Melissa and Janet’s article “Making an Online Summer Bridge Program High Touch” was recently published in the Journal of College Student Development. The article describes the creation of the Carleton Undergraduate Bridge Experience (CUBE), a hybrid program that includes 6 weeks of online programming during the summer and 10 weeks of face-to-face programming during fall term of the students’ first year.
Eblen-Zayas, M. & Russell, J. (2019). Making an Online Summer Bridge Program High Touch. Journal of College Student Development 60(1), 104-109. Johns Hopkins University Press.
This Spring Term online teaching and learning is much on my mind.
I’ll be presenting at OLCInnovate 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee this April. OLC, Online Learning Consortium, pairs up with MERLOT (for those of you who remember this repository) for their big conferences. I’ve got a couple presentations but for this update I’m focused on the one titled “Is online teaching and learning relevant for small residential liberal arts colleges?” It’s in the session category ‘Conversations, Not Presentations’ which means I get to talk with attendees rather than at them and I’m hopeful for some interesting and useful conversation.
For the OLC conversation I’ll be pulling from my Carleton work with CUBE, Carleton Undergraduate Bridge Experience. CUBE consists of an online 6 week summer portion and a traditional Fall Term portion. Summer CUBE has two primary goals: 1) to strengthen the quantitative skills of incoming students and 2) to connect participants to the campus community before they arrive on campus.
CUBE in turn has heavily contributed to Carleton’s LACOL (Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning) work on the QLAB project and this will inform my OLC conversation as well. QLAB is the nickname applied to a multi-campus development and educational research initiative to assist our students with readiness for their quantitative work across the curriculum, and to investigate the role that online resources may play in this.
And all of this online teaching and learning work at Carleton is going easier for me because of my time at Georgetown University which was just prior to coming to Carleton. There, in my position as Director of Technology Enhanced Learning, I helped design and implement online courses and MOOCs, and in my position as adjunct professor, I taught an online course.
I won’t rely on my experiences alone though to pull off a good conversation at OLC! I’ll be tracking the current buzz about online T&L and that includes a few folks even talking about it in the context of small liberal arts schools:
It was just a year ago that Carleton hosted Georgetown Associate Provost, Randy Bass, and I’ve been thinking of some of the work directly facilitated by Randy’s visit. I’ll talk about just two examples in this post.
In broad terms Randy talked about designing a liberal education for this moment in history. He asked us, “If you were creating a Carleton education right now, and with everything you knew about the past but also what you knew about the capacities of our current environment and the challenges we are about to face in the next 10, 20, 30 years, what would that Carleton look like?” He suggested our answers would almost certainly cause us to create pilot programs that would push against the constraints of our current Carleton model and that we would need “a different kind of approval process” to make experimentation possible. Enter example 1: CUBE.
CUBE (Carleton Undergraduate Bridge Experience) is a summer/fall experimental course taught by Melissa Eblen-Zayas from our physics department. Carleton’s Education and Curriculum Committee (ECC) made the experiment possible by flipping the usual process so that we got quick approval for a pilot with built in accountability and sunset if not approved for continuation. CUBE has two primary student goals: to strengthen quantitative skills and to support the transition to college. The summer part of the course is completely online and is followed by the face-to-face fall course that is being taught right now. Melissa and I look forward to reporting out to the community sometime this winter about this very exciting experiment and regardless of whether the course continues, I think we have taken a solid step toward that future Carleton Randy asked us to imagine. And for me, Randy’s framework and encouragement were crucial.
Example 2 comes in the form of an LTC lunch session and Winter Workshop. Both of these events are sponsored by Carleton’s Future Learning Technologies Group (FLTG) and both events center on creating flexible curricula that push against the 9 ½ week structure or our current term system. The LTC lunch session is Tuesday, October 11 and the Winter Workshop will be in early December. I can’t speak for everyone in FLTG, but I know I was (re-)inspired and (re-)energized by Randy’s question “what would a course look like that was less course-based, less term-based, separated credit from seat-time, thought about all 12 months of the year, thought about how faculty would deploy their energies in different ways? And this energy and inspiration is playing a shaping role in how I’m approaching my part of these two upcoming events.
A year ago, I really bungled my introduction of Randy before his big talk in the Athenaeum. I was tired and had left my notes behind and pulling them up on my phone just didn’t work. If I had the chance to hit “reset” I would say something like this: Just as I wouldn’t (yet) wander into the Boundary Waters without the wonderful Minnesota guide I have luckily found, I wouldn’t navigate the “future of higher education” without the wonderful Randy Bass along!