In the Spotlight: Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Images

This week, we spotlight three different sites where you can find public domain/ creative commons images to use on the OpenLab. As a reminder, when you add images to your OpenLab site or posts, it is important to make sure you respect copyright guidelines (see the library’s OpenLab module on copyright and fair use). This can be tricky! Just because an image can be grabbed online doesn’t mean it’s free to use or repost. The safest (and, in my opinion, best) way to source images is to look for media that is either in the public domain or licensed as part of the Creative Commons. Below are three repositories where you can search for such images:

A screenshot of Flickr that shows how to use the main search tool to filter images according to their licensing time. Mousing over "Explore" in the main Flickr menu will give you an option to search exclusively for creative commons images.
  1. Flickr: When you go to, you’ll see an option to search for images on the Commons. You can search by keyword to find what you need. You can also search in the top right toolbar and filter your results to limit these to images that have Creative Commons licenses, as pictured above.

  2. Unsplash: Unsplash is a repository of strictly freely-usable images. Any image on here is free for you to use. Unsplash is a wonderful resource. Bookmark it!

  3. Pixabay: Like Unsplash, Pixabay is a repository of thousands of free images. Use their search tool to find what you need!

Don’t forget that some Creative Commons licenses still require attribution, and, as a general rule, it is always nice to give an author credit for their work, even if it is openly-licensed. This attribution tool makes it really easy. If you’re using the OpenLab, you can also use this attribution plugin.

We hope this helps! Happy-image searching!

In the Spotlight: Open Pedagogy

In conjunction with our first Open Pedagogy Event of the semester, this week and the next we’re spotlighting our in-house site, Open Pedagogy on the OpenLab. This site operates as a forum where OpenLab community members can ask questions and stimulate discussion related to teaching and learning on the OpenLab and in open digital environments more generally. This site is a good place to find ideas for digital pedagogy assignments, access information on best practices and tips for open digital pedagogy, and engage other faculty about how teaching on the OpenLab changes their curriculum and classroom environments and relations.

In conjunction with this site, our OpenLab team hosts Open Pedagogy Events, organized around particular themes and concerns related to teaching in open digital environments and more specifically with teaching on the OpenLab. This Thursday (3/31) we’re hosting our first Open Pedagogy event of the semester, on Ungrading. Ungrading and its accompanying strategies offer one way to mitigate the harm and exhaustion of the pandemc. Ungrading is essentially student-centered and student-led, demanding that we engage critically with the power dynamics of the classroom. We began our discuss on its potential and its application to digital pedagogy last semester and will be continuing this spring. We will be joined by some wonderful guest speakers.

The event will be held via Zoom from 4:00-6:00pm. Visit the event posting for more information and to RSVP! We hope to see you there!

In conclusion, we encourage to join the site, and follow along and participate in the conversation!

This Month on the OpenLab: March 2022 Release

On March 15 we released version 1.7.60 of the OpenLab. It included two new plugins, a few plugin and theme updates, and two bug fixes. 


The new plugins are:

  • Taxonomy Dropdown Widget, which allows you to add a widget with a dropdown listing categories or tags on your site. It has a number of options for customization, so you can include or exclude certain categories or tags, and list them in different ways. 
  • List Category Posts, which allows you to easily add a list of posts within a particular category to a page or post on your site. 

We also re-enabled the PublishPress blocks and Highlight Text plugins, which were previously made unavailable for activation on new sites due to issues caused by a plugin conflict, which has been resolved.


In addition to some minor theme and plugin updates, there was a major update for the TablePress Responsive Tables plugin, which provides a few different layouts to make TablePress tables mobile friendly. The update fixed some issues with these displays. 

Bug Fixes

We fixed a bug causing links to be stripped out of the email notifications for site posts.

We also fixed a bug with the OpenLab Attributions plugin that caused the ‘Add Attribution’ window to increase in width when a long attribution statement was added.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

In the Spotlight: City Tech Lit Festival

This week we’re spotlighting the upcoming City Tech Literary Arts Festival

An annual event for 41 years, the Lit Fest features a contemporary writer performing their work and holding a Q&A portion. City Tech students also perform their work after submitting and going through a selection process.

Join City Tech student writers and the poet Layli Long Soldier to share ideas and creative work.

