Collaboration: A Primer

Prepared for the ACS Strategic Planning Committee

by Amanda Hagood, Director of Blended Learning, Associated Colleges of the South, and Grace Pang, Program Officer, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education

Introduction

This primer was developed from a study of sixteen case studies in digitally-mediated collaboration and the liberal arts published by the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) and the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) in the summer of 2014. Though the case studies covered topics as diverse as designing and implementing a hybrid course in Asian Studies or launching a program in digital humanities, each provided a fascinating example of how small institutions can marshal their oftentimes limited resources and personnel to achieve extraordinary things. The key to each project’s success lies in the strategy of collaboration—though, as we will demonstrate, collaboration exists along a continuum consisting of many different modalities for working together. This primer, drawn from a thoroughgoing analysis of these projects, will present four exemplary projects and will ask you to consider how their goals, strategies, and tactics reflect upon the goals, strategies, and tactics that should appear in the ACS’s 2020 Vision.

The aims of this primer are threefold:

  • To report why and how faculty and staff within and across ACS institutions are collaborating
  •  To explore how the goals, strategies, and tactics used by these practitioners align with the ACS’s mission to support the liberal arts by creating collaborative opportunities that improve the quality, while reducing the cost, of liberal arts education.
  • To stimulate the Strategic Planning Committee’s thinking about why and how our member institutions could collaborate.

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Cyberinfrastructure and the Sciences at Liberal Arts Colleges

by Francis Starr, Wesleyan University

Professor Starr is a computational and theoretical physicist at Wesleyan University. In the last 10 years, he has published roughly 70 articles focusing on liquids, glasses, gels, polymers, and biologically inspired nanomaterials. Due to the computational demands of his research, Prof. Starr has been involved in developing computing infrastructure since he was a graduate student. He recently joined with several other faculty and the university ITS to provide a university-wide cluster and a companion educational center.

Originally Published December 16th, 2007

Introduction
The technical nature of scientific research led to the establishment of early computing infrastructure and today, the sciences are still pushing the envelope with new developments in cyberinfrastructure. Education in the sciences poses different challenges, as faculty must develop new curricula that incorporate and educate students about the use of cyberinfrastructure resources. To be integral to both science research and education, cyberinfrastructure at liberal institutions needs to provide a combination of computing and human resources. Computing resources are a necessary first element, but without the organizational infrastructure to support and educate faculty and students alike, computing facilities will have only a limited impact. A complete local cyberinfrastructure picture, even at a small college, is quite large and includes resources like email, library databases and on-line information sources, to name just a few. Rather than trying to cover such a broad range, this article will focus on the specific hardware and human resources that are key to a successful cyberinfrastructure in the sciences at liberal arts institutions. I will also touch on how groups of institutions might pool resources, since the demands posed by the complete set of hardware and technical staff may be larger than a single institution alone can manage. I should point out that many of these features are applicable to both large and small universities, but I will emphasize those elements that are of particular relevance to liberal arts institutions. Most of this discussion is based on experiences at Wesleyan University over the past several years, as well as plans for the future of our current facilities.

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The Bates College Imaging Center: A Model for Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration

by Matthew J. Coté, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Bates College Imaging and Computing Center, Bates College

Originally Published December 16th, 2007

The Bates College Imaging and Computing Center (known on campus simply as the Imaging Center) is a new interdisciplinary facility designed to support Bates’s vision of a liberal arts education, as codified by its newly-adopted General Education Program. This program reflects the increasingly porous and mutable nature of disciplinary boundaries and emphasizes the effectiveness of teaching writing as a means of improving students’ ability to think, reason and communicate. The Imaging Center strives to further expand the reach of this program by promoting visual thinking and communication–serving as a catalyst for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work. In many ways the Center embodies most of the ideas underpinning Bates’s new General Education Program and is a model on this campus for the kind of transformative work cyberinfrastructure will enable.

Cote_Figure1_2007

Floorplan image courtesy of the Bates College Imaging and Computing Center.

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New Directions for Digital Collections at Academic Libraries

by Mark Dahl

Originally published 23 September 2013

Digital collections at academic libraries have come of age. College and university libraries have invested in digital collections since the early 2000s, and they are now an established function of the library organization. At U.S. liberal arts colleges, it’s almost a given that the library hosts unique digital collections and has some kind of formal program supporting them. As I will argue, however, it is time for academic libraries to seize new opportunities around digital collections that add value to the process of learning and scholarship.

