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)

  • Date: Friday, April 27
  • Location: Davidson College
  • Register: Davidson Workshop Registration & Housing (register by 4/1)
  • Workshop Leads:
    • Dr. Brent Maher, Director of Academic Assessment, Davidson College
    • Kristen Eshleman, Director of Digital Innovation, Davidson College
    • Prof. Paul Youngman, Chair of the Digital Humanities Working Group and Professor of German, Washington & Lee University
  • Program: 

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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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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Think Tank on Digital Competencies for the Liberal Arts


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 (, 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.


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:

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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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:

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


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Q-bit: Linear Functions

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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:

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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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:

Vassar College:

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? 


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Unpacking My Library: The Book in Augmented Reality

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See also: The Life of Books

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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Nov 15: QLAB Webinar – Update on Q-bits Testing in Fall ’17 Pilot (+ What’s Next?)

M. Eblen-Zayas
M. Eblen-Zayas

Event: Webinar – Update on Q-bits Testing in the Fall 2017 Pilot / What’s Next?
Location: ZOOM (details below)
Date: Wednesday, November 15
12:00 noon – 1PM Eastern
Presenter: Prof. Melissa Eblen-Zayas & 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.

NB: A recording of the webinar will be shared for those who cannot join in person.

Read more about the 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. We will be looking for input on approaches to revising the existing Q-bits, choosing topics for the next several Q-bits to be developed, and lowering barriers to contributing to the project.

    • Status of the Q-bit project — goals, what makes this project different, overview of what we have done
    • Lessons learned so far
    • Seeking input on some next steps


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Language Skills Dashboard – drill down on data visualization

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UPDATE: Join Carly Born for her Dashboard Poster Presentation at ELI this January

As a sequel to last summer’s Hack-a-thon Toward a Collaborative Language Diagnostics and Refresher Framework at Swarthmore College, a dedicated group of language learning technologists and Carleton’s student “Data Squad” gathered this fall at Carleton College to work on platform requirements for a dashboard prototype.  Led by Michael Jones  and Carly Born, this two-day mini-hack-a-thon focused on solving technical pieces of the puzzle that will enable the flow of useful data from a language skills diagnostic test into a data-rich visual display. 

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The dashboard is just one piece our faculty’s vision for the shared framework drafted at the meeting last May. Elements include a language skill map, a self-assessment survey, diagnostic/placement tests (question banks) and the dashboard that can help faculty visualize the data for better placement and advising.

Language Learning Skills Map / Top Level Categories:

  • Grammar
  • Comprehension
  • Discourse
  • Vocabulary

Diagnostic visualizations also may point to trends in language skills development within and across our liberal arts programs and language curricula.  A user-friendly dashboard tool can ultimately help students gain feedback on their skill levels and close gaps as they traverse the liberal arts language sequence. (more…)

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The New Online Pomona College Chinese Pronunciation Guide

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Prof. F. Xiao and students developed the guide.
Prof. F. Xiao and students developed the guide.

The Pomona College Chinese Pronunciation Guide is a free online learning module on Chinese pronunciation. This new resources aims to help elementary and intermediate level Chinese learners improve their perception of Chinese. This site was developed by Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures Feng Xiao and his students. Reflecting on the project, Xiao’s student Benjamin Hogoboom, Pomona ’19, says:

The Pomona College Chinese Pronunciation Guide is something that I was very interested in developing both as a Computer Science and Chinese language student. I was eager to take on the challenge of building my own website from scratch, something I had never done before, and to help out introductory Chinese students with one of the most difficult aspects of acquiring Chinese: pronunciation. I am happy that I was able to team up with Professor Xiao, Edward Gao, and Nina Zhou to create what I believe is a truly useful learning tool for students new to the Chinese language.

The Guide covers pronunciation of all new words in the textbook Integrated Chinese (3rd) Level 1 and 2.  Indexed by lesson, each new word has four audio recordings and requires the user to choose the correct one (see banner image above). The built-in reset button for each word allows multiple uses of the exercise and minimizes practice effect.

Professor Xiao is also a contributor to the LACOL Language Skills/Diagnostics Dashboard project.

To use the Pomona College Chinese Pronunciation Guide, visit:

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Explorations toward a LACOL course sharing framework (Spring ’18)

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 8.40.55 PMBased on insights flowing from the Upper Level Math/Stats and SILP course sharing projects, a multi-campus, multi-disciplinary steering group and task force are working in concert to explore models and possibilities for course sharing across the digital network.

Math & Stats Steering Group:

This group met in the fall of 2017 to develop a RECOMMENDATION based on insights gained through the Spring ’16 and Fall ’17 course sharing pilots.  (more…)

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Webinar: Using Q-bits with Students (Fall 2017)

Curious about Q-bits? Watch the webinar (30 min):

M. Eblen-Zayas
M. Eblen-Zayas

This video presents a half-hour webinar training with Prof. Melissa Eblen-Zayas of Carleton College and members of the QLAB Project core team. Melissa provides an overview of Q-bits and answers questions about testing in the upcoming term.   

Related Resources:

Please feel free to forward this post to colleagues who may be interested in Q-bits! The webinar is an great way preview a Q-bit and learn more about our multi-campus collaboration to develop and test ways these modules may help to support students with their quantitative work in different disciplinary contexts.  

Q-bit Training Outline:

  • What are Q-bits?  (a brief tour)
  • Our pilot study – research goals
  • Options and steps for testing Q-bits with your students
  • Key dates 
  • Resources for Q-bit Testers
  • Q&A


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