Prezi WP

 

This Week in the OpenLab: August 20th Edition

(Image by peapodsquadmom via Creative Commons)

Well, there’s no doubt that it’s back to school time, and we want to remind you first that there are OpenLab workshops this week and next. ¬†The soonest of which are this Wednesday, the 22nd. ¬†There are three that day, on various topics, and you can come to them all or just those in which you have a specific interest. ¬†You can find out more in the image below. ¬†Hope to see you there!

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Featured Tip:  Connecting Existing Sites to New Projects

There are changes all over the OpenLab, and we’ll be giving out a full description in the upcoming weeks, so please look forward to that! ¬†But for right now, we think one critical improvement should be highlighted right away:

Before late August 2012, users could create sites that weren’t connected to a project. ¬†In the process of improving the overall organization of the OpenLab, and to keep all the wonderful work everyone is doing here visible to everyone (when the creator chooses, that is), that had to change: ¬†at this point all sites must ¬†be connected to a project.

We have no doubt that this will improve the structure of our¬†virtual¬†campus, but it does mean that if you created a stand-alone site you’ll need to connect it to a project before it can appear in your “My OpenLab.” ¬†But don’t worry, it’s still there!

To do so, go through the process that you would to create any Project, whether that’s a course, project, or club. ¬†¬†Follow the steps as you would when creating any project (see our help section for assistance on this). ¬†When it comes time to create a site, though, you should see “Add an existing site” as one of your options, as in this screenshot:

NOTE: ¬†this option will¬†not¬†appear if you did not create a stand-alone site–if you don’t see “Use an existing site,” then this tutorial is probably not for you.

In the drop-down (where it says ‘scotttest’) above, you should see your existing stand-alone site. ¬†Click it, follow the rest of the instructions, and you’re done!

As always, contact us with any questions!

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FEATURED PROJECT:  WHAT IS WRITING?

More from the prolific Johanna Rogers! ¬†This week we’re featuring her delightful project: What is Writing?, which offers a funny, witty, and image-driven look at some of the more basic (and some of the most complicated) questions about writing. ¬† Given its visual tendencies, we think it’s probably especially useful for those disciplines where students might be more comfortable or used to visually-driven information. ¬†Which is, of course, exactly the sort of cross-discipline¬†usefulness¬†the OpenLab is designed to facilitate. ¬†But without question it’s useful for all of us here at City Tech, and so thanks Johanna!

Connecting Existing Sites to New Projects

Before late August 2012, users could create sites that weren’t connected to a project. ¬†In the process of improving the overall organization of the OpenLab, and to keep all the wonderful work everyone is doing here visible to everyone (when the creator chooses, that is), that had to change: ¬†at this point all sites must ¬†be connected to a project.

We have no doubt that this will improve the structure of our¬†virtual¬†campus, but it does mean that if you created a stand-alone site you’ll need to connect it to a project before it can appear in your “My OpenLab.” ¬†But don’t worry, it’s still there!

To do so, go through the process that you would to create any Project, whether that’s a course, project, or club.

First log in to the OpenLab, then click MY <choose your project> in the right hand column, then click CREATE <project>.

Follow the steps as you would when creating any project (see our help section for assistance on this). ¬†When it comes time to choose a site, though, you should see “Use an existing site” as one of your options, as in this screenshot:

NOTE: ¬†this option will not appear if you did not create a stand-alone site–if you don’t see “Use an existing site,” then this tutorial is probably not for you.

In the drop-down (where it says ‘scotttest’) above, you should see your existing stand-alone site. ¬†Click it, follow the rest of the instructions, and you’re done!

As always, contact us with any questions!

This Week in the OpenLab: August 6th Edition

(image by kokogiak via creative commons)

Our own Charlie Edwards often refers to the OpenLab team as worker bees, and this month we very much are–the whole OL group, our developers and…well, everyone…are busily working away still on our major August update. ¬†That said, only a couple short items this week…

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Featured Tutorial:  Share This, Redux

Last week we introduced the Share This tutorial–and we promised that this week we would give some explanaition of how its options work. ¬†Well, we did it! ¬†And you can find the full tutorial here. ¬†As always, email us with any questions.

