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!

 

 

 

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: OERs on the OpenLab

Since the inception of City Tech’s OER Fellowship in 2015, and CUNY Central’s investment in OERs CUNY-wide, the number of Open Educational Resources that are public and freely available on the OpenLab have been growing. Each year the program has grown, with more new fellows each year than the last (3 in 2015, 7 in 2016, 14 in 2017, and 19 in 2018) and more OERs for a greater range of courses, from Culinary Tourism, to Biology, to Introduction to Mechanics.

Now you may be wondering:

How can I find these resources and use them to support my own course work?

Good news! The OpenLab now has created “OER Badges” that indicate when a course or project is an OER.

green circle with "OER" written in middle
Look for these OER Badges on course and project profiles!

These badges are also searchable. From the homepage, click on the magnifying glass in the upper right, and select EITHER courses or projects (OERs are built on either of these types of sites). If you don’t see what you’re looking for in one, try the other type.

shows search function on OpenLab site with dropdown menu to choose type of site.

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 “Open Educational Resources”. This will pull up any and all OERs that match the other filters you set.

shows search page with dropdown menu for type of site showing option to select OERs

In some cases, you can clone an entire course, and remix, add to, or delete some of the content to meet your needs, and use it to support your courses.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to OERs, and open digital pedagogy in general – where educators are putting resources and course materials online in free and publicly accessible ways – is to give credit where credit is do. Acknowledge whose materials you are pulling from and how you used them. Did you clone the work of another professor and use their work directly? Did you “adapt their material or part of their material, or remix it with some of your own course materials? This information should be visible somewhere on your own site.

Looking for more tips on OERs and sharing and remixing content on the OpenLab? Check out:

You can also join us in-person for an office hour or workshop!

In the Spotlight: Peer Advisement

This week we’re spotlighting Peer Advisement, a project site on the OpenLab. The main focus of this group is to increase the retention of female students in engineering technology programs.

Despite their focus, the group proudly offers services and resources that may be of interest to all students at City Tech. For example, on the homepage of the site, the group shares various professional development opportunities – including an invitation to attend an HBO networking event where students will meet with employees from the Engineering, Digital Products, Information Services and Recruiting teams, SHPE NYC STEM Career Summit where students can meet representatives from Accenture, AKF, AT&T, Capital One, Dell, HBO, HueCore, Merck, Microsoft, P&G, Turner Construction, Vimeo, and the Graduate School Fair hosted by City Tech’s Honors Scholars Program. While many of these opportunities are geared towards students in engineering technology programs, they have broader appeal.

In fulfilling the main goal of their mission – to promote female student retention in engineering technology programs – the group has identified peer advisors in a number of departments (see below). These peer advisors are available to support fellow students with department-specific tutoring and/or help students navigate the college to find resources and support. Each participating department has their own group on the OpenLab that is linked from the main Peer Advisement site. By going to their group profile you can learn more about who the peer advisors are, when you can meet with them, and what services they can help you with.

Are you a student in one of the departments who has been looking for support? Navigate to and join their group and get involved!

Are you a student or faculty in a engineering department not represented here? Get in touch with the Peer Advisement group to see how you may become a peer advisor in your department!

Are you a student or faculty member in another program of study interested in replicating this or a similar peer-support model in your department? Reach out to the Peer Advisement group to learn more about how they got started!

In the Spotlight: Undergraduate Research

This week we’re spotlighting Undergraduate Research, a project site that houses resources for students who want to get involved in doing research while at City Tech and for faculty who want to support and mentor those students. For students, undergraduate research is an opportunity to work on campus between classes, learn more about a subject of interest, improve your resume, earn credit or a stipend, and work closely with a faculty member. Interested? There are a number of different opportunities and programs to peruse that might suit your interests and objectives. For faculty, this is an opportunity for you to pass on your knowledge and skills, engage in shared and mutual discovery with students, to support your professional discipline and apply for grants targeting undergraduate institutions.

The site also contains materials that may be of interest to students and faculty beyond those who specifically want to enter into a mentoring/menteeing research relationship. For example, the Library Research Techniques page – offering advice on how to search, locate and cite other research – could be useful for students and faculty in any class. Additionally, the Mentoring Handbook – including insight on benefits, phases, roles, strategies, tools and more related to mentoring or being a mentee – might be of interest to anyone looking for guidance and suggestions on entering into a mentor/mentee relationship.

Be sure to also check out their blog roll on the homepage – which includes additional resources – such as how you might preserve your work on CUNY Academic Works – and opportunities – like the BMI Conference, SUBMERGE’s marine science festival in Hudson River Park, and opportunities to participate in NSF-funded research like Warm-water Aquatic Ecology.

Check out the site today to learn more and get involved!

In the Spotlight: Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab

This week we’re spotlighting Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab, an in-house site managed by the OpenLab Community Team that’s dedicated to sparking and cultivating discussion, and facilitating the sharing of ideas, materials and practices related to open digital pedagogy (ODP) amongst City Tech faculty and staff.

Not sure what ODP is? In their piece Open Digital Pedagogy = Critical Pedagogy, Jody Rosen, OpenLab Co-Director and English Professor at City Tech, and Maura Smale, City Tech Librarian describe it as follows:

Open digital pedagogy is the use of cost-free, publicly available online tools and platforms by instructors and students for teaching, learning, and communicating in support of educational goals, can, as Kris Shaffer has argued, “facilitate student access to existing knowledge, and empower them to critique it, dismantle it, and create new knowledge.”

