Summer Series 2021

Part 4 of 5 of: Planning your Semester, Pt. 1

Greetings,

This week, we suggest two tasks to guide faculty in planning their semester. Both tasks help faculty customize the OpenLab course template to communicate with their students. 

Task 1: Explore Student-Instructor Communication in the Course Template

  • Get familiar with the different types of communication facilitated through the course template:
    • The template facilitates one-way communication from instructors to students. Under the Course Info tab, you will notice pages for your syllabus, the course schedule, and your contact information—all crucial content for your students to know and have access to on your site. The template also suggests using a category archive for your regularly updated announcements to students.
    • The template facilitates two-way communication between instructors and students. For example, the home page includes a survey for your students to fill out at the start of the semester so that you can understand the technology and working spaces available to them as they continue working off-campus. We recommend you use the data from the survey to inform your communication with students throughout the rest of the semester, as well as to inform your expectations for course assignments and participation. 
    • The template also uses category archives for students to submit their assignments, and suggests a number of mechanisms through which you can provide feedback and grades on student work. (Note that FERPA protects student record privacy, and student work should not be graded publicly.)
    • The template facilitates communication between students! This is a key part of creating a lively online classroom. A category archive for Discussions creates a suggested space for students to hold class dialogue online. A first assignment is suggested to you in which students introduce themselves to each other, and encourages students to respond to each other’s introductions for extra credit.
  • Remember that the template is a suggested model for designing your course. It is informed by known best practices for online and  hybrid teaching, but can and should be customized to suit your vision for your semester. Before you begin further customizing the template, ask yourself:
    • What information do my students need from me to be successful this semester? How can I support them and adapt my teaching to these unusual circumstances?
    • How would I like my students to communicate with me this semester? How can I pierce through some of the inertia that we are all feeling as the pandemic wears on?
    • What kind of class dialogue would I like to see this semester? How can I make it relevant to the current moment?

Task 2: Customize the Pages on your Course

  • Prepare and gather your “static” course materials for your site. “Static” here refers to those materials that your students need from day one of the semester and that won’t be updated very much as the months go by. These materials convey information from you to your students, and include:
    • Your syllabus.
    • Your contact info.
    • Your grading policy/ grading rubrics.
    • Your course schedule.
  • Update the pages on your course site with these materials! 
  • If you have course readings that are available online, decide now how you will link to these readings from your OpenLab site. Please make sure to read our copyright guidelines as you do this.
    • Are your readings freely available online? Can you provide links in your syllabus/ class agendas/ course schedule?
    • Are your readings large PDF files? If so, we recommend using an external hosting service to host these files, such as Dropbox, Office 365 or other hosting service provided by the college. You can provide your students with instructions on how to access this service on your OpenLab site. 

We’ll be in touch next week to help you to continue to answer: How can I further design my course to facilitate communication between students? How can I collect student work on the OpenLab?

Cheers,

The OpenLab Community Team

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

Summer Series 2021

Part 3 of 5: Create on the OpenLab

Greetings,

This week, create on the OpenLab! In this case, “create” can refer to creating sites, but also to creating communities, collaborations, and dialogue by joining other sites, connecting with friends and colleagues, participating in discussion forums, and more. That said, task 2 is intended for instructors and focuses on the first steps of course creation, taking a particularly close look at the course template.

  • Task 1: Create Connections:
     
    • Join our 2 in-house sites to stay connected and updated about what’s happening on the OpenLab:
      • The Open Road: Our one-stop-shop for all things OpenLab: news, workshops, events, community, and support!
      • Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab: A site for sharing and discussing resources about open digital pedagogy!
  • Connect with your friends and join other groups related to your interests:
    • You can search through people, courses, projects, clubs, and portfolios using the menu at the top and the magnifying glass in the top-right.
    • You can also search for courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the links titled by type of site (courses, projects, clubs, and portfolios) under the slider. From the search page, use the filters (top-right) to tailor your search.
    • Want to create a club, portfolio, or project? Learn more here.
  • Task 2: Create a course site! The tasks below will get you started on the task of building a site.
    • Get familiar with the (new!) course template. Take a video tour of the template and read our help documentation.
    • Follow these steps to create a course site from this template.
    • Take time to fill out your course profile:
      • Customize your course avatar. If you do not have an image for your avatar in my mind, you can search for reusable images online. You can also create an avatar of your own; Barbara Smith Mishara from Architecture, for example, has created an avatar that clearly features the name of her course and the semester. This is a great way to make your course easy to find for your students.
      • Include a course description and your contact information in the course profile. A good example of an information-rich  but easy to read course profile is John De Santis’ Spring 2020 COMD1127 class.
      • Get familiar with course profile tools, including Discussion boards, Files, and Docs. You don’t have to decide now whether  you will use any of these tools, but it’s a good idea to play around and see what each can do.
    • Customize your site’s appearance:
      • You can choose a header image.
      • Under Dashboard> Appearance, you’ll have the option of changing the title to your site (we recommend making this your course’s name!), the site’s tag line (we recommend that it feature your name, the course section, and semester), and the site’s identity.
      • You can edit your site’s widgets. You will want to edit the “About this Course” widget to share your name, office hours, contact information, and a brief paragraph about this Course. You may also want to include a picture of yourself in the “About this Course” widget.
      • As always, as you begin the course creation process, we recommend consulting our example courses for inspiration and model work.

