George Siemens Keynote at LACOL 2018

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George Siemens
Dr. George Siemens

How to stay human in a digital age.

LACOL is honored to announce that George Siemens will keynote the 2018 LACOL Workshop at Carleton College.

George Siemens researches, technology, networks, analytics, and openness in education. Dr. Siemens is Professor and Executive Director of the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab (LINK) at University of Texas, Arlington. He leads the development of the Center for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L) at University of South Australia. He has delivered keynote addresses in more than 35 countries on the influence of technology and media on education, organizations, and society. His work has been profiled in provincial, national, and international newspapers (including NY Times), radio, and television. He has served as PI or Co-PI on grants funded by NSF, SSHRC (Canada), Intel, Boeing, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Soros Foundation.  He has received numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from Universidad de San Martín de Porres and Fraser Valley University for his pioneering work in learning, technology, and networks. He holds an honorary professorship with University of Edinburgh.

Dr. Siemens is a founding President of the Society for Learning Analytics Research ( He has advised government agencies Australia, European Union, Canada and United States, as well as numerous international universities, on digital learning and utilizing learning analytics for assessing and evaluating productivity gains in the education sector and improving learner results. In 2008, he pioneered massive open online courses (sometimes referred to as MOOCs). He blogs at and on Twitter: gsiemens

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Panel: Teaching Online in the Liberal Arts

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Session: Teaching Online in the Liberal Arts

  • Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Professor of Physics and Director, Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching, Carleton College
  • Erland Stevens, Professor of Chemistry, Davidson College
  • Chad Topaz, Professor of Mathematics, Williams College

Facilitator: Janet Russell, Director of Academic Technology, Carleton College
Date/Time: Friday, June 1, 9:00am-10:00am
Location: Weitz 236

How is online teaching and learning relevant for small residential liberal arts colleges?

Our institutions are not typically grappling with some of the pressures driving bigger institutions to move online, such as retention, large lecture-based courses, or non-traditional aged students. In fact, LACOL institutions have built part of their identity and brand around close faculty-student interaction in the undergraduate classroom.  Still, faculty across our institutions are experimenting with a variety of ways that online and blended learning can serve our students.

In this panel, three faculty members with hands-on experience teaching online will tell their stories.  How might these insights – and others from across the consortium – help us build a vision for online teaching and learning that aligns with the core mission of our institutions?

Related sessions at LACOL 2018:

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How to Blend a Course – Hands On (Effective Teaching & Learning)

J. Spohrer, Bryn Mawr College
J. Spohrer, Bryn Mawr College

Session: How to blend a course – hands on
Lead presenter: Jennifer Spohrer, Director of Educational Technology Services, Bryn Mawr College
Date/Time: Friday, June 1, 10:30am-11:30am
Location: Weitz 131

This hands-on mini workshop will explore how and why faculty are motivated to blend their courses, even for their residential students on our campuses.

Related sessions at LACOL 2018:

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Course Sharing Brainstorm at LACOL 2018

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Workshop Session Date/Time: June 1, 1:30-3pm
Location: Weitz 230 @ Carleton College

Sharing courses as a consortium can enhance curricular opportunities, lead to efficiency gains by combining expertise and curricular resources, and provide opportunities for our faculty and students to explore digitally-enhanced, collaborative modes for teaching and learning in the liberal arts.

Building on pilots and proofs of concept conducted in 2017,  faculty and staff across the consortium worked together in the spring of 2018 to explore opportunities and a framework (processes and infrastructure) that could support strategic course sharing.

In this workshop session, an overview of the 2018 exploration will be shared, and participants will be invited to brainstorm on creative and useful course sharing opportunities (curricular and co-curricular), riffing on in three designs for teaching and learning:

Related sessions at LACOL 2018:

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Depolluting the Web: Information Environmentalism in Education

Hands-On Mini-Workshop @ LACOL 2018

Name: Depolluting the Web: Information Environmentalism in Education
Date: Thursday, May 31st
Time: 2pm-4pm
Location: Weitz 235

  • Amy Collier, Associate Provost for Digital Learning, Middlebury College
  • Sundi Richard, Lead Instructional Designer, Davidson College

Session Description:

A. Collier
A. Collier

The web is polluted. The digital platforms where we learn and connect are replete with misinformation and threats to our wellbeing and privacy. We know that toxic digital information environments impact our daily lives, and the lives of our students, in everything from politics, to policy, to interactions in public and private spheres.

What can we do? What does informed participation or activism look like in these polluted web platforms?

S. Richard, mini-workshop co-lead
S. Richard

In this hands-on session, we’ll “get our hands dirty” to better understand the drivers of mis/disinformation on the web (i.e., how our digital information environments become polluted) and begin to take actions to clean up those environments. Dubbed “Information Environmentalism” by Mike Caulfield, this work aims to depollute the web platforms where we find (mis)information and where we connect for social and educational purposes.

