Blended Learning: The “Hazards & Risks”

Authors:

GawronskiVincent Gawronski, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Political Science, Birmingham-Southern College.
vgawrons@bsc.edu

 

 

 

HoltWilliam Holt, Ph.D./J.D., Coordinator, Urban Environmental Studies, Birmingham-Southern College,
Birmingham-Southern College

Executive Summary

Birmingham-Southern College (BSC)’s Exploration Term in January affords instructors and students opportunities to create innovative projects that might be developed into semester-long courses. Drawing on BSC’s Urban Environmental Studies Program (UES), we planned this course to cross our traditional subject boundaries in political science and sociology with the natural sciences. The course focused on environmental hazards (tectonic-earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, weather extremes, hydrological flood and droughts as well as disease epidemics) and urban social risks (poverty, war, starvation, and crime). We employed blended and flipped learning strategies as well as games and simulations. We conducted several field activities in the Birmingham metropolitan area as well as a three-night trip to New Orleans to examine post-Katrina redevelopment. The project drew upon academic publications, resources from local, national, and international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and guest experts; we also relied heavily on Internet resources. The compressed January Exploration Term created some scheduling and pedagogical challenges. For example, it was not always possible to schedule remote class visits. Students had shorter times for class preparation and reflections, and we had little time to overcome technological problems. We realized our goals were too ambitious for a four-week session. We plan to offer the course again as full-summer term course to address time constraints and make use of better weather for field excursions. Indeed, there was a learning curve for both the professors and the students, but we are confident we successfully introduced and reinforced the course learning outcomes.

I would definitely take a blended learning course again. I learn best by watching, listening, and interacting. Blended learning almost seemed to cater to my ability to focus and learn.
–Student Comment

This course was different from many other classes that I have taken so far since our learning came from many different sources, trips, guest speakers, simulations, and lectures.
–Student Comment

Continue reading

Blended Learning at Small Liberal Arts Colleges

This report was submitted by NITLE to the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) on December 5, 2011. The ACS now makes it available as context for its January 2014 call for proposals for case studies in blended/hybrid learning (deadline for submissions: February 21, 2014). This report was developed by Rebecca Frost Davis, then program officer for the humanities at NITLE. Dr. Davis is currently the director for instructional and emerging technology at St. Edward’s University and a NITLE Fellow.

Historically one of the strengths of liberal arts colleges—their small size—has also been one of their weaknesses: They are limited in the number of classes they can offer, and courses with small numbers may not have the critical mass to justify the expense of offering them. Despite these challenges, however, small colleges can expand their course offerings while retaining their “high-touch,” personal approach to education through shared academics, which are academic experiences that transcend the borders of a single campus by connecting students, faculty, and staff in pursuit of common academic goals.  By partnering with other institutions and leveraging technologies such as high definition video conferencing and collaborative software, colleges can connect students to learning experiences beyond their local contexts and faculty to larger educational communities. Furthermore, by strategically pooling resources, small colleges can collectively develop a shared academic program with the depth and breadth needed to meet the needs of today’s students.

Continue reading

Launching the Digital Humanities Movement at Washington and Lee University: A Case Study

Barry, Knudson, Youngman, SprenkleBy Jeff Barry, Associate Professor and Associate University Librarian, Julie Knudson, Director of Academic Technologies, Sara Sprenkle, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Paul Youngman, Associate Professor of German

 

 

Abstract: This paper offers a case history of the development of digital humanities (DH) at Washington and Lee University. We will focus on how we informally and then formally implemented DH, especially the meshing of the various partner constituencies, the design of our program as it has evolved over time, and the technological environment within which we are supporting DH. We will conclude with an analysis and evaluation of our work in progress and detail our short term and long term future.

Keywords: digital humanities, collaboration, information technologies, library

Introduction

We faced a challenge at Washington and Lee University (W&L) in the summer of 2012: how does one start a movement – in this case, amovement in the digital humanities (DH). The state of DH on campus at that time is best expressed by Suzanne Keen (then interim dean of the college, now dean):

Everybody was working independently, and didn’t really even know about one another’s projects. I felt that if you said “Digital Humanities,” that relatively few W&L faculty would have any idea what that even meant (Suzanne Keen, e-mail message to author, March 11, 2014).

