In the Spotlight: Story-telling in Interactive Fiction, FYLC

This week we’re shining the spotlight on Story-telling in Interactive Fiction, a first year learning community (FYLC) organized by Professor Jackie Blain who teaches English, and Professor Candido Cabo and Professor Ashwin Satyanarayana who teach Computer Science courses. The three courses in this community will support students in creating an interactive fiction game over the course of the semester.

Storytelling is one critical and tricky aspect of an interactive fiction game, and is the main focus in the English class of this FYLC. In interactive fiction games, storytelling is more complex than in a novel because the ‘interactive’ component of ‘interactive fiction’ means those ‘reading’ the story get to participate and make certain decisions about how the characters’ stories unfold. Thus the storyteller – here, the students – needs to create multiple scenarios and options that allow readers to forge their own path. This process can seem intimidating, particularly if one is an inexperienced storyteller. Seeming to anticipate this, Professor Blain has scaffolded the writing assignments so that students begin developing their storytelling skills by telling the stories they know best – those about themselves!

Storytelling is not the only challenging aspect of this FYLC. Students will also need to develop the technical skills that will be needed to actually create the game. In the computer science courses students will discuss programming and games, Game Design Documents and learn how to use Python, a programming language, to create a video game based on the story developed in their English course.

We encourage you to check some of the stories students are now sharing through various assignments, such as the About College project where students will reflect on their first weeks at CityTech, and to check back at the end of the semester to see what kinds of games students have come up with, and if possible, play a few of them!

In the Spotlight: Recent Nucleus Issue ‘Spotlights’ OpenLab

This week we’re spotlighting the recent issue of the Nucleus (Winter, 2017), our Faculty Commons Quarterly. This season’s issue features pieces from faculty about the creative ways they’ve used the OpenLab in the context of their courses and/or research. Specifically, faculty discuss engaging students through creative and interactive assignments that incorporate multiple forms of media and dialogue, how the open and archival aspects of the OpenLab enable past students to share tips and strategies with newer students despite never meeting in person, how course sites can act as nodes in larger networks of resources that may benefit students academically, professionally, or otherwise, how to carry out collaborative student-faculty research projects, and how other innovative learning resources such as OERs and WeBWorks enrich students learning AND can help keep educational costs down for students. We hope you enjoy!

A hearty thank you to the Faculty Commons for their enthusiasm and support with this issue and always.

In the Spotlight: Energy and Environmental Simulation Laboratory

This week we’re spotlighting City Tech’s Energy and Environmental Simulation Laboratory (EESL). EESL is a research group organized by Professor Masato R. Nakamura in the Mechanical Engineering Department at City Tech. Though a research group, this group is open to anyone interested in conducting research on energy, environmental engineering and computing for sustainability. We’re spotlighting EESL’s site this week because of their clear presentation of content. EESL’s site is very easy to follow. Their site cleanly houses information on the group’s goals, work, activities and membership. Each page is organized around images, information, and links that can connect readers to more information. In addition to being easy to follow on its own, the consistency in style across pages helps the reader navigate the site more efficiently, feeling familiar on each page before taking in the content. The significance of this style of site presentation is that it is easily translatable in professional environments. In this way it offers Professor Nakamura and his colleagues a place to send other scholars and researchers if they are interested in learning more about their work. Additionally, it provides students with documentation archived chronologically overtime that speaks to – and shows – the work they’ve completed for the group. In sum, EESL is an example of site that has a strong public, professional face that can be interfaced with by an array of others – who might find the work interesting, might consider joining the group, might be assessing one of the member’s skills in relation to another position. In this way, it is an example that speaks to the reach of what OpenLab can offer its users, beyond their experiences here at City Tech.

In the Spotlight: RoboQuín

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-9-21-22-amThis week we’re spotlighting CityTech’s own “Roboqn”. In addition to being a seemingly futuristic mannequin robot fashion model that can interact with people via Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity, Roboqn is also a larger multidisciplinary project composed around the construction and showcasing of the mannequin robot (hereafter the robot will be referred to as RoboQueen and the project will be referred to as Roboquín). Though supervised by Professor Farrukh Zia of the Computer Engineering Technology department, this project is comprised of professors and students from a range of departments including Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, and Computer Science Technology. In this way, Roboqn is an excellent example of how OpenLab can facilitate cross-disciplinary communication and workflow.

In addition to a description of the project and its members, the group uses their site for two purposes. First, they use the site to showcase ‘the travels’ of RoboQueen – from the 2016 World Marker Faire in Queens to CityTech’s own Annual Open House – and the visitors it has dazzled.

Second, Roboqn’s project site hosts images and information detailing the construction of RoboQueen, and includes links to resources that could be used by another team in the construction of their own ‘RoboQueen’. Beyond the potential for visitors of Roboqn’s site to replicate the designs, this information is emblematic of the kind of transparency OpenLab affords its users.  

