News and Features

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 Schools, Working Groups,  Events or Projects.

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Bryn Mawr’s Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Conference, May 2017

cropped-blendlac_logo_resized-2The February 21 proposal deadline is coming up for the Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Conference, held at Bryn Mawr College May 17-18, 2017. Our definition of blended learning is quite broad, encompassing many types of digital pedagogy projects. We invite LACOL faculty and staff to submit or attend.

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

 

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LACOL Hack-a-thon Toward a Collaborative Language Diagnostics and Refresher Framework

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In May 2017, LACOL’s Language Instruction working group will hold a 4­-day intensive workshop (also known as a hack­-a­-thon) to prototype a shared online diagnostic and refresher framework. The face-to-face event is being organized by Mike Jones, Director of the Language Resource Center and Media Lab at Swarthmore College, guided by a core team of faculty and language technologists at the participating institutions.

Workshop Program: click here (draft)

Special Guest:
Christopher M. Jones
Teaching Professor of French and Computer-Assisted Language Learning
Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Chris Jones, CMU
Dr. Chris Jones, CMU

Christopher M. Jones is Interim Head and Teaching Professor of French and Computer-Assisted Language Learning in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. He was Director of the Modern Language Resource Center from 1993 to 2016 and founder and Director of the Masters in Applied Second Language Acquisition from 2010 to 2016. He has spoken, published and consulted widely in the area of technology-enhanced language learning. His materials development experience includes textbook authoring, CD-ROM design and programming, and on-line courseware creation in French, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic. He was a participant in the interdisciplinary Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center and continues to be an active member of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon.

Goals for the LACOL Language Instruction hack-a-thon:

1. Explore development of shared diagnostic and bridge/refresher framework for language instruction that could support students in identifying and closing gaps in knowledge and skills.
2. Engage faculty as content creators, working with professional staff and students for technical support and data input.
3. Build prototypes of a diagnostic test and refresher module; these could serve as models for further development of online testing and teaching materials for sharing across the Consortium.
4. Document results and recommendations for continued collaboration.

Background and Rationale:
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Active and Engaged Reading – Survey on practices for teaching reading across the disciplines

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Project Background: Throughout the liberal arts curriculum, there are numerous ways, old and new, that reading skills and related habits of mind are taught.  A rapidly evolving technology landscape is also shaping the student experience. To help document emerging pedagogies for reading, LACOL’s Active and Engaged Reading working group is embarking on an survey of faculty and academic staff across the disciplines at our member institutions. The survey tool was developed jointly by the AER project team with guidance from the Institutional and Educational Research offices of participating colleges.

The purpose of the survey is to gather insights into how our faculty cultivate various reading skills and practices for students at all levels of the curriculum, with a particular focus on the digital dimension.  Results of this survey will be used to inform Active and Engaged Reading working group projects, including a collaborative thought piece on reading for the liberal arts in a digital age.

Instructions: The survey consists of several short answer questions and may take 15-30 minutes to complete, depending on the level of detail you can share.  Your input is invaluable to the project.  Thank you for your time!

 

 

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Mini-Workshop: Digital Storytelling for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning

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On Friday, June 16, seats are available for a Mini-Workshop entitled Digital Storytelling for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning. This hands-on, face-to-face session is open to registered participants at the 2017 LACOL consortium-wide workshop at Vassar College.

Facilitators:

  • Faculty co-facilitator (TBA)
  • Baynard Bailey (Academic Computing Services, Vassar College)

Mini-workshop Topics:

  • Intro and examples: What is Digital Storytelling?
  • Brainstorming: How might I use this in my teaching?
  • Tools and techniques:
    • Hands-on time with tools like WeVideo, Final Cut Pro
    • Voiceover and microphones
    • Importing editing still images
    • Importing and editing video
    • Adding music and sound
    • Exporting and Sharing

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The 2017 Lightning Round @ Vassar College

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Call for Topics & Presenters

Picking up from last year’s wildly popular 2016 Tech Lightning Round at Haverford College, this year’s consortium-wide workshop LACOL2017 at Vassar College will feature THE RETURN OF THE LACOL LIGHTNING ROUND over lunch on Friday, June 15.

