## This Week In Open Lab!: April 16th Edition

Hawaiian green sea turtle by Dr. Donald B. MacGowan

Welcome Back!

First off, we hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing, sun-drenched break, and is all refreshed for the home stretch of the term.  Just a few things today…

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The OpenLab Launch!

Don’t forget about the OpenLab Launch, which will be this Thursday, April 19th. We’re terribly excited to have as our guest Jim Groom, a pioneer in instructional technology, with a “specific focus on curricula, pedagogical and technologically enhanced projects.”  That means–in less acedmic-speak–he’s a leader in creating and using digital academic platforms like the OpenLab.  And he’s a great speaker!   And there will be snacks!

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Featured Assignment:  My Infinity

In Jonas Reitz’ always interesting calculus course, his students are working on a project called ‘My Infinity.”  Here’s how Jonas describes the project:

We are embarking on a part of the course that deals with infinity — that is, with sequences (infinite lists of numbers) and series (infinite sums of numbers).  We are studying this idea in a rigorous mathematical way, but it is a concept that is important in many non-mathematical areas – religion, philosophy, art, and many more.  Almost every child, from shortly after they learn to count, has some idea of infinity.

To do this Jonas’ students are creating pages with personal descriptions, narratives and images that represent non-mathematical notions of infinity.  Check out Anthony Valdez’ here.  And yes, I think we all agree we would be better human beings if Jonas had been our Calculus teacher.

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Featured Tutorial:  Using Screen Options

As I remembered just this morning as I accidentally deleted a post, WordPress has a convenient way to recover revisions and older drafts of a page or post.  In newer versions of WordPress, however, that feature is hidden in the default setting.  To access it (and several other screen options), click the ‘Screen Options’ button in the upper right of the dashboard.

When that opens, you’ll see a set of options, one of which is ‘Revisions.’  Click that, and beneath your main post or page box you’ll see a list of various drafts appear.  Clicking on any of them will allow you to view, compare, or restore that draft.

Very simple, but a bit tucked away, so easy to miss!

As always, contact us with any questions.

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Featured Event:  “Blogging Inside and Outside the CUNY Classroom”

In CUNY Digital Humanities news, the Grad Center will be hosting a free event called “Blogging Inside and Outside the CUNY Classroom” on Tuesday, April 17th at 6 in room 5489.  Our friends Kevin Ferguson (Director, Writing at Queens, Queens College), Luke Waltzer(Assistant Director for Educational Technology, Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute, Baruch College) and Mikhail Gershovich (Director, Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute; Coordinator, Writing Across the Curriculum, Baruch College) will all be speaking and leading discussion.

These CUNY faculty members will discuss the blogs they use in their classrooms and the campus-wide blogging initiatives they have helped to design: Blogs@Baruch and QC Voices.  They’ll conclude the session with a brief discussion of other digital tools you may want to explore inside (or outside) your classroom. Please come with your ideas and questions about the use of blogs and other digital media on your own CUNY campus.
Rsvps requested by Monday, 4/16: gc.comphet@gmail.com. Refreshments will be provided.
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That’s all for this week.  Don’t forget the launch!

## This Week in OpenLab! April 2nd Edition

(Image by Nikchick via Creative Commons)

As the term starts its inevitable wind-down, just a few reminders this week, and a best wishes for the upcoming break!

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OpenLab Launch Update

As mentioned before, the official coming out party for the OpenLab will take place on the 19th of April.  We’re terribly excited to have as our guest Jim Groom, a pioneer in instructional technology, with a “specific focus on curricula, pedagogical and technologically enhanced projects.”  That means–in less acedmic-speak–he’s a leader in creating and using digital academic platforms like the OpenLab.  And he’s a great speaker!   And there will be snacks!

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Featured Assignment

Earlier in March, Sandra Chang offered her students an interesting discussion topic concerning an issue that’s dear to us all–the question of copywright and ownership of online materials.   You can read the whole post here, but of particular interest is an article on photography and tumblr, which deals with how easy it is to share images on the internet.

