In the Spotlight: English Composition 1 (Eng 1101 LC22/CD322)

The header image on the course site.This week we’re spotlighting Professor Sarah Schmerler’s English 1101: English Composition 1 class. This course is one half of a learning community, wherein she shares the same students with math professor Grazyna Niezgoda. The objective of the learning community, and common theme between the two courses, is to help students learn how to solve complicated problems by breaking a problem down into smaller, simpler steps. Likewise, Professor Schmerler’s syllabus suggests the class objectives are also further broken down into smaller goals such as using writing as a process of discovery and practice of critical thinking, building skills around drafting, revising and research, and fostering a personal writing style and process. This style of breaking a whole down into manageable parts is also a theme in the way Professor Schmerler has designed her course site. Wondering what materials you’ll need for this course? See the ‘Materials/Supplies’ item in her main menu. Similar questions can be asked about assignments, course policies, paper formatting and more. This results in quick and easy navigation of the course site both for her students and other visitors.

In addition to using the course site to organize course-related materials, Professor Schmerler also holds class discussions on informal topics generated by her students. So far, there is a discussion of the sometimes difficult task of figuring out what to wear each day, and a critical discussion of the pros and cons of Pineapple Pizza. These activities help students practice writing in an informal and low-stakes way, and likely supports them in translating their thoughts, opinions and perspectives into writing that is legible to others; in other words, facilitating the process of fostering a personal writing style.

The last aspect of Professor Schmerler’s course site that I’ll highlight is the use of the course blogroll to share resources with students (i.e. on semicolons, on active vs passive voice, on possessives). These resources are no doubt of use to the students in her course, but also may be of use to other students on the OpenLab and at City Tech more broadly. Thus, housing her course on the OpenLab rather than on a closed or private platform increases the potential impact of her course and its materials.

View the resources, join the discussion and learn more about Professor Schmerler’s course by visiting her course site today!

In the Spotlight: #TheGuide

#TheGuide site header Greetings OpenLab Community! We are now in the 4th week of the semester, with many of you settled into the routines of your fall semesters, and some of you may be wondering, what else?! This week we’re spotlighting #TheGuide as one response to that question. #TheGuide is one-of-a-kind, created by City Tech community members for City Tech community members (and more specifically, students of Professor Karen Goodlad and Professor Laura Westengard) and “includes tips and advice about City Tech’s campus and the surrounding community, including the Brooklyn Waterfront”.

Hungry for a lunch? #TheGuide has information on both the Namm Cafeteria AND  over 40 restaurants – both sitting and take-out – within walking distance of campus. Relatedly, there is a ‘Made in Brooklyn’ section identifying where you can buy locally -sourced and -made jams, cookies, mustards, salsas, wines and more — made with love by your Brooklyn-borough neighbors.

Want to learn more about downtown Brooklyn? The site also houses information for two walking tours – Art in Downtown Brooklyn and Architectural Gems in Downtown Brooklyn. You can also learn more about where to go and what to see by the Brooklyn Waterfront by reading through student’s own walking tours of the area.

Still finding your way around City Tech? (Me too!) #TheGuide also contains information on each of the buildings that comprise City tech, as well as the low-down on where the ‘secret’ on-campus cafe is (in the bookstore!), what to do during your 2-4 hour middle-of-the-day break between classes, where to seek support to improve your writing skills, where to get a quick, cheap bite while avoiding long cafeteria lines and MORE!

As you settle into your schedules, we encourage you to refer to #TheGuide for advice on what to do and see, and where to access support and services around City Tech and downtown Brooklyn more generally. Now get to exploring!

In the Spotlight: Fuse Lab

Fuse Lab LogoThis week we’re spotlighting the Fuse Lab, a NSF-funded “collaborative education project for tomorrow’s technology in architecture, engineering and construction” (AEC). This project is all about remixing things: students and faculty with established industry professionals through their advisory board, industry partners, collaborators and organizational partners; classes and skills in mathematics with computation and fabrication with sustainability and building performance (and more!); and teaching with learning, as the project seems to have created as many resources as they are relying on. This ‘remixing’ is useful if not necessary for keeping up with ‘the ever-diversifying technological needs of the AEC industry.” Moreover, this ‘remixing’ makes the site a unique repository or archive, bringing together information and people at and beyond City Tech in interesting and exciting ways!

Want to learn more about the Fuse Lab and the skills it promotes? You can access tutorials from the main menu bar! In addition, the site links out to other OpenLab sites for courses connected with the Fuse Lab project (such as Introduction to Computation and Fabrication). These course sites contain their own content and resources related to the course’s content, meaning that for visitors of Fuse Lab’s site, these course sites act as additional repositories of information and resources. Lastly, see what kinds of things Fuse Lab has uploaded to their social media accounts to – for example, the Vimeo site seems to have a number of additional informational videos that may act as ‘how-to’s’ for those of you interested.

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: 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: 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: SADHA

header image for SADHAOpenLab affords many opportunities for student-faculty collaboration and professional development for students. For a great example of this, look no further than SADHA. SADHA, short for Student American Dental Hygiene Association, is a site that facilitates the membership of first and second year Dental Hygiene students in an important professional organization – the American Dental Hygiene Association. In addition to coordinating the submission of dues and alerting students to related events, the club cultivates a sense of community and shared identity among those in the Dental Hygiene (DH) field at City Tech. This is accomplished by posting information regarding social and professional-development events, money-making opportunities, articles and videos of interest to those in the DH field, and connecting students with important resources for success in the field.  The coordination of these resources is the joint effort of Professor Ana Matthews, a graduate of City Tech’s DH program and now full-time faculty member, and yearly appointed student leaders. With 320 members to date, the usefulness of this site for the DH community at City Tech in undeniable.

In the Spotlight: Introducing “People’s Choice”

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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