In the Spotlight: OpenLab Mobile Shortcuts

This week, we spotlight a feature built into most smartphones that can facilitate mobile work on the OpenLab! 

At our workshops, people sometimes ask if we can develop an OpenLab app, similar to the Blackboard app. They say they are pleased with the OpenLab’s mobile functionality, but it’s a pain to have to pull up your phone browser, then navigate to the OpenLab, then navigate to where you want to go. An app on the home screen would provide a handy shortcut. Luckily, you can do that already! 

While app development is not currently in the works, there’s a very easy way to create your own shortcut to the OpenLab on your phone’s home screen. In this post, we will outline how to do it on both iOS and Android. 

Creating an OpenLab Mobile Shortcut on iPhones

  1. Navigate in your phone browser (usually Safari, unless you use another browser) to the OpenLab page you want to create the shortcut to. This might be the OpenLab home page, or your own profile, or the profile or site of a particular course.
  2. Scroll up so that the bottom menu appears, revealing the forward/back buttons, the bookmark button, the share button, and the “view all tabs” button. (See Screenshot 1) 
    Illustration of Steps 1 and 2
    Screenshot 1: OpenLab on mobile with Safari navigation menu visible
  3. Click on the “Share” button. It looks like a square with an arrow pointing upwards out of it. (See Screenshot 2)

    Illustration of where the Share button is on iOS Safari
    Screenshot 2: Share Button circled in yellow.
  4. Scroll down until you see the option “Add to Home Screen.” Click on it! (See Screenshot 3)

    Screenshot of menu that appears when the Share button is clicked, with "Add to Home Screen" circled
    Screenshot 3: “Add to Home Screen” option in Sharing menu
  5. Adjust the name of the shortcut if you wish.
  6. Click “Add.” Now the shortcut to the page will appear as an icon along with your apps! You can delete it or move it around like you can with any of your apps. (See Screenshot 4) 
    iPhone app screen with shortcut to the OpenLab circled in orange
    Screenshot 4: Your new shortcut to the OpenLab

    Creating an OpenLab Mobile Shortcut on Android

    1. Navigate in your phone browser to the OpenLab page you want to create the shortcut to. This might be the OpenLab home page, or your own profile, or the profile or site of a particular course.
    2. Tap the “menu” button on your phone. (The Square button of the three white shapes pictured in Screenshot 1)
      Image of navigation buttons on an Android phone
      Screenshot 1: Android navigation buttons
    3. Then click “Add to homescreen.”
      Image of the menu that appears after Step 2 is completed
      Screenshot 2: Menu for webpage with “Add to Home screen” option
    4. Change the name of the shortcut if you wish, and then click “Add.”
       

      Screenshot of dialog box that allows user to change the name of the shortcut
      Screenshot 3: Name change dialog box

      5. Now you will see a shortcut to your OpenLab page!

Screenshot of Android home screen with OpenLab shortcut visible

We hope this helps you use the OpenLab even more easily on mobile platforms. Many CUNY students, as well as faculty and staff, use their phones for academic work, and creating a shortcut (or more than one!) to the OpenLab can make that work even more streamlined.

In the Spotlight: Attribution Plugin

An image of a typed creative commons license.

This week, we spotlight a new plugin that allows anyone to add attributions for Creative Commons licensed content they’re using on an OpenLab site. The OpenLab Attributions plugin was built specifically for the OpenLab!

How does it work? 

Once you activate the plugin, you can go to your page or post editor and add an attribution to any open licensed material you have on your site. Each attribution will add a superscript number that links to a reference list at the bottom of a page or post (see, for example, how we’ve used the plugin to create an attribution for this post’s image. The attribution appears at the bottom of this post, in a reference list). We recommend using this plugin to attribute any Creative Commons images you’re using on your site and, if you are an instructor, teaching your students to use this plugin to cite open-licensed images and other media content they may be posting on the OpenLab.

In the Spotlight: Inviting Students to your Course!

Happy second week of school to all City Tech faculty, students, and staff! At the start of every semester, faculty ask us how they can get their students set up on the OpenLab for the very first time.  The process can feel intimidating! But below, I spotlight three easy ways that you, as an instructor, can invite your students to join your course.

Have your students join your course in class!

