The guidance in this section is designed to help you meet the recommended best practices for Course Content. If you’re working with a Model Course, much of this work may already have been done for you!

Providing Instructional Materials

The Library’s licensed digital collections offer a wide range of materials that you can easily share with your students. Contact the Subject Specialist for your department or program for help; the “Ask a Librarian” chat service is also available 24/7 via the library website.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are cost-free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes. Consider using OER in your OpenLab Course.

You can include links to instructional materials in your Class Agenda posts. See Posting Materials on the OpenLab below to find out how. 

Conducting Classes Synchronously?

If you’re conducting meetings synchronously via video conferencing, please share class materials, lecture slides, and/or notes for students who are unable to attend at that time in your Class Agenda posts. If you record your class meetings, remember to follow CUNY’s guidance for obtaining student consent and respecting student privacy. Recordings that include student participation should be password-protected if they are posted in a public area of your OpenLab site. Recordings should be captioned for accessibility using YouTube or another tool, following CUNY’s guidelines.

Complying with Copyright Law

Copyright protections apply to both scholarly and creative works that you create and works that you use. Just because something is posted online, that doesn’t mean it’s “open”…it may have been illegally posted by someone else.

One of the great things about using the OpenLab is that it’s easy to share work, such as writing, images, video, and sound. This means that it’s also important to understand how to respect copyright guidelines, give appropriate credit to the work and ideas of others, and understand how others might use your work.

Before posting materials online, take time to review the City Tech Library’s OER Copyright & Fair Use Module.

When using openly licensed materials in your course, always provide attribution. The OpenLab, in collaboration with the City Tech Library, has developed an attribution plugin to make it easy to add attribution to your posts and pages. For example, the bottom of this page contains a list of sources used in this module.

Considering Accessibility

Accessibility means that no one is prevented from engaging with the materials you create because of a disability of any kind. No one will need to request a special accommodation to use your materials because they will already be accessible to anyone. Web accessibility helps ensure that anyone can perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the Web – from Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM)

For many of our students English is not their primary language. Others may have learning or accessibility differences that make comprehension of “college-level” text, audio, or other media challenging.

Review the links below to find out how to better communicate with all of your students and ensure your materials meet the College’s accessibility standards. The Hemingway App is a great tool to understand grade-level readability.

Consult the Center for Student Accessibility if you need more guidance. 

Posting Materials on the OpenLab

The OpenLab is based on WordPress, a powerful publishing platform, so there are multiple ways for you and your students to share materials in your OpenLab course.

  • Images: Include images and image galleries in posts and pages on your OpenLab site. Make sure your images are resized so that they are “web-ready” and not unnecessarily large. 
  • Files: Include a link to a file in your Dropbox, Office 365 or other hosting service provided by the College. You can also post files in the Files area on the Course Profile, but please see the note about large files below.
  • Videos: Embed YouTube, Vimeo or other externally hosted videos on your site so that they play within your post or page. Videos are large files, so should not be hosted on the OpenLab (see note below about large files).
  • Slides: Upload your slide lectures to SlideShare, Google Slides, Dropbox or other hosting service provided by the College and embed a link to share with your students.

Find detailed instructions for all the above in the Using Your Site section of OpenLab Help.

A note about large files

If you use large files for presentation or your students produce large files for graded assignments, please host and/or collect those files using Dropbox, Office 365 or other hosting service provided by the college. Each OpenLab Course is allocated 300MB of storage space. If you need additional space, contact the OpenLab Community Team

Find out more in Sharing Large Files, PDFs, or slides.

Complying with Credit Hour Policy

Another thing to remember as you collect and organize your course materials and activities is the credit hour policy.

This policy requires that students commit 3 hours per week per unit of credit, with commensurate learning outcomes. Instructors, chairs, course coordinators, and departmental peer mentors are responsible for confirming that credit hours are commensurate with course work, both within and outside the classroom.

  • If your course is 3 credits, are the credit hours commensurate with course work for an online or hybrid version of the course?
  • How many hours outside of the weekly class “meeting(s)” (synchronous or asynchronous) are students expected to work to meet the learning outcomes for each weekly assignment or activity?

Contact your Course Coordinator or Department Chair to confirm that credits hours are commensurate with the coursework you have assigned.