Winter 2022 Support Schedule

Hello, OpenLab Community!

We are happy to announce our Winter 2022 Support Schedule, for everyone working the winter session and/or preparing for Spring 2022. We offer two types of synchronous support: workshops and Open Hours.

Winter Workshops:

Click here to view the full schedule and register to receive the Zoom link.

Getting Started on the OpenLab (1/24, 1/27, 2/2)

Using the Course Template for Course Design (1/24, 1/27)

Using the Block Editor (2/2)

Winter Open Hours:

Click here for instructions on how to sign up for a one-on-one appointment with a Digital Pedagogy Fellow during our Open Hours.

Thursday, 1/13, 10:00am-12:00pm

Tuesday, 1/18, 2:00pm-4:00pm

Thursday, 1/27, 10:00am-12:00pm

This Month on the OpenLab: November 2021 Release

Kitten gnawing on stem of a large squash.
Image by guvo59 is licensed under  CC0.

On November 16, 2021 we released version 1.7.56 of the OpenLab. It included updates, a new plugin, and a few bug fixes.

Updates

On Course, Project, Club, and Portfolio sites, we removed the small icon next to the Profile link in the menu because it didn’t appear consistently across all themes. Now, you’ll see brackets around the link text. For example: [Course Profile] 

The ‘Acknowledgements’ widget that appears on a site after it is cloned via shared cloning was not visible in Dashboard > Widgets on non-cloned sites. We made it visible on all sites, so if you have acknowledgements on your group profile that you want to display on the site, you can activate the widget.

We applied minor updates to a few plugins.

New Plugin

We added a new plugin called Top Authors, which allows you to activate a widget listing all authors on your site. This may be especially useful for course sites, to provide an easy way to access the archive of posts for each student. 

Bug Fixes

Hemingway theme: We fixed a few issues with this theme: 

  1. The sidebar was not appearing on mobile devices, meaning that anything in a sidebar widget was not accessible. The sidebar is now appearing at the bottom of the screen on mobile.
  2. When highlighting text in a comment box, the highlight color was nearly the same as the background color of the box, making it difficult to tell what text was highlighted. We changed the highlight color so it is visible.
  3. We fixed an accessibility error caused by a recent update.

Acknowledgements: There were a few minor inconsistencies in the way acknowledgements appeared on course vs. project and club profiles.

Watu Pro Plugin: Previously created quizzes were not appearing properly in the ‘Quizzes’ section of the plugin Dashboard.  

As always, please contact us with any questions!

This Month on the OpenLab: October 2021 Release

Rabbit in between two pumpkins.
Halloween Bunny” by johncatral is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

On October 19, 2021 we released version 1.7.55 of the OpenLab. It included a new quiz plugin, updates to existing plugins, and a few bug fixes. We also added .docx and .xlsx files to the types allowed for upload on OpenLab sites (.doc and .xls were already permitted).

Plugins

The new quiz plugin is called WatuPro, and has many features, including the ability to:

  • Use images in questions and answer choices
  • Use LaTeX in the questions and answer choices
  • Mix graded and ungraded questions
  • Show a progress bar for quiz takers
  • Randomize the question order
  • Show correct/incorrect answers on results page or after each question
  • Export to CSV

OpenLab help documentation is coming soon! In the meantime, the plugin site has a thorough user manual.

In addition to the usual minor updates, we updated Gravity Forms and all Gravity Forms add-on plugins. The Gravity Forms updates fixed some issues in the Quiz and Dropbox plugins caused by the outdated versions.

We also retired Gravity Perks, and its associated GP Media Library plugin. These will still be visible on sites where they’re activated, but we recommend that you deactivate them because we’ll no longer be able to apply updates, and over time this may cause issues.

Bug Fixes

We fixed the following bugs:

  • In OpenLab Gradebook, sometimes after creating a new gradebook and attempting to add all users, only a single user called “John Doe” was added.
  • The Akismet plugin (used for spam prevention) was showing an error message on certain sites.
  • Some site admins were experiencing an issue with duplicate comments being submitted on their sites. The fix included in this release should address that problem.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

WeBWorK Q&A: New WordPress plugin for community-powered Math homework help

We’re excited to announce the release of WeBWorK Q&A, a free WordPress plugin that creates a community forum where students can get help with WeBWorK problems.

WeBWorK Q&A brings together two powerful free and open source platforms: WordPress’s publishing software powers 42% of sites on the internet, and WeBWorK is a widely-adopted platform used to give online assignments in math and science courses. 

The plugin is based on work that’s been happening here on the OpenLab for a while as part of the Opening Gateways project. Some of you may have used the OpenLab’s version of the software on the WeBWorK on the OpenLab site. 

Now we’ve packaged up this software and made it available for anyone in the world to use! 

To find out more, check out the official announcement on the project website.