Her vision for the end state of a DH program on campus is compelling. She foresees DH permeating the curriculum widely and gaining broad acceptance among faculty, staff, and students. Moreover, she foresees liberal arts graduates who are information fluent, able to work with digital artifacts, and for whom working with large data sets is a matter of course. The difficulty we face is building a bridge from the current state of DH as Dean Keen describes it to her exciting vision.

Continue reading

The Professor and the Instructional Designer: A Course Design Journey

Authors: Adrienne J. Gauthier and Thomas Jack

  • GauthierAdrienne J. Gauthier, M.Ed., Instructional Designer, Dartmouth College
    Adrienne is an instructional designer in the Educational Technologies team at Dartmouth College. She focuses on blended course design, active learning strategies, and pedagogically appropriate use of technology in teaching. Dartmouth gained her expertise in November 2012 after her ten-year run at the University of Arizona in the Department of Astronomy where she worked on teaching, technology, astronomy outreach, and faculty support. Her Master of Education is from the fabulous Instructional Technology program at the University of Virginia and her undergraduate B.S. was earned from the University of Massachusetts.
  • JackThomas Jack, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College
    Tom is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.  Since arriving at Dartmouth in 1993, he has taught a wide range of courses in the broad area of genetics, molecular biology, and developmental biology. Since 2012, he has become involved in national efforts to reform undergraduate biology education as a PULSE (Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education) Leadership Fellow.  Tom’s research laboratory aims to elucidate the gene products and molecular mechanisms controlling flower development in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

Continue reading

Data-Driven Liberal Arts: the Library Role

 by Mark Dahl,

Dahl_BioMark Dahl, director of the Aubrey R. Watzek Library at Lewis & Clark College and a NITLE Fellow, outlines guidelines to help college libraries move from building digital collections to developing digital initiatives centered around faculty and student scholarship. Mr. Dahl has presented and written extensively on library technology and digital initiatives. His professional interests include digital initiatives, student engagement with library resources, and the future of the liberal arts college library.

Introduction

The April 2013 Association of College and Research Libraries biennial conference in Indianapolis featured no less than fourteen sessions about academic library data services. Topics ranged from data and statistical sources for reference and instruction, to data literacy for scientists, to the development of data curation services.

Clearly, data services are a hot area in academic libraries. But how is this trend playing out in libraries at teaching-focused institutions, specifically liberal arts colleges? As I will illustrate below, there are rich opportunities to expand library reference and instruction services to support quantitative reasoning initiatives and data-intensive undergraduate research. Data curation and management services, a major interest at research libraries, are also an emerging opportunity at liberal arts institutions as are the collection and management of field research data.

Continue reading

Digital Scholarship and the Tenure and Promotion Process

by Kristine M. Bartanen

Bartanen_BioKristine Bartanen is academic vice president and dean of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, a position she has held since 2004. She has served Puget Sound as director of forensics, professor and chair of the Communication and Theatre Arts department, associate academic dean, and vice president for student affairs and dean of students. Dr. Bartanen’s work has included particular attention to development of academic-residential programs on the campus, including residential first-year seminars; growth of the interdisciplinary curriculum, most recently in neuroscience; and support of civic scholarship, such as the Sound Policy Institute and the Race and Pedagogy Initiative.

Many liberal arts college faculty members are interested in and increasing their use of digital resources in teaching and scholarly work. Some have been developing digital teaching resources for nearly two decades, some have begun to publish scholarship in on-line journals and other digital venues, and some are doing ground-breaking work in open source, collaborative scholarly projects. Others, particularly pre-tenure or pre-promotion faculty, are reticent to venture into digital work out of concern for how that work will be acknowledged, valued, and rewarded in existing faculty tenure, promotion, and merit award systems. That reticence lives in tension with recognition that advances in technology-enabled teaching and scholarship are progressing in other institutions – academic and non-academic alike – and that professional currency in the academy demands new or amended frameworks in the liberal arts college for evaluation of digital work.