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Featured Blog:  Tributaries

This week’s Featured Bog isn’t here on the OpenLab, but on the CUNY Academic Commons. ¬†It’s George Otte’s most recent contribution to the ongoing discussion about the¬†relationship¬†between technology and pedagogy–in particular the¬†MOOCs (yes, that’s how it sounds–it stands for “massive open online courses”) which have been getting so much press of late. ¬†You can read George’s insightful piece here.

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A Bit of News:  The Digital Library of America

Because we love libraries, and online open materials, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that “The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) (on July 26th) announced a $1 million award to support the incorporation and launch of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), a groundbreaking project that seeks to digitize and bring together the contents of our nation‚Äôs libraries and archives, and make them freely available to all online.” ¬†You can read more about this project, which is being done jointly with Harvard, here.

 

This Week in the OpenLab: July 31st Edition

(image by en:User:Acrow005 via Creative Commons License)

Big changes are coming, and we’re working away behind the scenes to bring you a new update on the OpenLab. ¬†Keep your eye out over the next few weeks!

Featured Site, and a REQUEST!

This week we’re featuring Theatreworks,¬†the resident theatre company at New York City College of Technology. ¬†They’ve recently created an OpenLab¬†presence, and in addition being excited about them as members, we want to pass along their request: They’re looking for student help building their site!

Remember that if you are a student (or a faculty or staff member, of course), you can always contact the OpenLab Community Team for help with any questions regarding site building. ¬†We’re happy to answer via email, or you can set up a help-session specificially for your group.

But more on Theaterworks! Theaterworks 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 email cscott@citytech.cuny.edu

FEATURED PLUG-IN:  SHARE THIS

This week we’re also featuring the plug-in “Share This,” which adds the social media bar above to all posts and pages, allowing your followers, members or readers to easily share things that they like. ¬†You can even click the green “Share” button in the bar and then choose multiple platforms to share with¬†simultaneously¬†(that is, you can share with twitter and facebook with one click).

You can find out more about configuration on our tutorials page, but it may be our simplest plug-in yet: ¬†go to plug-ins in the left-hand column of your dashboard, activate the “Share This” plug-in, and what you see above will appear!

That’s all for this week. ¬†Have a great one, and as always contact us with any questions!

This Week in the OpenLab: July 24th Edition

(Image by petesimon via Creative Commons)

This week we’ve continued our Twitter Tools tutorial (say that five times fast), and concentrated on the various options settings, and you can find it here. ¬†As a reminder for those of you who might have missed last week’s installment,¬†Twitter Tools is a way of integrating Twitter and your OpenLab site (or any WordPress site), so that your posts can be tweeted automatically as soon as you publish them. ¬†It also gives you a great deal of flexibility: ¬†you can set it to exclude certain categories, and our present installation comes with url shortening and a hashtag creator. ¬†After working with it to create these tutorials, we’ve decided that once it’s set up (a semi-complicated process), it’s pretty great. ¬†If you haven’t already,¬†check out part 1 here.

Featured Twitter Acct:  Ours!

We’ve mentioned this before, but be sure to follow our own twitter account @CityTechOpenLab¬†where, for example, you can find such delights as the video above, tweeted by our own Libby Clarke, who you can follow @monstress. ¬†Or these delightful pictures from @brooklynhistory!

Featured Site: ¬†SEEK Ink: ¬†An Artist’s Journal

Image by Tynesha Frazier.  

Though we’ve already been featuring it in our “In The Spotlight” section of our homepage, we wanted to make sure that all OpenRoad members who might not be visiting our site over the summer got a change to see this wonderful addition to the OpenLab. ¬†Great work here!

 

Twitter Tools: Pt. 2 (Options)

(Image by petesimon via Creative Commons)

Twitter Tools is a way of integrating Twitter and your OpenLab site (or any WordPress site), so that your posts can be tweeted automatically as soon as you publish them. ¬†It also gives you a great deal of flexibility: ¬†you can set it to exclude certain categories, and our present installation comes with url shortening and a hashtag creator (if you don’t know what those are or why you’d need them, you’ll want first to brush up on ‘What’s Twitter?’ ¬†The rest of this tutorial presumes you’re already familiar with Twitter, just to save space and time).

