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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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 Thursday, 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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Adaptive Learning (and Adaptive Teaching) in a First Course in Applied Statistics

LACOL 2017 Talk: Adaptive Learning (and Adaptive Teaching) in a First Course in Applied Statistics
Date & Location: June 16 on the Campus of Vassar College (see program details)
Speaker: Denny Garvis, Professor of Business Admin & Mgmt, The Williams School at Washington & Lee University

D. Garvis, Washington & Lee University
D. Garvis, Washington & Lee University

This presentation coming up in June 2017 serves as a practical follow-up to the Candace Thille keynote from LACOL 2016. Specifically, adaptive learning courseware originally developed in the Online Learning Initiative (OLI) at Carnegie Mellon University has been used in the Applied Statistics course in the Williams School at Washington and Lee since 2014. Pedagogical advantages, trade-offs in teaching, and student learning outcomes from using the OLI Statistical Reasoning courseware, now hosted by Stanford EdX, will be discussed.

Additional Resources:

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On the Math Fundamentals Program: QS meet-up April 7

On April 7, LACOL QS members are cordially invited to join a one-hour web conference with the leads of the Math Fundamentals (FIPSE) Program, Faculty PI and Professor of Physics Elizabeth McCormack and project management lead Jennifer Spohrer, Manager of Educational Technology Services, both at Bryn Mawr College.

Math Fundamentals is a multi-year, multi-campus initiative investigating the use of blended, just-in-time “sandwich” modules for math review in STEM. The research partners (including LACOL members Bryn Mawr College and Vassar College) are currently field testing several faculty-authored modules in calculus, chemistry and physics. (more…)

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Digital Storytelling for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning (June 15 Panel)

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Digital storytelling is a powerful narrative form for imagining, analyzing, and informing that typically combines images, text, recorded audio, video clips, and music.  The educational uses are many.
As Bryan Alexander says, storytelling just might be the most important cognitive tool of the 21st century.

This panel discussion at the LACOL2017 workshop will highlight how faculty and students at liberal arts colleges are using media-rich storytelling to spark creative expression in teaching, learning and research.  The basics of digital storytelling are well known.  By comparing experiences with “applied digital pedagogy”, the panelists will share approaches to their own learning design and process in different disciplinary contexts. Through dialogue, several questions will be explored. How are assignments introduced to students and how do they respond? How can faculty foster interaction and collaborative engagement through storytelling?  How do faculty and technologists partner effectively to support digital media creation?  How might media-based approaches be shaping our culture of teaching and learning?

Moderator: Bryan Alexander, educator, futurist and author of The New Digital Storytelling

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You Are the New Gatekeeper of the News

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video gallery button_edited-1Event: Online Pop-Up Discussion, April 4th 2017
Title: You Are the New Gatekeeper of the News
Discussion Leader: Aly Colón, Knight Professor of Media Ethics, Washington and Lee University
Audience: Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumnae/i
Background Reading: You are the new gatekeepers of the news (The Conversation, Feb 7, 2017)

Aly Colón, Professor of Journalism Ethics, W&L
A. Colón

Discussion Topic: News consumers today face a flood of fake news and alternative information. In this online meet-up, journalism ethics professor Aly Colón explores forces of change in the new media landscape as we become responsible for deciding how we filter what’s news and what’s not. Professor Colón frames the conversation with historical examples and point to emerging trends in the digital age of news where Velocity + Volume = Volatility. As an ethical agent of journalism, how can you cultivate a mindset of open inquiry and deepen your capacities to handle challenging or uncomfortable views, especially in online settings?


Highlights (9:52)

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Project Update: Upper Level Stats shared course pilot added for Fall 2017

Jingchen (Monika) Hu, Assistant Professor of Statistics at Vassar College
Jingchen (Monika) Hu, Assist. Prof. of Statistics, Vassar College

In connection with LACOL’s Upper Level Math collaboration, Assistant Professor Jingchen (Monika) Hu at Vassar College is opening her Fall 2017 Bayesian Statistics course to students from across the consortium.  As the course unfolds, Prof. Hu plans to share bi-weekly lectures and screencasts with the class and engage with remote students via video conferencing and online office hours.  On each participating campus, a local faculty liaison will be on hand to guide students as needed.  Technical support will be provided in partnership with instructional technology/academic computing groups on each campus. In exploring the opportunity for the pilot experiment, Hu said:

To me, this shared/hybrid model can be a great way to get students on our campuses the access to upper level statistics courses. After collecting some data, I am very amazed at how rich the upper level statistics offering [across LACOL] could be if we can share the resources in some way. 

Stephan Garcia, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Pomona College
S. Garcia, Assoc. Prof. of Mathematics, Pomona College

The Bayesian Statistics pilot will complement another hybrid/shared offering in Real Analysis from Associate Professor Stephan Garcia at Pomona College. Because sharing Garcia’s course lectures will require capture of his mathematical notations on several blackboards, he is testing a robotic camera rig that can be positioned to record high definition video all around the classroom.

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QS Module Showcase (works in progress)

WELCOME to the LACOL Quantitative Skills (QS) Module Showcase.  Browse the module prototypes below.

Background: The LACOL Quantitative Skills working group is collaborating to develop a shared library of online modules that can help support students in their quantitative work across the disciplines. Module design combines instructional content (curated resources such as videos or simulations) with a sequence of activities and assessments that provide students with the institutional and curricular context.  A major goal of the project is to evaluate the effectiveness of modules in different settings, either as stand-alone resources or embedded within coursework or a QS/QR mentoring program.  Because the focus is on application of math skills in context, the team is seeking input from instructors across the disciplines.

Prototypes under development:

Number Sense: Fermi Estimation
Graphing: Deciding on a graph type
Algebra: Linear Functions (CUBE example)
Algebra: Strategies for Solving Word Problems

 

Number Sense

LACOL_MKNumber Sense:
Estimating Large Numbers
Module Purpose: Students practice translating a word problem into mathematical relationships, learning a process of arriving at a reasonable answer, becoming proficient in estimating quantities and making assumptions and in appreciating order of magnitude knowledge. The word problem presented is often referred to as a Fermi problem, named after physicist Enrico Fermi as he was known for his ability to make good approximate calculations with little or no actual data. The ability to estimate quantities is a useful skill in many disciplines, and a student may be called on to apply it in settings ranging from estimating the required amounts of reagents to estimating the economic feasibility of setting up a bakery in Northfield, MN.

Notes on Strategy: The module breaks down the strategy of arriving at an answer to an estimation question (Fermi Problem) as follows:

  1. Brainstorm questions that arise from the original question
  2. Identify the central information that is needed
  3. Set up the chain of reasoning reasoning / mathematical relationship between the quantities
  4. Make assumptions about the quantities involved or gathering information needed to improve estimates.
  5. Work with your smallest reasonable value, your largest, reasonable value, and then choose the most likely value for the answer.

Keywords: 

  • Fermi problem
  • Back of the envelope calculations
  • Guesstimations
  • Order of magnitude
  • Dimensional analysis
Module Prototype: Approximately how many dentists are there in Fresno, CA?

ENTER THE FERMI MODULE

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

cropped-blendlac_logo_resized-2Registration opens March 15, 2017 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 interested LACOL faculty and staff to attend.

More details 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 3-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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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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