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. 

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! 

GETTING STARTED ON THE OPENLAB

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

STUDENT WORKSHOP

  • 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!

GETTING STARTED

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

 ACCESS OPEN HOUR ON THE OPENLAB

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

 DESIGNING AND ASSESSING STUDENT WORK ON THE OPENLAB

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

PLUGINS AND WIDGETS ON THE OPENLAB

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

 OPEN HOUR ON THE OPENLAB

  • 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.

Email

We are available to support you via email: openlab@citytech.cuny.edu.

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!

 

 

OpenLab Statistics: 2019

As of December 31, 2019:

Pageviews:
1,270,695

Average time on page:
1:20

Number of users broken down by students, alumni, faculty, staff:
Students: 29,910
Alumni: 74
Faculty: 1137
Staff: 229

Number of courses, projects, clubs, portfolios:
Courses: 2674
Projects: 2,645
Clubs: 129
Portfolios: 6791

As of September 30, 2019:

Pageviews:
1,060,645

Average time on page:
1:10

Number of users broken down by students, alumni, faculty, staff:
Students: 29,624
Alumni: 75
Faculty: 1117
Staff: 223

Number of courses, projects, clubs, portfolios:
Courses: 2654
Projects: 2596
Clubs: 122
Portfolios: 6614

As of June 30, 2019:

Pageviews:
823,828

Average session duration:
3:30

Number of users broken down by students, alumni, faculty, staff:
Students: 27,360
Alumni: 63
Faculty: 1073
Staff: 216

Number of courses, projects, clubs, portfolios:
Courses: 2436
Projects: 2569
Clubs: 121
Portfolios: 6498

As of March 31, 2019:

Pageviews:
1,136,302

Average session duration:
3:46

Number of users broken down by students, alumni, faculty, staff:
Students: 27, 184
Alumni: 63
Faculty: 1062
Staff: 211

Number of courses, projects, clubs, portfolios:
Courses: 2385
Projects: 2506
Clubs: 120
Portfolios: 6348

This Month on the OpenLab: January 2020 Release

polar bear balancing on a barrel in the snow
DSC_0489” by Valerie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

On January  23, we released version 1.7.39 of the OpenLab. It included enhancements to existing functionality and design, a new theme, updates to all themes and plugins, and updates to WordPress and BuddyPress, the software that powers the OpenLab.

New Features and Changes

We made some adjustments to improve and standardize across all themes the grey menu that appears at the very top of group sites.

The new theme added in this release is Twenty Twenty.  This “default theme for 2020 is designed to take full advantage of the flexibility of the block editor.”

We also added a new custom template for COMD student ePortfolio sites.  These sites now have a theme and navigation menu designed for visual artists to display their work, and a custom site menu geared towards what COMD students will need to include in their portfolios.  Students don’t need to do anything different.  The template will automatically be used on new portfolio sites created by students who have chosen COMD as their major on their profile.

We also retired a few plugins that are no longer working or maintained by their developer:

  1. WP DPLA
  2. TinyMCE Comment Field

If they are currently activated on a site, they will continue to appear in the list of plugins, unless they are deactivated. They will not be available for activation on new sites.

We wish everyone a smooth beginning to the semester, and as always, please contact us with any questions!

This Month on the OpenLab: December 2019 Release

Snowman on the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Snowman” by Bradley Weber is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

On December 16, we released version 1.7.38 of the OpenLab.

It was a small release, which included a small accessibility fix for the new Lingonberry theme and an improvement to the Creative Commons widget, which was added in the September 2019 release.  This improvement adds two new fields to the widget, allowing site admins to specify a site author and author URL for their license.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

In the Spotlight: Winter Greetings from the Openab

Brooklyn Bridge lit up at night. Dark, cloudy winter skies over hed.,
Photo Credit: Lerone Pieters

Holiday greetings from the OpenLab and congratulations to all on the closing of another semester! 

While our weekly “Spotlight” blog series will go on hiatus for the season, we wanted to remind you of the sites we featured this past semester and encourage you to check them out if you haven’t already done so.

Fall 2019 Spotlight Posts

We also continued a retrospective series, looking back at the OpenLab’s evolution over the past (quasi) decade. This time we focused on the OpenLab’s work to improve accessibility, spotlighting:

…and improved our practices and incorporated some new functionalities and features:

In addition to reviewing these posts from this past fall, you can find a full curated list of all sites that have been spotlighted in our  Spotlight Archive. This archive offers visitors 3 curated lists to help them sort through the posts:

  1. For everyone (By type of site – course, project, club, portfolio)
  2. For faculty/staff
  3. For students

As always, we also encourage you to check out our in-house sites:

The OpenLab Community Team will continue to offer email support over winter break– please contact us with questions or concerns.

We will also soon announce our winter programming. We will be in touch as we get more events and workshops on our calendar!

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!

The OpenLab Community Team

 

In the Spotlight: the Fourth Annual Science Fiction Symposium

This week, we spotlight the Fourth Annual Science Fiction Symposium, to be held on Thursday, Dec. 12 in the Academic Building (285 Jay St, A105). Organized by Jason W. Ellis (City Tech) and Emily Hockaday (Analog Science Fiction and Fact), the Symposium will be held in partnership with Analog Science Fiction and Fact and its publisher Penny Publications. It will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Analog Science Fiction magazine.

