In the Spotlight: Accessibility on the OpenLab

Image Source: Bruno Cordioli

This week we’re spotlighting a post that lays out what you can do to improve accessibility on your OpenLab sites composed by the OpenLab’s Senior Instructional Technologist, Bree Zuckerman. Specifically, Bree’s post explains how to make sure documents, images, video, animation and links are accessible to all visitors, and how to present your content in a way that is legible to those with a range of disabilities. Bonus: These changes also generally improve the usability of your site for all users!

It is possible that you won’t have to change too much — for example, many users already use headings, or insert links into descriptive phrases (like the hyperlinked text, “a post”, above) rather than vague ones like “‘click here’.”

In addition, the OpenLab has activated a network-wide plugin, WP Accessibility Plugin, that builds features into the design of the OpenLab which support accessible-practices when creating on the OpenLab.

Just as it is important to be mindful of accessibility when planning and constructing physical infrastructure such as buildings and sidewalks, it is critical that we are mindful of accessible design when creating on the OpenLab and in other digital spaces. Making our sites on the OpenLab accessible means that people with disabilities can, ideally, better perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the various features of our sites. This may include navigating through a page or a menu, reading a PDF, or “viewing” an image or video. There are some specific ways OpenLab members can address issues of accessibility and ensure that all visitors to their sites are able to access the sites’ material equally.

In implementing these practices on your current and future OpenLab sites, you’re also ensuring that the OpenLab stays true to its foundational goal of creating and sustaining an open digital space where all City Tech students, faculty, staff, and alumni can work together, experiment, and innovate, ultimately enriching the intellectual and social life of our college community.

Related Upcoming Events & Workshops

In supporting OpenLab members in the thinking-and-doing of accessibility, the Community Team will host an Open Pedagogy Event focused on this topic, and a related hands-on workshop.

Open Pedagogy Event (THIS WEEK): Accessibility on the OpenLab
Thursday 2/22 5:30pm – 7:00pm in the Faculty Commons (N227) RSVP
This event continues the conversation about how designing the college experience with accessibility in mind benefits our communities. We’ll engage each other about how standards and accommodations vary across the disciplines. Our discussion will focus on universal design and how it can be incorporated into our pedagogy, mentorship, and administrative work on campus and beyond.

Workshop: Accessibility-a-thon!
Thursday 3/8 1:30pm – 3:30pm, Room TBA
RSVP (Coming Soon)
This workshop offers OpenLab users an opportunity to get in-person support with improving the accessibility and usability of their sites. The OpenLab Community Team invites members of City Tech to drop-in anytime and stay as long as you’d like (up to 2 hours).

In addition to these events, OpenLab members are always welcome to bring questions of accessible/universal design to our office hours or to contact us at openlab@citytech.cuny.edu.

A word map highlighting the different aspects of universal design.

Image Source: Giulia Forsythe

In the Spotlight: Request a Workshop!

Tools on a blue wall in a workshop.

Image Source: pixabay.com

This week we’re spotlighting a renewed form of support – customized workshops for faculty, staff, or students in your departments, offices, and other stakeholder groups at City Tech. In contrast to the general offerings we’ve done in the past, these targeted workshops will be designed specifically for your group. In designing your workshop, the OpenLab Community Team will work directly with you to ensure your group’s needs are met. Please note that workshops are accepted on a rolling basis, so get your requests in early if you want to have the workshop this semester.

Request a workshop today by completing the form on this page. 

In the Spotlight: Welcome back & OpenLab Support Opportunities

Happy New Year and welcome back! As you all are sinking back into your semesterly routines, we want to take a moment to highlight the different ways we’re here to support and engage you this semester.

Spring 2018 Office Hours

Meet with a member of the OpenLab Community Team for face-to- face support.

Tuesdays, 1:00 – 3:00 pm: 2/13, 3/13, 4/17, 5/1
Wednesdays, 10:00 – 12:00 pm: 2/7, 3/7, 3/28, 4/25
Fridays, 12:00 – 2:00 pm: 2/2, 3/2, 3/23, 4/20

Office hours are held in the conference room of the Faculty Commons, N227.

Support Documentation

We have help(ful) documentation on the OpenLab that offers step-by-step guides for everything from getting started, to thinking about specific plugins that build out the functionality of your sites and portfolios.

Email

We are available to support you via email: openlab@citytech.cuny.edu.

