In the Spotlight: City Tech Super HERO

This week we’re spotlighting the City Tech Super HERO’s OpenLab site. Who is our super hero? Well, she was “born in 1980 as Healthkit Educational Robot (HERO).” As the site goes on to note:

“For the next 15 years she helped countless number of students in colleges and universities across the country learn about Computer and Robotics Technology. Then she went into hibernation. Fast forward to 2017… City Tech Women Engineers Club members have taken the initiative to revive HERO, give her a new life and new features, with the help of modern computer hardware and software technology. Her capabilities will be enhanced with the implementation of Assistive Technology to enable her to help people with disabilities.”

Recently, three City Tech students from the CET department won an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Region 1 Student Research Conference award for this very cool project. Congratulations all! 

The site is worth checking out, both to learn more about City Tech’s Super HERO and to see how OpenLab project sites can help you feature your work and research.  There are a few things about site design to note here:

First, the site makes use of custom header images to showcase the robot. This kind of image catches the reader’s attention: it invites exploration, piques curiosity, and, in its design, parallels well the tech-oriented site content.

Second, the top-level menu is also kept sparse and clear. Separate top-level pages are used for each of the project components: including hardware, software, sensors, devices and applications. This layout is intuitive and makes content easy to find.

Finally, it is worth noting that, as an engineering endeavor, the City Tech Super HERO nicely embodies the “open” and “accessible” spirit of the OpenLab. Not only is the work on the robot being driven by a desire to enhance the HERO’s capacities with Assistive Technology, the engineers reviving the robot have used their site to share their Python code for software testing. They are also building from existing documentation (see e.g. regarding devices), which they link out to every step of the way. The project is public-facing and collaborative and delightful to explore!

Curious about the City Tech Super HERO? Ready to be awed by its powers? Click here to visit the site!

In the Spotlight: The City Tech Literary Arts Festival

This week, we’re spotlighting the City Tech Literary Arts Festival’s OpenLab site. The Literary Arts Festival is “a yearly celebration of literary accomplishments among City Tech’s students, staff, faculty, and community.” The Festival features both a writing competition and a featured writer who is invited to speak.

This year’s invited speaker is José Olivarez, a son of Mexican immigrants whose debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal is a finalist for the 2019 PEN America Literary Award. You can learn more about José Olivarez and find a link out to his personal website by going to the Featured Writer page of this year’s Literary Arts Festival.

But, equally important, City Tech students can and should submit their own work! The deadline for submitting to the writing competing is March 15, 2019 at 11:59 pm.

The submission categories are: poetry fiction, literary criticism, drama, literary advocacy, and non-fiction. This year, submissions are being accepted directly on the OpenLab site. Want to submit your work? Click here to do so. And make sure to check out some winning entries from 2018 for inspiration!

 

In the Spotlight: the City Tech Library’s Copyright Module


This week we’re spotlighting the City Tech Library’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Copyright Module. The module “covers copyright basics, gives an overview of creative commons licenses, and offers some best practices for using copyrighted and library licensed materials.” This site is an invaluable resource for faculty teaching OERs specifically and working in open digital spaces more broadly. Bookmark this site or make sure you to keep the link around! You’ll probably want (ummm, need) to consult the material on here more than once. The legal world of copyright is, well, complicated and instructors who teach online, in the open, have to learn to embrace its idiosyncrasies. Thankfully, this Copyright Module makes information easy to take in.

The clean structure of the site is helpful in knowing what you can expect of the module and where different information is located. A static homepage outlines and links out to the different module sections- which, conveniently, are each separate pages that be can navigated to from the main menu. This kind of repetition makes site content less easy to miss.

In order, the module sections are: copyright & fair use; creative commons licenses; library materials; and best practices. The first section on copyright & fair use keeps what could be very dense information concise and bulleted. It also demonstrates multimodal pedagogy by giving readers an alternative of watching a YouTube video on fair use rather than reading the written content. The creative commons licenses section links out to and describes resources for generating creative commons licenses, as well as searching these licenses to find one appropriate to the work at hand.

More generally, the module repeatedly illustrates how to effectively link out to external resources- that is, by annotating them! Consider how the following information is presented on the site: “Here are some FAQs about Creative Commons and the licenses that they offer.” Anyone reading this sentence will understand where they’ll be taken to when they click the link! These kinds of annotations equip the reader with what they need to know to pick and choose which of the links they should click, and what external resources they should take the time to look at. The module is rich with resources- and with links out to additional, external resources-but everything is presented in such a way that makes it easy to digest.