starLACOL faculty and staff planning to be in Poughkeepsie, we invite you to share an idea for a short pitch – JUST FIVE MINUTES – on a digital tool or technique you’re trying in your online/hybrid classroom.   Here is a list of *possible* topics, but we would like to hear from you! (more…)

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Digital culture and Cuba’s alternative Internet, student research at Swarthmore

Graffiti of national hero José Martí at a wifi hotspot (Photo Credit: D. Wertheimer)

By Daniela Wertheimer, Swarthmore College ’17

Wireless internet, or WiFi, arrived for the Cuban public as recently as 2015, and exists still in limited capacities for the regular public in 2016. The Internet and the concept of “networks” have become an important facet of economic, social, political and daily life for people globally. I conducted research on Internet and digital culture in the summer of 2016 in Havana, which is the metropolitan, political and economic center of the Caribbean island country. I spoke to a sample of young people living in Havana (millennials, considered those aged 18-35 for the purposes of this research) about their experiences with the Internet, and learned that there is a relationship between this group, the Cuban state, the city of Havana and “the globalized Internet.” More specially, I argue that

the Cuban state and its millennial demographic negotiate their values and needs by way of the urban internet geography of Havana. Through these spaces and relationships of negotiation, questions of urban and national identity are worked out.

My study aims to find new dimensionalities to the body of information available about digital and Internet culture in Havana, while giving weight to the idea of the city space of Havana. Cuba’s alternative Internet demonstrates that the line between physical and cyber worlds is entirely artificial, and perhaps offers a lesson in how technology advances public, private and political development. I hope to tell an important story about the surprising nature of a technology’s adaptation, generally speaking, as well as an important story about the relationship between the city of Havana and that which exceeds its physical limits. Perhaps most importantly, however, I hope that my research is able to illuminate certain characteristics of the Internet – its media, its content, and its materiality. (more…)

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Digital Humanities for Undergraduates: Fostering Interdisciplinary Student Scholarship

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In Fall 2016, the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges, comprised of Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona, and Scripps Colleges, launched their first Digital Humanities course, DH 150: Digital Humanities Studio. Under the leadership of Dr. Daniel Michon, the faculty director of the Mellon DH Grant and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College, Eddie Surman, a Master’s student at Claremont Graduate University, and with the support of Dr. Ashley Sanders, Director of the Digital Research Studio, this course provided students an opportunity to collaborate with a professor to design and carry out original digital scholarship projects. One student group chose to recreate a portion of an ancient archeological site in Taxila, Pakistan in 3D and develop a virtual reality application for users to explore the site using the HTC Vive. The other group produced a georeferenced map of the archeological site at Sirkap in Taxila with a searchable and filterable heat map of material objects found at the site.

Interactive map created by students at Claremont Colleges
Interactive map created by students at Claremont Colleges

The second group was comprised of eight students, some coming from computer science, while others were humanities students. Their project, “Digitizing Material Culture: Explorations of Socioeconomic Distribution in Sirkap,” sought to determine if there was a correlation between room or house size and the number and variety of material objects found, and if this correlation could be used to draw conclusions about the socioeconomic status of inhabitants. While they concluded that there is, indeed, a correlation, they have not yet been able to make the link between this correlation and inhabitants’ “level of living.” However, their visualization project revealed several intriguing insights. For instance, they noticed that there were numerous sculptures in the Hellenistic style in the Apsidal temple, but the temple was used by Buddhist monks, and therefore, one would expect Indo-Parthian or Buddhist artifacts instead. They also found a high concentration of objects that were classified as “female” near Stupas and the Apsidal Temple, prompting additional questions for further research. While they were not able to accomplish all of their ambitious goals with this ten-week project, the documentation of their process and their machine-readable dataset are invaluable contributions to academics in many disciplines and to scholars of ancient Pakistan in particular.

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iPad Pro + Pencil as a Teaching Tool for Classics

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At Haverford’s recent Teaching with Technology Forum, Associate Professor of Classics Bret Mulligan demonstrated a variety ways he uses an iPad Pro and Pencil as a teaching tool in his classroom.  As shown in the example below, recordings created with the Explain Everything app on the iPad can be easily shared with students online for later review.