Join Our In-House Sites

We encourage you to become members of our in-house sites (you can do so by visiting the profiles of each site). These sites will keep you up-to-date with all things ‘OpenLab’ and offer opportunities for deeper investment with City Tech’s community.

  • Learn more about the OpenLab, including workshops, events, community, and support opportunities on The Open Road. (Profile)
  • Follow our student bloggers, who chronicle various aspects of their lives at City Tech and beyond, on The Buzz. (Profile)
  • Share and discuss resources about open digital pedagogy with other City Tech and CUNY-wide staff and faculty on Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab. (Profile)

Spring 2018 Open Pedagogy Events – Faculty and Staff

As in semesters past, we will have two Open Pedagogy events in Spring 2018. The dates are set for Thursday February 22 and Thursday March 22 – from 5:30pm to 7:00pm in the Faculty Commons (N227). Learn more here.

We hope to see you around soon! Wishing you all a happy semester!

In the Spotlight: OER Fellowship

City Tech OER Fellowship Logo

This week we’re spotlighting the OER Fellowship project site on the OpenLab. Beginning in 2015, City Tech’s OER Fellowship supports full-time faculty in creating open educational resources (OERs) – or educational websites comprised of open-source and publically available materials that will consolidate and/or replace their course texts. While an important draw of OERs is the cut in textbook costs to students, during our Open Pedagogy event on this topic last year, Professors and 2016 OER Fellows Sue Brandt and Ari Maller also discussed the greater degree of flexibility in and customizability of content that OERs provide. Relatedly, Professor Brandt discussed the ability to keep course content up-to-date even if only by adding current examples, while Professor Maller enjoyed the ease of assigning texts of various mediums (i.e. videos, images).  

Information about the Fellowship, including participant requirements & guidelines and links to the OERs generated by past fellows, can be found on City Tech’s Ursula C. Sherwin Library website. This information and more – including the Seminar Syllabus, additional resources, and a forum that simultaneously documents the work of past cohorts and identifies some important conversations and considerations related to OERs – is available on the OpenLab site.

Further questions about the fellowship? Contact OER Librarian, Professor Cailean Cooney at ccooney@citytech.cuny.edu.

Further questions about OERs and their possibilities? Read the recap from our Open Pedagogy Event on OERs from last Fall (2016), the recap from our recent Open Pedagogy Event on Copyright and Attribution in Open Digital Pedagogy, and/or join us for our next Open Pedagogy event on Annotating Text on the OpenLab Thursday October 26th at 5:30pm in the Faculty Commons (N227). This is a follow-up to a well-received Spring event, “Annotating Texts in Open Digital Pedagogy”, and related to Librarian Monica Berger’s post, ‘Hypothes.is for OERs’ on the OER Fellowship OL site.

In the Spotlight: Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab

Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab Logo

In conjunction with our first Open Pedagogy Event of the semester, this week we’re spotlighting 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. This site is a good place to find ideas for digital pedagogy assignments, access information on best practices and tips for open digital pedagogy, and engage other faculty about how teaching on the OpenLab changes their curriculum and classroom environments and relations.

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 (9/28) we’re hosting our first Open Pedagogy event of the semester, Best Practices for Copyright and Attribution. The event will be held in the Faculty Commons (N227) from 5:30-7:00pm. 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 these best practices 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.

In conclusion, we encourage to join the site, and follow along and participate in the conversation!

In the Spotlight: Welcome back!

OpenLab's The Open Road LogoGreetings City Tech community, and for those of you on break during the summer months, welcome back! We missed you over the summer! As you get back into the swing of things, make sure to join the Open Road and check out what we have planned for you all this semester. As you may know, the Open Road is our one-stop-shop for everything ‘OpenLab’. Here you can find out when/where our workshop for students and workshops for faculty* are (see Calendar also), when our office hours are, and any additional news and updates we have for you. For example, our latest news post informs you of all the updates we’ve made to the OpenLab over the summer.

Also, check out ‘People’s Choice’, a new-ish feature on the Open Road where OpenLab members can recommend sites to be featured on ‘In the Spotlight’. Recommend a site today!

We also encourage you to check out our student blogging team, The Buzz!

As always, the OpenLab Community Team is here for you. Contact us online or at OpenLab@citytech.cuny.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

*This semester we have two new workshops for faculty – one focusing on copyright and attribution, and another focusing on annotation, both of which are tied to our Open Pedagogy events happening this semester. Join Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab for more on these events.

In the Spotlight: The Buzz is Hiring!