Continue reading

Games with a Purpose: Interview with Anastasia Salter

Salter_BioAnastasia Salter is an assistant professor at the University of Baltimore in the Department of Science, Information Arts, and Technologies. Her primary research is on digital narratives with a continuing focus on virtual worlds, gender and cyberspace, games as literature, educational games and fan production. She holds a doctorate in communications design from U. Baltimore and an M.F.A. in children’s literature at Hollins University. She is on the web at http://selfloud.net.

This interview was conducted by Mike Roy, editorial board member of the Academic Commons. A founding editor of the Academic Commons with long-standing interest in the impact of new technology on the meaning and practice of liberal education, he is currently the dean of library and information services and chief information officer at Middlebury College.

Continue reading

This Is Not a Game (It’s a Class): Lessons Learned From An In-Class Alternate Reality Game (ARG)

 by Brett Boessen

Boessen_BioAlternate Reality Games (ARGs) are a little-known but fascinating storytelling genre that blends digital, networked, and live face-to-face components engagingly in a unique way (when done well). In a learning scenario that seeks to encourage deeper understanding of the ways these elements interrelate in contemporary culture, playing an ARG can be an exciting and deeply meaningful pedagogical tool.

However, the ability to participate in an ongoing ARG as part of a college course in a useful way is usually hindered by at least three problems. First, scheduling is prohibitive, since ARGs often unfold over many months, making them hard to pair with a fall or spring semester schedule. Second, most ARGs operate under the TINAG principle — “This Is Not A Game” — and as such do not readily reveal themselves to players even as they are being played, which can make it difficult even to be confident one is playing a game at all until significant resources have been invested. Finally, most popular, high-profile ARGs are built around a commercial imperative driven by marketing and advertising needs that do not necessarily fit comfortably with typical learning objectives.

Continue reading

Taking Games in Libraries Seriously

by Andy Burkhardt 

“Games are unquestionably the single most important cultural form of the digital age.”

-Cathy Davidson[1]

What do aggravated avians and wandering warlocks have in common? Aside from their potential to cause mayhem, they are characters in some of the most popular games today. With over one billion downloads across all platforms and editions, Angry Birds has become a cultural phenomenon. Similarly, World of Warcraft has over ten million subscribers, making it the largest massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). These games are entertaining and fun, they sell t-shirts, and they have colorful characters, but make no mistake: these games are serious business. Games are now an integral part of our society in business, entertainment, and increasingly, education.

The reason these games have made millions of dollars is because they are engaging, challenging, and fun. However, instead of being mere entertainment, there are also numerous educational aspects to games. Games let us practice skills like solving complex problems, collaborating with others, planning, and learning from failure. This is why a growing number of scholars are studying games and more educators are integrating game play into their classrooms. Games are swiftly becoming an invaluable tool for teaching in the digital age.

Continue reading

Gaming the future of higher education

by Bryan Alexander, Senior Fellow, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education

Alexander_BioWhat will happen to higher education in the future? Versions of this question have been asked with increasing frequency over the past decade, especially since the 2007-2008 financial crisis and the challenging economic environment for colleges and universities that followed. Demographic, political, technological, and institutional developments have added to an atmosphere of tension and impending crisis. High-profile conferences have summoned campus leaders and media attention to ponder the fate of academia.[1] State and national political campaigns energetically discuss details of college tuition, staffing, curriculum, and policies. The University of Virginia’s board controversially (and briefly) deposed a president over strategy concerning these issues.

Can we use gaming to improve our ability to think through these challenging times?[2] I pose this surprising question because of the parallel rise of another trend from the past decade. The uses of gaming for learning have been much discussed, experimented with, and developed since the 2003 publication of James Paul Gee’s landmark book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy.[3] There has been a flood of discussion about the various ways games and simulations can enhance skills learning, convey curricular content, be used in libraries, and serve as the object of an emerging academic discipline, game studies. Games, “serious games,” and simulations have reached beyond academia into the realms of policymaking, entertainment, and news media.[4] Gamification, the use of game mechanics beyond formal game content, is being discussed to influence business, policy, and daily life. To propose using games to think through education’s fate is actually consonant with the tenor of our times.

Continue reading