Welcome

The partners of the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning represent the highest standard of student-centered education. Through our collaborations, we are exploring the future of teaching and learning in a networked world to support our mission as residential liberal arts institutions.

For highlights from our campuses and our collaborative work, browse the articles below or filter by Partner School, Working Group,  Events or Projects.

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April 25: QLAB Information Session

Event: Information Session – Update on QLAB / What’s Next?
Location: ZOOM
Date: Wednesday, April 25
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Eastern
Presenter: QLAB Core Team*

You are invited to join a webinar update and discussion about QLAB, the multi-campus collaboration to develop a shared framework for curating, implementing, and assessing online instructional modules to assist students with quantitative skills and reasoning across disciplines.

Read more about the pilot: http://lacol.net/qbits-pilot

Webinar Agenda: The goal of this session is to bring those who are interested up-to-speed with where the QLAB project stands, what we have learned so far, and what our next steps might be. Based on a new proposal developed by the core team over the winter and spring, the team welcomes your input on the next phases of the collaboration.

  • Status of the Q-bit project — overview of what’s been accomplished to date and the latest thinking toward the next phase of the collaboration.
  • Lessons learned so far
  • Seeking input on some next steps

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Project Summary: QLAB / Q-bits Framework for Quantitative Skills Modules

To assist our students with readiness for their quantitative work across the curriculum, and to investigate the role that online resources may play in this, the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning (LACOL) has kicked off a multi-campus development and educational research initiative, nicknamed QLAB. The QLAB project provides a framework for creating a series of modules called Q-bits. Each online Q-bit module focuses on a particular quantitative skill or concepts and provides instructional and review content that is “wrapped” by pre/post knowledge and confidence checks, contextual guides, and applications problems in several disciplines.

In developing Q-bits, the instructional content is hand-selected by our faculty in order to achieve of an appropriate scope and level for students. In many cases, faculty are able to draw on existing high-quality materials, especially on a set of polished instructional videos shared by our collaborators at Yale University through their ONEXYS program. In some cases, faculty are adding custom introductory or instructional components to provide cues for students so they see how each Q-bit relates to their studies in different disciplinary contexts.

In testing Q-bits, LACOL faculty and instructors are well positioned to assess the effectiveness of the online modules in the context of in-class assignments, as refreshers alongside a class, or in the context of mentoring by academic support staff or peer tutors.

Project Leads:

  • Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Assoc. Professor Physics, Carleton College
  • Adam Honig, Professor of Economics, Amherst College
  • Laura Muller, Director Peer Instruction, Williams College
  • Janet Russell, Director Academic Technology, Carleton College

Related Posts:

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George Siemens Keynote at LACOL 2018

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George Siemens
Dr. George Siemens

How to stay human in a digital age.

LACOL is honored to announce that George Siemens will keynote the 2018 LACOL Workshop at Carleton College.

George Siemens researches, technology, networks, analytics, and openness in education. Dr. Siemens is Professor and Executive Director of the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab (LINK) at University of Texas, Arlington. He leads the development of the Center for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L) at University of South Australia. He has delivered keynote addresses in more than 35 countries on the influence of technology and media on education, organizations, and society. His work has been profiled in provincial, national, and international newspapers (including NY Times), radio, and television. He has served as PI or Co-PI on grants funded by NSF, SSHRC (Canada), Intel, Boeing, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Soros Foundation.  He has received numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from Universidad de San Martín de Porres and Fraser Valley University for his pioneering work in learning, technology, and networks. He holds an honorary professorship with University of Edinburgh.

Dr. Siemens is a founding President of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (http://www.solaresearch.org/). He has advised government agencies Australia, European Union, Canada and United States, as well as numerous international universities, on digital learning and utilizing learning analytics for assessing and evaluating productivity gains in the education sector and improving learner results. In 2008, he pioneered massive open online courses (sometimes referred to as MOOCs). He blogs at http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/ and on Twitter: gsiemens

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Panel: Teaching Online in the Liberal Arts

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Session: Teaching Online in the Liberal Arts
Panelists:

  • Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Professor of Physics and Director, Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching, Carleton College
  • Erland Stevens, Professor of Chemistry, Davidson College
  • Chad Topaz, Professor of Mathematics, Williams College

Facilitator: Janet Russell, Director of Academic Technology, Carleton College
Date/Time: Friday, June 1, 9:00am-10:00am
Location: Weitz 236

How is online teaching and learning relevant for small residential liberal arts colleges?

