New Screencast: Customizing Your Site’s Appearance

In this screencast, the latest in our Site Building Blocks series, digital pedagogy fellow Olivia will show you how to edit your site’s appearance using the “Appearance –> Customize” feature on the site’s Dashboard.

You can view our other screencasts by visiting us on YouTube.

This Month on the OpenLab: October 2020 Release

Dog with halloween costume
HAPPY HALLOWEEN from Benni and me by Bennilover is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

On October 15, 2020 we released version 1.7.46 of the OpenLab. It was a small release, which included a few small bug fixes and some minor plugin updates.

  1. Due to an oversight, the Highlighter Pro plugin installed in the August release wasn’t visible for activation to OpenLab Members. This has been fixed so it will appear in the list of plugins for any OpenLab site, where it can be activated.
  2. When a site using Gravity Forms was cloned, the forms were being copied to the new site, but they weren’t automatically embedded in the posts or pages on the new site, and had to be manually added again. The cloning of Gravity Forms is now working correctly.
  3. We cleaned up some confusing text on the Dashboard interface for the OpenLab Gradebook widget.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

Welcome Back & Spring 2020 Programming

Welcome back to all City Tech faculty, students, and staff!  As you all sink into your semesterly routines, we want to take a moment to highlight the different ways we’re here to support your work on the OpenLab this semester.

Spring 2020 Drop-in Office Hours

Meet with a member of the OpenLab Community Team for face-to- face support. No RSVP necessary.

Tuesdays 12:00-2:00pm: 2/25, 3/17, 4/21, 5/5

Wednesdays 1:15-3:15pm: 2/5,  3/4, 3/25, 4/1

Thursdays 10:00am-12:00pm: 2/20, 3/12, 4/30, 5/14

Office hours are held in the conference room of the Faculty Commons, N227.

Spring 2020 Student Workshops 

More information regarding our Spring 2020 programming is now posted on the Open Road- you can  learn more about Spring events and view their full  schedule on our calendar.

Below is a list of workshops we are offering this spring for students. Note that our first workshop begin this week! 


  • Thursday January 30, 2020, 1:00pm-2:30pm, L540


  • Thursday April 2, 2020, 1:00pm-2:00pm, L540

Spring 2020 Faculty Workshops 

Below is a list of faculty workshops we are offering this spring. RSVP for any and all of these workshops here or by clicking the links below!


  • Thursday January 30, 2020, 1:00pm-2:30pm, L540


  • Wednesday, 2/19, 1:30-3:30 PM, Room G604


  • Wednesday, 3/11, 1:30-3:00 PM, Room G604


  • Thursday, 4/2, 2:30-4:00 PM, Room G604


  • Thursday, 5/5, 2:00-4:00 PM, Room L540

Support Documentation

We have help(ful) documentation on the OpenLab that offers step-by-step guides for everything from getting started, to thinking about specific plugins that build out the functionality of your sites and portfolios.


We are available to support you via email:

Join Our In-House Sites

We encourage you to become members of our in-house sites (you can do so by visiting the profiles of each site). These sites will keep you up-to-date with all things ‘OpenLab’ and offer opportunities for deeper investment with City Tech’s community.

  • Learn more about the OpenLab, including workshops, events, community, and support opportunities on The Open Road. (Profile)
  • Share and discuss resources about open digital pedagogy with other City Tech and CUNY-wide staff and faculty on Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab. (Profile)

Spring 2020 Open Pedagogy Events – Faculty and Staff

As in semesters past, we will have two Open Pedagogy events in Spring 2020. The dates are set for Thursday February 27 and Thursday April 23 – from 4:30pm to 6:00pm in the Faculty Commons (N227). Learn more here.

We hope to see you around soon! Wishing you all a happy semester!



This Week in the OpenLab: September 15th Edition


This week we want to highlight our bloggers, who have returned this year better than ever. We’re extremely lucky to have their work here on the OpenLab, and hope you agree. Be sure to follow The Buzz to follow all their posts!