Finally, the module ends with… an interactive quiz! The Library makes good use of the WP-Pro-Quiz plugin, which allows you to create and embed quizzes directly into OpenLab sites.

The quiz is posted on the last page of the menu and is set up so that each of the eight quiz questions appear successively, one-at-a-time, only after the preceding question has been answered. Curious about the WP-Pro-Quiz plugin? Want to take the quiz yourself and put your knowledge of fair use and copyright to the test? Visit the site and thank the City Tech librarians!

In the Spotlight: Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab

This week, as we prepare for our first Open Pedagogy Event of the semester,

Image Credit: Red Bull Curates by Laine Pub Company

we’d like to draw your attention once again to our in-house site, Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab. This site operates as a forum where OpenLab community members can ask questions and stimulate discussion related to teaching and learning on the OpenLab and in open digital environments more generally. The site is replete with carefully cullied resources you can draw on in your teaching, from examples of digital pedagogy assignments to provocative readings on the value of multimedia pedagogy and public writing to information on best practices and tips for open digital pedagogy.  The site’s blogroll is a great place for online discussion on building a curriculum that integrates the OpenLab; each month, our Pedagogy Profiles blog series highlights a different City Tech faculty member who is using the OpenLab in creative ways.

In conjunction with this site, our OpenLab team hosts Open Pedagogy Events, organized around particular themes and concerns related to teaching in open digital environments and more specifically with teaching on the OpenLab. This Thursday (2/21) we’re hosting our first Open Pedagogy event of the semester, Curating Student Work in ePortfolios. The event will be held in the Faculty Commons (N227) from 4:30-6:00pm. Refreshments will be served (thanks to the Provost’s Office for its generous support of this event!). Visit the event posting for more information and to RSVP! We hope to see you there! We also have a follow-up workshop that will look more closely at how to integrate curation into your use of the OpenLab (RSVP here!). Part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation in the event and/or workshop.

As always, we encourage you to join the site, follow along and participate in the conversation!

In the Spotlight: First Year Learning Community Badges

When enrolling at City Tech, freshmen and transfer students can choose to participate in learning communities. As noted in the First Year Learning Communities (FYLC) OpenLab Site, FYLCs are “two or more courses with the same students enrolled, linked with an interdisciplinary theme, providing an innovative way for students to learn and form bonds with the college.In these courses, students receive support from peer mentors and faculty in navigating college life and approaching academic work. FYLC faculty have used the OpenLab to bolster the FYLC experience, creating course sites to support interdisciplinary learning/ teaching.  However, settling on site architecture that fruitfully connects multiple courses is not always easy. It is quite a different task from creating a discipline-specific,  individual course or project site. A good starting point in designing a FYLC site might be to look at and draw inspiration from previous FYLCs.

Now you might ask:

How can I find past FYLC sites to use as models in my own work?

Good question! As part of a growing “badging” effort to identify different types of courses on the OpenLab, the OpenLab has now has created “FYLC Badges” that indicate when a course  is a FYLC.

Look for these badges to identify FYLC!

These badges are also searchable. From the homepage, click on the magnifying glass in the upper right, and select courses.

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 “First Year Learning Community”. This will pull up any and all FYLC that match the other filters you set.

 

Happy exploration!

 

 

 

In the Spotlight: 28,000 Members and Counting!

Image Credit: Bill Smith

Last semester, the OpenLab hit an impressing milestone, welcoming its 25,000th member at the start of the fall.  This term, the OpenLab reached an even more impressive 28,000 members: we continue our retrospective series here, looking back at how the OpenLab has grown and evolved since its inception in 2011. This growth was made possible by the many City Tech partners and stakeholders who participate in the platform, and push the site in new and exciting directions. A few shout-outs to some of our partners:

  • The OpenLab was created as part of the Title V grant, “A Living Laboratory: Revitalizing General Education for a 21st Century College of Technology.” The Living Lab faculty fellows helped to shape the early days of the OpenLab, and one of its culminating grant projects, the L4 (Living Lab Learning Library) resource exchange site, continues to grow on the OpenLab.