If your course and profile are public, then students should be able to search for your course on the OpenLab. Once they’ve found it, they can join simply by clicking “Join Now.”

A screenshot of an OpenLab course profile page, which includes a course avatar and a button that reads "Join Now." Students can join the course by clicking this button.

 

You can walk your students through these steps in class, using a classroom computer to demonstrate. I recommend having students join on the spot in the classroom from their phones, tablets or laptops. Note that you can have them search for the course from the top toolbar or go into the Courses tab and use the right-hand search function with filters. 

 

 It helps here to give your course an intuitive name that includes the course number and semester!  

 

 

 

Invite your students to your course via e-mail!

This method, too, works only if you keep your course site and profile public. (Note that you can always change your privacy settings later, if you’d like). An easy way to have students join your course is to e-mail them the URL to your course profile. The link will take them to your profile page where, once again, they can simply click “Join Now.” 

A screenshot of an OpenLab course profile page, which includes a course avatar and a button that reads "Join Now." Students can join the course by clicking this button.

 

Invite your students to your course via the OpenLab!

You can invite your students to your course from your course profile page.  Click Membership in the right-hand menu, and then click Invite New Members on the following screen. If your course is on the smaller side, you can search individually for each of your students and invite them to your site in this way. Note that you can search for new members to invite either by typing in their e-mails or Display Names.

 

Screenshot of an OpenLab Site's Membership Setting Page. On this page, users can search form members to invite.

 

Your students will receive an automated confirmation e-mail.  Once the e-mail address is confirmed by the user, they will be added to your site.

I hope this helps explain how you can invite students to your course. Please visit our Help documentation on managing users on the OpenLab for a fuller overview. 

In the Spotlight: Nursing Case Management- Role and Process (NUR4030)

This week, we’re spotlighting Professor Thomas’ NUR4030 OER,  Case Management: Role and Process. The course  “focuses on innovative, integrated nursing case and care management models within the context of assessment, planning, collaboration, negotiation, and evaluation.” The course site is clean, simple, and well-organized, and is a great example an OpenLab OER.   

A Static Home Page

Professor Thomas has set the course’s homepage to a welcome page. There, visitors to the site can find a course description and an overview of course objectives. Note that this content is static: it is unlikely to change much throughout the semester and is therefore published as a page, rather than in the dynamic format of blog posts. This is a great way of setting up an OER, which is likely to serve as a one-way conversation between the site administrator and visitors.

Readings, Broken Down By Unit

While the blogosphere and social media worlds of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have gotten most of us accustomed to long vertical scrolls, it’s still a good idea to break down content on course sites. After all, it is easier to  find information when it is featured in short pages and posts. Professor Thomas makes things intuitive for her students by creating a separate menu tab for course Readings. These are not simply listed on one page, but instead linked to in a drop-down menu in which each course unit represents a separate page. Each page contains links to and citations for the readings for that unit. This makes the coursework and flow for the OER completely unambiguous. 

Navigation Menu Widget

Finally, Professor Thomas makes great use of the Navigation Menu Widget in the site’s right-hand sidebar. This widget features links to all pages linked to from the site’s main navigation menu, including those linked to in the drop-down menu. This gives visitors to the site yet another quick overview of the OER’s content; it allows them to navigate to different parts of the site more easily and offers an alternative to the drop-down menu, which isn’t always easy to read on one’s phone!

Are you building an OER on the OpenLab? Need inspiration for your course or project site? Check out Professor Thomas’ course for inspiration!

In the Spotlight: Add to My Portfolio

On the OpenLab, you can build your online portfolio, creating a personal site on which you display digital representations of your academic work, interests, and achievements. If you are a City Tech student, you may already have done this as part of your coursework. 

Over the summer, we created an ‘Add to My Portfolio’ button, which makes it easier to add work from courses, projects, or clubs to your portfolio. If you are a student, using this button will save you time as you populate your portfolio with content you have created on other sites. If you are faculty or staff, you can use this button as well, both to add content to your own portfolio and with your students who are developing their OpenLab ePortfolios.

How does the button work, you ask? Great question. Below, we walk you through the functionality, step-by-step.

Add to My Portfolio

If you have an OpenLab portfolio, you can turn on an ‘Add to My Portfolio’ button, which will appear on posts and comments you have created on other OpenLab sites.  This makes it easier to add work from courses, projects, or clubs to your portfolio.  