Thursday, March 24, 4:30 pm EST on ZOOM.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Photo credit: Layli Long Soldier


Layli Long Soldier is an Oglala Lakota poet, writer, feminist and activist. She is the author of the chapbook Chromosomory (2010) and the full-length collection Whereas (2017), winner of the National Books Critics Circle award and a finalist for the National Book Award. She has also won the National Artist Fellowship from the Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Whiting Writer’s Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship.  In 2012, her participatory installation, Whereas We Respond, was featured on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


National Poetry Foundation: 

About Layli Long Soldier


Obligations 2


Academy of American Poets:


Whereas When Offered

This event is sponsored by: Coordinated Undergraduate Education (CUE), City Tech Student Government Association, and the New York City College of Technology. 

In the Spotlight: Olivia Wood’s Teaching Portfolio

A purple header image with white text that reads "Olivia Wood's Teaching Porftolio."
Header Image for Olivia Wood’s Teaching Portfolio

This week, we spotlight the OpenLab Community Team’s very own Olivia Wood. Specifically, we take a look at Olivia Wood’s OpenLab Teaching Portfolio, which offers an example of a compelling and clean site design that allows her to communicate her identity as  an instructor clearly and succinctly.

To begin, we note that the OpenLab offers all faculty and staff the possibility of creating a digital portfolio. Portfolios can be used to showcase any type of work, whether it be research, teaching or service accomplishments. 

Olivia has used the portfolio space to highlight her teaching, painting a robust picture of herself as an instructor without overwhelming her reader with too much detail. For example, her Home page features her statement of teaching philosophy, introducing readers to her general values as an educator. 

Her perspectives on teaching are then demonstrated concretely through separate pages that feature (in order on her main menu): courses taught, annotated assignments, examples of student work and observations and evaluations. There are two things to note here. The first is that while Olivia could have featured multiple pages of work on each of these subjects, she smartly chooses to give excerpts to make the content more digestible. So, she links out to a full syllabus of course, giving just a paragraph overview in the actual courses taught page. And she gives summary statistics of her teaching evaluations rather than featuring the full multi-page evaluation documents.

Second, she protects the privacy of her students by making her student work page password-protected. This is a good reminder that 1) student consent is needed to post student work; 2) privacy settings can be set at the page or post level and just for the site as a whole. Instructions for altering privacy settings are here.

All in all, Olivia’ teaching portfolio offers a straightforward and compelling narrative of who she is and what she has done as an instructor. Check it out for inspiration!

In the Spotlight: Request a workshop

This week, we spotlight the OpenLab “request a workshop” feature! Each semester, the OpenLab team offers workshops on topics that members often ask about. But there are always other topics, other interest, and other scheduling needs. The OpenLab team welcomes requests for focused workshops for the faculty, staff, or students in your departments, offices, and other stakeholder groups at City Tech. These targeted workshops can meet the needs of your group .

Not sure what might be of interest and/or use to your faculty? Here are some suggestions:

  • Using WordPress’s Block Editor
  • Collaborative Digital Annotation on the OpenLab
  • Using OERs and other open resources on the OpenLab
  • Sharing & Remixing Pedagogy: Rethinking Copyright and Attribution on the OpenLab
  • Supporting Multimedia Pedagogy with the OpenLab
  • Fostering Community through OpenLab interactions

If you are interested in having the OpenLab lead workshops for your department, office, club, initiative,or group, fill out our “Request a Workshop” form. Your responses will give us a better idea of your group’s size, schedule, and needs. Once we receive your request we’ll evaluate it and work with you to develop a workshop plan.

Please note that these workshops are accepted on a rolling basis, so get your requests in early if you want to have the workshop this semester.  

We look forward to working with you!

In the Spotlight: Savonne Andrews’ ePortfolio

A header image featuring a mountainous landscape, ablaze. Against this backdrop, we make out the silhouette of the top of the illustrator's head, short hair dyed in blonde.

This week, we spotlight Savonne Andrews’ OpenLab ePortfolio. As a reminder, if you are a student, an ePortfolio is a space for you to digitally showcase your work. The OpenLab provides you with a template, but you can (and should!) customize it to fit your needs. There are a few things worth noting about Savonne’s ePortfolio:

  • Savonne is an “illustrator, animator and designer” and tells us this through a customized tagline, pictured above. As a reminder, you too can customize your site’s tagline by going to Dashboard> Appearance> Customize. 
  • Fittingly for an illustrator, Savonne uploaded a customized header image of their own artwork, again pictured above. Notice how it pulls the site together aesthetically!
  • Savonne also used the text sidebar widget to provide readers with a brief bio. This is a great way to communicate who you are. Remember that text in the sidebar will appear on all pages of your site, making it less likely to get overlooked.
  • Finally, we highlight that Savonne uses the ePortfolio to maintain an internship blog. This is a very straightforward use of the site. Remember, you can have as many or as few items on your main menu as you would like. The space is yours to customize.

