In the Spotlight: OpenLab Updates

Hubble Goes to the eXtreme to Assemble Farthest-Ever View of the Universe
“Hubble Goes to the eXtreme to Assemble Farthest-Ever View of the Universe” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Now that the semester is well underway, you might be open to looking at what’s new on the OpenLab. The most recent set of updates to the OpenLab included some great new features and opportunities. If you haven’t already, you might want to read the This Month in the OpenLab post from the end of August to learn about what’s new, different, or otherwise helpful. You can always find This Month in the OpenLab posts in the category OpenLab News.

OpenLab updates address community needs. They include keeping up to date on software updates, making fixes and adjustments to things that need to work better, and new ideas–big and small–that can make new things possible.

The August installment of This Month in the OpenLab announced features and functionality including new templates for sites, options to give members greater ability to customize sites and profiles, improvements to discussion forums and site commenting, and of course new plugins– which are tools that add functionality to your site. Look for the spotlight to shine on some of these important updates soon!

As always, if you have ideas for improvements, you’re welcome to share either by emailing or by using the contact form.

In the Spotlight: Connect Day

Clear circular connectors on dark cables against a blue sky background
Connectors” by Michael Coghlan via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Connect Day, the departmental new student orientation, will take place this Thursday, August 31st during Club Hours from 12:45-2:00pm. During this welcome event, students will meet faculty members from their department and student leaders who will share important information and strategies for success with participating new students beginning their educational journey at City Tech. There are also some fun activities and prizes planned for the event!

All first-time, first year, re-entry and transfer students are welcome to attend. Students who have not chosen a major yet can attend the session for Undeclared majors.

A comprehensive listing of all Connect Day locations and information can be found on the Connect Day Student Resource Center on the OpenLab. This site organizes the departments’ information according to which of the three schools they are in: Arts and Sciences, Professional Studies, and Technology and Design. 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. 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 Connect Day on Thursday, 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.

Happy connecting!

In the Spotlight: Fall 2023 Welcome!

Brooklyn, NY” by Steven Pisano on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Welcome to a new academic year! 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 summer, 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 August 2023 edition of This Month on the OpenLab. The option to have different course templates is a great innovation that will make it easier for instructors to build a course site tailored to the course’s needs.

As the Fall 2023 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! 
  • Co-working sessions: for quiet working time with others, with the option to move to a breakout room for conversation or questions.

There are also great asynchronous options for support:

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

In the Spotlight: Pre-semester Prep

close-up of purple allium flower with a bee
Allium and Honey Bee, Greys Court” by s9-4pr via Flickr CC BY 2.0

As you get busy preparing for the upcoming semester, 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, 8/21/23

  • Getting Started on the OpenLab (express): 1:00-1:30pm
  • Creating a Course Site: 1:30-2:30pm
  • Fostering an Interactive Course Site 2:30-3:30pm

Thursday, 8/24

  • Getting Started on the OpenLab (express): 10:00-10:30am
  • Creating a Course Site: 10:30-11:30am
  • Fostering an Interactive Course Site 11:30am-12:30pm

Follow the 5-part Summer Series

In each of the five installments of this asynchronous Summer Series, the OpenLab team suggests tasks to guide you from creating an account through joining the community to creating courses. No worries if you didn’t start last month–follow along with the installments at your own pace and at your own start date.

Co-work with us

Last semester, 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. Join OpenLab team members on Friday, 8/18/23 at 12:30-1:30pm to start working 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 or via our contact form.

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

In the Spotlight: Spring Eggventure!

COMD Spring Eggventure, Spring 2023

Spring is in full bloom, and there is still time to have fun finding eggs with the COMD Spring Eggventure! The COMD Futures Collaboratory, a Communication Design Department site for student and faculty research collaboration, recently shared an updates about their partnership with Membit Inc, to offer everyone at City Tech a fun break from the hectic end of the semester by setting aside some time to look for these eggs at CityTech. It’s an augmented reality experience geolocated on the first floor of the Pearl Hallway at City Tech. When you are on Campus, stop by the Pearl Hallway to catch some or all of the 10 eggs!

To learn more about the Spring Eggventure, and to download the Membit app you’ll need to find the 10 eggs, visit the COMD Futures Collaboratory site.

Want to share the video with others? Remember that you can always embed a YouTube video in a post or page by using a YouTube block. The easiest way to do that is to type /y in a block and choose YouTube from the options that pop up. Add the link and it will appear as a watchable video in your post or page!

