When it comes to using digital technologies to enrich
teaching and learning, the devil is often in the details. Yes, students
should be given assignments that ask them to incorporate visual
materials in expressing ideas and making arguments. But how should
staff members and faculty members coordinate support for such
assignments--and does the word "support" communicate the right message
to students? Yes, it makes sense to collaborate across institutional
boundaries to make Moodle work for liberal arts colleges or to create a
true community of practice for faculty members isolated by discipline.
But how do you really make collaboration work across distance? Yes,
innovators on small campuses have developed projects that push students
to engage rigorously with historical research or current, global
concerns. But what did it take to develop--and what will it take to
this issue, Academic Commons and the National Institute for Technology
in Liberal Education (NITLE) join forces to provide the liberal arts
community with an opportunity to share and discuss the details that
make a difference. Each of the case studies presented here closely
examines how practitioners developed specific projects and
collaborations and explores the lessons learned along the way. We invite
you to read these studies, offer comments, ask questions, and share
them with colleagues. What lessons have you learned from your own work
on campus that would apply to these cases? What insights do the authors
offer that might influence you to work differently? And, as Academic
Commons has historically asked, how do these cases help us understand
what it means to be liberally educated in a digital age?
Finally, a word about the Academic Commons-NITLE partnership. Late last year, as the economic crisis unfolded, Academic Commons and NITLE saw an opportunity to work together to promote the effective use of digital technologies in liberal education. The NITLE Community Contribution Award recognizes exemplary projects and offers awardees a small honorarium and an opportunity to publish a case study with Academic Commons. In challenging times, innovation makes a difference, as does sharing knowledge developed in process; where we can learn from good projects developed by our own practitioners and leaders, we should. It is in this spirit that Academic Commons and NITLE offer this issue, "Innovative Practices for Challenging Times," and thank the featured authors for their work. If you would like to nominate a project for the next round of awards, please contact Michael Nanfito (email@example.com) by November 16, 2009.
Abdulla Mizead explains how a visionary alum, a group of dedicated students and a supportive college community brought stories of everyday life in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan to the world and cutting edge journalism to Swarthmore College.
Curricular Uses of Visual Materials: A Research-Driven Process for Improving Institutional Sources of Curricular Support
At Carleton College students work with visual materials in all parts of the curriculum. So how do you make sure they get the technical support they need? An extensive research study of faculty and students led to a new coordinated support model. Andrea Lisa Nixon, Heather Tompkins and Paula Lackie explain how they got it done.