Thursday, November 30th, from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. EST (GMT/UTC -5 hours) online via Zoom Webinar. It will also be available via YouTube Livestream.

Co-organizers Jill Belli, Wanett Clyde, Leigh Gold, Kel Karpinski, Lucas Kwong, Vivian Papp and Sean Scanlan invite everyone to join for the day-long event or stopping by as schedules permit. The online event is free and open to everyone. Links for registration on Zoom and the livestream on YouTube, along with the symposium program and participant bios, are available on the Science Fiction at City Tech’s event post on their OpenLab site.

Image credit: event poster by Lucas Kwong.

In the Spotlight: Student Research Project Template

Choices
Choices” by Derek Bruff via Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed

You may have noticed in the August edition of This Month on the OpenLab that one of the new features from the summer updates is a template chooser. When you create a new Course, Project, Club, or Portfolio, the site created uses a template that is appropriate for each type of site. For example, new Course sites come with pre-created pages for Syllabus, Assignments, etc. The template chooser makes it possible to have more than one template for each type of site. In the spotlight on Fall 2023 Welcome, for example, we highlighted the two templates for Course sites: Interactive, intended for use with active student posting and commenting, and Informational, for sites containing course materials, with instructor posts.

So what does that have to do with student research projects?

When student researchers create a Project, they can now choose the template designed for student research projects! This template was designed with City Tech’s Undergraduate Research programs in mind–and was launched at the Undergraduate Research Workshop on Using OpenLab for Your Research Project.

The site features spaces for students to write about themselves and their research project, include an abstract, and feature any achievements like the poster session, conference presentations, or awards. Additionally, the blog page has been turned into a research log, where students can chronicle their work, track the sources they read, and reflect on their experience.

Screenshot of Sample Research Project created using the Student Research template

As you can see, the site is very streamlined with a clean look. Students can customize it, but they can also get started with their work right away, without needing to first decide about how to design and organize the site.

We can’t wait to spotlight some great student research projects using this template!

In the Spotlight: PLAN Week Fall 2023

2017 Total Solar Eclipse
2017 Total Solar Eclipse” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr CC BY 2.0 Deed

It’s PLAN week! That means that from October 30 to November 3, you can take part in Plan Week activities to prepare for advisement and registration (which starts November 9-17th) for winter and/or spring courses, to ensure you are taking the right courses and asking the right questions to stay on the path to graduation and achieving your future goals.

The PLAN Week website has all the information you need to take part and take advantage of all that the week has to offer. There’s also information about how students can enter to win prizes like gift cards and City Tech swag!

Each day this week has events and will focus on information to help students plan for their next steps at City Tech:

As you develop your PLAN, remember that you can use the OpenLab to get a preview of the courses you’re interested in registering for, and to develop a better sense of what students are doing as they progress in your major and move toward graduation and their careers.

Take full advantage of in these events, and happy PLANning!

In the Spotlight: International Open Access Week

Posted with the text:
International Open Access Week.
Open Access Week 2023.
#OAWeek October 23-29

October 23-29 is International Open Access Week! #OAWeek

To celebrate Open Access Week, Prof. Monica Berger shared some thoughts about open access in a post on the library’s OpenLab site, LIBRARY BUZZ. Entitled “Open Access and knowledge as a public good,” and adapted from her forthcoming book (Winter/Spring 2024) from the Association of College and Research Libraries, Prof. Berger explains the value of openly available shared knowledge. In that post, she shares:

Open access is at its essence a philosophical notion with the guiding principle that scholarly content should be available to all readers without restriction because knowledge itself is a public good and cannot be bought and sold.  The idea of knowledge as a public good derives from the work of Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom’s conception of knowledge-as-commons.  

Monica Berger, “Open Access and knowledge as a public good,” LIBRARY BUZZ, October 24, 2023

Prof. Berger ends her post encouraging all of us to use platforms like CUNY Academic Works to share our work freely. In the spirit of Open Access Week, the library is offering a workshop on CUNY Academic Works, “Academic Works Demystified,” to demonstrate the value of sharing work openly. An additional workshop designed for students conducting research projects this semester, “Academic Works for Student Posters,” encourages students to add their posters to CUNY Academic Works so they can openly share their research with the CUNY community and beyond. This workshop will take place on November 20th–you can read more about this workshop in the Fall 2023 workshops schedule on the Undergraduate Research OpenLab site.

logo for Open Access with open orange combination lock between Open and Access.

In the Spotlight: Accessibility on the OpenLab

Just Three Colours
Just Three Colors” by Rosmarie Voegtli via Flickr CC BY 2.0 Deed

The OpenLab has some useful resources to help you consider accessibility when you create or add content to a site. Learn more about accessibility on the OpenLab, and take advantage of the new Editoria11y plugin, a “spellcheck for accessibility” created by the web team at Princeton.

Editoria11y (pronounced “editorially”) checks your site and displays any existing issues with a thorough description of what they are and how you can address them. 

Once activated, the plugin will automatically perform accessibility checks. The results will appear for all admins, editors, and authors of the site. Professors and students alike will be able to see any accessibility issues in the posts they author on a site.

Editoria11y does not make changes on your site, but it provides instructions for how to make changes to anything that is flagged as an accessibility issue and provides useful context to understand why the changes are necessary.

To get started, activate Editoria11y Accessibility Checker in Dashboard > Plugins. For more information, read the Help materials on how to add plugins to your site.

We’ve found Editoria11y extremely useful and hope you do too!

If you’re curious about the a11y part of the name Editoria11y, check out this A11Y Project blog post about the numeronym a11y as a helpful resource to understand that a11y=accessibility.