  • Faculty and staff have been building OER course sites on the OpenLab and have an OER Fellowship project site to coordinate their efforts. OER courses are identifiable through an OER badge, which appears on the avatar of the course or project. Courses and projects with an OER badge can also be searched for in course and project directories. You can read more about OER badges in our help section.

  • Students and faculty have been working together on math problems from the open source math homework site, WeBWorK, on the OpenLab WeBWorK site, developed as a part of the Title V grant, “Opening Gateways to Completion: Open Digital Pedagogies for Student Success in STEM.”  The site will be released publicly as a WordPress plugin at the end of the project.

  • The OpenLab has partnered with Commons in a Box, to produce an open platform for teaching and learning that anyone can use. Commons in a Box OpenLab recently launched, and greatly extends the public reach of the work we do here at City Tech.

  • As part of the HSI-STEM Digital Pathways grant, led by the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), in partnership with City Tech and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and to support students enrolled in STEM courses- especially computer science and digital media arts and technology -BMCC will be one of the first institutions to use Commons in a Box OpenLab beginning in Spring 2019.

  • Open Pedagogy events and Office Hours have been generously hosted by the Faculty Commons and the Office of the Provost.
  • The OpenLab has been collaborating with Student Life & Development, on its programming and shared goals of student engagement and the student experience. We’ve run workshops in partnership with them (such as for Presenting Yourself Online and Clubs) Finally, the OpenLab has collaborated with FYLC and STEM Success to support student advancement.

Each new OpenLab initiative and partner has expanded the possibilities of what work can be curated, showcased, collaborated on and discussed on the platform. We’re excited to see much more of this work unfold in the future. There are, of course, many more OpenLab collaborators than could be named in this brief post.  Let’s keep the conversation going-reply to this post in a comment, and briefly describe OpenLab your site/ project (don’t forget to give us the link!). You are building the OpenLab, and we’d love to highlight your work!

Holiday Greetings from the OpenLab!

Image Source: geralt

Greetings from the OpenLab and congratulations to all on the closing of another successful semester!

While our weekly “Spotlight” blog series will go on hiatus until the Spring semester, we wanted to remind you of the sites we featured this past semester and encourage you to check them out if you haven’t already done so.

Courses

Projects

Clubs

Portfolios

We also had a few special posts to make you aware of new developments:

In addition to reviewing these posts from this past semester, you can find a full curated list of all sites that have been spotlighted in our Spotlight Archive. This archive offers visitors 3 curated lists to help them sort through the posts:

  1. For everyone (By type of site – course, project, club, portfolio)
  2. For faculty/staff
  3. For students

As always, we also encourage you to check out our in-house sites:

The OpenLab Community Team will continue to offer email support over the winter session – please contact us with questions or concerns.

We are also beginning to post our spring programming.

January workshops for Faculty/Staff have been posted – view the schedule and RSVP on the Open Road! We will be in touch as we get more events and workshops on our calendar.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!

The OpenLab Community Team

In the Spotlight: Girls Who Code

This week we’re spotlighting the Girls Who Code club. Girls Who Code is a FREE after-school program for 6-12 grade girls and female college freshman. The aims of the club are to empower women by building technical skills, knowledge, and confidence, while also growing community among those with interest in tech. In supporting young women in this way, the club aims to counter stereotypes about who is and can be a programmer, and to help close the gender gap in tech. City Tech’s Girls Who Code club brings this initiative to the City Tech community – bringing together young females who want to explore coding in a fun, friendly, and community-based way. Through joining the club, members are supported in their learning of different coding platforms but also, though the community-building aspect, club leaders help members become confident in everything they do!

Curious to learn more? You can view the curriculum you would work through when you join Girls Who Code. As you’ll notice, the club meets members where they are – beginner, intermediate, and advanced – meaning your curiosity and interest in tech is enough to join this growing group!

Also, one of the faculty facilitators, Professor Ayesha Javed, has begun a “Blog of the Day” blog series that would be of interest to anyone with an interest in tech, and/or an interest in joining the club. Professor Javed covers various topics related to coding and programming, including “5 Reasons Why Learning Coding in Important”, “Why Choose Python as your Programming Language?”, “10 Famous Websites Built with Python” and “The Advantages of using Scratch as your language!”. Moreover, her posts include spotlights on women in tech, including Tarah Wheeler, Ada LoveLace (one of the first computer programmers in the mid 1800s!), and Bissan Al-Lazikani.

