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Strategic Plan Update: Digital Learning and Scholarship

Geneseo is continuing to implement the highest priority (Phase I) action items that were identified in the Geneseo 2021 Strategic Plan. As communicated by President Battles last fall, several of these action items required not only focused time and effort to achieve, but an investment of funds. A pool of $1 million dollars was identified to advance those items, of which $350,000 was directed to time-sensitive student recruitment efforts.

Last September, project leaders in charge of seven other action items shared proposals during a campus forum to secure funding available from the $650,000 balance. Based on recommendations from the Budget Priorities Committee, made in consultation with the Strategic Planning Group, Battles allocated various amounts across all seven action items. In the coming weeks, One College Circle will update each funded area.

Digital Learning and Scholarship: $50,000

Funding will support efforts to help faculty learn about best practices for establishing digital pedagogy and online learning.

“The purpose is to help those who are interested in using digital approaches in their scholarship and teaching to acquire the necessary skills — and also connect with the larger scholarly and pedagogical communities already engaged in this field,” said Paul Schacht, assistant to the provost for Digital Learning and Scholarship.

The funds will support three initiatives currently in development:

  • Travel and participation in the upcoming Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria, B.C., on June 11 to 15. Joining Schacht are Kirk Anne, director of research technology and strategic projects in Computing & Information Technology; Justin Behrend, chairperson of the Department of History; Ken Cooper, associate professor of English; Liz McManus, lecturer in the Department of Languages and Literatures; and Alla Myzelev, assistant professor of art history.

  • Travel for a research visit before the end of spring semester to the University of Mary Washington (UMW), a COPLAC member institution that co-organized the COPLACDigital initiative with UNC Asheville in North Carolina. Schacht will invite four other faculty members to participate. The Geneseo delegation seeks to meet with Jesse Stommel, UMW’s executive director of Teaching and Learning Technology, and Jeff McClurken, co-principal investigator on the COPLACDigital initiative, who also teaches UMW classes in digital identity and digital history. The group also hopes to tour the $40 million Hurley Convergence Center, which features the Digital Knowledge Center.

    “UMW is a leader in thinking about ways to use digital technology to advance liberal arts goals,” Schacht noted.

    COPLACDigital is a collaborative teaching model that connects COPLAC member institutions’ faculty and students through teleconferencing technology and innovative digital tools to explore various topics in the liberal arts. Last semester, Schacht co-taught Into the Woods: Experiments in Community, Sustainability and the Examined Life with UMW Professor of Sociology Debra Schleef. This semester, Cooper is teaching Storied Landscapes: 21st-Century Nature Writing with Joe Wiebe, assistant professor of religion and ecology at the University of Alberta, Augustana, in Canada.

  • In consultation with Milne Library Director Ben Rawlins, Schacht is exploring ways to create a new incentive structure that will encourage faculty to adopt open educational resources in online courses and also learn more about best practices in online education. Currently, faculty can receive a designated amount of money to develop an online course; the new structure under consideration would create a tiered model. Incentives would allow faculty to earn a monetary reward for learning about best practices in online learning, another for developing a course, and then another for using open education resources. “We’d like to add to and change the direction of the money that has been used to incentivize online course development,” Schacht explained.

    Written by Tony Hoppa