Electronic Notebooks at Carleton: LabArchives

In the LTC Lunch: Making Learning Visible with Electronic Portfolios (Jan. 19, 2016), Deborah Gross, Professor of Chemistry, talked about how Lab Archives captures the learning that her students are doing in her lab courses.


*Deborah’s presentation begins at 14:30

LabArchives (LA) is an electronic notebook software that comes in two versions: classroom and professional. The classroom version allows you to manage a set of individual notebooks for each student, replacing the traditional lab notebook; the professional version is great for organizing your professional research and involving collaborators.

Despite its name and logo, which features iconic chemistry vessels, please don’t think LA isn’t for you or your students if you aren’t in the Natural Sciences! It really is an electronic notebook and not a lab notebook. In fact, we’ve heard from our LA rep that staff working in the area of facilities find LA very helpful.

Based on the testing that Deborah and other Carleton faculty participated in, the College has purchased access to both the Professional and Classroom editions for anyone on campus. In a sense, we’re piloting a site license for LA to see if enough folks will use it to warrant continuing in this way (or, if buying on a case by case basis is more prudent).

Our AT [un]workshop on Wednesday October 26, Electronic Notebooks for Classroom & Research: Exploring LabArchives, is a great chance to learn more about LA. You may discover, as Deborah did, that in addition to making student learning more visible both to external audiences and to the students, electronic portfolios like LA can solve logistical problems. For example, in chemistry, LA eliminated the logjam that occurs when students have turned in their physical notebooks to be graded and then don’t have them to prep for the upcoming lab, or how to deal with group projects that are recorded only in one notebook. You also may discover how an electronic notebook might help you capture, archive, and curate your own work.

We also have the following hands on training sessions coming up:
Thursday, October 20 at 3:15 – 4:00 pm in the Weitz Center, Room 027
Tuesday, November 1 at 3:15 – 4:00 pm in the Weitz Center, Room 027

Questions? Contact Randy Hoffner, rhoffner@carleton.edu

Randy Bass Visit

Randy Bass in sitting in canoe pointing in direction

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.

Liberal Education in the New Ecosystem, Randy Bass from Carleton Academic Technology on Vimeo.

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.

Randy Bass in sitting in canoe pointing in direction
Randy points the way in the Boundary Waters and to the futures of higher ed!
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!