September 28, 2017
Ursinus faculty will soon be able to add or enhance digital components to their teaching thanks to a new Digital Liberal Arts Fellows pilot program designed to help promote digital literacy across the campus.
It is supported by funding from the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts (PCLA) via a grant it received from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations last spring.
“The program builds on existing strengths at Ursinus while helping us build a campus climate of digital engagement,” says Kara McShane, an assistant professor of English and program coordinator. “We have a strong culture of student-faculty partnership here with programs such as the TLI [Teaching and Learning Institute] consultant program and the practice of pairing writing fellows with class sections.”
“I imagine the DLA fellows as a sort of hybrid of these programs, supporting both students and faculty in building digital literacy across disciplines,” McShane says. “The program puts students at the heart of new initiatives on campus.”
McShane says the fellows will fulfill two major roles: to partner with any faculty member interested in incorporating digital components into their current teaching methods, and to support faculty members with in-class technical workshops and assignment design, while also offering weekly resource hours that students can attend for additional technical assistance.
Fellows participate in the program for a full year. The 2017-18 fellows are Shelby Bryant ’18, Shelby Carmichael ’19, Tiffini-Amber Eckenrod ’20 and Paige Szmodis ’18.
They will also support students working on digital assignments and projects. The fellows are being trained in mapping, curation, digital storytelling, and basic film and audio editing tools, and they will gain skills in web design over the course of the semester.
In June, Ursinus partnered with Muhlenberg College and Gettysburg College to host a small conference, which gave students in similar roles across the three campuses an opportunity to learn technical skills and collaborate on best practices in partnering with peers and faculty.
The conference encouraged each of the three colleges to enhance digital academic support. One of the ways Ursinus has already begun to incorporate digital projects into the classroom is through the innovative Bears Make History class in which students are bringing the 150-year history of Ursinus College online.
Faculty interested in partnering with a digital fellow can contact McShane at firstname.lastname@example.org or Christine Iannicelli at email@example.com. The Fellows are also available for drop-in appointments in Myrin 124 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-3 p.m. and Thursdays from 4-5 p.m. Appointments can also be scheduled online. —By Mary Lobo ’15