OpenLab is one of these these “cost-free, publicly available online tools and platforms” that faculty (as well as staff, students, and alumni) at City Tech can use to support their teaching, learning and community-building efforts; and the Open Pedagogy site aims to support their endeavors.d

With this in mind, the site houses a number of different resources aimed to support your work on the OpenLab (and other open digital spaces):

On the Resources page you can find writings penned by City Tech faculty and beyond on topics related ODP such as writing, multimedia pedagogy, annotation, open educational resources, specific assignment ideas, and copyright and attribution. As you’ll notice, not all of these topics are specific to open digital pedagogy, but the resources we provide offer insight into how these practices (around writing or annotation, for example) morph, expand or change in open digital learning contexts. Have something to contribute? Have a question you’d like to discuss with the community? After joining the site, you’re welcome to post and share – and we strongly encourage you to do so!

Pedagogy Profiles is an opportunity to hear more about other faculty’s experiences using and incorporating the OpenLab into their classrooms – how did they get started using the platform, what have they learned along the way, and how do they incorporate it now. Each month we highlight a different faculty member – this month, its Professor Jackie Blain in the English Department. Check out Prof. Blain’s Pedagogy Profile here!

We also host two Open Pedagogy events per semester that touch on various topics related to Open Digital Pedagogy. Our first of the Fall 2018 semester is coming up soon – Thursday Sept 27th @ 4:30p in the Faculty Commons (Namm 227) – and will focus on using open digital pedagogy in gateway courses (Learn more and RSVP). These events are a great opportunity to connect and have face-to-face conversations with other faculty and staff at City Tech about pedagogy and more. Light refreshments are served, and part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation.

We hope your find these resources helpful in your (continued) use of the platform, and we hope to see you at our upcoming event on September 27th!

In the Spotlight: MTEC 3175, Experimental Game Design & Development

Site header image for MTEC 3175, Experimental Game Design & DevelopmentThis week we’re spotlighting Professor Boisvert’s fall entertainment technology course, MTEC 3175, Experimental Game Design & Development. This course is a “hands-on studio” where students explore various complexities of gameplay development and design through creating prototypes. In short, the course touches on technical game construction, to aesthetics and design (character development, level design), to user experience and more. This course provides a useful case study for thinking about how to use the OpenLab to support your course and student learning, as well as demonstrating the interesting coursework available at our College of Technology.

Integrating Environments

In the context of this course, the OpenLab is one among a suite of “environments” where students in the course will be creating, sharing and engaging course material, broadly speaking; in addition they’ll use GitHub, Slack, Steam and a personal Game Journal. Each of these environments offers a different set of possibilities – for example, GitHub is good for storing, sharing and co-editing files while Slack is good for centralizing communication; Steam is a platform that offers easy access to the latest video games and a community, while a personal journal allows space for personal reflection and the development of ideas. Integrating these separate environments is specific to each course, but could be a useful way of organizing course work and may also be useful in introducing students to platforms they may come to depend on later in their careers.

Blogging

In this context, the OpenLab is a centralizing and public environment where visitors can learn more about the course by accessing course materials provided by Professor Boisvert and by reading through students’ critical reflections via the blog on the homepage. As in other courses, Professor Boisvert uses the blog for low-stakes, reflective and critical thinking writing by students. This third blog post assignment, asks students to re-analyze a game they enjoyed as a child. Explained in another way, this assignment asks students to revisit and think (more) critically about something they know a lot about already. This is specific and useful pedagogical decision that aims get students writing and couch the anxiety that can accompany that practice by asking them to write about something that they explicitly already know a lot about. This is a useful trick many faculty use that not only gets students more comfortable with writing, but also, through sharing experiences, helps students get to know one another and build up a classroom and college community.

Menu Structure / Organizing Site Content

This course site is a good example of a clean, straightforward site design that allows visitors to the site, including students, to easily find the information they’re looking for. Building a site that is more-or-less intuitive and easy for visitors to navigate is one of the challenges of building a site on the OpenLab. Professor Boisvert’s site achieves this through one top-level, navigation menu. By ‘top-level’, I mean that Professor Boisvert doesn’t use any drop down menus. Instead, each menu item opens up to a page where students can find all of the readings or assignments for the course, can read through the syllabus, or find all resources provided by Professor Boisvert. Alternatively, drop-down menus may make a new page for each weekly batch of readings or each separate assignment. Drop-down menus seem appealing at first, but from a user standpoint, they can make the site more difficult to navigate. For one, this means students are going to a different place to find course materials each week, which could get confusing, and it can be easier to end up on the wrong page (reading next week’s readings, for example). Second, drop-down menus bury, hide, and/or conceal information in second- and third-level menu items – a visitor must notice there is a drop-down menu and navigate through it to find the information they are looking for, rather than clicking through to one page for everything. Third, though our sites are responsive (meaning they work on mobile devices) long drop-down menus, or ones with 3 or even 4 levels can run off the screen, rendering them invisible to the visitor trying to access course information and materials.

Follow along with the course this semester to see how student’s ideas develop, and what games they end up developing through this studio!

In the Spotlight: Welcome Back & The Open Road

Open Road header imageGreetings City Tech community, and welcome back to those of you who were away this summer! As you get back into the swing of things, be sure to join and check out the Open Road. This site houses a number of important resources that can help you get (re)acquainted with the OpenLab.

On the Open Road you can find:

We hope these help you get started or continue using the OpenLab to support your teaching, learning and community building here at City Tech!

Wishing you all a happy semester!