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Learning by Design Departmental Projects

Funded by a five-year (2008-2013) U.S. Department of Education Title V grant for Hispanic-Serving Institutions, the Learning by Design Program brings groups of departmental colleagues together to plan a focused approach to teaching with technology. Starting with academic goals in specific courses or programs, faculty participants explore tools and methods for bringing digital technologies to assignments, syllabi, and curricula. A three-semester cycle of planning, implementation, and assessment, which includes meetings with colleagues working on projects in different departments, allows Learning by Design teams to create and deliver strategies that reflect careful thought and discipline-appropriate methods. Simultaneously, departmental teams plan upgrades to classroom or laboratory infrastructure that will support technology-integrated instruction. Reassigned time is available for designated team leaders, and program participants receive a stipend.

Online Course Development
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Learning by Design (Title V)

Departments participating in this program begin by asking these key questions:

  • How can technology be used to improve teaching and learning to support our academic objectives, either in the classroom or online?
  • What computer-based or computer-related skills or knowledge does our department expect students to attain in courses and programs?

Having discussed preliminary responses to these questions, departments then engage in a series of preparatory steps:

  • Identify a course, sequence of courses, or program for technology integration;
  • Identify a faculty group of three to five individuals who will participate in the program, with one member of the group selected to serve as a group leader;
  • Propose an initial set of goals for integrating digital technology to further the academic objectives of the selected courses and/or programs.

These goals should aim to:

  • Develop skills and build capacity for online instruction (hybrid or asynchronous), and/or revise and enhance classroom-based instruction utilizing digital and online resources;
  • Revise pedagogical approaches to take advantage of the learning opportunities made available through digital technologies.

Departments that engage in this planning, and then create new digital instructional resources, are simultaneously able to plan targeted physical improvements to instructional areas. Here are the results of Learning by Design projects as of fall 2010:

Completed Projects:

  • Students in Chemistry Department courses are using new desktop equipment in a departmental laboratory to analyze and present experimental data. The students use both Microsoft Office and discipline-specific chemistry software. As laboratory preparation becomes faster, students are spending more time on data analysis.
  • Students in Art Department courses are practicing and sharing skills in a new classroom/laboratory facility that features new Macintosh work stations, new printers and scanners, and a Smartboard arranged in a workspace designed to facilitate collaboration.
  • Students enrolled in History 10 and History 11 have access to e-Herodotus, an online companion to the required textbook, which includes a variety of study tools and resources. Selected sections are now being taught in an upgraded classroom with a Smartboard and a fully-equipped multimedia teacher's podium.
  • Students enrolled in five Education Department classes, extending across degree program requirements, are building ePortfolios in courses for which faculty have developed assignments and assessment methods that will satisfy program accreditation requirements.

Ongoing Projects:

  • Laboratory exercises in Biology Department courses are being redesigned to increase active student engagement, utilizing a data collection system of software and hardware that will increase “hands-on” student activity and enable quick conversion of laboratory data into digital formats.
  • Faculty in Allied Health programs (RN, LPN, and Radiologic Technology) are using digital video recording equipment and online collaboration tools to create clinical simulation scenarios designed to improve students’ therapeutic communication and critical thinking skills. Students will use these tools to collaboratively analyze their own and their peers’ performance.
  • A faculty team in the English Department is creating assignments and exercises that will bring multimedia materials and contexts, and enhanced information literacy skills into the study of literature. A technology-enabled classroom will be designed and built to house course sections utilizing these revised curricular materials.
  • Instruction in the Math Department pre-calculus/calculus sequence will be redesigned to incorporate use of a Computer Algebra System. This software will permit faculty to increase the use of “real-world” examples, and allow students to work more frequently and flexibly on key skills.

The Learning by Design Program is supported by a Title V U.S. Department of Education grant. This program will extend through the 2012-2013 academic year. Contact Howard Wach or Bill Brennan for more information about this program.

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