Information environmentalism embraces agency–rather than hopelessness and withdrawal–and because of this, we think it is a necessary part of digital literacy education in a liberal arts curriculum. (more…)

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Data Sciences meets Environmental Studies at LACOL 2018

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 8.40.55 PMWorkshop Session: Data Sciences meets Environmental Studies – Exploration
Part 1: May 31, 9:30am CT @ Weitz 136
Part 2: June 1, 10:30am CT @ Weitz 230

The intersection between Data Science and Environmental Studies is emerging as an area of focus for LACOL as we explore opportunities for collaboration around digitally engaged modes of teaching and learning for the liberal arts.

Several colleges are currently developing programming under the umbrella of Data Science, including critical algorithm studies, big data, data visualization, and data privacy/security. Meanwhile, most LACOL schools have a data-intensive Environmental Studies concentration or major. Interdisciplinary by nature, these areas of study challenge students to understand and work with data from many angles. Students engage in analysis, problem solving, critical thinking, and modes of argument that are deeply connected to social, cultural, political, and aesthetic ideas. Considering such programs, LACOL is thinking about ways that digital collaboration might enrich teaching and learning in this arena.

What could a data science and environmental studies collaboration or community look like? Across LACOL, students collect and analyze data across a range of environments and climates: deserts, mountains, suburbs, cities, lakes, streams, and oceans. Data and environmental issues operate in virtual worlds as well. As students engage with data, could the consortium help to connect a liberal arts network of faculty, students, and peers who share similar enthusiasms and challenges? A shared course or digital forum might bring together a range of different expertises and perspectives, inviting students to think critically about how and why environmental data is collected, sliced and diced in different local contexts.

To explore such possibilities, LACOL is bringing an exploratory group together at the 2018 Summer workshop at Carleton College, May 31/June 1. A range of fields will be represented: computer science, statistics, ecology, chemistry, biology, geology, geography (GIS), economics, political science, media studies.

Goals for a data/env summer meet up at the Carleton workshop will be:

  • To connect colleagues who work in Data Science and Environmental Studies
  • To share what is happening on our campuses already. (Is your school forming a data science program? How and why? How are your students engaged with data and the environment in your locality and other sites in the field?)
  • To brainstorm on ideas for digital collaboration that could enrich teaching and learning

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Shared Grammar Resource

The Language Instruction Working Group is currently (Spring 2018) exploring an idea for a online resource built collaborative by/for LACOL faculty and instructors that will guide language learners on foundational grammar concepts.

There is an emerging plan for collaboration toward Shared Grammar Resources for Beginning Language Students. This concept has been discussed with enthusiasm in some earlier LACOL meetings, and Carleton Professor of Classics Chico Zimmerman has drafted a proposal to articulate more of the vision – see link above and below.

Four small teams are actively collaborating across several schools on the following module topics:

  • General Advice to Learners
    • General advice to incoming students about language-learning at college.
    • This includes some student voices on their learning experiences, but also could include some more general data/research findings on the benefits of L2 acquisition and the potential interferences of L1.
  • Map of Language Learning
    • An “overview” or map of the different domains that language takes in, including “grammar” broadly construed and its relevance
  • Glossary of Grammar Terms
    • A glossary of grammar terms with English examples; perhaps including sentence diagramming
  • Phonetics and Phonology
    • Phonetics/phonology module (perhaps with differing emphases depending on the target languages)

If this proposal interests you, you are invited to join the conversation.

This group is meeting at the 2018 LACOL Workshop at Carleton College.  For more information, contact LACOL.

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Active Learning – Strategies & Spaces

carleton active learning classroom

Workshop Session: Active Learning – Strategies & Spaces

Session Leaders:

  • Michael Jones, Director of Language and Media Centers, Swarthmore College
  • Ashley Turner, Academic Technologist, Swarthmore College

Description: The purpose of this session is to start a discussion about Active Learning Spaces at Liberal Arts Colleges, and explore if there is an opportunity and mechanism through LACOL to share approaches and lessons about the design, technology and support of these classrooms.  

Come to share insights on experimental, flexible learning spaces on your campus.  What is the intent of those space?  How are they used?  How are they assessed?



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Digital Competencies at the 2018 LACOL Summer Workshop

G. Siesing, Bryn Mawr College

For faculty and staff to build upon foundations laid at the Think Tank on Digital Competencies last fall, an interactive session exploring digital competencies across the curriculum will be held at the the 2018 Summer Workshop at Carleton College.

This discussion will focus on how digital competencies connect with faculty priorities and practices for teaching and learning in the physical and virtual classroom, and how digital competencies support and relate to higher order learning goals.

Session Lead: Gina Siesing, Chief Information Officer and Constance A. Jones Director of Libraries at Bryn Mawr College

Pre-workshop activity: Group annotatation of the Bryn Mawr Framework!


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Digital Competencies – annotate the Bryn Mawr Framework

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The activity described below is linked to the Digital Competencies session at the 2018 LACOL Workshop

The concept of digital competencies (also known as digital fluencies, literacies or dexterities) reflects the need for students to develop digital skills and critical perspectives as lifelong learners prepared for scholarship, work and life in the 21st century.  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

Bryn Mawr’s framework served as the basis for the excellent Think Tank on Digital Competencies last fall at Davidson College which attracted a vibrant group of faculty, librarians and technologists from across the liberal arts.

