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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The American Prison Writing Archive at Hamilton College

Access, collaboration, and prisons – three words one is unlikely to see in the same context. Yet the American Prison Writing Archive (APWA) works collaboratively to provide access to the witness borne by people in prison today. Directed by Doran Larson, Walcott-Bartlett Professor of Literature & Creative Writing at Hamilton College, the APWA is a continually growing online archive of essays written by incarcerated people and prison workers. The APWA provides access to the lived experiences of those inside these closed systems. These essays unveil the prisons we have constructed. We expect them to mete out justice. What we find in each essay is something much less noble.

Reading any single essay is a powerful experience; reading across essays offers the outlines and interiors of a city just smaller than Chicago.

While emerging from the American archipelago of over 6,000 carceral institutions, the cityscape we discover is as cohesive as that of our Chicago, LA, or New York. But this is a city dedicated to the production of pain. (See Larson’s Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America, and his MOOC on the history of prison writing in the US.)

PI Larson working with student researchers.
PI D. Larson working with student researchers.

Larson began working with the Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) at Hamilton College to develop an online, open access archive of prison essays in 2010. In December 2017, the APWA reached two important milestones: 1) over 1000 essays are now online; and 2) a transcription tool was developed to crowdsource transcription of the primarily handwritten essays. The transcription tool increased the ability of transcribers anywhere to request an account and contribute to transcriptions that allow full text searching of the archive. With over twenty new essay submissions and associated signed permission questionnaires per month, the APWA team has focused on processing submissions, correspondence, digitization, and metadata entry. Volunteer transcribers continue the practice of collaboration that fuels every aspect of the APWA. The NEH grant Larson received this past year contributed to the development of this transcription tool and also supports an administrative assistant working for the archive. Collaboration is woven into all of the work of this archive: from Larson’s work within and across institutions to maintain prison writing programs, to the team ethos of the DHi Collection Development Team in developing and sustaining the growing archive, to the research of undergraduate students, faculty and graduate students who can use the archive from other institutions. (more…)

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LACOL Teaching with Tech Lightning Round @ Carleton College

lightening round auidience

Picking up from last year’s wildly popular 2017 Tech Lightning Round at Vassar, this year’s consortium-wide workshop LACOL2018 at Cartelton College will feature THE RETURN OF THE LACOL LIGHTNING ROUND over lunch on Thursday, May 31st.

star2018 Lightning Round: Lineup coming soon
Moderator: TBA

In the lightning round, LACOL faculty and staff are invited to share an idea for a short pitch – JUST FIVE MINUTES EACH – on a digital tool or technique you’re trying in your classroom or online.

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Digital Competencies – two meetups @ EDU-PLACE in January

BMC digital compIn October 2017, Davidson College hosted a LACOL event called the Think Tank on Digital Competencies. A mix of faculty, campus leaders, librarians, technologists, and instructional designers from liberal arts colleges across the country focused first on the Bryn Mawr College Digital Competencies Program (https://www.brynmawr.edu/digitalcompetencies), tracing its history, motivations, and impacts for students, faculty, and the institution.  Design thinking was then used to explore how digital liberal arts leaders may approach similar goals on their campuses.  

To follow up on a great think tank, the two webinars described below are being offered in January 2018 as a way open up this work on developing a Digital Competencies Framework to those who could not attend the in person event and to continue this conversation.

PLEASE JOIN! These webinars are open to everyone through PLACE, the Partnership for Liberal Arts Collaboration and Exploration, https://p-lace.org.

Workshop 1: Overview of Bryn Mawr’s Digital Competencies Framework

Tuesday, January 9 | 3pm – 4pm Eastern
EDU-PLACE Webinar

Presenters:

  • Beth Seltzer, Educational Technology Specialist, Bryn Mawr College
  • Gina Siesing, Chief Information Officer and Constance A. Jones Director of Libraries, Bryn Mawr College
  • Jennifer Spohrer, Director of Educational Technology Services, Bryn Mawr College

In this session, Bryn Mawr College staff will discuss why and how the college developed and launched a digital competencies program. This institutional focus on digital competency reflects our commitment to ensuring students develop digital skills and critical perspectives as lifelong learners prepared for work and life in the 21st century. We will talk about how to develop a framework that’s meaningful within your institutional context, ways to leverage college partnerships and build on campus initiatives, and approaches to integrating digital competencies across the student’s curricular and co-curricular experience.

This is the first of two related workshops; the next is “Hands-on Digital Competencies Program Design” on January 16.