Konyca: Never Forget

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 1.37.02 PM

September 11th, 2001 do you remember where you were on this tragic day? I was back in my home country. I had just came out from school and turned on the television as I got in( a natural habit) when I saw the attack on the news. I stood there in disbelieve wondering if I was dreaming. Still in disbelieve, I managed to call my mom to inform her of what has happened. It wasn’t until the next day we were able to contact friends and family to make sure they were alright. Thankfully they were. To this day I am still baffled by what happened 14 years ago. However I believe this has only made the people stronger, united and more appreciated of life. Never forget……




BRIANNA: Food Styling: The Perspective of Food

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 1.42.33 PM

I strongly believe that despite how good food can taste, it must first look presentable. The famous saying which states how your eyes eat before your mouth does explain my theory.  As all of us post onto OpenLab or other sites, we all post photographs to truly evoke and support our article efficiently.

Food styling is all about the science of displaying food properly to evoke a sense of persuading each viewer to want to eat and enjoy the meal being presented. In food styling, presentation is key; it revolves around what the viewer’s ideal interests in that particular dish are and how to captivate them in a single photograph to entice them. Mostly, food styling is used as a means of advertisement to coax those to purchase their products but it can be used to show the outcome of a recipe or to display an edible, artistic masterpiece.


AMONI: Summer is FALLing into its Place

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 1.59.22 PM

 Welcome back students, faculty, staff and visitors. My name is Amoni B and its an honor to be blogging with City Tech for another semester. I hope all of my readers are enjoying their summer, whether you were traveling, learning in school, giving back to your community, splashing in water themed parks, visiting galas and museums, enjoying sport events like the US Open, dancing at the Labor Day parade, and even working. I must also shine light on the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement. Although the years of damnation and recent events in the US and Dominican Republic aren’t much to smile about, I am happy that there is more awareness and even more self-embracing being spread.

OpenLab @ Tech Day

We’re excited to be presenting at Tech Day @ City Tech on Wednesday, March 18!  We’ll be in room G-604, from 11:45am-12:45pm.

For our interactive session, “City Tech’s OpenLab: Enhancing the College Experience through Open Digital Technologies,” we’ll be exploring the sites below as a way of thinking through how to enhance the college experience (in the classroom, in our community, and among peers).

ENG 2426: Science Fiction

There’s a lot happening on Prof. Jill Belli’s Science Fiction course site, which is well-structured so it’s easy to explore and access specific information and resources.  The site is very active, with frequent student posts and interaction in the comments sections.  There are also some great discussions generated in the Class Discussion Posts, where conversation is extended beyond class time.  You can tell from reading through any of these comment threads that students are very engaged with the material they’re studying, as well as their classmates’ ideas.  Each week the class votes on which student post they think should be featured on the site, and the winner is chosen as the People’s Choice Post of the week. We also love that the course avatar (pictured above) was created by a student in the class, Andrew Dutt.


“The Art of Food” is an exciting learning community between Professor Garcelon’s Culinary I, Professor Jacus’s Baking & Pastry I, and Professor Cheng’s History of Photography courses.  In their course, their students explore whether or not it’s possible to appreciate food like a work of art and how food can be viewed in terms of aesthetic categories like beauty and taste.  The course site is very dynamic and very well-structured with great multimedia assignments from photographing food texture to blogging about Civil War soldier’s diets and foods that would be impossible to live without!  Take a look and enjoy!


#TheGuide project, organized by Professor Karen Goodlad in the Hospitality Management department and Professor Laura Westengard in the English department, and created by their students, offers the OpenLab community a friendly neighborhood guide to local resources ranging from information about college skills, to tours of Brooklyn Bridge Park, to where to find the best local grub! This site is very well-organized and makes good use of widgets in the right-hand sidebar. Just check out all of those great categories! This site is a great example of how collaborative work done on the OpenLab can benefit the entire City Tech community.

The Buzz

The Buzz is the blog for our excellent group of student bloggers, who are writing on a wide variety of topics, including fashion, food, NYC events and activities, and more.  This semester the group also includes a few photobloggers who will be posting and writing about their photographs.  There are new posts nearly every day, as well as an active comments section.  Check it out, and leave a comment!