Digital Competencies Session at the LACOL Summer Workshop

For faculty and staff across LACOL to build upon foundations laid at the Think Tank, an interactive session exploring digital competencies across the curriculum will be held at the 2018 Summer Workshop.  This discussion will focus on how digital competencies connect with faculty priorities and practices for teaching and learning in the physical and virtual classroom, and how digital competencies support and relate to higher order learning goals.  

Pre-Workshop Activity – Group Annotation of the BMC Framework

As input to the workshop discussion, we are inviting groups of faculty, staff and students to annotate a copy of the Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies Framework using a collaborative annotation tool called Hypothesis.  This tool is easy to use and allows everyone in a group to add and comment on annotations overlayed on top of any web document through a shared view. Shared annotation for the BMC Framework can help to reveal key trends and themes that will serve as a starting point for face to face discussion at the workshop.


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LACOL First Timers

Workshop Session: LACOL First-timers
Facilitator: Janet Scannell, Chief Technology Officer, Carleton College
Date/Time: Thursday, May 31, 3:30-5pm
Location: Weitz 231 @ Carleton College

J. Scannell, CTO, Carleton College

New to LACOL? Come to this session to learn and brainstorm about the consortium’s purpose, goals, history, current initiatives, and future horizons.

The fourth* consortium-wide LACOL workshop brings together a mix of faculty and staff from across our partner schools for two days of thinking and working. Some participants have been at every workshop and/or are involved already with current projects and initiatives. Others will be brand new to the consortium. For “first timers”, this session is a chance to learn about LACOL, share your ideas, and ask questions!

* Pomona 2014, Haverford 2016, Vassar 2017, Carleton 2018


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LACOL Teaching with Tech ⚡Lightning⚡and (((Thunder))) Round @ Carleton College

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Session: Teaching with Tech ⚡Lightning⚡ and (((Thunder))) Round
Moderator: TBA
Date/Time: Thursday, May 31, NOON – 1:30PM Central
Location: Weitz 236

Picking up from last year’s wildly popular 2017 Tech Lightning Round at Vassar, this year’s workshop reatures the THELIGHTNINGROUND followed by ((( THUNDER ))) over lunch on Thursday.

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.   Some presenters will share a short video (SEE BELOW) prior to the workshop so that more time can be devoted to discussion – that’s the thunder.

Lightning Round Lineup and Video Gallery

School Lightning Presenter(s)
Amherst College TBA
Bryn Mawr College Jennifer Spohrer, Director of Educational Technology

Online Interactive Resources for Blended Math Fundamentals Review and Psychology Research Methods and Statistics

In 2014, Bryn Mawr College and several partner colleges received grants to support developing online, interactive materials that faculty needed to blend instruction in two areas. The first was a Teagle Foundation Hybrid Learning and the Residential Liberal Arts Experience grant to develop high-quality online interactive learning modules for undergraduate courses in Psychology Research Methods and Statistics. The second was a First in the World grant (P116F140302) from the U.S. Department of Education’s FIPSE program to develop materials for a blended, “just-in-time” approach to helping students review the math skills and concepts needed to succeed in introductory math, science, and engineering courses.

This lightning round presentation will offer a brief overview of the materials faculty developed and field-tested and explain how other faculty can adopt and adapt them for their own uses.

Carleton College Chico Zimmerman, Professor of Classics

Level Up!

Exploring student meta-cognition using the Level Up! plugin for gamification in Moodle.

Dann Hurlburt, Media & Design Specialist

Instructional Videos and the Little Prompter

WATCH: How to Make and Instructional Video (60 seconds – with inline assessment!)


Davidson College Kristen Eshleman, Director of Digital Innovation

Measuring Complex Domains of Learning for the Liberal Arts (with Paul Youngman)

Innovations in assessment can directly address a key challenge for our institutions – demonstrating our value in a time of increasing skepticism about the liberal arts. On April 27, Davidson College and Washington & Lee University hosted a LACOL workshop to explore an assessment tool and method called  Sensemaker that has the potential to manage and account for the complex domains of learning.  Pursuing a research design as a network of allied liberal arts institutions provides evidence at scale while building capacity for experimentation and innovation at each of our institutions.

Hamilton College Ben Salzman, Academic Technologist

Coming Soon

Haverford College  TBA
Pomona College  TBA
Swarthmore College  TBA
Vassar College Monika Hu, Assistant Professor of Statistics

Experiments with Sharing Statistics Classes Online (with Steven Miller)

Baynard Bailey, Academic Technologist

Digital Storytelling by and for Students (Video coming soon.)

Washington & Lee University Paul Youngman, Professor of German & Chair, Digital Humanities Committee

Measuring Complex Domains of Learning for the Liberal Arts (with Kristen Eshleman)

See above.

Williams College Steven Miller, Associate Professor of Mathematics

Experiments with Sharing Math Classes Online (with Monika Hu)

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