In the Spotlight: ACF Club

Student members of ACF ClubThis week we’re spotlighting the ACF – or American Culinary Federation – Student Club. To paraphrase their description, this club is dedicated to sharing professional knowledge and skills that further culinary education and experience among City Tech students. In addition, the club aims to promote the culinary arts through demonstrations, culinary competitions and developing industry connections. Further still, the Club gives back to the community by participating in community service events and holiday meal preparation for community-based organizations. In accomplishing this goal, the club uses the OpenLab to share info and updates about upcoming events, fundraising efforts, and how City Tech students can get involved.

Their site evidences these activities and opportunities in a well-organized and easily navigable way. Their Club Information page lets you know that they meet regularly on Thursdays during club hour to coordinate their upcoming activities, while their Opportunities page will inform you of any upcoming volunteer events. Their Past Events page gives you a sense of what events the group has worked in the past, while the Upcoming Events page tells you what is on the docket for this Fall. You can also learn more about the student leaders on their Officers page..

Want to learn more or get involved? Join them during club hour on Thursdays, or email them at their new gmail account, CityTechACF@gmail.com – join the current club members as they grow from students into tomorrow’s industry leaders!

In the Spotlight: OERs on the OpenLab

Since the inception of City Tech’s OER Fellowship in 2015, and CUNY Central’s investment in OERs CUNY-wide, the number of Open Educational Resources that are public and freely available on the OpenLab have been growing. Each year the program has grown, with more new fellows each year than the last (3 in 2015, 7 in 2016, 14 in 2017, and 19 in 2018) and more OERs for a greater range of courses, from Culinary Tourism, to Biology, to Introduction to Mechanics.

Now you may be wondering:

How can I find these resources and use them to support my own course work?

Good news! The OpenLab now has created “OER Badges” that indicate when a course or project is an OER.

green circle with "OER" written in middle
Look for these OER Badges on course and project profiles!

These badges are also searchable. From the homepage, click on the magnifying glass in the upper right, and select EITHER courses or projects (OERs are built on either of these types of sites). If you don’t see what you’re looking for in one, try the other type.

shows search function on OpenLab site with dropdown menu to choose type of site.

On the Search page, all of the filters may be set to your interests, except “Select Type”; for that field you’ll want to select “Open Educational Resources”. This will pull up any and all OERs that match the other filters you set.

shows search page with dropdown menu for type of site showing option to select OERs

In some cases, you can clone an entire course, and remix, add to, or delete some of the content to meet your needs, and use it to support your courses.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to OERs, and open digital pedagogy in general – where educators are putting resources and course materials online in free and publicly accessible ways – is to give credit where credit is do. Acknowledge whose materials you are pulling from and how you used them. Did you clone the work of another professor and use their work directly? Did you “adapt their material or part of their material, or remix it with some of your own course materials? This information should be visible somewhere on your own site.

Looking for more tips on OERs and sharing and remixing content on the OpenLab? Check out:

You can also join us in-person for an office hour or workshop!

In the Spotlight: Virtual Reality & Artificial Intelligence (VR & AI) Club

A comic-style woman with a VR headset on, who is looking amazed.

This week we’re spotlighting the new VR & AI Club site. According to their club profile, “[t]he Virtual Reality & Artificial Intelligence (VR & AI) Club at NYCCT seeks to explore the interdisciplinary practices and applications involving VR and AI, including mechatronics, robotics, computer vision, internet of things, and embedded systems, as well as the social, psychological and political implications of such.” Said another way, this club “aims to explore the world of virtual reality and artificial intelligence by playing, learning and making”.

In this vein, the club has listed out a number of ongoing projects club members can work to improve their skills. Though they have 6 projects listed, it looks like 5 are waiting for additional resources – whether funding, approval, ordered materials to arrive. These include offering students an opportunity to play with VR headsets, a social robot able to communicate and interact with humans, and VR game and app development. In the meantime, one project is “ACTIVE” – the Virtual Robotic Limb – a robotic limb used by patients in virtual rehab after a stroke.

The site also has a list of events around the City – some of which the group plans to attend together – and a list of resources that may be of interest to members (or future members!) of the club. Though you should follow their blog on the homepage to get the most up-to-date information about their meetings, their About Us page suggests they convene regularly in V-509 in the Voorhees Building during Club Hour on Thursdays from 12:45 pm to 2:15 pm.

Questions? Reach out to the club at nycct.vrai.club@gmail.com.