Workshop 2: Hands-on Digital Competencies Program Design

Tuesday, January 16 |  2pm – 3pm Eastern
EDU-PLACE Webinar

Presenters:

  • Kristen Eshleman, Director of Digital Innovation, Davidson College
  • Sundi Richard, Lead Instructional Designer, Davidson College

verbs of dcThis is an active session that is meant to follow the “Overview of BMC’s Digital Competencies Framework” session on January 9th. We recommend you join this session with a group of 3 – 5 people, as you will be doing timed design thinking activities together. Each group will work through a guided ideation process to establish the goals and components for an institutional digital competencies framework and map out next steps for local program development. The facilitators will provide prompts and examples each step of the way.

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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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Student DataCon@WLU, networking for data analytics, big data and statistical computing

In November 2017, Washington and Lee University held its first DataCon, a new event for students. The two-day program was designed to highlight the impacts and career paths for data analytics, big data and statistical computing across a variety of industries.  The gathering brought together students, faculty, staff and alumni for a series of discussions and networking opportunities around data sciences in both academic and professional life, including ways that analytics are used in the fields of advertising, finance and technology.

DataCon-692x768Reflecting on the experience, DataCon co-organizer Professor Denny Garvis noted:

We can tell already that we are tapping into an existing but quiet network of students, faculty and alumni who are really doing interesting work

The inaugural conference was so successful that another DataCon will be held next year. (more…)

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Think Tank on Digital Competencies for the Liberal Arts

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starSee reflection and photos from Think Tank co-lead G. Siesing, Bryn Mawr College.
Join two follow up webinars from the BMC & Davidson teams via EDU-PLACE in January.

 

At this think tank event hosted by Davidson College, a mix of faculty, campus leaders, librarians, technologists, and instructional designers from liberal arts colleges across the country focused first on the Bryn Mawr College Digital Competencies Program (https://www.brynmawr.edu/digitalcompetencies), tracing its history, motivations, and impacts for students, faculty, and the institution.

 

It was a great event – interesting and fun. I was surprised how much we accomplished in a short period of time. Thanks to all!
__________________– Janet Scannell, Chief Technology Officer, Carleton College

 

Next, the Davidson team facilitated a design thinking session for some rapid prototyping to explore related interest across our institutions, many of whom are exploring and building similar kinds of programs and looking for frameworks to share and adapt.

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The concepts of digital competencies and digital fluency reflect the need for students to develop digital skills and critical perspectives as lifelong learners prepared for work and life in the 21st century. There is growing recognition of the importance of integrating these skills into a well-rounded liberal arts education. Recently, Bryn Mawr College has developed a digital competencies framework focused on these five areas:

  • Digital Survival Skills
  • Digital Communication
  • Data Management and Preservation
  • Data Analysis and Presentation
  • Critical Design, Making, and Development

IMG_1461The main outcomes from this workshop will be to create a community of practice around design, development, and facilitation of digital competency/dexterity/fluency programs in the liberal arts and to identify ongoing ways of sharing program models and resources. Individual institutional teams will also be able to adapt and expand Bryn Mawr’s digital competencies framework as appropriate for local contexts. We hope that LACOL and other LAC partners might also at some point build on the BMC digital competencies framework as an expression of foundational capabilities that we agree on across liberal art institutions as relevant for scholarship, learning, work, and life in the digital age. A shared framework can provide a pathway to accelerate stated LACOL goals for creative collaboration in digital experimentation, faculty development, and research.

Follow up events and webinars are planned.  Faculty, instructional designers, leadership, career development center directors, and others engaged in thinking through digital competency frameworks for the liberal arts are encouraged to join the conversation. Watch this space! (more…)

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Liberal Arts Gallery of Digital Pedagogies

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The Concept:

Faculty, librarians, instructional technologists/designers and academic specialists across all the LACOL schools (and beyond) are engaged in creative exploration of digital pedagogies for the liberal arts. LACOL is collecting a series of short vignettes to share across our liberal arts network.

The Format:

  • 3-5 minute video (live action or screencast)
  • Audio narration preferred

*close captions will be added to all videos for accessibility
*copyright permissions for all included media must be cleared

Each video should include …

  • The Prompt: What pedagogical problem or challenge are you trying to solve?
  • Your Approach: What (digitally enhanced) teaching strategy are you taking?
  • Tips and Feedback: What has been your experience so far? Any feedback from students?