And as you can see from the title, this is part 2 of our Twitter Tools tutorial, which deals with options and set-up. ¬†If you haven’t already, check out part 1 here.

Most of this tutorial will concentrate on the glories of the Twitter Tools Options Page, which is found in the left hand column of your dashboard under SETTINGS>TWITTER TOOLS. ¬†But first let’s make sure there’s no confusion: ¬†you can also find TWEET under POSTS in the left hand column of your dashboard. ¬†This allows for direct tweeting, unrelated to a post, and what it gives you is this:

That is NOT where you can set your Twitter Tools options, however. ¬†As we said, you can find the Twitter Tools options page under SETTINGS>TWITTER TOOLS. ¬†Once there, you’ll see that the Twitter Tools Options page has three major sections, which we’ll deal with in turn.

NOTE: ¬†We’re only going to say this once, but we’ll put in bold because it is very important: ¬†Be sure to save at every step of the way with Twitter Tools Options.¬†You’ll note that almost every option has its own “save settings” button, and a section-specific save button needs to be clicked to save a change to that section.

That said, this is the first section…

Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, and involve automatic tweeting options for any post that you create. ¬†But let’s note three important things:

1) If you choose yes on the first option, you’re setting things up so that a Twitter Tools box appears way way way down on the lower right of¬†your ADD NEW POST or EDIT POST page. ¬†This will be set to “yes” when you open the page, and hitting publish will¬†send the tweet automatically. ¬†But you can change it to “no” for a single post. ¬†Switch the above setting to “no” to have the box disappear across your site. ¬†You can also here add a post-specific hashtag.

2) Twitter Tools sends any blog post as a link to your Twitter Account, but it also¬†can go the other direction, turning any tweet into a blog post. ¬†If you’re a heavy Twitter user, this can be an invaluable option.

3) “Tweets to show in sidebar” refers to a Twitter Tools widget (found under APPEARANCE>WIDGETS) which can be dragged into any sidebar to show your latest Twitter activity. ¬†You can see an example on the home page of this website. ¬†Remember, as with most widgets, this isn’t on by default: setting a number here only changes the setting, but the widget still needs to dragged in the widgets area.

(If you want to know more about¬†XML-RPC, you can do that here, but if you don’t know, this probably won’t¬†clarify¬†much! ¬†Most of our users only need to know that leaving it on will allow the default tweet prefix (you can change that phrase to whatever you like) to appear whenever you create a new post. ¬†And there’s no number next to it because it’s outside the use of most of our members, but if you want to know more about which of the two JavaScript (js) library options might be best for you, here’s at least one comparison.)

That finishes up the first section of the Twitter Tools Options Page, here’s a screen shot of what we’re calling the second:

Most of these are self-explanatory¬†as well, dealing with setting up a daily or weekly digest blog post from your tweets. ¬†As we’ve suggested, the idea behind Twitter Tools is to limit the gap between your Twitter Account and your OpenLab site ¬†Here’s a way to not have a bunch of 140 character posts on your site, but still be sure to have your Twitter activity appear at regular intervals. ¬†The main thing we want to say here is there’s a reason why these are marked “experimental.” ¬†These features are under development and may very well act erratically.

The third and final section of the Twitter Tools Options page has four features:  update Tweets/Reset Checking and Digests, bit.ly, exclude categories, and hashtags:

The first of these is simply a way to manually make sure that all tweets are heading in all directions: ¬†if something with Twitter is “technically wrong” for a while, or there is a problem or pause in your site for some reason, you can click here to have everything re-synced.

Bit.ly, of course, is a url shortener, and if you use Twitter a lot you know how valuable it is (and if you don’t use a url shortener, you should). ¬†There are other url shorteners out there, but only the bit.ly option for Twitter Tools. ¬†To make this work you need two things, a username (which means you need a bit.ly account) and an API Key, which you can find in your bit.ly account here. ¬†Remember, you’ll need to be logged in–once you are, you’ll see an uncensored version of this:

Just copy those onto our Twitter Tools Options page, and you’re done!