Enabling the ‘Add to Portfolio’ button

  1. Go to your Portfolio Profile > Settings, and then click Settings in the sub-menu at the top.
  1. Scroll down to the bottom where you’ll see the section, ‘Add to my Portfolio.’ Click the checkbox to enable this feature.

Adding a post or comment to your Portfolio

Once you have enabled the ‘Add to My Portfolio’ button, you will see it appear at the bottom of any post or comment you have created on any other OpenLab site.  

    1. Click the Add to My Portfolio button at the bottom of the post or comment you would like to add to your portfolio. 
    2. A window will pop up asking for a few details:
      1. Format: You can choose to add the content to your portfolio as a post or page. 
      2. Title: The title will automatically be the same as the title of the post you’re adding, but you can change this. If it’s a comment you’ll need to add a title.
      3. Citation: This cannot be edited.  It adds a citation at the top of the post with information about where the post was originally published.
      4. Annotation: You can add an annotation or leave this blank.  An annotation is a short description you can include to tell your reader about the content you’re adding to your portfolio.
          
    3. When you’re finished, click Add to Portfolio.
  1. After adding to your portfolio, you’ll see that the Add to Portfolio button can no longer be clicked, and will say “Added to my Portfolio.”
  2. The content will be saved in draft form on your portfolio as a post or page, depending on the format you chose.  

Publishing the new post or page on your Portfolio site

  1. To publish the content you just added to your portfolio, go to the Dashboard of your portfolio site, and then to Posts or Pages, depending on the format you chose.  You will see the new post or page listed as a draft.
  2. Click on the title of the post or page, where you can edit it or publish as it is.  You can find additional help on editing and publishing posts or pages in OpenLab Help.

Curious about the ‘Add to My Portfolio’ button? Enable it now and try it out on your own site!

Sources:

This page is a derivative of “OpenLab Help” used under CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0.

In the Spotlight: Technical Writing (ENG 2575- E270)

 

This week, we’re spotlighting Professor Ellis’ ENG 2575  Technical Writing course. In the class, students will have “opportunities to learn the theory, skills, and heuristics of technical writing through projects relevant” to their degree program. The course encourages students to write often, and with intention. Assignments are scaffolded, moving from introductory to more advanced, so that students gain a range of skills to apply to many industries. The course’s focus is also on helping students develop a set of documents to include in their professional portfolio. Visiting this course site might be of interest to students thinking about taking the course, as well as faculty/ staff who are thinking through how to organize their course site this semester.

Dynamic Home Page

Professor Ellis has set the course’s home page to the course’s blogroll. This means that all posts to the site will appear on this page in reverse chronological order. This set up works well in a course like this, since the instructor makes frequent announcements. Indeed, announcements made through the class blog will be featured visibly on the course’s landing page. The most recent announcements will be at the top, and older posts will be pushed further down the feed.

However, there can be drawbacks to using a dynamic home page–i.e. a blogroll–instead of a static homepage. With a static homepage, you can display very specific, critical information such as a course description, an overview of the course site, and course office hours. This is harder to do with a dynamic homepage, which will feature all course blog posts–including those made by students.

Professor Ellis, however, finds a way to merge the best of both worlds. His blogroll allows recent content to be featured prominently. But he has also set the featured post to a welcome post that walks students through the course site and reminds them of his email and office hours. Don’t forget: you can always create a featured post by making a post “sticky” in your post editor in the dashboard. This will make your post “stick” to the very top of your blogroll.

An Opportunities Page

Professor Ellis includes a page on his course site in which he posts professional and academic opportunities  students might enjoy. This is an innovative way to use an OpenLab course site to support student development beyond the specific course curriculum. Professor Ellis does this by creating a category called “Opportunities” and inserting this category into the main menu. The “Opportunities” page, then, is visible and easily accessible from anywhere in the site.  For now, the opportunities include CUNY writing contests, and invitations to join professional organizations. More will be added as the semester moves along. 

An Examples Page

In the same vein, Professor Ellis also includes a page with examples of technical writing. These examples model the kinds of writing students will do in the course. The page features full-length documents for students to download, as well as images of more visual forms of technical writing, like posters and infographics. Creating a page like this is a great way of supporting students as they tackle new assignments. Research frequently shows that people learn best through case studies. Professor Ellis provides cases for students to study, and gives them a starting point from which to launch their own technical writing endeavors.