All are welcome to drop by! The Symposium is all day long but you can dip in and out as your schedule permits. It’s also open to the public, with no RSVP required. The schedule with the editors/writers panels and scholarly presentations is available here. 

Hope to see you there!

In the Spotlight: The OpenLab at CUNY IT

*This post is part of the OpenLab’s “Retrospective Series,” through which the OpenLab team and community is curating and reflecting on the ways in which the OpenLab has grown and transformed since its launch in Fall 2011. (You can check out the original posts in the series here and here).

For this year’s CUNY IT , hosted at John Jay College, the OpenLab team is reporting back from our ongoing conversations about access in pedagogy and open learning. These conversations have occurred at our two Open Pedagogy events this semester, where we focused on how to broaden the notion of access beyond compliance with the ADA, as well as how to make ourselves more accessible as educators. You can read recaps of these events here.  The OpenLab team is excited to share the many valuable insights that have come out of these discussions, and think through how these insights might be integrated into the OpenLab–City Tech’s homegrown open-source digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating. In keeping with this year’s conference theme, “bridging gaps,” we will showcase the stories of educators who embrace open, digital pedagogy but also have concerns about making teaching and learning accessible to all. 

We’re excited to tackle the three big questions of the conference:

  • What barriers to success do our students face that technology may address? What emerging technologies have the potential to create new solutions to old problems?
  • What are challenges that our faculty and administrators face in using these technologies to bridge gaps at CUNY? How do we best address these challenges?
  • How can CUNY continue to develop and sustain outstanding digital pedagogy, along with a commitment to access and digital equality for CUNY’s students?

OPENLAB CUNY IT Presentation

Some background: When City Tech’s OpenLab launched in 2011, its team anticipated students, faculty, and staff creatively imagining it as a platform to learn, work, and share within and beyond the college community. The open digital platform, built with blogging and social networking software (WordPress, BuddyPress), thrives with innovative member-generated content. The 28,000+ OpenLab members have pushed it in new and exciting directions.  The OpenLab is a perpetual experiment, and development on the platform moves quickly. Still, we make sure to take time to reflect on the work that we do. We hold two events per semester called Open Pedagogy in which educators from CUNY and New York City at large come together over wine and cheese to discuss various questions concerning digital pedagogy. As noted above, this year our discussions are centered on access.

In frameworks of disability justice, the term accessibility conveys the degree to which a space, process, or concept is accessible. By contrast, access denotes the process by which accessibility is achieved. While we think of digital technologies as lowering some barriers to learning—such as the OER initiative at City Tech and our collaboration with BMCC to better serve transfer students—technology can also present new challenges to access. Our CUNY IT presentation will highlight some of our takeaways from our fall programming and will include interactive components to engage participants as we bring the conversation to the larger CUNY community. 

We hope that the presentation (slides below) and the accompanying material helps to provide a sense of how deeply and meaningfully we have taken up the theme of access. The presenters at the conference include a number of members of the OpenLab team: OpenLab Co-Directors, Jody R. Rosen (Associate Professor of English), and Jason Ellis (Assistant Professor of English), as well as the OpenLab Digital Pedagogy Fellows Claire Cahen, Jesse Rice Evans, and Olivia Wood.

*If you’re at the conference, please do come join us in person, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM.

 

In the Spotlight: Arch 2331, Building Technology 2

Header image for the architecture course; it is a rendering of an urban waterfront landscape that includes a bike path by aa river and large, triangular red building siting along the path.

This week, we spotlight Professor Aptekar’s Arch 2331, Building Technology 2. The course features many of the elements of a well-designed and compelling site. These include:

  •  A customized header image. The image here is a rendering of an urban waterfront landscape–so highly relevant for an Architecture course on building technology! Note also that it is a horizontal image and so works well in the header space.
  • A customized tag line that reads simply “Building Technology Support.” By tag line, I’m referring to the short bit of text featured (usually in italics) next to the site title. The default tag line reads: “An OpenLab course site.” Many OpenLab users forget to customize it, but note here that you can actually adapt it to your needs and use it, as Professor Aptekar does, to inform the visitor of the purpose of the site.
  • A search functionality at the top of the page in the widget area. The search widget here is very well-placed in that it is impossible to miss! It sits at the top right-hand corner of the site, such that anyone will know at first glance that they can simply type what they are looking for in the search box, rather than sift through the content of the entire site.
  • Rich and diverse course content, from lecture notes to assignments to additional resources. This content is cleanly-organized in various pages and posts, clearly labeled and accessible from the main navigation menu and its associated drop-downs menus. Lecture notes are featured in chronological order, with first lectures appearing first and last lectures appearing last.
  • An innovative question and answer set up on the home page. Here, Professor Aptekar posts questions that students ask about the course. These questions are updated weekly and range from inquiries regarding due dates for homework to questions about architecture and the course material. Professor Aptekar posts the student questions in green and his answers in black. These colors serve as neat visual cues. This is also a smart and original way to use the blogroll, such that students don’t miss key, up-to-date information and know that they can engage their professor in open dialogue through the OpenLab. Note how much more efficient this is to communicate information than a private, one-on-one e-mail exchange!

Curious about the course? Check it out for yourself here!