SCREENCAST: B. Mulligan demonstrates the iPad/Pencil for a Latin lesson

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LACOL Hack-a-thon Toward a Collaborative Quantitative Skills Support Framework

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This January, LACOL’s Quantitative Skills working group held a 3­-day intensive workshop (also known as a hack­-a­-thon) to explore a shared framework for review of online modules designed to strengthen students’ quantitative skills (QS) and quantitative reasoning (QR). The face-to-face event was designed by a core team of faculty and technologists from the QS group.  The workshop was hosted at Carleton College, with support from the Office of the President, Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching, and Office of Academic Technology.

Click for the Slideshow
Click for the Slideshow

Goals for the LACOL QS hack-a-thon:

  1. Identify aspects of existing QS/QR curricula, frameworks, and methods to be adapted as an online module/program by participating colleges. The goal for the collaboration is to enhance, not replace, local offerings.
  2. Plan for participating campuses to pilot one of the frameworks and agree to a process for assessment and sharing results among campuses.
  3. Document workshop outcomes and recommendations to share with colleagues across the liberal arts.

Location: Carleton College

Dates: Jan 9-11, 2017 (live blogging)

Workshop Outline: click here

Special Guest: Jim Rolf, Shizuo Kakutani Lecturer in Mathematics at Yale University; lead for Yale Online Experiences for Yale Scholars (ONEXYS)

Workshop Participants: list

Background:

Throughout the year, the QS working group has been exploring ideas for a collaborative framework to curate or build online tools and resources – including metadata on related pedagogical practices – to support students with QS/QR. Earlier this year, QS group members contributed to a joint exercise informally titled “What do we mean by quantitative skills?” to generate a shared list of key skills across the quantitative disciplines that students will need to have or acquire early in their academic careers. This common skills list provides input into strategies for helping students identify and close gaps.
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Live from the LACOL QS Hack-a-thon at Carleton College (Jan 9-11)

Welcome! Here is a slideshow and live tweets from the #LACOLQS hack-a-thon, Jan 9-11 on the campus of Carleton College.

Colleagues with wide-ranging expertise and disciplinary interests from seven LACOL schools spent three days sharing, working and learning side-by-side at the hack-a-thon. Together, the team developed an initial draft and prototypes of a collaborative framework for creating/curating and evaluating online QS/QR modules that can boost students success and improve access. With inspiration from special guest Jim Rolf from Yale ONEXYS, we delved deeply into collaborative strategies for design, implementation and measuring effectiveness. A grand time was had by all … and more to come! (Read more about the project.)

  • J Rolf shares insights from Yale ONEXYS LACOLQS
    2 months ago J Rolf shares insights from Yale ONEXYS  #LACOLQS 
  • The incomparable J Russell at LACOLQS
    2 months ago The incomparable J Russell at  #LACOLQS 
  • Thanks to E Mistry and C Born in Carleton AThellip
    2 months ago Thanks to E Mistry and C Born in Carleton AT  #LACOLQS 
  • Getting modular LACOLQS
    2 months ago Getting modular  #LACOLQS 
  • Afternoon breakout  connecting Pomona colleagues to Carleton via Zoomhellip
    2 months ago Afternoon breakout ... connecting Pomona colleagues to Carleton via Zoom  #LACOLQS 
  • Day 2 ! LACOLQS
    2 months ago Day 2 !  #LACOLQS 
  • Expert mingle! LACOLQS
    2 months ago Expert mingle!  #LACOLQS 
  • Packing a few essentials for the LACOLQS hackthon Jan 911hellip
    2 months ago Packing a few essentials for the  #LACOLQS  hack-thon, Jan 9-11  @carletoncollege 
  • Breakouts  headsdown work on topical modules in this casehellip
    1 month ago Breakouts ... heads-down work on topical modules (in this case, graphing)  #LACOLQS 
  • Welcome to colleagues joining remotely SF  LA for QShellip
    2 months ago Welcome to colleagues joining remotely (SF & LA) for QS hack-a-thon  #LACOLQS 
  • badges for Yales online summer bridge for QS ONEXYS LACOLQS
    1 year ago badges for Yale's online summer bridge for QS, ONEXYS  #LACOLQS 
  • Students perspective LACOLQS
    2 months ago Students perspective  #LACOLQS 
  • Yes we do LACOLQS
    2 months ago Yes we do.  #LACOLQS 
  • Sharing our campus perspectives LACOLQS
    1 month ago Sharing our campus perspectives  #LACOLQS 
  • Hacking the Qbits LACOLQS
    2 months ago Hacking the Q-bits  #LACOLQS 
  • Problems problems LACOLQS
    2 months ago Problems problems  #LACOLQS 
  • M EblenZayas draws examples from Carleton CUBE to fuel collabhellip
    2 months ago M. Eblen-Zayas draws examples from Carleton CUBE to fuel collab  #LACOLQS 
  • Next stop LACOLQS Hackathon carletoncollege
    2 months ago Next stop:  #LACOLQS  Hack-a-thon  @carletoncollege 