Our institutions are not typically grappling with some of the pressures driving bigger institutions to move online, such as retention, large lecture-based courses, or non-traditional aged students. In fact, LACOL institutions have built part of their identity and brand around close faculty-student interaction in the undergraduate classroom.  Still, faculty across our institutions are experimenting with a variety of ways that online and blended learning can serve our students.

In this panel, three faculty members with hands-on experience teaching online will tell their stories.  How might these insights – and others from across the consortium – help us build a vision for online teaching and learning that aligns with the core mission of our institutions?

Related sessions at LACOL 2018:

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How to Blend a Course – Hands On (Effective Teaching & Learning)

J. Spohrer, Bryn Mawr College
J. Spohrer, Bryn Mawr College

Session: How to blend a course – hands on
Lead presenter: Jennifer Spohrer, Director of Educational Technology Services, Bryn Mawr College
Date/Time: Friday, June 1, 10:30am-11:30am
Location: Weitz 131

This hands-on mini workshop will explore how and why faculty are motivated to blend their courses, even for their residential students on our campuses.

Related sessions at LACOL 2018:

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Course Sharing Brainstorm at LACOL 2018

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Workshop Session Date/Time: June 1, 1:30-3pm
Location: Weitz 230 @ Carleton College

Sharing courses as a consortium can enhance curricular opportunities, lead to efficiency gains by combining expertise and curricular resources, and provide opportunities for our faculty and students to explore digitally-enhanced, collaborative modes for teaching and learning in the liberal arts.

Building on pilots and proofs of concept conducted in 2017,  faculty and staff across the consortium worked together in the spring of 2018 to explore opportunities and a framework (processes and infrastructure) that could support strategic course sharing.

http://lacol.net/category/collaborations/course-sharing

In this workshop session, an overview of the 2018 exploration will be shared, and participants will be invited to brainstorm on creative and useful course sharing opportunities (curricular and co-curricular), riffing on in three designs for teaching and learning:

Related sessions at LACOL 2018:

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Inclusive Pedagogies & Measuring Complex Domains of Learning for the Liberal Arts – 2 workshops

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Emerging pedagogies for inclusion are keen topics of interest across the liberal arts. Our Teaching & Learning Centers, and our academic support colleagues have a growing body of experience – what works and what doesn’t work – when it comes to supporting our diverse student body academically and as whole persons. Collaboration around these insights and measurements across LACOL has seemed like a useful idea to many. To advance these conversations, two interrelated workshops will be held in the Spring of 2018:

WORKSHOP 2: Measuring Complex Domains of Learning (Inclusive Pedagogies)

WORKSHOP 1: LACOL Dialogue on Inclusive Pedagogies

  • Date: Friday, March 9
  • Location: Haverford College
  • Speakers*:
    • Prof. Verna Case, Assoc. Dean of Faculty, Director of the Teaching and Learning Center, and Beverly F. Dolan Professor of Biology, Davidson College
    • Prof. Jyl Gentzler, John Cooper ’64 Presidential Teaching Professor of Philosophy and Faculty Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Amherst College
    • Dr. Riley Caldwell O’Keefe, Director, Center for Teaching and Learning, Amherst College
    • Prof. Jonathon Kahn, Assoc. Professor of Religion, Vassar College
    • Dr. Andrea Nixon, Program Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation and Director of Educational Research, Carleton College
  • Program: Agenda
  • Logistics: Workshop Info

Background and Purpose:

The goal of these paired workshops is to start a dialogue across our stakeholders around issue of access and inclusion, and to consider ways in which both qualitative and quantitative assessments might be used to jointly study this aspect (and others) of the liberal arts experience. (more…)

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Depolluting the Web: Information Environmentalism in Education

Hands-On Mini-Workshop @ LACOL 2018

Name: Depolluting the Web: Information Environmentalism in Education
Date: Thursday, May 31st
Time: 2pm-4pm
Location: Weitz 235
Facilitators:

  • Amy Collier, Associate Provost for Digital Learning, Middlebury College
  • Sundi Richard, Lead Instructional Designer, Davidson College

Session Description:

A. Collier
A. Collier

The web is polluted. The digital platforms where we learn and connect are replete with misinformation and threats to our wellbeing and privacy. We know that toxic digital information environments impact our daily lives, and the lives of our students, in everything from politics, to policy, to interactions in public and private spheres.

