Many faculty and designers may be familiar already with the phrase “small teaching” which was made famous in Prof. James Lang’s 2016 book, Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons From the Science of Learning. In a nutshell, Lang demonstrates how small, easily-managed teaching modifications – based on the neuroscience of how people learn – can have a positive impact for students. That is, small adjustments can make good teaching great.
Online professor and instructional designer Flower Darby worked with Lang to bring the small teaching concept into the online realm. The opportunities for discovery are rich because, as Darby notes, online learning is in its infancy.
The book recommendation is excellent – a lot of useful suggestions which would take years to figure out. -Dr. Natalia Toporikova, Professor of Biology at Washington and Lee University; online instructor, summer 2019
The gerrymandering controversy in American politics offers an ideal subject for a blended learning class that draws upon racial justice, electoral behavior, electoral reform, law, political science, data analysis, and the use of geographic information systems technology. We combined each of these themes into a class that entailed the practical application of GIS and data analysis skills to a contemporary public policy issue that animated the news as the U.S. Supreme Court prepared to issue its second gerrymandering decision in as many terms.
The project proposal was developed by Melissa Eblen-Zayas and Janet Russell of Carleton College and Laura Muller and Jonathan Leamon of Williams College based lessons learned from the QLAB pilot project.
Additional information about the project, including details about the project advisory board, a needs assessment survey for faculty, and opportunities for faculty and staff to get involved, will be be shared later this summer and into the fall through the QS Working Group Forum.
How important is it for instructors to include their own faces when creating instructional videos? The answer might surprise you. Dann Hurlbert, Carleton College’s Media & Design Guru (and an actor, director, and inventor of the Little Prompter) leans on research and his own expertise to offer guidance.
Dann Hurlbert and Palmar Alvarez-Blanco at Carleton College recently co-taught Spanish 206, a course focused on developing language skills with native speakers and fostering civic engagement–while also giving something tangible back to the community. Students in this course worked with under-represented local organizations to help them create a “participatory videos” (short documentaries) to help tell each organization’s story. In addition to having students create video as a portion of their coursework, Dann also used instructional videos to teach and guide the learning. Dann created a successful Moodle-based micro-course that can now be easily replicated and plugged into a multitude of courses in which the faculty member hopes to tie Civic Engagement with his/her own course content, and video production.
Here’s a short video that offers a peek into the course and this engaging instructional method:
*Note: this sample video includes short selections from the following films: Bacon and God’s Wrath by Sol Friedman and Sarah Clifford-Rashotte; Godka Circa by Antonio Tibaldi and Alex Lora; Damon at 86th Street by Emily Sheskin, and the Price of Certainty by Daniele Anastasion.
For more information on how you and your institution can use this technique and these materials to foster civic engagement in your courses, contact Dann at firstname.lastname@example.org
Session: Teaching Online in the Liberal Arts Panelists:
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
WATCH(Part I – Faculty Presentations – 30 min; Part II – Discussion – 30 min)
How is online teaching and learning relevant for small residential liberal arts colleges?
In this panel, three faculty members with hands-on experience teaching online tell their stories and engage in a dialogue with colleagues across the consortium. How might these insights help us build a vision for online teaching and learning that aligns with the core mission of our institutions?
Session: Teaching with Tech ⚡Lightning⚡ and (((Thunder))) Round Date/Time: Thursday, May 31, NOON – 1:30pm (over lunch)
In the lightning round, LACOL faculty and staff will share an idea or demo – JUST FIVE MINUTES OR LESS – on a digital tool or teaching technique. Some presentations are flipped – see videos below – so that more time can be devoted to discussion – that’s the thunder.
Lineup and Video Gallery – Watch!
Long term Collaborative Class – Carleton & Addis Ababa U.
Using video conferencing, chemistry students at Carleton College and Addis Ababa University are working together on projects, meeting together via video approximately once per week. This presentation shares the successes and challenges of teaching and learning in a globally connected classroom.
Highlighting Digital Tools for 3 Data Science Skills
The Social Sciences Quantitative Laboratory at Swarthmore College has developed a series of workshops designed to develop data analysis skills. These workshops rely heavily on a variety of digital tools to allow students to interact with, be amused by, and engage the theory behind data. This talk highlights a few digital tools used to teach: (1) theory building, (2) p-hacking, and (3) programming. All links included in the video can be found here.
Lioba Gerhardi, Adj. Asst. Professor of German and SILP Director, Vassar College
Jingchen (Monika) Hu, Asst. Professor Statistics, Vassar College
Steven J. Miller, Professor of Mathematics, Williams 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.
From tweetstorms to troll farms, social media has become deeply polarized; a force that is frequently unpleasant and may even pose a threat to democracy. What to do? A new pop-up MOOC from Davidson Now invites students to explore active solutions.
Productive, participatory engagement builds communities and builds networks that support real interaction and change. When meeting face-to-face is no longer necessary, what does engagement look like in a democratic society?
On Feb. 12, Davidson College will launch “Engagement in a Time of Polarization,” a free, two-week online course that will engage learners in a conversation about active, effective collaboration in a divisive media ecosystem.
Learn about historical models for creating an informed, engaged citizenry from professors Natalie Delia Deckard of Davidson College and Bonnie Stewart of the University of Prince Edward Island
Evaluate the implications of polarization–and participatory engagement–for educators, government and media; and
Participate in real-time discussions with leading voices in media literacy, disinformation and polarization.
