To help students prepare for your course, prior to your first class meeting, send a welcome email sharing a link to your course site, your contact information, and details about how to sign up for the OpenLab and join your course.

The OpenLab for Students contains a Quickstart Guide and a tutorial “Learning with the OpenLab” which covers all the basics. You might ask your students to complete the tutorial prior to your first class meeting or for the first homework assignment.

For online or hybrid courses, we recommend adding your Course Profile URL to your Blackboard Course menu (even if you don’t plan to use Blackboard). Adding a Blackboard Announcement with instructions on how to access your Openlab Course will also help with student communication.

The following explains the details of getting students started and some important things you should know in order to provide support.

Signing up

The first step is for your students to sign up for an OpenLab account if they don’t already have one. Share this Setting up your account link with your students.

A few things to note:

  • Students need access to their City Tech email to join the OpenLab. The OpenLab help section provides instructions for students for accessing their City Tech email account and creating an OpenLab account – it’s helpful to pass this information along to your students.
  • If a student has an account but has forgotten their password, they will need to reset it.
  • On an exception basis (for instance, if your student is an ePermit student and will not be assigned a City Tech email), the OpenLab team will manually set up an account for the student. In this case we will need you to confirm that the student is registered for your course. Contact the OpenLab team for details.
  • It’s important for students to choose how they identify themselves online; they can choose to use a pseudonym for their username and/or display name. Students are not required to use their real name. See Communicating with Your Students for more information.

Joining your course

The next step is for your students to find and join your course.

  • For courses that are open (i.e. not private or hidden), this is very easy: just provide your students with the link to the Course Profile and ask them to click the “Join Now!” button.
  • For private courses, the button will instead say “Request Membership”; you will need to approve the students’ membership requests to enable them to join (if your course is hidden, you will need to invite them to join the course). To eliminate this step, faculty who want to work in a private course can leave the course open until all students have joined, then change the setting to private.
  • On the Course Profile you may use the Membership > Invite New Members > Import Members feature to add OpenLab members to your Course in bulk.

Introducing posts and comments

We recommend using a simple introductory assignment to help students get familiar with posting and commenting on the OpenLab in the first week of the course.

An example Discussion: Introductions post is provided with the Course Template to facilitate start of semester introductions using commenting. See Setting Up Your Course Site for details. Additional ideas can be found in the OpenLab Help > Designing Assignments section.