Check out Savonne Andrews’ ePortfolio here!

This Month on the OpenLab: February 2022 Release

Cat investigating a heart sculpture.

On February 15 we released version 1.7.59 of the OpenLab. It was a small release, which included some plugin and theme updates, and a bug fix. 


In addition to minor theme and plugin updates, there was an update for the Wonder Gallery plugin, which fixed an issue with adding videos via URL from platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. We also updated the Gutenberg (Block Editor) plugin to the latest version.

Bug Fix

We fixed an issue with the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin, which was causing the default user permissions settings to be deselected for new Course sites and cloned sites, meaning that admins had to activate these settings before being able to use the plugin. 

As always, please contact us with any questions!

In the Spotlight: Favorites

This week, we spotlight the OpenLab favorites functionality, which makes it easy to bookmark courses, projects, clubs, and portfolios. 

Using the favorites functionality is easy: when logged-in users visit the profile of a group, a new menu item appears beneath the avatar, below the “Join Now/Request to Join” menu. This item reads “Add to Favorites” and is accompanied by a bookmark icon. 

A club profile featuring an avatar image,  beneath which appears a "join now" button and an "add to favorites" button. The "add to favorites" button is highlighted to draw attention to how it can be used.

In order to favorite a course/project/ club/ portfolio, click the “Add to Favorites” menu item. The page will reload and the menu item will be updated. Note that you can favorite a group even if you are not a member.

Going forward, you can access all of your favorites by hovering over the favorites icon in the black toolbar that appears at the top of every page (as long as you are logged in). 

A bookmark icon that appears on the a black toolbar at the top of an OpenLab page. This is the icon for "My Favorites" and it is highlighted in red to illustrate how it can be used.

We suggest adding your courses for this semester to your favorites list. This should make them easier to find!

Please also note that the option to add groups to your favorite doesn’t appear yet on mobile, only on desktop. We hope to add a mobile version in the future.

In the Spotlight: the Faculty Publication Support Workshop Series

Faculty Publication Workshop Series logo: a book with a blue cover and paper cranes flying out of it.
Workshop Series logo by Savonne Andrews

This week, we spotlight the Faculty Publication Support Workshop Series OpenLab site. This is “a joint initiative of the Faculty Commons and the Library’s Scholarly Communications Committee” which “supports City Tech faculty in their scholarship and publishing.” Note how sleek the logo is– kudos to Faculty Commons Graphic Designer Savonne Andrews for the design!

The site uses the 2015 theme, which works very well here as the site functions primarily as a blog, with regular announcements posted to the Home page. If you are also using your site primarily as a one-way communication tool to other OpenLab members, this is a smart design. You can use posts to remind members of upcoming meetings and use a pinned post at the top of your feed to give an overview of your project’s goals. The Faculty Publication Support site’s pinned post, for example, notes that workshops are monthly, include guest speakers, and group discussions. 

We also like how the Workshop series links out to other pre-existing resources on publishing, such as the Library’s Resources for Academic Publishing. While it might seem counterintuitive, it is better to break up information into smaller chunks in this way. Here, the Publication Workshop Series site is reserved for information about the workshops themselves. Broader resources on publication are kept separate, which helps avoid confusion about where to go for what information.

We also like that the Workshop Series makes materials for the actual meetings available on their OpenLab site. They link out to the page with a Meeting Schedule in their main menu. On this page, an overview for each meeting is given and materials used (for example, slide decks, recordings of the session, etc.) are posted. This is a best practice to carry over to your OpenLab courses as well, even if you post your materials elsewhere, or email them to participants. It is good to have these things in multiple places. How many of us have gone back to an organization or class’ website after a meeting only to find that the recording we needed isn’t there! Making your site a living repository of workshop/ course materials makes everyone’s life so much easier!

Please take a look at the Faculty Publication Support Workshop Series OpenLab site. It is a great model for projects, clubs, and courses!