Tumblr’s “reblog” function, which allows a user’s followers to repost a particular entry to their own Tumblr page, offers photographers a certain level of feedback on their images because they can track who likes their work and where it is shared. Reblogging makes Tumblr an “interesting social gauge of what the public is interested in,” says Weinberg.

Reblogging can also make photographers a bit queasy, however, because once an image is reblogged they essentially lose control of how and where their work is displayed. A particular entry can easily bounce around from Tumblr to Tumblr as users reblog it. Sacha Lecca, a Rolling Stone photo editor who maintains his own Tumblr, recently posted photographs he took on the set of amusic video shoot for The Strokes. The images were picked up by Tumblr blogs set up by Strokes fans, and from there his post “blew up,” he says, and was widely reblogged.

With Tumblr, he says, he is “embracing what has changed about photography. . . . The trade-off [of relinquishing control] is that it allows people who wouldn’t normally see my work to see it, and that’s all that’s really important to me. It may not be necessarily how I want my work to be seen, but at least they’re seeing it and appreciating it for some reason.” One of Pfluger’s images has more than 2,000 reblogs and comments.

These are critical questions for artists in the digital age, but their also critical for student and faculty users of the OpenLab, especially when we post our work, presentations, powerpoints, etc, in a public setting.  And don’t forget to check out Dr. Chang’s student comments!

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This Week’s Tutorial:  Google Maps Plug-in

View larger map

Our Google Maps plug-in allows users to embed google maps into posts and pages.   If you’ve used wordpress in other settings before (wordpress.com, for example), you’ll want to look through this tutorial because the embedding process might be a little different than you’re used to.  A little different, but very simple.  You can learn more and see the tutorial here.  And as always, contact us with any questions!

## Google Maps

PLEASE NOTE:  CUSTOM GOOGLE MAPS WERE RECENTLY CHANGED AND CANNOT BE EMBEDDED USING THE TUTORIAL BELOW.  WORDPRESS IS WORKING ON THE PROBLEM AND WE’LL UPDATE THE TUTORIAL AS SOON AS THEY DO.  STANDARD, UNCUSTOMIZED GOOGLE MAPS CAN STILL BE EMBEDDED.

Our Google Maps plug-in allows users to embed google maps into posts and pages.   If you’ve used wordpress in other settings before (wordpress.com, for example), you’ll want to look through this tutorial because the embedding process might be a little different than you’re used to.  A little different, but very simple.

To use it, first activate the plug-in on your plug-ins page.  Once you do, you’ll see a new icon appear in your posts or pages toolbar.

Once you’ve created a google map, click the small link icon at the upper right of your map, and then copy the URL from the dialogue box that appears.  Note: you shouldn’t copy the iframe code in the lower box, even though it says to copy that to ’embed’ in a webstie.  Copy the code in the upper field.

Click on that icon we pointed out above, and copy the code into the dialogue box that appears–note that here you change the size of the map as well.

Hit ‘okay,’ and then publish the post, and your map will appear!  As always, contact us with any questions.

## This Week in Openlab! March 26th Edition

Image by Steve Velo via Creative Commons.

This week we’d like to start by mentioning that our very own Elizabeth Alsop, OpenLab Community Team Member and all around wonder, has accepted a tenure track position in the great state of Kentucky (doubtless singlehandedly causing Kentucky’s ongoing NCAA tournament success).  We’re terribly sorry to have her leave us, but are also excessively proud of her.   Congratulations, Elizabeth!

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Upcoming Workshops

Just as a reminder, there is an evening OpenLab workshop for students on Wednesday of this week (the 28th).   It will be held at 6pm in 540A in the Library.  Hope to see you there.  Please RSVP to be sure to have a spot.

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Featured Assignment:  The OpenLab Investigates The OpenLab

We very much encourage you to follow the assignment Matt Gold has given his Introduction to Poetry Class.  Not only is it an interesting project in its own right, but you soon might find yourself involved:  Professor Gold’s students will explore other class sites and will leave comments on posts and pages they find interesting.  If you are a student or professor, please write back–we love to see dialogue between courses on the OpenLab, it’s one of the key unique elements of our platform.