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Experiments in Virtual Reality at W&L’s IQ Center

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Students, faculty, and technologists at Washington & Lee’s Integrative and Quantitative (IQ) Center have been experimenting with virtual reality (VR) for a couple years, starting with cell phone-based VR systems like Google Cardboard. This year W&L upgraded to a dedicated VR headset, called the HTC Vive. These new VR headsets provide a compelling (and immersive) way to visualize and interact with content but there is very little educational content currently available, especially for higher education. This means that, for the time being, getting the most out of these systems requires either creating original content or adapting existing material to work in VR.

Fortunately, when it comes to visualization, many of the workflows for generating and manipulating 3D content such as molecular modeling, 3D animation, motion capture, photogrammetry, geographic information systems, 360-degree photography and video translate well to VR platforms with a little work and a healthy respect for the current limitations of the hardware.

According to IQ Center Academic Technologist Dave Pfaff:

Developing interactive scenes for VR takes a little more work and some specialized skills, but the potential for creating educational tools that facilitate active and blended learning at all levels of education are virtually limitless.

Faculty and students, including a group from W&L Advanced Research Cohort (ARC), have launched a number of explorations this year that are highlighted in more detail on W&L’s Academic Technology Blog, including:

  • Interactive structural biology models (catalyzed phosphorylation reaction)
  • Photogrammetry models of campus buildings
  • Laser scan model of a Wooley Mammoth
  • Crystal structures in 3D
  • “Grabbable” MRI scans of the brain from the “Glass Brain” project
  • Motion capture animation from a dance class


Clip from W&L’s virtual reality lab


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Digital Composition, Archives, and Environmental Justice

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J. Hyland, Photo credit: Rachel Hochberg
Above: John Hyland

Top: Broken Treaties exhibit (Photo credit, Rachel Hochberg)

Students in an environmental studies-based writing seminar at Haverford College recently completed a digital humanities project—Broken Treaties, Forgotten Archives: Philadelphia Quakers, Allegany Senecas, and the Fight for Sacred Grounds—through Haverford’s Special Collections that focuses on the politics of water, environmental justice, and Indigenous rights. In this first-year seminar taught by John Hyland, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Haverford’s Writing Program, “Ecological Imaginaries: Identity, Violence, and the Environment,” students interrogated how imaginings of the environment are inseparable from issues of social justice. They spent significant time studying the Theodore Brinton Hetzel Papers, a Haverford alumnus who, along with other Philadelphia Quakers, served on the Friends Kinzua Dam Project in the 1950s and 1960s, a project that collaborated with the Seneca Nation of Indians in a fight to stop the construction of a 179-foot dam on the Allegheny River in Warren, Pennsylvania. The dam, which was completed in 1964, flooded out the sacred grounds of the Seneca Nation, dispossessing them of lands that had been granted to them in 1794 by the U.S. Government.

On designing the assignment, Hyland says,

By preparing little-known historical documents for a broader online audience, students learned how to think critically about questions of literacy in a digital environment for the liberal arts. This project’s shift toward an online audience pushed students to consider how their work would be received beyond classroom, and they quickly felt that much more was at stake in their writing than the completion of a seminar assignment.

With generous support from Haverford’s library staff, including Sarah Horowitz and Michael Zarafonetis, students prepared a selection of materials from the archive for digital platforms and curated a public exhibition in order to tell this story of a fight for Indigenous rights, sacredness, and environmental justice. Through this multimodal project, students composed different genres of writing and learned about the rhetorical contexts for digital platforms. They completed annotations using Neatline, constructed a timeline, and composed labels to accompany and introduce the archival items while also producing prospectuses, annotated bibliographies, and articles. In completing this project, students sought to provide a historical perspective on current events such as the current fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. By the project’s close, students possessed a nuanced appreciation for the ways that archives illuminate contemporary moments.