All-in-all this club seems like a great opportunity for students interested in learning more about VR & AI – offering both hands-on experience and community as supports in that endeavor.

In the Spotlight: Diana Reyes’ Portfolio

personal logo by Diana Reyes - white background, black lettering. This week we’re spotlighting Diana Reyes’ Portfolio. Diana is a student in the Communication Design department. She currently uses her portfolio to reflect on her first internship at Bookstr and to share a digital portfolio of her work.

When you navigate to Diana’s Portfolio site, the first thing you notice is Diana’s name, in the upper-left-hand-corner. The simple-yet-elegant design of her personal logo mirrors the design of the rest of the site, which is visually sleek, and easy to navigate.

On her homepage is a blogroll sharing critical reflections on her internship. Each post reflects on a different aspects of her work or opportunities she’s been introduced to through the internship. For example, her posts describe the open, collaborative workspace that differs from the cubicle setting many of us might expect, a new digital technology (Slack) that she’ll need to rely on to communicate with team members, and her experience collaborating with a colleague on a project. These reflections could be of interest or use to other students who are interning for the first time, or thinking about interning, maybe even at Bookstr. They also demonstrate a great deal of personal and professional growth on the part of Diana – something that future employers may be interested in, or that may help her when applying for jobs in the future.

In addition to reflections on her internship, Diana has included a digital portfolio showcasing her design work. Here, the modest design of the site overall focuses the visitors attention on the designs themselves, and makes them pop.

Overall, I think Diana’s Portfolio site is a good example of how others might approach beginning to built out their sites. For me, there were three key takeaways:

The first takeaway is that a simple and straightforward design works well. We want the attention to be on the work we are trying to share, whether its our designs or internship reflections or something else, and we want visitors to be able to find it easily. That you know how to use WordPress (one of the softwares underpinning the OpenLab) is a bonus, but not really the point.

A second takeaway is to start with where you are. Maybe you’re not ready to add a resume to your site. That’s ok. Share the work you’ve done in your classes that you’re proud of. Blog about opportunities related to a career path you’re interested in or about a passion or hobby of yours. These sites will and should evolve over time, as you have other experiences, and your interests – career or otherwise – evolve and become more specific.

A third takeaway, is that there may be some learning value in using a Portfolio site to reflect on your experiences. As mentioned, these short but insightful posts by Diana seem like they will really help in a few years, to remind her of her own professional and personal growth over time.


Students – want more insight and support getting started? Join the OpenLab Thursday December 6th from 1:00 – 2:00 pm in Room AG-21 for a workshop titled “Presenting Yourself Online”. This workshop focuses on building a professional online profile using the OpenLab.

Learn about other student or faculty workshops here.  

In the Spotlight: Peer Advisement

This week we’re spotlighting Peer Advisement, a project site on the OpenLab. The main focus of this group is to increase the retention of female students in engineering technology programs.

Despite their focus, the group proudly offers services and resources that may be of interest to all students at City Tech. For example, on the homepage of the site, the group shares various professional development opportunities – including an invitation to attend an HBO networking event where students will meet with employees from the Engineering, Digital Products, Information Services and Recruiting teams, SHPE NYC STEM Career Summit where students can meet representatives from Accenture, AKF, AT&T, Capital One, Dell, HBO, HueCore, Merck, Microsoft, P&G, Turner Construction, Vimeo, and the Graduate School Fair hosted by City Tech’s Honors Scholars Program. While many of these opportunities are geared towards students in engineering technology programs, they have broader appeal.

In fulfilling the main goal of their mission – to promote female student retention in engineering technology programs – the group has identified peer advisors in a number of departments (see below). These peer advisors are available to support fellow students with department-specific tutoring and/or help students navigate the college to find resources and support. Each participating department has their own group on the OpenLab that is linked from the main Peer Advisement site. By going to their group profile you can learn more about who the peer advisors are, when you can meet with them, and what services they can help you with.

Are you a student in one of the departments who has been looking for support? Navigate to and join their group and get involved!

Are you a student or faculty in a engineering department not represented here? Get in touch with the Peer Advisement group to see how you may become a peer advisor in your department!

Are you a student or faculty member in another program of study interested in replicating this or a similar peer-support model in your department? Reach out to the Peer Advisement group to learn more about how they got started!