This is the third class from Davidson Now, a digital learning series from Davidson College on edX.org. (more…)
LACOL 2017 Session 7: From Blended Learning to Digital Pedagogies in the Liberal Arts? Presenter: Jennifer Spohrer, Manager of Educational Technology Services, Bryn Mawr College Date & Location: June 16 at Vassar College
When Bryn Mawr College first proposed experimenting with “blended learning in the liberal arts” back in 2011, we conceptualized it as a combination of “traditional,” face-to-face, liberal arts instruction and online tutorials that assessed and gave students feedback on learning. However, in the initial calls for proposals, it became quickly apparent that liberal arts college faculty were incorporating other types of digital technologies into their teaching, and doing so ways we had not anticipated. This presentation surveys the digitally enabled teaching approaches that have been included under the “blended learning” umbrella since 2011 and identifies “digital pedagogies” that might connect them.
Session 9: Adaptive Learning (and Adaptive Teaching) in a First Course in Applied Statistics Speaker: Denny Garvis, Professor of Business Admin & Mgmt, The Williams School at Washington & Lee University
Date & Location: June 16 at Vassar College
This presentation serves as a practical follow-up to the Candace Thille keynote from LACOL 2016. Specifically, adaptive learning courseware originally developed in the Online Learning Initiative (OLI) at Carnegie Mellon University has been used in the Applied Statistics course in the Williams School at Washington and Lee since 2014. Pedagogical advantages, trade-offs in teaching, and student learning outcomes from using the OLI Statistical Reasoning courseware, now hosted by Stanford EdX, will be discussed.
Digital storytelling is a powerful narrative form for imagining, analyzing, and informing that typically combines images, text, recorded audio, video clips, and music. The educational uses are many.
As Bryan Alexander says, storytelling just might be the most important cognitive tool of the 21st century.
This panel discussion at the LACOL2017 workshop highlighted how faculty and students at liberal arts colleges are using media-rich storytelling to spark creative expression in teaching, learning and research.
On Monday, June 19th, join the Active & Engaged Reading and Effective Teaching & Learning working groups for an online meetup and discussion of Lacuna, a platform for digital annotation and social and collaborative reading developed at the Poetic Media Lab in the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford.
Several academic reading groups at Stanford and beyond are using Lacuna for collaborative reading and annotation. The development team is working on release version 3.0 which will include a more robust analytics dashboard for readers to reflect on what kinds of critical thinking are represented in their annotations. Join this meeting to learn more about the pedagogies and digital tools for reading.
Event: Web conference in Zoom Title: Lacuna Conversation and Demo with Brian Johnsrud & Amir Eshel from the Stanford Poetic Media Lab Audience: All LACOL members are welcome Date: Monday, June 19 Time: 3:30-5pm Eastern
For details on how to join the web conference, contact Liz Evans
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.
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.
In September 2016, a team of mathematics faculty, technologists and instructional designers from six leading liberal arts colleges (LACOL member schools Amherst, Haverford, Pomona, Swarthmore, Vassar and Williams) are launching a new collaboration to explore blended course sharing for select topics in advanced mathematics. The goal of the project is to experiment with models for shared course delivery which can supplement residential classroom learning and expand curricular offerings for math majors. Inspired by some independent experimentation and brainstorming between faculty team leads, Assoc. Prof. Steven Miller at Williams College (pictured above) and Assoc. Prof. Stephan Ramon Garcia (pictured at right), a group of six mathematicians from across LACOL began talking about possibilities for a multi-campus collaboration in early 2016. These conversations eventually led to a full project proposal which gained strong support from LACOL’s Faculty and Administrative Advisory Councils. The project was officially approved in July 2016 as a two-phased initiative. In the first phase (academic year 2016/2017), a feasibility study is planned which will execute several experiments and “proofs of concept” involving online/blended course elements such as lecture capture, online coaching and problem solving sessions (synchronous and asynchronous) and peer mentoring. With support from the multi-campus project team, these efforts will be spearheaded by Miller at Williams College in connection with his Spring 2017 ‘Problem Solving’ course. In phase two (academic year 2017/2018), findings from phase one will be brought to bear in a pilot course offering, ‘Real and Functional Analysis’, taught by Garcia. In a fully realized vision, the course would be offered both face to face at Pomona, and also opened virtually to interested students at all LACOL campuses. Local faculty and support contacts at each campus would help ensure students experience the best aspects of on-campus and on-line liberal arts learning.
Since mathematics faculty at all LACOL schools already teach a variety of advanced topics, this project will investigate how online/blended sharing may expand access to a richer array of options to meet student interests. Miller notes:
While liberal arts colleges excel in engaged faculty and personal interactions with students, we do not always have the course offerings available at larger institutions with graduate programs. Though often our students are ready for such classes, at each institution there are practical limits to offering them every year. Our goal is to increase the wealth and frequency of the advanced classes our students need, both for graduate study and to delve deeply in the subject.
Launch of the ‘Upper Level Math’ project has stirred excitement across the Consortium. The math team’s work is seen as an opportunity to collaboratively experiment with emerging online/blended pedagogies that might be useful in a variety of disciplines. It is also a chance for the schools to explore related policy issues of faculty and student credit in the context of online/blended course delivery and consortial partnerships. In considering these issues, the team will draw on experiences from peer institutions and other consortia who have been investigating these new models in a variety of ways. Swarthmore College Professor of Cell Biology Liz Vallen, who evaluated the project in-depth as a member of LACOL’s Faculty Advisory Council, commented:
This [project] seems exactly aligned with LACOL’s goals as it is leveraging the consortium to increase course offerings and availability at partner institutions. The other big benefit of this work is that it is a concrete example that will be a great pilot experiment to see if this is something feasible and beneficial within the LACOL framework.