Curious still? On their website, you can find a list of their student and faculty leaders, and contact information. Reach out to learn more and get involved!

In the Spotlight: Clubs on the OpenLab

Black and white image of intersecting metal staircases.
Image Source: bogitw

There are many ways the OpenLab can support the diversity of work carried out by the City Tech Community. Hosting a club site on the OpenLab is one way. This year 13 new clubs joined the OpenLab and nearly half of those joined this semester – so this week let’s take a moment to consider how hosting your club site on the OpenLab can support your club’s activities and membership.

Through a workshop with the Club Council in Fall 2017, we learned that many clubs already have an established digital presence. Whether sharing information on Facebook or Twitter, or videos and pictures on Instagram, Club leaders at City Tech have experimented with using different digital platforms to reach out to members and promote the work of the club more broadly. GREAT! Depending on your goals for using these platforms, using mainstream social media accounts may perfectly meet the needs of your club. However, because there are important differences between social media platforms and the OpenLab, and because contrasts better highlight their unique and complementary features, the first three points for discussion compare the OpenLab with social media platforms.

City Tech’s Digital Community

When you publish content on a social media platform, the content is shared with the world, but generally speaking, those who follow your platform receive the content. To the extent that this content is then shared by your followers, it then reaches a broader but indeterminate audience. When you publish content on the OpenLab, it can also be shared with the world (if your privacy settings are set to “public”), but it is also shared with a determinate audience – the 27,000+ members of City Tech’s community who are also members of the OpenLab. When groups like clubs make new posts or comments on their sites, it shows up at the top of the “Clubs” section on the homepage and in the activity feed. We also may choose to “Spotlight” it in our weekly blog series. Each of these mechanisms gives your club greater exposure within the City Tech community – or within the community of people eligible to become members of your club and support, carry-out and grow the already amazing work you are doing.

Content Control

When you post on social media sites, your (club’s) content is copyrighted, but legal rights to use and repurpose your content are also extended to the platforms on which you are posting. This means that Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can reuse and sub-license your content out, and profit off of it, without you being aware or compensated. When you share content on the OpenLab, you retain all rights to that content, and none of your content can be repurposed for someone else’s profit, and all content must be attributed to the original author. You  may also change the licensure on the content you post to meet your specific needs. More information here.

Static vs. Dynamic Content

When representing the work of your club on a digital platform, there is likely static and dynamic content you want to share. Static content is content that doesn’t change too often – maybe its updated each semester or each year. Static content might include the mission of your club, any recurring events you may host or participate in, when and where your meetings are held, who your club leaders are, resources that may be of interest to your members or future members, contact information and more. Dynamic content is content that is timely and current – maybe you have an upcoming event that you want to remind people about or opportunity that you are recruiting participation in. This is content that becomes outdated and no longer relevant to the work of the club.

Social media accounts are great for pushing out new and dynamic content, but often times there is limited space for housing static content, and groups link out to a stand-alone website that houses their static content. This is an approach you may want to consider, especially if your dynamic content is work your club has produced that you want to share with the world. The OpenLab has technical options for housing static and dynamic content. For static content, use pages and add them to your main- or side- menu. For dynamic content, create posts that will auto-populate your blogroll in reverse chronological order (the latest news at the top).

Ultimately which platform(s) your use, and how you may or may not integrate them (using a Facebook page and an OpenLab site, for example) depends on what content you want to share, and who your audience is. It may be that you use the static and dynamic content features of the OpenLab, AND a social media site – which would let you share certain content with the City Tech community specifically, and released more freely out into the world.

A One-Stop-Shop

Beyond housing public-facing static and dynamic content, the OpenLab allows for file sharing, collaborative drafting, discussion, and hosting a shared calendar on its group profile pages. These can be useful for a group’s internal organization, and is moreover useful because the site is easily accessible from this same digital space. This makes your club’s OpenLab account a one-stop-shop for all internal documents and public-facing content. Keeping things centralized and in one location makes it easier to find things, and can make onboarding new group members easier and efficient.

Recertify with Ease

Each year clubs at City Tech need to submit documentation to recertify their clubs, which allows them receive funding and more. As of Fall 2017, clubs are allowed to use their OpenLab sites in this process, making this process simple and easy!

Looking for Examples

If you want to see how other clubs have used the OpenLab to support their activities you can:

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!