In the Spotlight: Undergraduate Research

This week we’re spotlighting Undergraduate Research, a project site that houses resources for students who want to get involved in doing research while at City Tech and for faculty who want to support and mentor those students. For students, undergraduate research is an opportunity to work on campus between classes, learn more about a subject of interest, improve your resume, earn credit or a stipend, and work closely with a faculty member. Interested? There are a number of different opportunities and programs to peruse that might suit your interests and objectives. For faculty, this is an opportunity for you to pass on your knowledge and skills, engage in shared and mutual discovery with students, to support your professional discipline and apply for grants targeting undergraduate institutions.

The site also contains materials that may be of interest to students and faculty beyond those who specifically want to enter into a mentoring/menteeing research relationship. For example, the Library Research Techniques page – offering advice on how to search, locate and cite other research – could be useful for students and faculty in any class. Additionally, the Mentoring Handbook – including insight on benefits, phases, roles, strategies, tools and more related to mentoring or being a mentee – might be of interest to anyone looking for guidance and suggestions on entering into a mentor/mentee relationship.

Be sure to also check out their blog roll on the homepage – which includes additional resources – such as how you might preserve your work on CUNY Academic Works – and opportunities – like the BMI Conference, SUBMERGE’s marine science festival in Hudson River Park, and opportunities to participate in NSF-funded research like Warm-water Aquatic Ecology.

Check out the site today to learn more and get involved!

In the Spotlight: The Ambassador’s Club

This week we’re spotlighting The Ambassadors Club, a group that aims “to provide opportunities for student officers to learn and hone leadership skills, with an emphasis on event planning and event management”. The Club accomplishes this by helping to plan and staff events for the HMGT department and around the college, “with the intent of fostering and supporting a welcoming and professional environment”.  

On their site you can learn more about current and previous officers, as well as any upcoming events where you can learn more information about the club and upcoming opportunities where you may be able to represent the club and practice your hospitality management skills! Check out the site to see the list of volunteer opportunities for events in October!

Visit the club site today to join and be eligible to participate!

In the Spotlight: Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab

This week we’re spotlighting Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab, an in-house site managed by the OpenLab Community Team that’s dedicated to sparking and cultivating discussion, and facilitating the sharing of ideas, materials and practices related to open digital pedagogy (ODP) amongst City Tech faculty and staff.

Not sure what ODP is? In their piece Open Digital Pedagogy = Critical Pedagogy, Jody Rosen, OpenLab Co-Director and English Professor at City Tech, and Maura Smale, City Tech Librarian describe it as follows:

Open digital pedagogy is the use of cost-free, publicly available online tools and platforms by instructors and students for teaching, learning, and communicating in support of educational goals, can, as Kris Shaffer has argued, “facilitate student access to existing knowledge, and empower them to critique it, dismantle it, and create new knowledge.”

OpenLab is one of these these “cost-free, publicly available online tools and platforms” that faculty (as well as staff, students, and alumni) at City Tech can use to support their teaching, learning and community-building efforts; and the Open Pedagogy site aims to support their endeavors.d

With this in mind, the site houses a number of different resources aimed to support your work on the OpenLab (and other open digital spaces):

On the Resources page you can find writings penned by City Tech faculty and beyond on topics related ODP such as writing, multimedia pedagogy, annotation, open educational resources, specific assignment ideas, and copyright and attribution. As you’ll notice, not all of these topics are specific to open digital pedagogy, but the resources we provide offer insight into how these practices (around writing or annotation, for example) morph, expand or change in open digital learning contexts. Have something to contribute? Have a question you’d like to discuss with the community? After joining the site, you’re welcome to post and share – and we strongly encourage you to do so!

Pedagogy Profiles is an opportunity to hear more about other faculty’s experiences using and incorporating the OpenLab into their classrooms – how did they get started using the platform, what have they learned along the way, and how do they incorporate it now. Each month we highlight a different faculty member – this month, its Professor Jackie Blain in the English Department. Check out Prof. Blain’s Pedagogy Profile here!

We also host two Open Pedagogy events per semester that touch on various topics related to Open Digital Pedagogy. Our first of the Fall 2018 semester is coming up soon – Thursday Sept 27th @ 4:30p in the Faculty Commons (Namm 227) – and will focus on using open digital pedagogy in gateway courses (Learn more and RSVP). These events are a great opportunity to connect and have face-to-face conversations with other faculty and staff at City Tech about pedagogy and more. Light refreshments are served, and part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation.

We hope your find these resources helpful in your (continued) use of the platform, and we hope to see you at our upcoming event on September 27th!