Broken Treaties, Forgotten Archives timeline
Broken Treaties, Forgotten Archives digital timeline

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Language Instruction: brainstorm on language placement, diagnostics and refreshers

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As a preview and prelude to LACOL’s “Language Instruction Hack-a-thon” next May at Swarthmore College (http://lacol.net/language-hackathon), you are cordially invited to join a team meeting on Monday, December 12, 2016. This session is particular relevant for faculty and technologists with an interest in language placement/diagnostics and refreshers, and especially anyone who is curious to know more about plans for the hack-a-thon. 

Meeting: LACOL Language Instruction: pre-hack-a-thon brainstorm on language placement, diagnostics and refreshers

Special Guest Speakers: 

  • Chico Zimmerman, Professor of Classics, Carleton College
  • Clara Hardy, Professor of Classics, Carleton College

Session Agenda:

  • To launch the conversation, Professors Zimmerman and Hardy from Carleton College will share an update on their Latin placement project. Throughout the summer and fall, they have been designing a more effective placement test for Latin and exploring a number of web-based tools/platforms for delivery – see: http://lacol.net/latin-placement-lacol2016.  Thought focused on Latin content, their work provides excellent food for thought with broad relevance to diagnostics and refreshers for modern languages as well.
  • The remainder of the session will focus on plans for the hack-a-thon. What are the shared goals?  What pre-work can help to lay a solid foundation?  What kinds of productive “hands on” work can faculty and technologist do together in person in May?  
  • A small group of faculty has done some brainstorming about the hack-a-thon already.  We will share initial ideas and build from there.

Dec 12 Meeting Minutes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gbUfAj_6M6fh8_ReCMY_bFePz7T5wIQJIuNc03tHEPU/edit?usp=sharing

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Dr. Bryan Alexander to speak at the LACOL 2017 Consortium-wide Workshop

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Dr. Bryan Alexander
Dr. Bryan Alexander

LACOL is delighted to welcome Dr. Bryan Alexander as a special guest and speaker at the consortium-wide workshop LACOL2017 to be held June 15-16 on the campus of Vassar College.  Bryan is a highly regarded and exceptionally thoughtful futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher.  He focuses in particular on how technology transforms education.

At the June workshop, Bryan will share his insights and expertise in the form of presentations and informal consultation with LACOL’s working group members.  A creative and experienced facilitator of liberal arts collaboration, Bryan is well known to many from his work with the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) from 2002 to 2014, and more recently for his Future Trends in Technology and Education forum, among other projects.

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Testing interactive online learning modules for STEM

Blended modules cover topics such as trigonometry and statistics.

Starting in the fall of 2016, faculty at Bryn Mawr and seven partner liberal arts colleges (including LACOL member Vassar College) are field-testing faculty-authored online learning modules they have developed and refined over the past two years as part of the Blended, Just-in-Time Math Fundamentals program. Led by Bryn Mawr professor of physics, Elizabeth McCormack, the Math Fundamentals program tackles math review for students enrolled in introductory STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses. It is designed as a scalable, affordable method for helping students who are interested in STEM fields and generally college-ready in math, but who have areas of weakness or lack experience with applied mathematics, to build skills and confidence needed to thrive in introductory STEM courses.

For example, a student taking introductory physics will need to draw on trigonometry in order to solve certain types of vector problems. While most students encounter trigonometry at some point in high school math courses, the timing, breadth and depth of that exposure can vary considerably. To help these students, physics, chemistry and calculus professors at Allegheny, Bryn Mawr, Franklin & Marshall, Grinnell, Lafayette, Mills, Smith, St. Olaf, and Vassar colleges have worked with instructional designers to develop a “sandwich” approach to math review. Each module starts with a worked example of a canonical course problem — such as resolving vectors in introductory physics. This example identifies the fundamental math skills needed to solve the problem and provides links to online, interactive self-assessment and practice resources. According to the project manager Jennifer Spohrer, Manager of Educational Technology Services at Bryn Mawr:

These resources give students individualized feedback on their mastery of math fundamentals. Meanwhile, faculty, academic support staff, and peer tutors can review students’ work to provide additional assistance to those who need it. Students then solve a “do-it-yourself” version of the original problem to practice applying those skills in context.

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