The Buzz is hiring for the upcoming academic year, and we’re seeking motivated, creative students to join our team! The Buzz is an OpenLab student project where students blog about themselves and topics of their choice (e.g., architecture in NYC, food, motherhood, academic discovery, the immigrant experience, and “Humans of City Tech”).

Why Join the OpenLab Student Blogging Team?

  • Publish your work on the OpenLab and develop a public portfolio of professional writing
  • Gain real-world blogging experience, build your resume, and get paid $500 per semester
  • Learn best practices for developing an online presence, personal brand, and using social media

Please help us to spread the word to any eligible students at City Tech. Applications are due Tuesday, May 16, 2016 by 5pm.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

Faculty and staff, we welcome (and encourage!) your recommendations of strong candidates. If there is a student (or students) you would like to recommend for the position, please email Professor Jill Belli, Co-Director of the OpenLab, at jbelli@citytech.cuny.edu and cc the OpenLab (openlab@citytech.cuny.edu).

Download (PDF, 101KB)

In the Spotlight: The Open Road

colored pencils arranged in a circle with 'back to school' in the middle

Image source: George Hodan

Hello all, happy new year, and welcome back (nearly)! It’s that time of the year again when professors are scrambling to finish composing their classes, finalize assignments and get their course sites up and running on the OpenLab. With this in mind, this week we’d like to, once again, bring your attention to the Open Road, your one-stop-shop for ‘all things OpenLab’. The site houses information about our monthly updates, office hours, detailed information about our upcoming workshops and our weekly blog series, ‘In the Spotlight’.

Here at the OpenLab we are committed to helping you start the semester off right. With this in mind, we are offering numerous workshops in the next couple of weeks. We have workshops for everyone from first- or second-time to more advanced users (our ‘Open Hours’ are most appropriate for the latter) and remember, newly-attending part-time faculty receive a stipend. RSVP today (January / Spring 2017) !

‘In the Spotlight’ is another resource on the Open Road that may be helpful in making sure you are prepared this Spring. ‘In the Spotlight’ is a weekly blog that highlights best practices in site-making and course design here on the OpenLab. Thus, the archive – being full of analytic course reviews – is an important resource for thinking about how your site or course might be structured or what kinds of assignments might be possible when hosted on the OpenLab. In case you didn’t know, ‘In the Spotlight’ also has a participatory feature, ‘People’s Choice’, wherein you have the opportunity to recommend sites to be featured in the weekly series. Check it out and make a recommendation!

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you more closely this semester!

In the Spotlight: Introducing “People’s Choice”

picture1

Image Credit: Geralt

“In the Spotlight,” housed on the Open Road, is a blog series that aims to showcase all the amazing work our students, faculty and staff are doing by featuring a different course, project, club or ePortfolio each week. Specifically, we highlight the unique ways users are designing their sites to meet their teaching, learning, professional, and/or extracurricular needs. Taken together, this collection of sites is a testament to the expansiveness of the OpenLab community and the diverse ways members are using the platform.

In addition to continuing this tradition this semester, we’re also introducing a new feature called “People’s Choice.” People’s Choice calls on all users and visitors of the OpenLab to recommend sites they feel are particularly successful and exemplify the excellence we promote here, “In the Spotlight,” on the Openlab. So start exploring all of the amazing sites on the OpenLab, and use this form to let us know what you like and why!

We look forward to hearing from you soon about which sites are your favorites!

In the Spotlight: The OpenLab is Growing!

This week we, the OpenLab team, are proud to announce OpenLab is now home to over 19,000 members! Thank you for joining us!

Given our growing community, we’d like to take a minute to remind you of all of the services available to you:

  •      We offer skill-building workshops tailored to the needs of faculty/staff and students to help you improve the quality and functionality of your sites.
  •      We have office hours where you can ask questions and get one-on-one assistance.
  •      We offer support via email 7 days a week – Openlab@citytech.cuny.edu
  •      We have a student blogging team who populate The Buzz with stories from their everyday lives, their experiences at City Tech, and advice.

Join the Open Road today for up-to-date news about the OpenLab and information about our workshops and events. Also visit “In the Spotlight”  Here, we showcase the excellence and innovation of particularly well-done sites, which may spark ideas for other users about their own sites. We may even feature your site! This fall we are introducing a new feature, “People’s Choice”, offering an opportunity for members to recommend sites for recognitions — Stay tuned for more details!

We look forward to working with you,
The OpenLab Team