In the Spotlight: Recent Nucleus Issue ‘Spotlights’ OpenLab

cover of NucleusThis 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: City Tech Women Engineers Club

logo for Women in Engineering clubThis week we’re spotlighting the City Tech Women’s Engineer Club. This club provides an exciting opportunity for City Tech students to connect and collaborate with their peers as well as faculty members on projects and events around campus and the larger metro area. Moreover it allows students to the opportunity to join important professional organizations for engineering majors including the Institute of electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and specifically their Women in Engineering chapter (WIE). Thus, in joining this club, students enter into an extensive, multi-scalar community of professionals and future professionals who can support them in successfully pursuing a career in an engineering field. The group’s OpenLab site plays does a lot towards maintaining this community, but also plays a critical role in speaking to a larger public community about the work of the group. I’d like to highlight how two of the features on the site fulfills both roles simultaneously.

First, the site defines the contours to the group – who the group is, how they are organized, what the group is working on, how to get involved, and how getting involved may be beneficial to students. This information may be helpful to potential new members who are intrigued that the group is student-run while faculty and alumni serve as mentors and advisors. It may also be helpful to broader public audiences interested in contacting the group.

Second, the group highlights a number of events, activities and projects that members can attend or get involved with through joining this group, as well as shares resources that might be of interest. This kind of information is obviously useful to members who are committed to a career in engineering, but it may also be of interest to potential members who may be interested in joining an event or better understanding the work of the group before officially joining. The resources provided (including information about events and other activities) may also be of interest to a broader public audience – maybe a professor at another CUNY school who’d like to collaborate, or an engineering firm looking for promising students to hire, or high school students or others not currently in school who are thinking carefully about what career path to choose before returning to school.

Considering both of these functions when creating your site – be it for a project, club, course or ePortfolio – can help you give a larger life to the content and effort you are putting into building out the site.

In the Spotlight: ENG1121-D433 – English Composition 2

header image of English Comp 2 classThis week we’re spotlighting Professor Iddings’ English Composition 2 course (ENG 1121-D433). After a quick tour around Professor Iddings’ course site, it is easy to see how this site functions as an important hub for her students and aims to support them in being successful in the course. With this in mind there are a number of features I’d like to highlight:

At 15 points of their overall grade, Blogging is an important component of this english course. For Professor Iddings, blogging is a part of the larger motto of the class: “Writing—and writing frequently, with intention, and with significant feedback—is a great way to improve your understanding of the texts we will read.” With this in mind, Professor Iddings gives extensive details on how to approach the assignment including the requirements and deadlines, notes on how to post and what should be included, and a grading rubric. In addition, she gives an overview of what blogging is and how its style and etiquette compare and contrast with other forms of class writing. This last component seems particularly important given the likelihood that many students haven’t had the opportunity to blog before.

A second feature I’d like to highlight is her main menu item entitled ‘Classwork’. As her page description states, “This is where all kind of handouts, slide shows, and student-generated work will land.” While the page contains only slide shows at the moment, I think it’s worthwhile to note the facility of having a place where any loose-leaf handouts can be stored digitally. Undoubtedly, there will be a student or two (or 10!) who will lose track of handouts that will prove useful to them throughout the course. By uploading them here, Professor Iddings never has to worry about students in her losing access to these documents.

The last feature I will highlight here – though there are many more and I encourage you to check out the site! – is the “Helpful Links” section and RSS Feed for the NYTimes which she has in her widget area (the menu on the right side of the course site). While each of these offers different content – the first providing students with easy access to educational resources around City Tech and beyond, and the second linking to the latest articles from the Times – both work to connect the student’s classroom experience to the outside world. This is an important capability of the OpenLab platform that we encourage instructors to take advantage of!