This Month on the OpenLab: September 2021 Release

Vole sitting on a branch eating apples.
Apples Galore” by Sue Cro is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

On September 15, 2021 we released version 1.7.54 of the OpenLab. It was a small release that included a few bug fixes and some minor plugin updates.

We fixed a bug causing acknowledgements to appear on portfolio profiles, when they should only appear for Courses, Projects, and Clubs. We also updated the acknowledgements widget that is added to cloned sites. The widget will now include changes we made to the format of acknowledgments on group profiles, added in the August release. It will show any additional group creators added, as well as any additional text. In a future release, we’ll make the widget available on sites for non-cloned groups that include acknowledgments.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

This Month on the OpenLab: August 2021 Release

Seal covering itself with sand to cool off.
Cooling Down” by Judith is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

On August 12, 2021 we released version 1.7.53 of the OpenLab. It was a large release, and included multiple new features, new plugins, a few bug fixes, and updates to all existing themes and plugins, and updates to WordPress and BuddyPress, the software that powers the OpenLab.

New Features

Favorites

We added a new feature called “My Favorites,” which allows OpenLab members to save Courses, Projects, Clubs, or Portfolios to a list of “Favorites.” This list appears in a dropdown menu in the My OpenLab toolbar, making it easily accessible from anywhere on the OpenLab.

Acknowledgements for Courses, Projects, and Clubs

We added additional flexibility and options to the acknowledgements that appear on the profile of Courses, Projects, and Clubs. Now you’ll be able to add additional ‘creators’ to a Course, Project, or Club. These may include creators who are not members of the OpenLab so that they can also be credited for their work.

In addition, there’s now a section where you can add custom text that will appear in an acknowledgements section on the profile. This could credit another person, work, or funding source that contributed to the creation of your site.

New ‘Creator(s)’ section in Course Settings

My OpenLab: Ability to Sort My Courses, Projects, and Clubs

We added a dropdown to the My Courses, My Projects, and My Clubs sections in My OpenLab, which will allow you to sort by last active, alphabetical, and newest, making it easier to find particular groups in My OpenLab. 

Non-joinable Groups

This feature allows admins to define a Course, Project, or Club as non-joinable, meaning that the ‘Join Now’ or ‘Request Membership’ buttons will not appear on the profile. We imagine that this would be useful mainly for groups such as model courses, which are open but not intended for membership, or projects that are used as working groups that are only intended for use by a small number of people.

OpenLab Export / Import plugin

We’re releasing a plugin that will allow members to export a site on the OpenLab to be used on any other WordPress installation, such as the CUNY Academic Commons or a CBOX OpenLab installation. Since cloning can’t be done across different installations, this is a way to provide easier sharing of materials. The plugin has more features than the regular WordPress exporter, and packages up all the site contents, together with a readme file to provide context for the person importing the site contents into their own.

New Plugins

We added two new plugins:

  • Quiz Maker Pro replaces WP Pro Quiz, which was retired in June, and removed in this release. It provides an easy way to add quizzes, with many different options for customizing. 
  • Posts by Tag adds a widget that allows you to display posts from different tags of your choosing.

Retired Plugins

We retired a number of plugins that are no longer being updated. These plugins will still be active on sites where they’re currently activated but won’t be available for activation on new sites. They include:

  • Accordion Shortcodes
  • ARI Fancy Lightbox
  • CubePoints
  • DK PDF
  • Download Media Library
  • Google for WP
  • Link Manager
  • WP Twitter
  • WP2Static
  • Tako Movable Comments

WP Pro Quiz, which was retired in June has now been removed entirely, to avoid any potential security risks. Unlike a retired plugin, it will no longer be available, even on sites where it was activated. 

Bug Fixes

We fixed a bug in the OpenLab Attributions plugin, which caused the ‘Add Attribution’ window to close when using the down arrow on a keyboard to choose a license from the dropdown.

We discovered a conflict between two plugins: WP Lightbox2 and Gravity Forms. If both of these plugins are activated together, the panel for adding fields in Gravity Forms does not display correctly. We’re not able to fix the conflict, but want to make people aware of the issue.

Documentation in Help is coming soon for all new features. And as always, please contact us with any questions!

Summer 2021 Virtual Support

The OpenLab is a great community-run platform for anyone at City Tech to expand their web presence. But we realize that you may need support in setting up your OpenLab site, or managing it as the semester continues. The OpenLab team is here to help!

We have scheduled virtual open hours this summer (see full schedule below), with two kinds: one-on-one appointments, and open drop-in hours.  Both kinds offer the opportunity to meet with a member of the OpenLab Community Team. All are held via Zoom and are open to faculty, staff, and students.