We’ll be in touch next week to help you answer: How can I design my course to facilitate communication with my students?

Summer Series 2021

Part 2 of 5 of: Explore the OpenLab and Learn How to Get Help with Using the OpenLab

Greetings,

This week, we continue our 5-part self-guided series and ask: How do others use the OpenLab? How can I get help using the OpenLab? The tasks below will help everyone explore how members of the City Tech community use the OpenLab to learn, teach, build community, and pursue other scholarly and pedagogical interests. These tasks will also show how to get support using the OpenLab.

  • Task 1: Check out In the Spotlight, our blog series that features a different exemplary site each week. Begin with the  Spotlight Archive:
    • If you are a student, you may want to scroll through some student ePortfolios and clubs.
    • If you are faculty, you may want to scroll through some spotlighted courses. 
    • If you are staff, you may want to look at some spotlighted projects.
  • Task 2: Check out our example courses.

  • Task 3:  Check out our in-house site Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab: A site for sharing and discussing resources about open digital pedagogy. This site will help you understand what we mean when we talk about learning/ teaching online and in the “open”:
  • Task 4: Continue to explore the community using various search and filter options:
    • You can search through people, courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the menu at the top and the magnifying glass in the top-right.
    • You can also search courses, projects, clubs and portfolios using the links titled by type of site (courses, projects, clubs, portfolios) under the slider. From the search page, use the filters (top-right) to tailor your search.

  • Task 5: As you explore, you may find yourself inspired to start creating your course or ePortfolio. To get help with these tasks and using the OpenLab you can:
    • Check out our Help Documentation – it has everything you need to get started joining and building sites on the OpenLab. Get help with everything from Creating a Course, inviting students,sharing materials, and using the new WordPress block editor
    • Throughout this summer, we have virtual office hours: these are  one-on-one consultations with a member of the OpenLab team. You’re welcome to meet with us at any stage of your work, whether you are just starting to think through how you will set up your site or whether you’re more advanced.  
    • We are available to support you seven days a week via email at openlab@citytech.cuny.edu.

We’ll be in touch next week to help you create on the OpenLab. 

Summer Series 2021

A 5-Part Self-Guided Series To Get Everyone Started on the OpenLab

Part 1 of 5 of: Get to Know the OpenLab

As in past summers, we are releasing a 5-part self-guided series that provides short tasks to help everyone in the City Tech community get to know the OpenLab. Many of us will be teaching/ working remotely for the fourth straight semester. While remote teaching has become more familiar, many of us are feeling some wear from the isolation and the realities of remote work, not to mention the general anxiety of living through a global pandemic.  The OpenLab team has been impressed and moved by the creativity, adaptability, and compassion that faculty, staff, and students have shown on and off the OpenLab; we also recognize that in some ways, as the pandemic wears on, enlivening an online classroom (or club, or event) is becoming increasingly difficult. The primary goal of this series is to introduce everyone to the OpenLab, but it is also to highlight strategies for combating inertia  and cultivating an online community. 

Each week, we will guide everyone through different tasks to start or reinvigorate their work on the OpenLab.  Tasks are oriented around different questions, beginning with the most basic question – How do I join the OpenLab? The tasks below will help you create an account and set up your OpenLab profile. 

  • Task 3:  Set up your OpenLab profile. You’ll notice as you do this that only some fields are required. You can always come back and complete missing information later when you have time to learn how to manage your account and profile. That said, we recommend filling out as much as you’re comfortable with in this early stage: your OpenLab profile communicates who you are to the OpenLab community. If your OpenLab profile is public, it can also be indexed in internet search engines. 
    • What kind of relevant information would you like to include here? If you are a student, you may want to specify your major/minor, contact information, pronouns, extracurricular interests, any awards or honors you have received, and even a brief overview of your projects and goals. 
    • If you are faculty or staff, you will want to make your contact information available to your students and colleagues, and you may also choose to detail some of your academic interests, as well your experiences and roles within the college. 
    • Finally, profiles provide the opportunity for OpenLab members to include a photo associated with their OpenLab display name: please note that this photo can be of anything that you feel represents you adequately, and does not have to be an actual photo of yourself.
  • Task 4: Practice logging in to your account. Sign out of your account and close your browser. Then open a new browser window, navigate back to the OpenLab, and log in to your account

We’ll be in touch next week to help you answer: How do others use the OpenLab? 

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!