What can we do? What does informed participation or activism look like in these polluted web platforms?

S. Richard, mini-workshop co-lead
S. Richard

In this hands-on session, we’ll “get our hands dirty” to better understand the drivers of mis/disinformation on the web (i.e., how our digital information environments become polluted) and begin to take actions to clean up those environments. Dubbed “Information Environmentalism” by Mike Caulfield, this work aims to depollute the web platforms where we find (mis)information and where we connect for social and educational purposes.

Information environmentalism embraces agency–rather than hopelessness and withdrawal–and because of this, we think it is a necessary part of digital literacy education in a liberal arts curriculum. (more…)

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Pop-up MOOC: Engagement in a Time of Polarization

Mini Mooc
Prof Deckard in pop-up MOOC studio
Prof. Deckard in the pop-up MOOC Studio

From tweetstorms to troll farms, social media has become deeply polarized; a force that is frequently unpleasant and may even pose a threat to democracy. What to do? A new pop-up MOOC from Davidson Now invites students to explore active solutions.

Productive, participatory engagement builds communities and builds networks that support real interaction and change.  When meeting face-to-face is no longer necessary, what does engagement look like in a democratic society?

– Prof. Natalie Delia Deckard, Davidson College

On Feb. 12, Davidson College will launch “Engagement in a Time of Polarization,” a free, two-week online course that will engage learners in a conversation about active, effective collaboration in a divisive media ecosystem.

Students will:

  • Learn about historical models for creating an informed, engaged citizenry from professors Natalie Delia Deckard of Davidson College and Bonnie Stewart of the University of Prince Edward Island
  • Evaluate the implications of polarization–and participatory engagement–for educators, government and media; and
  • Participate in real-time discussions with leading voices in media literacy, disinformation and polarization.

This is the third class from Davidson Now, a digital learning series from Davidson College on edX.org. (more…)

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Data Sciences meets Environmental Studies at LACOL 2018

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 8.40.55 PMWorkshop Session: Data Sciences meets Environmental Studies – Exploration
Part 1: May 31, 9:30am CT @ Weitz 136
Part 2: June 1, 10:30am CT @ Weitz 230

The intersection between Data Science and Environmental Studies is emerging as an area of focus for LACOL as we explore opportunities for collaboration around digitally engaged modes of teaching and learning for the liberal arts.

Several colleges are currently developing programming under the umbrella of Data Science, including critical algorithm studies, big data, data visualization, and data privacy/security. Meanwhile, most LACOL schools have a data-intensive Environmental Studies concentration or major. Interdisciplinary by nature, these areas of study challenge students to understand and work with data from many angles. Students engage in analysis, problem solving, critical thinking, and modes of argument that are deeply connected to social, cultural, political, and aesthetic ideas. Considering such programs, LACOL is thinking about ways that digital collaboration might enrich teaching and learning in this arena.

What could a data science and environmental studies collaboration or community look like? Across LACOL, students collect and analyze data across a range of environments and climates: deserts, mountains, suburbs, cities, lakes, streams, and oceans. Data and environmental issues operate in virtual worlds as well. As students engage with data, could the consortium help to connect a liberal arts network of faculty, students, and peers who share similar enthusiasms and challenges? A shared course or digital forum might bring together a range of different expertises and perspectives, inviting students to think critically about how and why environmental data is collected, sliced and diced in different local contexts.

To explore such possibilities, LACOL is bringing an exploratory group together at the 2018 Summer workshop at Carleton College, May 31/June 1. A range of fields will be represented: computer science, statistics, ecology, chemistry, biology, geology, geography (GIS), economics, political science, media studies.

Goals for a data/env summer meet up at the Carleton workshop will be:

  • To connect colleagues who work in Data Science and Environmental Studies
  • To share what is happening on our campuses already. (Is your school forming a data science program? How and why? How are your students engaged with data and the environment in your locality and other sites in the field?)
  • To brainstorm on ideas for digital collaboration that could enrich teaching and learning

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Shared Grammar Resource

The Language Instruction Working Group is currently (Spring 2018) exploring an idea for a online resource built collaborative by/for LACOL faculty and instructors that will guide language learners on foundational grammar concepts.

There is an emerging plan for collaboration toward Shared Grammar Resources for Beginning Language Students. This concept has been discussed with enthusiasm in some earlier LACOL meetings, and Carleton Professor of Classics Chico Zimmerman has drafted a proposal to articulate more of the vision – see link above and below.