In the Spotlight: Building an ePortfolio

Draft and Finished Postcards, by Adrika Hoque

As students get started showing their work–for further studies or when applying for jobs–an ePortfolio is a great way to get started demonstrating their experience!

This spotlight brings an example of a sophomore student portfolio to show how students can take advantage of class assignments to start building their own portfolios to highlight relevant job skills. Even classes and topics that are not the student’s main interest will give variety to one’s curriculum and contribute to show experience with different tools and approaches.

Adrika Hoque’s ePortfolio also gives some nice examples on how blog posts can be a great format for image analysis, as it lets the author pick their preferred balance between text and images. Even though social media platforms such as Instagram are great in their reach, posts on an ePortfolio allow for a better balance of image and text, allowing for a deeper examination and comparison. 

A good example of the potential is the Visual Quote Project post (created in her first year at City Tech) in which Adrika shows her work with different concept drafts and explains each of them. In the end, after the reader is acquainted with the logic behind each, she puts them all side-by-side so we can compare and better appreciate each of the images.

Students working on getting an ePortfolio started can browse through all the great ePortfolio examples from their classmates. As you find other ePortfolios you’d like us to spotlight,  let us know!

In the Spotlight: Literary Arts Festival

Poster with rainbow heart and LGBTQIA+ flag 
City Tech's 42nd annual
Literary Arts Festival
Free & Open To The Public
Featuring Akwaeke Emezi [includes photo]
and City Tech Students
For more info: Megan Behrent
Thursday April 27
The Theater at City Tech
285 Jay Street
Sponsored by: Coordinated Undergraduate Education (CUE), New York City College of Technology
This event is made possible through the generous support of LaGuardia Community College and the New York City Council LGBT and Queer Caucus
LAF 2023 poster

We’re shining the spotlight on this week’s Literary Arts Festival. This Thursday, April 27th, come listen to and celebrate City Tech students whose writing won awards in the LAF writing competition. And don’t miss this year’s featured speaker!

This year’s event features acclaimed multidisciplinary artist, writer, and a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree Akwaeke Emezi, author of Freshwater and the bestsellers You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty and The Death of Vivek Oji.

Not yet familiar with Emezi’s work? The Literary Arts Festival site on the OpenLab includes some great resources for getting to know Emezi and their work. Check out the LAF 2023 Featured Writer: Akwaeke Emezi page, and scroll through the posts highlighting their work. These posts include links to Emezi’s website and featured content, as well as embedded videos of interviews and readings with Emezi.

You can see in the featured post on the LAF site that there is a link to register for the event, along with all the information you need to attend the 2023 City Tech Literary Arts Festival: on Thursday, April 27, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at the Academic Complex Theater, 285 Jay Street.

In the Spotlight: Coworking

Pollination Hypnosis” by Wayne S. Grazio via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Do you work better when there’s someone else working nearby? Do you seek out spaces like libraries or coffee shops to get work done? You might be interested in coworking !

This idea of coworking and the related idea of body doubling, in which people find better focus or persistence when they have a friend or colleague working in the same in-person or online space, can be effective methods for productivity.

The Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab project is hosting a coworking session this week: Tuesday, April 18, from 1:30-3:30. This is a virtual coworking opportunity, hosted on Zoom. Join at any time from 1:30-3:30, with whatever work you want to accomplish. Check out the Coworking invitation post for more information.

Have other ideas for increased productivity, accountability, and getting through your to-do list? Share them here in the comments!

In the Spotlight: Recommend a Spotlight

In the spotlight” Michalis T. by via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

The OpenLab Team loves spotlighting all the great work happening on the OpenLab–and you can, too!

If there’s something that stands out to you while you’re working on the OpenLab and you want others to see it, too, you can recommend a site by sharing that info with the OpenLab Team. That way, the spotlight can shine a little wider on more of the things you’re doing, using, building, reading, etc.

When you follow that link, you’ll fill out a form for “People’s Choice”–you’ll share the link and a short explanation of what you’re recommending.

Another good way to show how much you shine!

In the Spotlight: PLAN Week 2023

phases of a solar eclipse over a beach
Sunset Beach Eclipse May 20th 2012” by jimnista via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Let’s shine some light on PLAN week, which is now! From March 9 to March 15, students can take advantage of resources and meet with advisors and peer mentors to plan their next steps at City Tech. The PLAN Week page on the OpenLab 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 Beats headphones!

For more information on each day, there’s more information on both the OpenLab site as well as on the City Tech website–having this info in both places is a great way to find the information whether you’re on the OpenLab or the City Tech website!

Make sure to check out the site, and happy PLANning!