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

LL_hackathon copy

In May 2017, LACOL’s Language Instruction working group held 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 was 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

Workshop Report: click here

Special Guest:
Christopher M. Jones
Teaching Professor of French and Computer-Assisted Language Learning
Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Chris Jones, CMU
Dr. C. 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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Sharing Courses in Self-Instructional Language Programs through Online Conversation

SILP

In an increasingly globalized world, students are seeking ways to learn languages that are not commonly taught at schools in the United States. While self-instructional language programs (SILP) afford many opportunities to explore lesser-taught languages like Hindi, Korean, or Swahili, the scope of each program is limited. A new online collaboration will allow each program to tap into resources that other colleges in the consortium have, e.g. native speakers in the community that can serve as tutors, or advanced level instruction in certain languages. Students will have additional opportunities to explore new paths within their liberal arts education.

Many of the colleges within the consortium offer some form of guided self-instruction of lesser-taught languages already. The new LACOL project will launch a collaboration between the Self-Instructional Language Programs at Pomona, Vassar, and Williams College, using online synchronous classroom-to-classroom interaction. As Lioba Gerhardi, Vassar’s Coordinator of the Self-Instructional Language Program and Adjunct Assistant Professor of German Studies says:

By sharing resources, the partners will be able to increase the number of self-instructional languages available to students in an innovative and cost-effective manner.

The self-instructional component of each language course will remain unchanged. Each student will enroll for the course at their home institution. For speaking and listening practice, students will join conversational tutorial sessions at a partnering college via video conferencing software, such as Zoom.

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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:

  • Baynard Bailey (Academic Computing Services, Vassar College)
  • Ben Harwood (Instructional Technology, Skidmore 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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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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You Are the New Gatekeeper of the News

news

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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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

Banner

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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See also: QLAB project launch http://lacol.net/qlab-launch

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.)

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

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

wl

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

hyland1
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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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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Education in the age of social media, student explorations

Prof. Alice Lesnick

Through four pivotal online media platforms, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, Professor Alice Lesnick, Director of the Bi-College Education Program, has invited her students at Bryn Mawr and Haverford to critically engage with these tools in order to understand how they play important, complex, and contested roles in education within and beyond classroom contexts. For each online media platform, a different guest speaker in Lesnick’s Education, Technology, and Society course spent time working with groups on learning one platform and applying this platform into the context of their field placement. For example, students who worked with high school students in a Philadelphia charter school read the Wikipedia entry on charter schools in order think about what needs to be added or changed. Prof. Lesnick noted:

The purpose of this project is to have students think more critically and creatively about their consumption and experience of online media so that they will become better decision makers and have the digital literacy to understand usability as well as the complexities behind these tools.


VIDEO CLIP

Bryn Mawr College Tech Talk: Education in the Age of Social Media


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Webinar: Carleton Cube Debrief (October 19)

Meeting:

Debrief on Carleton’s CUBE pilot (online summer bridge program for quantitative skills)

On October 19, LACOL held a webinar with special guests Melissa Eblen-Zayas and Janet Russell from Carleton College.  In this one-hour session, Melissa and Janet shared their experiences running the first iteration of the ‘Carleton Undergraduate Bridge Experience’ or CUBE, a new online summer bridge program designed to support entering students with quantitative skills and reasoning.  Carleton’s creative approach to developing CUBE riveted the audience at the June LACOL workshop as the pilot was just getting underway.  Now in this “debrief” session, you can hear all about what went into running the program in the first round, how students responded, and the lessons that were learned.  The meeting was held in Zoom with ample opportunity for Q&A and discussion.  Contact Liz Evans (eevans@haverford.edu) for more information.

Special Guests:

  • Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Associate Professor of Physics and Director of the Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching, Carleton College
  • Janet Russell, Director of Academic Technology, Carleton College

Related Resources:

Date:

Wednesday, Oct 19

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