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: ENG1121-D433 – English Composition 2

This 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


This 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: Science Fiction at City Tech

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-1-55-54-pmThis 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: 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: Open Pedagogy on the Open Lab!

cropped-openImage: opensource.com

Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab is a forum where our community can ask questions, stimulate discussion, and access/share resources related to teaching and learning on the OpenLab. 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 members in discussions about what open pedagogy is and what shape it can take in our classrooms at City Tech. With this in mind, faculty members are encouraged to join and contribute to the site, to help expand the available resources and generate further the discussion. If you join, you will also receive notifications when new content is added or discussion is happening on the site.

In addition to this site, the OpenLab also hosts a series of Open Pedagogy events each semester. Our first event for the Fall of 2016, held in conjunction with the Library, will focus on open educational resources (OERs) at City Tech. In addition to deconstructing the term “OER,” we will hear from several City Tech faculty on OERs they have developed.  Refreshments will be served (thanks to the Faculty commons for its generous support of this event!) and part-time faculty are eligible to receive a stipend for participation.  Visit the event posting for more information and to RSVP! We hope to see you there!

In the Spotlight: ENG2003 – Intro to Literature: Poetry

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Prof. Cecily Iddings’ course ENG2003 – Intro to Literature: Poetry offers a great example of OpenLab use to encourage student writing and feedback. Students blog on assigned topics like close reading or language, sound, and form in poetry. They are also required to comment on each other’s posts, creating an ongoing discussion about course readings that extends from classroom to site. Especially exciting too is the course Glossary that students continually upgrade with definitions, examples of word use in poems, and their own analysis of the word in context. Be sure to check out the course site for new ideas to generate student engagement online!

In the Spotlight: PSY3405 – Health Psychology

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The course site for Prof. Amanda Almond’s interdisciplinary PSY3405 – Health Psychology offers students both course documents and extensive multimedia resources to think about race and health. In addition to the course syllabus, requirements, and grading procedures, Prof. Almond provides her students with a course outline detailing weekly lectures, assignments, readings, film viewings, quizzes, and deadlines. On the home page, she rightly tells students that this course outline will be their best friend. Assignments for the course are also nicely organized under one easy-to-find drop-down menu. For added benefit, Prof. Almond has linked to further resources for the students’ reference. These include the New York Times’ Patient Voices feature and particularly important case studies of psychology experiments, which students can comment on for extra credit. If you’re wondering how to use an OpenLab site to equip students with tools for success in your course, Prof. Almond’s site offers a great example to guide you.

In the Spotlight: HMGT1102 – Intro to Hospitality Management

let them eat lobster

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.