Four small teams are actively collaborating across several schools on the following module topics:

  • General Advice to Learners
    • General advice to incoming students about language-learning at college.
    • This includes some student voices on their learning experiences, but also could include some more general data/research findings on the benefits of L2 acquisition and the potential interferences of L1.
  • Map of Language Learning
    • An “overview” or map of the different domains that language takes in, including “grammar” broadly construed and its relevance
  • Glossary of Grammar Terms
    • A glossary of grammar terms with English examples; perhaps including sentence diagramming
  • Phonetics and Phonology
    • Phonetics/phonology module (perhaps with differing emphases depending on the target languages)

If this proposal interests you, you are invited to join the conversation.

This group is meeting at the 2018 LACOL Workshop at Carleton College.  For more information, contact LACOL.

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In Awe: A Virtual Reality Experiment at Hamilton College

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Pictured above: Study participant Jeff Greenwald, Hamilton ’17

Researchers studying awe in a lab setting can’t take participants to awe-inducing locations like mountaintops, and the standard of watching videos of those situations has limitations. To help solve this problem, Hayley Goodrich ‘17, a Psychology concentrator at Hamilton College, and Educational Technologist Kyle Burnham recently set out to explore the use of Virtual Reality (VR) for Goodrich’s thesis project on the experience of awe.

A vague theoretical connection between awe and meaning exists in the awe literature. According to Goodrich:

awe arises when something in the environment is vast and cannot readily be incorporated into one’s existing meaning frameworks.

Goodrich wanted to explore if awe really did emerge in response to a violation of some meaning-making structure. Studying such a connection necessitated that she first make participants feel awe. (more…)

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Bryn Mawr’s Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Conference, May 2018

cropped-blendlac_logo_resized-2A call for proposals is open for the Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Conference, held at Bryn Mawr College May 23-24, 2018. Our definition of blended learning is quite broad, encompassing many types of digital pedagogy projects. We invite interested LACOL faculty and staff to attend.

Bryn Mawr requests proposals by February 15, 2018

More details here: http://blendedlearning.blogs.brynmawr.edu/blended-learning-conference/

 

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Language Skills Diagnostic Dashboard: 2018 Faculty Workshop and Pilot for French

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C. Born, Carleton College, presents at ELI in Jan 2018
C. Born, Carleton College, presenting at ELI
Jan 2018

To advance the LACOL Language Skills Diagnostic Dashboard Framework, a three-day hands on-workshop will be held in spring 2018 at Swarthmore College, leading to a pilot study of the emerging prototype in French.  

The workshop and pilot are the next step in a sequence that began with the Language Skills Hack-a-thon at Swarthmore College in May 2017 and the Dashboard Prototype Technical Workshop at Carleton College in October 2017.  With groundwork laid at these previous events, the team is well positioned to put forward a working prototype in French that can be piloted with faculty and students for placement and advising in the summer/fall of 2018. (more…)

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Active Learning – Strategies & Spaces

carleton active learning classroom

Workshop Session: Active Learning – Strategies & Spaces

Session Leaders:

  • Michael Jones, Director of Language and Media Centers, Swarthmore College
  • Ashley Turner, Academic Technologist, Swarthmore College

Description: The purpose of this session is to start a discussion about Active Learning Spaces at Liberal Arts Colleges, and explore if there is an opportunity and mechanism through LACOL to share approaches and lessons about the design, technology and support of these classrooms.  

Come to share insights on experimental, flexible learning spaces on your campus.  What is the intent of those space?  How are they used?  How are they assessed?

 

 

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Digital Competencies at the 2018 LACOL Summer Workshop

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G. Siesing, Bryn Mawr College

For faculty and staff to build upon foundations laid at the Think Tank on Digital Competencies last fall, an interactive session exploring digital competencies across the curriculum will be held at the the 2018 Summer Workshop at Carleton College.

This discussion will focus on how digital competencies connect with faculty priorities and practices for teaching and learning in the physical and virtual classroom, and how digital competencies support and relate to higher order learning goals.

Session Lead: Gina Siesing, Chief Information Officer and Constance A. Jones Director of Libraries at Bryn Mawr College

Pre-workshop activity: Group annotatation of the Bryn Mawr Framework!

See: http://lacol.net/digital-competencies-annotate-bmc

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