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Featured Tutorial:  The Rotating Gallery

The Rotating Gallery is a simple plug in that allows a user to have a (you guessed it!) rotating gallery of images appear in one of the sidebars of their site.  Each time a visitor refreshes or visits a new page, the image will change, giving them an appealing overall sense of the site activity.  Here’s a screenshot of the final result:

You can find a tutorial about the plugin here.  And as always, contact us with any questions!

## Rotating Gallery

The Rotating Gallery is a simple plug in that allows a user to have a (you guessed it!) rotating gallery of images appear in one of the sidebars of their site.  Each time a visitor refreshes or visits a new page, the image will change, giving them an appealing overall sense of the site activity.  Here’s a screenshot of the final result:

The set up is easy too!  Follow these steps:

1) First, go to your Plugins page (left hand menu of your dashboard), find the ‘Rotating Post Gallery,’ and click ‘activate.’

2) Once activated, ‘Gallery Post’ will appear in the left hand menu, click there, hit ‘Add Post’ and begin adding images via the media uploader (as you would on any page or post to which you’re adding images).  We do recommend reducing the size of these images, to help them fit the sidebar without distortion.  You can add text (see the arrow below), but there’s not much room in a sidebar, so keep it short!  Once finished, click publish.

3) Now visit your widgets page, which you can find at Appearance>Widgets.  Drag the Rotating Gallery widget to your sidebar, choose a number of images (type ‘all’ if you want all to appear), an image size, and you’re done!

We do recommend changing the image size when uploading the images, because the plugin will try to stretch images to fit in the sidebar, sometimes distorting them more than you’d like.  Changing the size in the widget helps this a bit, but choosing ‘thumbnail’ when uploading is even better.

As always, contact us with any questions!

## This Week in Openlab! March 19th Edition

Image by Perfecto Insecto via Creative Commons License

Upcoming Launch!

With the Brooklyn spring here a bit early, consider this your first invitation to the official CityTech OpenLab launch, scheduled for mid-April.  More details to follow, but pencil it in for the 19th of April.  We’ll see you there!

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Floating BubbleHeads
As more and more people and projects join the OpenLab, we’re finding more and more default avatars or, as we like to call them, “floating bubbleheads.”  Thought we’d  take a second to remind everyone that you can personalize your avatar under MyOpenlab>Profile>change avatar.
From there you can upload a personalized image that not only represent “you” all over the OpenLab, you’ll be making the OpenLab the dynamic, colorful, exciting place we all know it can be.

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This Week’s Tutorial

Many of our professors use the ‘comments’ function on course sites to have students respond either to one another’s work or to a prompt, as in the example from Professor Rosen’s above.

And comments are not just useful for professors–encouraging comments from users is one of the main ways for a site to interact with the public, particularly the larger public outside CityTech.  But until recently, users couldn’t edit their comments if, say, they rethought what they had said, had something additional to add, or even just misspelled something.

To deal with that, we’ve installed a new plug-in called “Ajax Edit Comments.”  This plug-in allows for comments to be edited by users for a set length of time (the administrator of the site can set that time-length), and it also has a spell check feature.

Unlike most plug-ins, which usually have a specific audience, we really recommend that all OpenLab users activate this one.  There’s a tutorial on it here, and as always, contact us with any quesitons!

## Ajax WP Edit Comments

Many of our professors use the ‘comments’ function on course sites to have students respond either to one another’s work or to a prompt, as in the example from Professor Rosen’s above.

And comments are not just useful for professors–encouraging comments from users is one of the main ways for a site to interact with the public, particularly the larger public outside CityTech.  But until recently, users couldn’t edit their comments if, say, they rethought what they had said, had something additional to add, or even just misspelled something.

To deal with that, we’ve installed a new plug-in called “Ajax Edit Comments.”  This plug-in allows for comments to be edited by users for a set length of time (the administrator of the site can set that time-length), and it also has a spell check feature.  Unlike most plug-ins, which usually have a specific audience, we really recommend that all OpenLab users activate this one.