How to Contribute:

Proposal / Intake Form (coming soon)

The form asks for:

  • Your Contact Information
  • Title / Topic
  • Short description – what will your video cover (300 words or less)
  • Sample image (optional)
  • Related keywords or tags (optional)
  • Link to hosted video (or LACOL can host)

Short (1:17 min) example:

* this examples uses animation, but gallery videos may be live action and/or screencasts (more…)

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QLAB update: piloting Q-bits with students (Fall ’17)

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Prof. Ming An (Vassar College), lead author of the 'Choosing a Graph Type' Q-bit
Prof. Ming An (Vassar College), lead author of the ‘Choosing a Graph Type‘ Q-bit

starQLAB Webinar 11/15: 
click here to jo
in the discussion

 

This summer and fall, teams of faculty and technologists collaborated intensively to launch QLAB, a shared framework for curating, implementing and assessing online instructional modules for quantitative skills (QS) and reasoning for just-in-time review and skill-building across disciplines.  The goal of the QLAB project is to assist faculty teaching quantitative subjects who find they need methods to support students with gaps in preparation. The strategy draws on a body of research in higher education and experience at our institutions showing that online modules can be a beneficial component of an overall QS support program.

The individual modules, known as Qbits, review quantitative topics and demonstrate the topic’s applications in different disciplinary contexts.  For example, a module might review logarithms and then consider the application to decibels and sound perception in psychology, the Richter scale in geology, the concept of pH in chemistry, etc. In Fall 2017, Qbits are being implemented through a combination of videos and quizzing, and consist of an initial knowledge check, short videos to review specific quantitative skills, structured application problems that give students practice applying the quantitative skill in disciplinary contexts, and a final knowledge check.

Q-bits tested in Fall 2017:

project.
QLAB session
June 2017

Developing online resources that can be used in multiple contexts to help students strengthen their quantitative skills serves two purposes. First, by demonstrating the relevance of specific QS in various disciplinary contexts, students learn to view quantitative skills as fundamental and transferable skills that they can draw on in many areas of their liberal arts experience. Second, the consortial effort allows us to collect meaningful data about the effectiveness of the various modules for a greater number of students in a wider variety of contexts.  Using what we learn in this pilot, we plan to expand the collection of useful modules.

Aims of the pilot include:

  • Developing a collaborative framework for design, implement and assessment of online modules for QS/QR instruction and review at residential liberal arts institutions.
  • Crafting an initial set of instructional modules on high-priority QS topics, drawing on high quality instructional content, developed in partnership with Yale ONEXYS and others.  
  • Assessing module effectiveness as refreshers for tutoring and as just-in-time instruction embedded in coursework.
  • Gathering data to evaluate the impact of modules on student learning and confidence in each phase of the project and beyond.

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Q-bit: Logarithms

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LACOL_MKAlgebra:
Logarithms
Module Purpose: This module guides students on key concepts for working with logarithms in different disciplinary contexts.

Module Authors: Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Carleton College, Jim Rolf and Yale ONEXYS, with additional problems contributed by LACOL faculty, instructors and QS/QR tutors.

Notes on Strategy: 

  1. Watch the instructional videos to review some basic characteristics of logs and different ways that they can be used.
  2. Gain practice in applying your knowledge through problem solving.

Application Problems:

  • Perception of Sound (Psychology)
  • Acidity of Chemical Solutions (Chemistry)
  • Radioactive Materials – Rate of Decomposition (Chemistry, Physics)
  • Earthquakes and the Richter scale (Geology)
  • Binary Representation of Data (Computer Science)
  • Binary Search (Computer Science)
  • Doubling the Value of an Investment (Economics)
STUDENTS: Access the ‘Logarithms‘ Q-bit in your LMS! 

Carleton College: contact the Academic Technology team in ITS for access in Moodle.

Haverford College: https://moodle.haverford.edu/course/view.php?id=678

Williams College: contact the OIT team for access in GLOW.

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Q-bit: Linear Functions

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LACOL_MKAlgebra:
Linear Functions
Module Purpose: This module guides students on key concepts for working with linear functions in different disciplinary contexts.

Module Authors: Adam Honig, Amherst College, Jim Rolf and Yale ONEXYS, with additional problems contributed by LACOL faculty, instructors and QS/QR tutors.

Notes on Strategy: 

  1. Watch the instructional videos to review some basic characteristics of linear functions and different ways that they can be used.
  2. Gain practice in applying your knowledge through problem solving.

Application Problems:

  • The Keeling Curve
  • Moving Objects
  • Linear Functions in the Supply and Demand Model: Numerical Examples
  • Linear Functions in the Supply and Demand Model: Slopes and Intercepts
  • The Consumption Function
STUDENTS: Access the ‘Linear Functions‘ Q-bit in your LMS! 

Carleton College: contact the Academic Technology team in ITS for access in Moodle.

Haverford College: https://moodle.haverford.edu/course/view.php?id=646

Williams College: contact the OIT team for access in GLOW.

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Q-bit: Choosing a Graph Type to Visualize Data

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LACOL_MKGraphing:
Choosing a Graph Type to Visualize Data
Module Purpose: This module guides students on steps to think about the variables they’re exploring and select the best graph type to visualize them.