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The Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Project: A Case Study

by Joanne Cannon, Joseph Murphy, Jason Meinzer, Kenneth Newquist, Mark Pearson, Bob Puffer and Fritz Vandover

Joanne Cannon is the Assistant Director of Educational Technology Services and Manager, Interactive Services at Smith College. Joseph M. Murphy is Director of Information Resources at Kenyon College. Jason Meinzer is Senior Open Source Developer at Reed College. Kenneth Newquist is Web Applications Specialist at Lafayette College. Mark Pearson is Instructional Technologist at Earlham College. Bob Puffer is Academic Technologist at Luther College and the NITLE Moodle Liaison. Fritz Vandover is Academic Information Associate for Humanities at Macalester College.

(Originally Posted September 9th, 2009)

What is CLAMP?
The Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Project (CLAMP) is an effort by several schools to support continued and sustainable collaborations on Moodle development at liberal arts institutions. Moodle is an open-source learning management system designed with social constructivist pedagogy as part of its core values. With highly-customizable course pages, faculty can organize course material by week or by topic and add modules, resources and activities that help students meet learning objectives by encouraging collaboration and interaction. While the lack of licensing fees initially attracts many campuses, the flexibility of working with an open source tool also becomes a real advantage, allowing for additional customization to meet the specific needs of the institution.

Moodle is well-supported through its core developers and the large community at moodle.org, but CLAMP has a different focus: the issues and challenges unique to four-year liberal arts colleges using Moodle. By creating a smaller network of Moodle users with a tighter focus on the liberal arts, we are able to undertake development projects which none of us could accomplish alone. CLAMP develops community best practices for supporting Moodle, establishes effective group processes for documentation and fixing bugs, and better connects our institutions to the thriving Moodle community worldwide. Put briefly, by partnering programmers and instructional technologists across multiple institutions, CLAMP lowers the practical barriers to supporting and adapting this open source software.

To better understand CLAMP, it is helpful to look at the lexical components of the acronym:

Collaborative: True participatory collaboration between member institutions is the motor of the project through a consensus process. Artifacts collaboratively produced from online and in-person gatherings are significant, benefiting all liberal arts Moodle institutions.
Liberal Arts: While the liberal arts educational model is almost exclusively represented by institutions in the United States, we believe that the core values of this model–“critical thinking, broad academic interests, and creative, interdisciplinary knowledge” are embraced by many educational institutions worldwide.1 They are also critical for the Moodle community. Indeed, a cursory dig into the support forums of the moodle.org developers, users, and managers mother site exposes rich seams of liberal arts values in the strata of developers, users, and managers. Here you find core characteristics of a liberal arts education reflected in both the outcomes and the artifacts of CLAMP activities (such as the Moodle Liberal Arts Edition, bug fixes, documentation) and the process by which they are produced.
Moodle: As the premier open source learning management system, Moodle is a model of the open source sharing, cooperative and empowering collaborative ethic. And for CLAMP, the relationship with the larger Moodle community is symbiotic and synergistic–all bug fixes are reported back to the Moodle tracker for inclusion into the core, the Moodle Liberal Arts Edition is made freely available, and CLAMP members take an active role in voting on issues raised in the development community.
Project: While the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) has nurtured CLAMP for the past year through the NITLE’s Instructional Innovation Fund, the universal approach of CLAMP broadens its appeal to campuses beyond NITLE and even beyond the confines of North America. It is important to note, however, that our focus is exclusively on liberal arts educative goals. While we certainly recognize K-12 concerns, research university needs and distance education imperatives, these are not addressed through this project.

The technical culmination of these efforts over the last year is the Moodle Liberal Arts Edition distribution. It includes all third party modules and add-ons commonly used by our institutions; bug-fixes of critical importance to our schools; functions that simplify the user’s experience; and backend tools to give Moodle administrators better information about how their systems are being used. Although all CLAMP bug-fixes are contributed back to the Moodle core project, this distribution gathers the collective work and wisdom of the institutional network, simplifying the job of finding and installing each vetted patch or module.

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A Catalyst For Change: Developing A Blended Training Model For The Liberal Arts Institution

AUTHORS

SchulzCarrie Schulz is the director of Instructional Design and Technology at Rollins College.

 

 

 

jvargasJessica Vargas is currently an instructional technologist at Rollins College.

 

 

 

annalohausAnna Lohaus is currently an instructional technologist at Rollins College.

 

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Beginning as an institutional experiment, Rollins College developed a professional development program to assist faculty in redesigning an existing course as a blended offering. This training program asked faculty to use the best delivery methodologies for objective-based learning in their blended course design. It is in this training that faculty learned how to divide their class time between online and face-to-face while incorporating technology to augment learning.

