In the Spotlight: Bulk Adding Students to your Course

Are you teaching this semester on the OpenLab? If so, a new feature allows you to add students in bulk to your course:

  1. Create a list of your students’ emails: you can download these in a spreadsheet from Blackboard or CUNY First.
  2. Go to your Course Profile > Membership.
  3. Click Invite New Members
  4. At the bottom of the page is an option for Import Members to Your Course.
  5. Here you can paste a list of City Tech email addresses for your students. These can be either separated by commas, or one email address per line. 
  6. Click the checkbox next to “I acknowledge that the following individuals are officially enrolled in my course or have approved this action.”
  7. Click Import.
  8. You will see a list of students who were successfully added to your course. They will receive an email notification that they were added.

If any students do not have OpenLab accounts, a list of their email addresses will appear below the students who were added to your course. They will need to create an account before they can be added to your course. You can also copy the email addresses and send invites to those students by clicking on “Invite the following to join the OpenLab and your Course.”


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

In the Spotlight: City Tech Astronomy Club

This week we spotlight the City Tech Astronomy Club, which allows students to come together to explore the universe, even in a remote semester. Students in the club can use “” to access “online remote controlled telescopes located around the world.” Members can “conduct and participate in live observation observation sessions through a web browser interface,” and “look at remote galaxies, dying and exploding stars, dark spots on the sun’s surface, rings around Saturn and craters and mountains on the Moon.” 

Interested in learning more about the club? You can visit the club site to find out more! The City Tech Astronomy Club leaders have made information readily available for you by featuring a video on the evolution of telescopes and their current use in, as well as a slideshow to teach you more about slooh.

In the Spotlight: PHIL2203ID Healthcare Ethics, OL 50, SP 2021

Header image for Heathcare ethics, two healthcare workers in the operating room.

This week, we spotlight Professor Rob MacDougall’s philosophy course, Healthcare Ethics. The timely course examines “major ethical theories of what is morally right and wrong, and the meaning of moral concepts (e.g., the concepts of right and duty). Focus is on ethical problems associated with the practice of medicine and biomedical research.” The course builds from the OpenLab OER template, using a clean, intuitive design that facilitates ongoing communication with students. It also shows how the OpenLab can be used in conjunction with other platforms (e.g. YouTube, Blackboard). Here are some highlights from the course:

  • A simple, sparse main menu that includes tabs for the Syllabus, Lecture Materials, and Assignments. We especially like that the syllabus is broken up into smaller parts: course policies on the one hand, and course readings and schedule on the other. This shortens the text contained on a single page and makes vital information more digestible and find-able!
  • A sidebar widget that directs students to the City Tech writing center. This is a great use of the sidebar widget space. Often, faculty opt to have a full page of additional resources that students can consult, including the Student Help Desk, the library, etc. But if you have a writing-intensive course and know your students will benefit from writing help, it can’t hurt to highlight the writing center in a widget, thus making it more visible.
Sidebar text widget that reads “visit the City Tech Writing Center for help with writing.”
  • A home page with regular announcements. Professor MacDougall makes sure to remind students when assignments are due, when they have been graded, when synchronous course is cancelled, etc. Remember that you can set your site’s email notifications to have your students receive a message when a new announcement is made.
  • Linking directly to in blog posts announcing that papers have been graded. For faculty who use turnitin or Blackboard to collect assignments, this is a good option. Working across platforms is necessary these days, but regularly linking out to these other platforms from your OpenLab site makes navigating back-and-forth easier for your students!
  • Using short YouTube videos for lectures and guest lectures (for example, here). As always, we recommend giving your students ample opportunities for this type of asynchronous learning. 

Healthcare Ethics is a thoughtfully designed course, kept current and engaging throughout the semester. Keep the link around as a model of an easy-to-navigate, effective site!

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’)