In the Spotlight: MTEC 3175, Experimental Game Design & Development

Site header image for MTEC 3175, Experimental Game Design & DevelopmentThis week we’re spotlighting Professor Boisvert’s fall entertainment technology course, MTEC 3175, Experimental Game Design & Development. This course is a “hands-on studio” where students explore various complexities of gameplay development and design through creating prototypes. In short, the course touches on technical game construction, to aesthetics and design (character development, level design), to user experience and more. This course provides a useful case study for thinking about how to use the OpenLab to support your course and student learning, as well as demonstrating the interesting coursework available at our College of Technology.

Integrating Environments

In the context of this course, the OpenLab is one among a suite of “environments” where students in the course will be creating, sharing and engaging course material, broadly speaking; in addition they’ll use GitHub, Slack, Steam and a personal Game Journal. Each of these environments offers a different set of possibilities – for example, GitHub is good for storing, sharing and co-editing files while Slack is good for centralizing communication; Steam is a platform that offers easy access to the latest video games and a community, while a personal journal allows space for personal reflection and the development of ideas. Integrating these separate environments is specific to each course, but could be a useful way of organizing course work and may also be useful in introducing students to platforms they may come to depend on later in their careers.

Blogging

In this context, the OpenLab is a centralizing and public environment where visitors can learn more about the course by accessing course materials provided by Professor Boisvert and by reading through students’ critical reflections via the blog on the homepage. As in other courses, Professor Boisvert uses the blog for low-stakes, reflective and critical thinking writing by students. This third blog post assignment, asks students to re-analyze a game they enjoyed as a child. Explained in another way, this assignment asks students to revisit and think (more) critically about something they know a lot about already. This is specific and useful pedagogical decision that aims get students writing and couch the anxiety that can accompany that practice by asking them to write about something that they explicitly already know a lot about. This is a useful trick many faculty use that not only gets students more comfortable with writing, but also, through sharing experiences, helps students get to know one another and build up a classroom and college community.

Menu Structure / Organizing Site Content

This course site is a good example of a clean, straightforward site design that allows visitors to the site, including students, to easily find the information they’re looking for. Building a site that is more-or-less intuitive and easy for visitors to navigate is one of the challenges of building a site on the OpenLab. Professor Boisvert’s site achieves this through one top-level, navigation menu. By ‘top-level’, I mean that Professor Boisvert doesn’t use any drop down menus. Instead, each menu item opens up to a page where students can find all of the readings or assignments for the course, can read through the syllabus, or find all resources provided by Professor Boisvert. Alternatively, drop-down menus may make a new page for each weekly batch of readings or each separate assignment. Drop-down menus seem appealing at first, but from a user standpoint, they can make the site more difficult to navigate. For one, this means students are going to a different place to find course materials each week, which could get confusing, and it can be easier to end up on the wrong page (reading next week’s readings, for example). Second, drop-down menus bury, hide, and/or conceal information in second- and third-level menu items – a visitor must notice there is a drop-down menu and navigate through it to find the information they are looking for, rather than clicking through to one page for everything. Third, though our sites are responsive (meaning they work on mobile devices) long drop-down menus, or ones with 3 or even 4 levels can run off the screen, rendering them invisible to the visitor trying to access course information and materials.

Follow along with the course this semester to see how student’s ideas develop, and what games they end up developing through this studio!

In the Spotlight: 25,000+ Members!

Balloons
Image Source: Victor

At the start of this semester, the OpenLab hit a new milestone, reaching 25,000 members (with hundreds more joining since then)! Not too shabby! We,the OpenLab Team, believe this is a moment worth celebrating, and are excited for the opportunity to highlight your accomplishments over the past seven years.

Since the OpenLab was launched in Fall 2011, OpenLab members have:

  • Created (and taught!) approximately 2,067 courses;
  • Built (no, curated!) approximately 6,020 e-Portfolios;
  • Developed (and grown!) approximately 114 clubs, both for faculty/ staff and students;
  • Started (and cultivated!) approximately 2,406 projects;

It’s been quite a ride. Congratulations all!

We would like to thank the City Tech community for your ongoing support of and participation in the OpenLab. It’s called a “lab,” because it’s designed to be a space where faculty, students, staff, and alumni can experiment, collaborate, share, and innovate. The OpenLab is a perpetual work in progress and you all have built the content that improves, challenges and grows City Tech’s unique, open-source digital platform. Thank you!

*Stay tuned for a forthcoming retrospective on the OpenLab: a series of posts this semester, exploring in detail how the OpenLab as grown and changed since its launch, as well as various milestones along the way.