Biological Sciences Department

The Biological Sciences Department has created an excellent site on the OpenLab, which is full of resources, news, and helpful information.  It’s well-structured so that everything is easy to find, both on the home page, and in the top menu.  They also have a helpful feed of upcoming departmental events and deadlines in the sidebar.  Take a look!

This Week in the OpenLab: December 9th Edition


(image by JD Hancock via creative commons license)

Thought we’d take this final post of the term to revisit an old post/topic, Course Cloning. Cloning is a key feature to course management on the OpenLab, and we want to be sure as many of you know about it as possible.  Our system makes it incredibly easy to “clone” a course, bringing all documents, posts and pages created by the site administrator, and most settings to a new and uniquely named site and profile.  You’ll find cloning is now integrated into the OpenLab’s course creation.  You can learn more about it the specifics about how to clone a course here (and below).

Cloning a course is particularly useful for a few reasons:

  • for setting up multiple sections of the same course in a new semester. You can create the framework of your course, then clone it, changing the name of the url to create a new section of the course.
  • for creating a new course based on an old one.  When your course is over, you can clone it, creating a new course that doesn’t contain any old student work. This both saves you time and leaves the old coursework accessible to the students who took the course. Keeping student work accessible on the OpenLab is very important: they may need to build on that work in later courses or show it to a potential employer, so please don’t delete it. (If it’s vital that your new students aren’t able to see the old students’ work, you can simply change the privacy settings on the old course to make it available to members only.)  Find more on managing your courses here, or contact us if you have questions.
  • for sharing a course framework between teaching partners, or even entire departments. Some departments have expressed a desire to coordinate all sections of a course across the department.  That can also be done via course cloning: once the department has decided on a framework, it can be cloned for each new instructor, simply by changing the administrator of the course (you can find out more about there here).

If you want to copy only certain parts of a course site, however, or to copy material created by users other than yourself, you might want to use the import/export function on our sites.  You can learn more about that here.  Do note that the import/export function only copies course sites:  if most of your course material is on your profile page, you probably are better off using the clone feature.

Remember, for any cloning situation, we’re likely to have solutions. We’d love to discuss  options with you.  Email us anytime at

And here are the details of how to clone, from our help section:

Cloning a course will create an exact copy of an existing course, keeping all content you created or uploaded, but student work will not be copied over.  The course avatar, course settings, and site settings will all remain the same, although you can change anything as necessary.

  1. After logging in, click My OpenLab in the main menu. Then click My Courses in the right-hand menu. On the My Courses page, click + Create / Clone a Course at the top of the page.Create_Clone_Course_1

1a. You may also begin cloning a course by going to the Profile of the course you would like to clone.  Choose Course Settings in the right-hand menu and then + Clone Course.

Clone_Course_1aStep One: Profile

  1. On the first Create/Clone a Course screen, choose Clone an Existing Course and then in the dropdown menu, select the course you would like to clone.
  2. Enter the Course Name.
  3. You’ll notice that the description is already filled in, and is the same as the course you are cloning. The School, Department, Course Code, and Section Code are also pre-populated.  You can leave these as they appear or edit.Clone_Course_1
  4. Enter the Semester and Year.
  5. Choose the site details.  The button for “Name your cloned site” will be pre-selected.  Fill in the URL for the new site.  Please note: the site address must be different from the old site, which will be displayed below.  You should also only include the last part of the URL (do not include
  • It is a good practice to add Semester and Year to differentiate between your courses from one semester to another: FacultyLastNameCourseCodeSemYear.  For example: smithadv1100sp2012
  • If you teach multiple sections and plan to create additional course sites on the OpenLab, consider adding other identifying information to the URL, such as the section number or days of the week (for example, MW or TuTh).

You may also choose to create a new site, use an existing site, or use an external site.

  1. When you are finished, click Create Course and Continue.

Clone_Course_2Step 2: Privacy Settings

The privacy settings for the new course will be the same as the settings for the course you are cloning, but you may change them if you wish.