What kinds of opportunities and resources do you want your students to access? Can you include them in your course site? Check out Professor Ellis’ course for inspiration!

Part 5 of 5: Get to Know the OpenLab

Greetings,

This summer we have spent time introducing you to the OpenLab. You have explored the OpenLab, joined others’ sites, and begun creating a site of your own.

 This week, learn what opportunities exist to learn more about the OpenLab and get assistance when you have questions in the future.

 This concludes this 5-part series. Thank you for following along!

If you want to review this or previous week’s tasks, visit the archive on The Open Road.

Cheers,

The OpenLab Community Team

Part 4 of 5: Get to Know the OpenLab

Greetings,

This week, create on the OpenLab! In this case, ‘create’ can refer to creating sites, but also to creating communities, collaborations, and dialogue by joining other sites, connecting with friends, participating in discussion forums and more.

  • Task 1: Create Connections. 
    • Join our 3 in-house sites to stay connected and updated about what’s happening on the OpenLab:

      • The Open Road: Our one-stop-shop for all things OpenLab: news, workshops, events, community, and support!
      • The Buzz: Our student blogging team’s site; they post about life at City Tech and beyond!
      • Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab: A site for sharing and discussing resources about open digital pedagogy!

  • Connect with your friends and join other groups related to your interests:

      • You can search through people, courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the menu at the top and the magnifying glass in the top-right
      • You can also search courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the links titled by type of site (courses, projects, clubs, portfolios) under the slider. From the search page, use the filters (top-right) to tailor your search
      • more here.
  • Task 2: Create Sites of Your Own by referring to the section of our help content titled Sites on the OpenLab.

We’ll be in touch next week to help you answer: How can I get help and support with using the OpenLab?

Cheers,

The OpenLab Community Team

See the full 5-part series, on The Open Road.

Part 3 of 5 of: Get to Know the OpenLab

Greetings,

This week, join the OpenLab community by creating an account and setting up your profile. By becoming a member of the OpenLab community you’ll be able to create sites to support and share your scholarly and pedagogical work. Additionally, you can participate in the collaborative communities that use the OpenLab to support their work by joining their sites.

  • Task 1: Sign up for an OpenLab Account. To signup you’ll also need access to your City Tech email account. See the OpenLab’s help documentation on ‘ if you run into problems.

  • Task 2: Practice logging in to your account. Sign out of your account and close your browser. Then open a new browser window, navigate back to the OpenLab, and login to your account.

  • Task 3: Learn more about how to manage your account and profile, including updating your information, settings and avatar.
     

We’ll be in touch next week to help you answer: How can I use the OpenLab? Step 2, Create!

Cheers,

The OpenLab Community Team

See 5-Part Series online on The Open Road.

Part 2 of 5 of: Get to Know the OpenLab

Greetings,

This week, we continue our 5-part self-guided series and ask: How do others use the OpenLab? The tasks below will help you explore how members of the City Tech community use the OpenLab to support their learning, teaching, community-building, and other scholarly and pedagogical pursuits. 

  • Task 1: Check out In the Spotlight, our blog series that features a different site each week. You can review these blog entries by:
    • Scrolling through the blog – this will give you a reverse chronological view
    • Visiting the Spotlight Archive – this will give you a topical/categorical view
  • Task 2: Peruse the OpenLab’s new monthly blog series, Pedagogy Profiles, to learn more about how City Tech’s educators began and continue to use the platform to support their work.
  • Task 3: Read the Winter 2017 Nucleus Issue, which featured pieces from faculty about the creative ways they’ve used the OpenLab in the context of their courses and/or research. See our spotlight post on this issue for more!
  • Task 4: Explore the community using various search and filter options:
    • You can search through people, courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the menu at the top and the magnifying glass in the top-right.
    • You can also search courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the links titled by type of site (courses, projects, clubs, portfolios) under the slider. From the search page, use the filters (top-right) to tailor your search.

We’ll be in touch next week to help you join the OpenLab and figure out how you might use the platform.

Cheers,

The OpenLab Community Team

See 5-Part Series online on The Open Road.