Drop-In Open Hours

Support in drop-in office hours is first-come, first-served. Come with specific questions, or ask us to review topics ranging from getting started, using the OpenLab for courses, facilitating communication within your class or group, to using a specific tool or pedagogical approach. If possible, please reach out to the OpenLab team in advance to let us know what questions you have or topics you want to hear about. Our drop-in open hours will take place during the following days and times:

June

6/9 (Wednesday), 10:00am-11:00am

6/23 (Wednesday), 12:00pm-1:00pm

July

7/6 (Tuesday), 12:00pm-1:00pm

7/22 (Thursday), 10:00am-11:00am

August

8/6 (Friday), 12:00pm-1:00pm

8/19 (Thursday), 2:00pm-3:00pm

8/23 (Monday), 10:00am-11:00am

8/24 (Tuesday), 2:00pm-3:00pm

To RSVP for drop-in open hours, use the scheduler here

When it is time for your open hours session,  click here to join us in our Zoom room.

One-On-One Appointments

We are also happy to offer one-on-one/private appointments. All of these appointments will take place on the same days listed above, but either immediately before or immediately after the drop-in hours. These one-on-one appointments will be limited to 30 minutes each. If you want additional support, please also attend the open hours.

June

6/9 (Wednesday), 11:00am-11:30 am OR 11:30am-12:00 pm

6/23 (Wednesday), 1:00pm-1:30 pm OR 1:30pm-2:00 pm

July

7/6 (Tuesday), 1:00pm-1:30 pm OR 1:30pm-2:00pm

7/22 (Thursday), 11:00am-11:30am OR 11:30am-12:00pm

August

8/6 (Friday), 1:00pm-1:30pm OR 1:30pm-2:00pm

8/19 (Thursday), 3:00pm-3:30pm OR 3:30pm-4:00pm

8/23 (Monday), 11:00am-11:30am OR 11:30am-12:00pm

8/24 (Tuesday), 3:00pm-3:30pm OR 3:30pm-4:00pm

To book a one-on-one appointment, please use the scheduler here.

We look forward to working with you!

This Month on the OpenLab: June 2021 Release

On June 3, 2021 we released version 1.7.52 of the OpenLab. It included the introduction of a new plugin for portfolios called OpenLab Private Comments, updates to the WP Grade Comments plugin, a change to the site options available during cloning, a few minor plugin and theme updates, and a bug fix for the OpenLab Attributions plugin.

New features and updates

OpenLab Private Comments plugin

This new plugin, based on WP Grade Comments, was designed with student portfolios in mind. It allows private comments to be added to posts and pages on the site where it’s activated. Only the site admin and the commenter can see the private comments.

WP Grade Comments plugin

We made a change to protect against accidental breaches of privacy if the plugin is deactivated. If this plugin was used on a site to provide grades and/or private comments, they will remain hidden even if the plugin is deactivated. This functionality is also included in the new OpenLab Private Comments plugin.

Cloning 

We removed two options in the “Site Details” section while cloning a course, project, or club that were confusing and not relevant to the cloning process. There are now two options available: 

  • Choose your cloned site: this will be the choice for the majority of cases, and will copy the contents of the site being cloned to the new site.
  • Use an external site: this option may be used when only the profile is being cloned, which will be attached to an external site.

Bug Fix

We fixed a bug in the OpenLab Attributions plugin, which caused the superscript number that links to an attribution to remain in the text even when the attribution was deleted.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

This Month on the OpenLab: March and April 2021 Releases

On March 15 and April 15, 2021 we released versions 1.7.49 and 1.7.50 of the OpenLab. They were both small releases, which included some changes to the OpenLab Attributions plugin, a few minor plugin and theme updates, and a small bug fix. 

OpenLab Attribution Plugin

We changed a few of the labels to make them more clear. In addition, we changed “Derivative Work” to “Adapted From” and under “Adapted From” added three additional items: Item Title, Author Name, and License. 

Bug Fix

In My Profile > My Settings > Email Notifications there was a duplicate section for “Individual Group Email Settings,” which we removed.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

Early March News

... plan
“… plan” by wallsdontlie via Flickr

With Spring 2021 well underway–dare we say approaching midsemester!–the OpenLab team has some helpful information to share:

  1. Learn more about the support the OpenLab provides, both synchronous and asynchronous. The Spring 2021 support schedule includes open hours, one-on-one appointments, helpful OpenLab screencasts, and as always, email. Your group can also request a workshop.
  1. Everyone can share their ideas about the semester with the community on Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab. Anyone can comment–but also consider joining the project so you get updates whenever there are new posts about teaching and learning in the open!
  1. You can learn more about the latest OpenLab News, including the most recent updates to the OpenLab. For example, if you’re using the block editor to write posts and pages, you’ll be glad to know that the tool bar is now much easier to use! 
  1. PLAN Week is underway! You can learn more about the opportunities for students on the PLAN Week page of the City Tech Guide on the OpenLab.

The OpenLab, City Tech’s open digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaboration, offers virtual open hours, online support, and technical and pedagogical guidance throughout the year.

The OpenLab team also offers a selection of Help materials for Distance Education, plus Courses, Projects, Clubs, and Portfolios

Contact us with questions: openlab@citytech.cuny.edu!

The OpenLab Team