  1. Choose your Profile privacy settings.  These settings control the privacy of the course profile, and are different from the course site, which you will choose next. You can change the settings at any time.

This is a public course:

  • The course profile and related content and activity will be visible to the public, whether or not they are members of the OpenLab.
  • The course profile will be listed in the OpenLab course directory and search results.
  • Any OpenLab member may join this course.
  • Even if you want your course to be private, you might want to choose this option for the first few weeks of the semester because it is easier for students to join.

This is a private course:

  • The course profile and related content and activity will only be visible to members of the course.
  • The course profile will be listed in the course directory and search results.
  • Only OpenLab members who request membership and are accepted by the professor may join this course.

This is a hidden course:

  • The course profile, related content, and activity will only be visible only to members of the course.
  • The course profile will NOT be listed in the course directory and search results.
  • Only OpenLab members who are invited may join this course.
  1. Next, choose the privacy settings for your course site.


Allow search engines to index this site:

  • Anyone can visit your site without needing a password.
  • Search engines will index all pages and posts, meaning your site will show up in search results on Google, Bing and others.
  • Choose this option for maximum public visibility.

Ask search engines not to index this site:

  • Visitors do not need a password to see your site if they know the URL or are linked from elsewhere, but Google, Bing and other search engines should not index your posts and pages. (Please note: it is up to search engines to honor your request.)
  • Choose this option if you want to be able to show the blog to people who are not members of the OpenLab, but you don’t want people to stumble upon it via search engines.


I would like my site to be visible only to registered users of City Tech OpenLab:

  • Anyone who is signed into the OpenLab can see this site.
  • Choose this option if you’d only like the OpenLab community to be able to see the site.

I would like my site to be visible to registered users of this Course:

  • Only members of your course will be able to visit the site.
  • Choose this option if you only want enrolled students to be able to see the site.


I would like my site to be visible only to site administrators:

  • No one except site admins (only the professor, unless you add others) can see the site.
  • You may choose this option if you are in the process of creating your course site, but it would rarely be useful during an active course.
  1. When you’re done, click Next Step.Create_Clone_Course_3

Step Three: Changing Avatar


  1. The avatar for the course you have cloned will appear.  If you would like to keep that avatar, just click Next Step. If you would like to change it, click Browse.  Select the file you want to use from your computer or flash drive and then click Upload Image.


  1. When you are done click Next Step.

Step Four: Inviting Members

  1. If you would like to invite members to your Course, start typing their display name.  When a dropdown list appears, select their name from the list.  Their name and avatar will appear under the heading Invites.  When you’re finished, or if you do not wish to invite anyone at this time (you can always do it later!), click Finish, at the bottom of the page.CreateCourse_8
  2. After you click Finish your course will be cloned, and you will be on the Course Profile page of your new course!  From here, you can (a) change settings such as privacy, Course description, or (b) change your avatar.  From your Course Profile you can also access your (c) Course Site and Dashboard (the admin panel, where you will edit and add content to your Course Site).


  • You will notice that any posts on the Discussion forum or Docs you created or Files you uploaded in the previous course will appear in the new course. You can keep or delete any as necessary.
  • All your posts and pages from the previous course site will also have been cloned.  However, they will be in draft form, so you will need to publish any that you would like to appear on the new site.
  • The theme and header image will remain the same, although you may change these at any time.  In addition, any pluginsor widgets you had activated on your old site will appear on the new site.  And, if you created a custom menu it will remain the same on the new site.

Help information on course site privacy courtesy of Blogs@Baruch at Baruch College, CUNY.

This Week in the OpenLab: CUNY IT Conference Edition

This week the OL is off to the CUNY IT Conference at John Jay on December 4th and 5th. Come see us at our panel!  And below that you’ll also find panels starring some of the OL members and staff. Hope to see you at the raffle!




This workshop explores how open digital technologies can move beyond delivering content to building networks, experiences, and communities. Drawing examples from City Tech’s OpenLab – an open platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating with 11,000+ members – we will facilitate an interactive session highlighting challenges and opportunities participants may face at their own campuses and, together, generate creative solutions. We see this session as a step towards future cross-campus collaborations.