The next Twitter Tools option is Exclude Categories which, like the Bitly option, is so valuable we can’t be sure why it’s at the bottom of the page. ¬†But it’s also pretty self-explanitory: ¬†because everything is set to be automatically synced between your twitter account and your OpenLab site, this is an easy way to exclude any category. ¬†It seems particularly useful for, say, updates that are useful for your site users/members/students, but that might not have a wider audience.

Our very last option allows you to create a default hashtag for all posts. ¬†Remember, that’s ALL posts, so you would want to be rather general. ¬†To add post-specific hashtags, see the very top of this post!

And that’s it! ¬†As always, contact us with any questions…

This Week In The OpenLab: July 17th Edition

(Image by Todd Barnard via Creative Commons)

This week we thought we’d dedicate ourselves to figuring out one of our new plug-in suites, called Twitter Tools, and that led us to thinking about the wonders of twitter, etc. ¬†So this an all Twitter This Week in The OpenLab…

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First, A Brief Aside…

Of course, the bulk of our time was spent 1) looking for that hilarious picture above, 2) wasting a lot of time on twitter and, then, 3) figuring out how to use the plug-in so we could explain it here. ¬†For those of you who mostly fumble your way through these things–which is what I do–in a fury of googling until you find something that looks like a solution to your question (in this case “How Do I Set Up Twitter Tools?”), you probably know that semi-complicated plug-ins like this one can be one of the more problematic things to figure out. ¬†The problem is (at least) two-fold: ¬†1) plug-ins break and/or go unsupported and/or 2) they are updated so rapidly that tutorials can’t always keep up. ¬†In this case, my problem was the second: ¬†though I found a nice little helper with my problem here, I also found that several of the steps had changed on both the plug-in set up page and on twitter’s end. ¬†So something very small and obvious (changing one setting from ‘read-only’ to ‘read and write,’ which doesn’t work the way it did when my helper wrote their notes), caused us more trouble than we’d like to admit.

Of course by now we should realize this, but like we said, we mostly fumble our way toward solutions. ¬†And the fact that we usually can is one of the nicer thing about wordpress based systems like ours, and the community that supports them. ¬†But there’s another important point we’d want to make here: ¬†we will do everything we can to consistently update the tutorials we’ve written for The Open Road, but when something doesn’t work the way you’d expect, it could be because something’s changed, and we’d be thrilled if you’d contact us to let us know what you’ve noticed.

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FEATURED TUTORIAL:  TWITTER TOOLS

The bulk of what we’ve done on The Open Road this week is the aformentioned tutorial, which you can find here. ¬†Twitter Tools¬†is a way of integrating Twitter and your OpenLab site (or any WordPress site), so that your posts can appear as tweets automatically (and, if you like, vice versa). ¬†It also gives you a great deal of flexibility: you can set it to exclude certain categories, and our present installation comes with url shortening and a hashtag creator (if you don‚Äôt know what those are or why you‚Äôd need them, you‚Äôll want first to brush up ‚ÄėWhat‚Äôs Twitter?‚Äô ¬†The tutorial presumes you‚Äôre already familiar with Twitter, just to save space and time).

As you can see, this is part one of two on the plug-in: the set-up process is a bit complicated and so we’ve concentrated one tutorial on just that. ¬†Next week we’ll have a second part, dealing with the options, how to set up the url shortening, etc.

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Lastly, we just wanted to share the work of Mark Smith, which we came across while working our way through Twitter related images. ¬†And these really are Twitter-made: ¬†This one shows “connections among the Twitter users who recently tweeted the word¬†USAToday¬†when queried on August 11, 2011, scaled by numbers of followers (with outliers thresholded). Connections created when users reply, mention or follow one another.” ¬†You can see a larger version here.

According to his website, “Smith‚Äôs research focuses on computer-mediated collective action: the ways group dynamics change when they take place in and through social cyberspaces. Many ‚Äúgroups‚ÄĚ in cyberspace produce public goods and organize themselves in the form of a commons (for related papers see:http://delicious.com/marc_smith/Paper). Smith‚Äôs goal is to visualize these social cyberspaces, mapping and measuring their structure, dynamics and life cycles.” ¬†We think they’re pretty spiffy too.