In the Spotlight: The Spring 2021 Semester, In Review

Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

Summer greetings from the OpenLab and congratulations to all on the closing of another semester! A special congratulations to the class of 2021!

While our weekly “Spotlight” blog series will go on hiatus for the summer, 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.

Spring 2021 Spotlight Posts

This past year, we released a series of OpenLab screencasts, providing audiovisual guidance to using different features of the OpenLab.

In addition to reviewing these posts from this past spring, 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 the summer– please contact us with questions or concerns.

We will also soon announce our summer programming, including one-on-one office hours. We will be in touch as we get more events and workshops on our calendar!

Wishing you all a very happy summer!

The OpenLab Community Team

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 “Slooh.com” 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 slooh.com, 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 turnitin.com 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!

Science, Art, and the Climate Crisis Along the Brooklyn Waterfront

BWRC annual conference

OpenLab friends at BWRC, the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center, are excited to invite everyone to join them at their annual conference! “Science, Art, and the Climate Crisis Along the Brooklyn Waterfront” starts on Thursday, May 6th, at 6:30, and with two sessions on Friday, May 7th starting at 9am.

Learn more and register at bit.ly/BWRC2021

Didn’t have a chance to register? Find the event live here.

About this event                                

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center announces its 2021 Annual Conference as the crisis of climate change reaches all corners of the globe — including the Brooklyn waterfront.

Early observations of the changes in the climate that have led to our current climate crisis were made by scientists; however, it has not been scientists alone who have addressed this crisis.

This year’s BWRC conference will explore the interdisciplinary ferment created by scientists, artists, activists, and others whose work grapples with our rapidly changing climate.

Bringing together a diverse array of scientists, artists and community members, we will discuss and learn from the integration of artistic practice and scientific inquiry as a method of addressing the climate crisis globally and locally along the Brooklyn waterfront.


		Science, Art and the Climate  Crisis Along the Brooklyn Waterfront image

Welcome, Roundtable Discussion, and Virtual Exhibit Tour

Join us on Thursday evening for an opening welcome and roundtable discussion exploring the intersections of art, science, and the climate crisis along the Brooklyn waterfront. The panelists — an artist, a scientist, a curator, and a photojournalist — will use the discussion to draw together the key issues of the conference and provide a broader framework for the following day’s sessions. As a closing activity, Elisa GutiĂ©rrez Eriksen will provide a virtual tour of the new exhibit, Common Frequencies, opening May 1st at BioBAT Art Space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Speakers:

  • Reginald Blake (Moderator), Interim Associate Provost, Dean of Curriculum; Research and Co-Director, Center for Remote Sensing and Earth System Sciences, New York City College of Technology
  • Jeannine Bardo, Artist, Founder / Artistic Director, Stand4 Gallery; Co-Founder / Co-Director, BioBAT Art Space
  • Klaus Jacob, Geophysicist, Emeritus Research Professor, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
  • Mary Mattingly, Visual Artist
  • Nathan Kensinger, Brooklyn-Based Photographer, Filmmaker, Artist, and Curator

		Science, Art and the Climate  Crisis Along the Brooklyn Waterfront image

Session #1: Learning at the Intersection

Focusing on educational initiatives along the Brooklyn Waterfront, this session will feature community-based organizations that use innovative, interdisciplinary, and place-based approaches across the arts and sciences to better understand and address climate change.

Speakers:

  • Graciela Flores (Moderator), Science Educator; Founder, Kids Talk Science
  • Beth Tuck, Executive Director, Genspace
  • Eve AndrĂ©e LaramĂ©e, Professor, Art Department, Director, Dyson College Center for the Arts, Society, and Ecology, Pace University
  • Isa Del Bello, Education Director, Environmental Education Center, Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Jasmin Alim, Education Manager, Genspace

Session #2: Working at the Intersection

Bringing together artists working in relationship to science, technology, and the environment, this session will highlight the creative integration of artistic practice and scientific inquiry as a method of making visible and addressing the climate crisis in new ways.

Speakers:

  • Katherine Gressel (Moderator), Contemporary Curator, Old Stone House & Washington Park; Artist, Writer.
  • Anna Lise Jensen, Artist; Co-Founder, Bike South Brooklyn
  • Simone Johnson, Interdisciplinary artist, researcher and cultural worker
  • Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, Designer, Researcher, Storyteller; Illustrator, The New York Times

For more information: http://brooklynwaterfront.org/

The BWRC has a project profile on the OpenLab so you can join their project and follow along with their updates. Their website is actually on the CUNY Academic Commons, the OpenLab’s sibling platform that’s for everyone at CUNY to use. So the BWRC are visible both here and in the larger CUNY landscape–or seascape? You can find helpful information there, including their previous annual conference information.

BWRC also communicates a lot via Twitter–if you don’t follow @BklynWaterfront, now you can! They often mention @CityTechOpenLab in their tweets, so you might have noticed them if you already follow us. Feel free to live-tweet the event!