Jill Belli, Assistant Professor of English / OpenLab Co-Director, New York City College of Technology
Charlie Edwards, Living Lab Program Manager, New York City College of Technology
M. Genevieve Hitchings, Assistant Professor of Communication Design / OpenLab Co-Director, New York City College of Technology
Jonas Reitz, Associate Professor of Mathematics / Living Lab Project Director, New York City College of Technology
Jody R. Rosen, Assistant Professor of English / OpenLab Co-Director, New York City College of Technology
Jenna Spevack, Associate Professor of Communication Design / OpenLab Co-Director, New York City College of Technology




The CUNY Innovation Survey ( is a crowd-sourced site that showcases technology-related initiatives and achievements through contributions from across the university. The survey gives, for the first time, a snapshot view and folksonomy of innovation at CUNY. This roundtable will outline the survey results, and invite conversation between representatives of several high-impact programs featured in the survey, who will discuss how their programs support a CUNY culture of innovation.

Lisa Brundage,
Director, CUNY Advance
Erin Glass, Ph.D. Student in English and Digital Fellow, CUNY Graduate Center
Jody R. Rosen, Assistant Professor of English, New York City College of TechnologyJohn Sorrentino, Post Doctoral Digital Learning Fellow, Macaulay Honors College




This presentation will focus on a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to instruction with a focus on methodologies employed in grassroots environmental research. We will provide an overview of grassroots/citizen science as a model for lifelong place-based learning, discuss how it may be integrated into teaching, and demonstrate ways that the use of open data tools and open source technologies can provide a foundation for research collaborations in the classroom and beyond.

Bronwen Densmore
, Assistant Professor & Instructional Design Librarian, New York City College of Technology
Elia Machado, Assistant Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Geospacial Sciences, Lehman College
Jeremy Seto, Assistant Professor of Biology, New York City College of Technology




As campuses everywhere ‘go digital’, the CUNY Graduate Center’s ‘Digital GC’ initiative continues to integrate digital tools and methods into the research, teaching, and service missions of the institution. In this presentation and roundtable panel, Director Matthew Gold (and a number of students across a host of departments and educational programs) will discuss their work as part of this initiative, presenting some of the unique and imaginative current programs.

Matthew K. Gold
, Advisor to the Provost for Digital Initiatives, CUNY Graduate Center
Kenneth U. Ezrim, GC Digital Fellow, Computer Science
Erin Glass, GC Digital Fellow, English
Michelle Johnson, GC Digital Fellow, Linguistics
Laura Wildemann Kane, GC Digital Fellow, Philosophy
Micki Kaufman, GC Digital Fellow, History
Andrew McKinney, GC Digital Fellow, Sociology
Alice Lynn McMichael, GC Digital Fellow, Art History
Evan Misshula, GC Digital Fellow, Criminal Justice
Keith Miyake, GC Digital Fellow, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Patrick Smyth, GC Digital Fellow, English
Provost’s Digital Innovation Grant Round 3 Winners: Micki Kaufman (‘Quantifying Kissinger’), Eric Knudsen (‘Six Degrees of Occupation’), Amanda Licastro (‘The Writing Studies Tree’), Peri Ozlem Yuksel-Sokmen (‘Lazuri Talking Child Stories’)

This Week in the OpenLab: Student Blogger/Photoblogger Edition!

LivingLab_OpenLab_Student Blogger or Photoblogger_11_15_14_Rev_v3-page-001

Why should you become a student blogger or photoblogger?  Well, you can share your experiences and ideas with the City Tech community, collaborate with a team of students, publish your work on the OpenLab, gain real-world blogging experience, add to your resume, and get paid $300!

City Tech’s OpenLab, an open-source digital platform for students, faculty, and staff, is looking for enthusiastic City Tech students to blog weekly. Your posts could be about you: maybe you’re from far away, a parent, coming back to school after many years, a veteran, etc. Or you could write about what interests you and your friends and classmates: music, sports, food, movies. Or you could share your photography as a photoblogger.