Together, these two qualities allude to another important affordance embedded in OpenLab’s infrastructure – the ability to archive information in a centralized, organized and chronological way. Beyond sharing information, archiving is a critical process in project development as it allows one to see where a project has been and envision where it might go in the future. 

In the Spotlight: COMD 2313 — Illustration 1

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-46-05-pmThis week we’re highlighting Professor Sara Woolley Gómez’s course, COMD 2313: Illustration 1. Similar to other course sites, Professor Woolley Gómez has basic course information on it (syllabus and course policies). However, based on the other features on her course site, Woolley Gómez seems more inclined to use the site as a place for introducing additional features of the course and sharing student work. “Sketchbook” is such a feature that falls at the intersection of these two ambitions. Sketchbook is a place where students can upload photo essays documenting their process of creation with a particular assignment, activity or concept. In some cases these are supplemented with text-based descriptions that provide further insight into the process. In this way, Sketchbook is a good example of a digital assignment that structures space for meta-cognitive learning practices and growth. Moreover, these are shared publicly with the class and beyond, creating a space for students to think critically about public presentation and audience, and to engage peers in a discussion about learning practices and process. In addition, Woolley Gómez populates student assignment submissions under corresponding labels, creating an opportunity for students to review or engage with other student’s assignments. Lastly, there is a more general discussion page for sharing articles, illustrations and other art that may be of interest to peers. Visit Professor Sara Woolley Gómez’s course page for more!

In the Spotlight: HMGT1102 – Intro to Hospitality Management

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In Prof. Michael Krondl’s section of HMGT 1102 – Introduction to Hospitality Management, students can easily find the course syllabus, assignments, and readings. But most exciting about the site is the space it offers for students to blog about their visits to Smorgasburg and the Chelsea Market, complete with descriptions of the venues and mouth-watering photographs of the food. As a final project, teams of students will further use the OpenLab site to complete a concept of a New York City food truck, including a menu, standardized recipes, and spec sheets for the central ingredient of each menu item. Check out this site for a great example of student reflection, photography, and teamwork on the OpenLab — but not if you’re already hungry.

In the Spotlight: ENG1710 – Introduction to Language and Technology

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In Prof. Lestón’s English class, Introduction to Language and Technology, students not only write responses to course reading, but also develop revision plans and second drafts of their writing on the course site. All this work — including Prof. Lestón’s feedback to each student — is available for the class to see, so that students benefit from observing their peers’ drafting process as well as their own. What’s more, Prof. Lestón has included the project that students in his Fall 2015 course undertook, thereby drawing a link from one semester to the next. And as an added perk, the “Culture Jams” section of the site keeps a “storehouse of viral images” related to the themes of the course, which both he and his students can populate as they come across them throughout the semester. Check out the site to see for yourself!

In the Spotlight: The Buzz

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Welcome back to all all who are returning to City Tech and the OpenLab! With the restart of the semester comes the restart of The Buzz, our student blogging site dedicated to all things City Tech. Our student bloggers write about everything from National Cookie Day to the magic of the universe. They give advice and take magnificent photographs. Get to know our team of top-rate writers and photographers, and stay tuned for posts from our newest members to the team — Samantha, who will blog about her full-time life pursuing her degree while parenting full-time; and Pamela, who will post tips and stories about professional development for her fellow students. Check back in throughout the semester for these posts and more from our amazing team of students on The Buzz!

 

 

In the Spotlight: L4 – Living Lab Learning Library

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Faculty members — Will you be planning spring courses over the winter break? Do you intend to use the OpenLab next semester? Would you like fresh ideas for your pedagogy? If so, check out L4: Living Lab Learning Library! L4 is a resource exchange for innovative teaching practices, where City Tech faculty can interact with each other and a community of educators at large. As the site says, the grant-funded project was designed to re-envision General Education as a “living laboratory” using City Tech’s signature strengths — hands-on experiential models of learning and our vibrant Brooklyn Waterfront location. Brought to you by the Gen Ed Seminar, the OpenLab, a Culture of Assessment, and the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center, the site offers a one-stop shop for teaching and education resources — including tools for research and assessment. Want to learn more? Check out the site or contact L4 Coordinators Profs. Anna Matthews and Laura Westengard.

In the Spotlight: ARTH1112 – Introduction to Film-Hybrid

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In Prof. Sandra Cheng’s ARTH1112 – Introduction to Film-Hybrid, students blog and comment about the films they watch. Check out their thoughts on Pirates of the Caribbean, Reservoir Dogs, and the 1978 version of Superman. For extra credit, they get to visit MoMA or the Museum of the Moving Image. And in case you need any movie recommendations over the holidays, look to the course home page for Prof. Cheng’s comments on the films they’re watching for class.