Module Authors: Ming-Wen An, Vassar College; Albert Y. Kim, Amherst College, with additional problems contributed by LACOL faculty, instructors and QS/QR tutors.

Notes on Strategy: 

  1. Watch the instructional videos and be wowed by the power of data visualization.
  2. Understand the importance of identifying the types of variables in your research question.
  3. Gain practice in selecting the graph type that is best suited to visualize your data.

Application Problems:

  • Biology: Personal Genomics – Quantifying Genetic Variation among Individuals
  • Economics: Discovering the Law of Supply and Demand
STUDENTS: Access the ‘Choosing a Graph Type’ Q-bit in your LMS! 

Carleton College: contact the Academic Technology team in ITS for access in Moodle.

Haverford College: https://moodle.haverford.edu/course/index.php?categoryid=44

Vassar College: http://moodle.vassar.edu/course/view.php?id=11931

Williams College: contact the OIT team for access in GLOW.

We welcome your feedback!! Please leave a comment below to let us know how this q-bit was helpful to you.  What would make it more helpful?  Do you have suggestions for other q-bits? 

[COMMENTS CURRENTLY CLOSED]

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Professors will share their math/stats course exchange pilot at EDUCAUSE ELI

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Jingchen (Monika) Hu, Assistant Professor of Statistics at Vassar College
Above: Jingchen (Monika) Hu, Asst. Prof. of Statistics at Vassar College

Top: Steven J. Miller Assoc. Prof of Mathematics, Williams College

Faculty Talk: Where’s the Remote? Upper-Level Math/Stats Hybrid Course Sharing for the Liberal Arts
Date/Time: Tuesday, January 30, 11:45am – 12:30pm CT
Location: EDUCAUSE ELI 2018, New Orleans, LA

As one possible avenue to expanding curricular offerings for math and stats majors at small liberal arts institutions, partner schools in the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning (LACOL) have been exploring ways to remotely share classes using hybrid/online delivery modes.  Professors Steven J. Miller (Williams College and Jingchen Monika Hu (Vassar College), two faculty members at the forefront of this collaboration, will describe their experiences in designing hybrid courses and teaching with a mix of digital pedagogies.  We will emphasize how connections were made between students and faculty, how well local and remote students were able to engage the material, and the various challenges in coordinating course delivery across several campuses.

For students of advanced mathematics and statistics, the liberal arts model offers a deep level of engagement in learning with faculty and peers; however, due to practical limitations, small colleges cannot always offer the breadth of course subjects available at larger institutions with graduate programs. To explore collaborative models that may help to enrich curricular offerings, faculty and technologists from several leading liberal arts colleges are experimenting with a consortial online/hybrid course sharing model.  In this talk, the professors will share results from three recent course pilots: Steven Miller’s Spring 2017 Problem Solving course from WIlliams College (involving students at Williams, Swarthmore and Amherst Colleges), Monika Hu’s Bayesian Statistics course from Vassar College, and Stephan Garcia’s Advanced Real Analysis course from Pomona College (Fall 2017).  
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Unpacking My Library: The Book in Augmented Reality

Hamilton Andrewletterpress1

This semester, students in Professor Andrew Rippeon’s “Unpacking My Library: The Book, The Burke, and the 20th Century” (Literature & Creative Writing) are introduced to the history and practice of the book in a long arc from the pre-Gutenberg era into the present.

With a focus on the 20th century, Rippeon’s students consider “the book” and “the library” as literary, theoretical, and material engagements: what does it mean to curate a library? How do technological developments bear upon information? How do authors and artists respond to these questions? Over the semester, and in addition to reading in these contexts and to writing their own original critical essays, students make letterpressed broadsides and books, curate micro-libraries, and produce (as a hard-copy book) an anthology of their writing.

Students put the finishing touches on a book making project.
Above: Students put the finishing touches on a book making project.

Top: Prof. Andrew Rippeon demonstrates setting type to a group of students.

In this iteration of the course, students will create their own charged technological context for the book: how does an augmented-reality book further pressurize the context we’re discussing? Students will use 3D technologies (3D printing and the Sprout Pro learning station), and augmented reality applications to produce a book that has a much broader material-technological footprint, at once engaging with and commenting upon the status of the book in the 21st century. We intend to produce an augmented-reality book that documents its own context and production.

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Building the Campus of the Future: EDUCAUSE-HP Research Project

Hamilton College is pleased to announce its participation in the Building the Campus of the Future: 3D Technologies in Academe EDUCAUSE/HP research project. This exciting initiative seeks to identify the 3D modalities that hold the greatest potential to result in improvements in learning and research outcomes, as well as enhancements of student engagement, faculty satisfaction and other qualitative metrics. The Research & Instructional Design Team (Library & IT Services) will be leading the initiative at Hamilton. (more…)

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