Whether writing or photoblogging, OpenLab Student Bloggers will work with the OpenLab Community Team to create conversation on the OpenLab, commenting on the posts by other student bloggers and members of the OpenLab community. If you’re applying for blogging as a writer, you should:

  • have already passed English 1101
  • review The Buzz for a sense of what previous bloggers have done
  • send an email to
    • explaining what your posts will add to the OpenLab and why you should be chosen as one of our student bloggers
    • include a 400-word sample post that is clear and interesting for your potential OpenLab audience
    • attach your resume

If you are applying for photoblogging, you should:

  • have experience taking photographs and optimizing images for the web using Photoshop or similar software
  • send an email to
    • explaining what your posts will add to the OpenLab and why you should be chosen as one of our student bloggers
    • send at least 5 images to
    • attach your resume

This Week in the OpenLab: October 21st Edition

(image by Mushin via Wikimedia Commons)

In keeping with our recent theme, this week we’re going to highlight some clubs from around the OpenLab.  Enjoy!


Energy and Environmental Simulation Laboratory (EESL)


EESL is Professor Masato R. Nakamura’s research group based on Mechanical Engineering Department in New York City College of Technology (City Tech), City University of New York (CUNY). This Lab is a research group, not a club, but opens to everyone who would like to conduct research on energy, environmental engineering (including ecodesign), and computing for sustainability. Also it’s for people who wish to obtain research and development (R&D) skills required in a high level position in the industry and academia.

Excellent students can be recommended to become research assistants in order to publish a paper as a co-author, and have an oral presentation in an international conference. These research activities make your resume strong (R&D skills, publication, professional presentation) and will be a huge advantage for finding an engineering position or being accepted or transfer to other graduate schools for obtaining master or doctoral degree.





As the club site creators write, “The music club was created to group together City Tech students who want to exercise their musical abilities. I expect to meet with members once a week on Thursdays during club hours (12:40pm-2:00pm). Ideally the club can  give us a chance to participate in school events and perform. We also have the chance to get to know other members within the club who share similar interests in music.”




Theatreworks, the resident theatre company at New York City College of Technology, is composed of students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members. Founded in 1974, Theatreworks has been recognized in the media and theater circles for its commitment to professionalism in performance, technology and the advancement of multicultural casting and crews in plays, videos, musicals, dance and other events. This unique approach to theatre has given Theatreworks citywide recognition and an audience from the greater New York area. Theatreworks is now performing in the state-of-the-art Voorhees Theatre, where a haunted hotel, the Gravesend Inn, has opened each October to hundreds of spectators for over 13 years. Each spring semester a resident group is hosted on campus to work with the Theatreworks students. Student technicians receive valuable training by participating in the lighting, sound, costume, video, publicity and scenery crews for performances each year. Theatreworks alumni can be found in the professional theater, in television and concert venues, and working with many theater-related companies in their respective communities. For further information about Theatreworks, call Professor Chip Scott in the Entertainment Technology Office in the Voorhees Building, room V 205, at 718.260.5590 or

That’s all for this week!

This Week in the OpenLab: September 17th Edition!


Living Lab Event: What’s New in the Living Lab

This message comes from Sandra Chang, who runs our very own Living Lab.  Come and find out what’s been happening in the Living Lab on Friday, September 19, 2014 in Namm 119, 11:45 am-1:30 pm. The dissemination event is open to all. See what your colleagues have been doing in the Living Lab. Take a break, grab a little lunch, and even think about different approaches to your own classroom. Hope to see you there!




Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 1.11.40 PM

As we’ve been saying over the last couple of weeks, we’ve made quite a few upgrades to the OpenLab of late. One of which is a replacement for our Grader Plug-In, called OpenLab Grade Comments.  The plug-in is very very simple to use, with far less potential confusion for users, and an easier interface for privately leaving grades only the post creator and administrator can see. Once activated, you’ll see the two options appear next to any post. Easy!


That’s it for this week!  As always, email us with any questions!