In the Spotlight: HGMT 4989 – Culinary Tourism


header image of Culinary Tourism courseThis week we’re shining the spotlight on Professor Krondl’s Culinary Tourism course (HGMT 4989). This course facilitates students exploration of the concept of culinary tourism, and highlights its impact on the tourism industry. The first thing you notice about this course site is that it is easily navigable. In the top menu, students and site visitors can quickly find information on assignments and field trips, as well as download a copy of the syllabus. Organization is essential during the first few weeks of class, particularly because it sets up student’s expectations of the class and helps them prepare for successful completion of the course.

 

From the course site, it becomes quickly obvious that Professor Krondl’s course is organized around a series of experiential assignments that get students out exploring the city around them. These assignments are organized around four field trips that take students to different locations across the boroughs of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. These trips are accompanied by brief prompts that ask students to examine the culinary tourism of a particular neighborhood in relation to its historical and contemporary contexts. In the context of these assignments, the course site primarily serves as a place for sharing analytic reflections of their experiences with the class and beyond.

This is a great example of how to use your course site to support your assignments while not limiting them. Here at OpenLab, the objective is not necessarily about what you can do with the technology we’re offering, but how can this technology support you in your pedagogical goals.

For more information and/or to meet with us one on one, attend a workshop or come visit us during an office hour! We also have two upcoming Open Pedagogy events – we hope to see you there!

Image Souce: Marco Derkson

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: Science Fiction at City Tech

header image of science fiction at city tech siteThis week we’re spotlighting the faculty-run site, “Science Fiction at City Tech”. This site strives to “connect individual and collective efforts that study Science Fiction directly or leverage it to enrich City Tech’s students’ experiences, deepen classroom learning with archival research, and connect City Tech to the networks of science fiction research around the world”. In this way, the site operates as a hub connecting interested parties at City Tech with each other, with other resources at the college, and beyond. This ambition is embedded in the infrastructure of site, which includes information on City Tech courses and faculty members, a growing list of resources, and an active blog that shares updates about science-fiction-related events at City Tech such as the recently held Symposium on Amazing Stories: Inspiration, Learning and Adventure in Science Fiction.  

An important service of the site is to provide a digital presence for The City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which is held in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library at City Tech. Gifted to the college by an anonymous science fiction scholar, this collection spans approximately 600 linear feet and contains monographs, anthologies, over 4000 magazines (including nearly full runs of every professional science fiction magazine from 1950 to 2010), scholarly journals and novels. Though the collection is still being processed, the site provides two way for students to see just what the collection contains: a searchable PDF that catalogs the magazine portion of the collection and a shelf-by-shelf photographic inventory. In addition, updates about the progress of the collection – such as a visit from CUNY Graduate Center Digital Initiatives – can be found on the blog. Learn more about the collection from the video below!

 

In the Spotlight: Energy and Environmental Simulation Laboratory

logo  for 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.

the team at the energy and environmental simulation laboratory

In the Spotlight: RoboQuín

profile of RoboquinThis 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

front page of Illustration 1 courseThis 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: Student Kim Mohammed’s ePortfolio

header image from ePortfolio

Though many of us may more readily think ‘coursework’ or ‘group project coordination’ when we think of the OpenLab, the platform also offers an important opportunity for displaying individual work in a unique and professional way. City Tech student, Kim Mohammed offers an excellent example of how this can be accomplished. Kim’s site is clear on her professional ambitions – to be a graphic designer – and aims to highlight the various academic and professional stepping stones that are preparing her for and leading her in that direction. For example, Kim has posted a 5-part-series documenting her experience finding and securing an internship (Part 1 here), a link to well-designed resume, and an ‘About Me’ page with a brief overview of her ambitions and link to an external site displaying her design work. Kim has also shared and summarized webinars and interviews with role models in her field and reviewed apps in her blog. In addition to the functionality of the site, Kim’s site is clean and easy to navigate, as well as – with a selected quote, image, and brief professional biography framing each page – unique and personalized. All-in-all, Kim’s site is a great example of how the OpenLab can be used to store one’s work in an organized and presentable manner so that it may be used in the pursuit of larger ambitions beyond your time at City Tech.