This case study explores the process developed at Rollins College for providing professional development to faculty who are interested in building blended courses. It also evaluates the implementation of said program. This case study specifically addresses the program’s successes and areas for improvement using the results from an institutional survey conducted during summer 2013 and multiple summative evaluations collected during various instances of blended learning training program.

Student data collected in spring 2013 tentatively indicated that the program resulted in increased levels of student engagement as well as the amount students felt they learned. Data collected from faculty observations also coincided with this result. Finally the authors address the current progression of this program and the future effects on the faculty, students, and the culture of the institution. Such analysis can provide other institutions with the resources necessary to begin developing an institutional model for blended learning while still identifying the common challenges and benefits involved in this particular adaptation.

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Combining a High-Touch Vision with High-Tech Practices in Teacher Education

Authors

Nakia_BioDr. Nakia S. Pope is the director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Pope has been the director of the CETL since 2012. Prior to moving to Texas, he was an assistant dean and associate professor at Winthrop University in South Carolina. He’s interested in educational technology, philosophy of education, and popular culture in the curriculum. He also hikes and collects comic books.

Martinez_BioDr. Carlos A. Martinez is the dean of the School of Education at Texas Wesleyan University. He began his teaching career at Palacios Independent School District, teaching English as a Second Language to Mexican and Vietnamese immigrants in the mid-1980s. He has been training teachers at the university since 1991.

Hammonds_BioMrs. Lisa Hammonds works as an instructional designer in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University. Mrs. Hammonds assists faculty with effective pedagogical applications that promote active learning innovation. She began her professional career in computer science. Her areas of expertise include information technology, course design, distance education, and faculty development. Mrs. Hammonds holds a Master of Science in education with a specialization in professional studies in adult education.

 

Executive Summary

This case study examines a partnership between the School of Education and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University in developing a technologically mediated course in a teacher preparation program. A course was developed and is currently being taught using teleconferencing technology to reach multiple sites. The course also employs a learning management system for assessment and distribution of materials, as well as using Google+ Hangouts for virtual office hours. One of the objectives of the course development and implementation was to develop a model for other education courses to follow. Just as importantly, the course development process informed the philosophy of hybrid and online course development within the School of Education as the school reconsiders delivery formats in order to better meet student need.

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How to Flip and Land on Your Feet: Strategies for Empowering Faculty to Use Flipped Classrooms

Decker_Bioby, Emy Nelson Decker, Unit Head, E-Learning Technologies Unit; Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library

Emy Nelson Decker holds an MLIS from Valdosta State University and an MA in art history from the University of Chicago. She is an active member of the American Library Association and a frequent presenter at both national and international library conferences. She has previously published work in library journals such as Library Hi Tech and Collaborative Librarianship. Her current interests are centered on emerging technologies as well as new uses of existing technologies in the modern academic library setting.

Executive summary (Abstract)

While the “flipped classroom” model is often appealing to faculty who would like to create a more hands-on experience for their classrooms, gain more “class time” for projects, or simply integrate more technology into their teaching, many faculty are unsure how to get started with flipping their classrooms. During the 2012-13 academic year, the E-Learning Technologies Unit of the Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library offered workshops about flipping the classroom. These workshops centered on technology training and were attended by faculty from each of the four campuses the library supports. However, faculty indicated that this technological training alone was insufficient in enabling them to teach in this format and that they needed help charting more personalized plans for flipping their classrooms. This case study discusses the ways in which initial flipped classroom workshops fell short of empowering faculty to teach in this engaging style and how library staff subsequently developed targeted methods for “teaching the teachers” how to do a flipped classroom. Readers will glean insight into faculty hesitations in trying this new teaching style and will acquire a model for teaching faculty members in any discipline the information and techniques they need to be successful in this teaching style.

Keywords/Tags

customizable plans, faculty-to-faculty discussions, flipped classroom, technology training, workshops

Case presentation

The flipped classroom model, as described in this case study, is a teaching method wherein video-recorded lectures are reviewed as homework outside of class so that class time, in turn, can be used for engaging directly with the materials, classmates, and the instructor.[1] As observers have noted, “the flipped learning instructional model is growing in popularity throughout the world.”[2] Faculty are adopting the flipped classroom model of teaching because it opens up classroom time that would have previously been taken up with a lecture. The flipped classroom model allows students to do activities with each other and with the instructor that they would not have been able to do under a more traditional lecture-and-homework model.[3] The pedagogical reasons for flipping a classroom address several contemporary challenges. These challenges relate to the need to engage students with new technologies, provide students with opportunities to apply what they learn during lectures, and to allow the instructor to gauge learning outcomes more effectively.[4]

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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.

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.

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