Once you’ve activated the plug-in users who post will see–depending on how long the administrator sets it for–an editing interface.  Clicking there will allow users to edit the message, the username, etc.  And they also will see a button which will allow them to request deletion:

All of these options, can be changed by the administrator, and you can do that on the plug-ins page, under settings.  DO REMEMBER THAT IT’S HERE, as the plug-ins page is not the most common place to find the settings interface:

Here you can change the length of time that users can edit, etc.

In addition, the administrator can edit all comments, and will find a more robust set of editing options on the dashboard.

Including an editing interface:

And even a way to adjust comment times, etc:

There’s more information on how to use the plug-in in the video below.  And as always, contact us with any questions!

http://youtu.be/JZyudPKg44g

## This Week in OpenLab! March 12th Edition

MORE THAN 2000 USERS!

We here at the OpenLab promised ourselves we wouldn’t brag every week anymore about how quickly our community is growing, but we need this week to take a second to celebrate our latest milestone:  As of this writing, there are 2,094 active members of the OpenLab!  We couldn’t be prouder of the way the CityTech Community has so quickly coalesced behind the OpenLab, and we look forward to meeting our next thousand members, and the thousand after that, and the thousand after that…

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UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

As we mentioned a week or so ago, there are a full slate of OpenLab workshops scheduled for the rest of this term.  There are workshops for faculty and for students, and the workshops address a variety of subjects, from getting started to more advanced issues.  Check out the posters around the campus and just above for more information, and contact us to sign-up.

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WEEKLY TUTORIAL:  CONTACT FORM 7

Contact Form 7 is way of allowing visitors and users to contact you that is simple yet flexible (in wordpress that usually means there’s a simple set-up for people who want simple, and complexity for people who want complexity).  On the OpenLab, this plug-in is probably most useful to clubs and projects, particularly those who have visitors from outside the CityTech OpenLab community.  Here’s a screenshot of the final result:

If you like what you see here, more information and a tutorial can be found here.  And as always, contact us with any questions!

## Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is way of allowing visitors and users to contact you that is simple yet flexible (in wordpress that usually means there’s a simple set-up for people who want simple, and complexity for people who want complexity).  On the OpenLab, this plug-in is probably most useful to clubs and projects, particularly those who have visitors from outside the CityTech OpenLab community.  Here’s a screenshot of the final result:

Below is a nice video with clear explanaition that shows how to use the plugin. Remember (as with many of the video tutorials you’ll find on The Open Road) the Contact Form 7 plugin is already installed on your site.  That means you only need to go to the ‘plugins’ (left hand column of your dashboard) and ‘activate’ it.  That also means you can skip any information in the tutorial about installation.  In this video, that means you can watch the first 30 seconds or so, and then skip to 2:33.  And most of the basic setup info ends about 2 minutes after that.

Hope you like it.  And here you can find support forums, an FAQ, etc.  And as always, contact us with any questions!

## This Week in Openlab! March 6th Edition

We’re a little late this week, since we spent the weekend at the AWP conference in Chicago, which was wonderful and which had us thinking (again) about teaching and writing and technology, particularly creative writing, but really any writing, and then…

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Announcing the Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy!

Speaking of teaching and digital platforms, the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program at the Graduate Center has released the first issue of JiTP, its new online journal.  It’s just grand:  a nice blend between the theoretical and the practical.  If you’re looking for ways to think about teaching with digital platforms, or just looking for good ideas for classes, it’s something to watch.  It’s particularly great to see the section ‘Teaching Fails.’  A great title and great concept.  This issue, Bill Kules writes about a particularly ineffective assignment, and what can be learned from it… and our own Charlie Edwards and Matt Gold are involved!

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This Week’s Tutorial

This week, we’re featuring WP Polls, a site that allows a course, club or project to ask a question or questions of members or students.  The poll have as many answers as you like, can appear in a sidebar, post or page.  The tutorial is here.  And as always, email us if you have any questions!