Even when Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at DCAL (Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning Initiatives) Josh Kim was a student, he became interested in how he could use technology to become a better teacher.
“In grad school I never really learned about how people learn,” Kim says. “I learned about my disciplines.” But he says the experience made him interested in pedagogy. “I discovered that the best way to understand something is to actually do it, and that the best way to foster experiential learning is through technology.”
Kim is well versed in the confluence of technology and education: He blogs regularly for Inside HigherEd, which receives over one million page views per month. Before becoming DCAL’s Director of Digital Learning Initiatives, Kim was the Director of Learning and Technology for Dartmouth’s Master of Health Care Delivery Science (MHCDS) program, where he helped build Dartmouth’s first graduate online/blended degree designed for working professionals. Prior to joining Dartmouth in 2008, he helped build the education division Brittanica.com. He also has a background as a sociology professor, in which he incorporated student digital, media, and web projects in his teaching.
In his new position at DCAL, which he began in December 2013, Kim is developing digital learning programs across the College. He works closely with Academic Computing, the Library, schools, departments, and directly with faculty to apply technology to teaching. His key collaborators include Information Technology Services’ Director of Academic and Campus Technology Services Alan Cattier and the entire ITS Educational Technology team.
“At Dartmouth, we have this wonderful position of being number one in U.S. News and World Report for national universities in teaching and learning,” Kim says. “And that’s an incredible honor and privilege that really speaks to our close-knit community and our scholar-learner model.” The challenge, he adds, “is how to take the College’s strong tradition of scholarship and learning and invest appropriately to continue to stand out as more information appears on the Internet, especially in the form of MOOCS (massive open online courses), iTunes U, and YouTube where anyone can now go online and follow free lectures from top institutions.”
In January, Dartmouth announced it joined edX, the nonprofit online learning platform founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As part of edX, Dartmouth will offer its first MOOC in fall 2014.
Kim sees the move as a way for Dartmouth to highlight its fine teaching: “showing the world and lifelong learners, what’s happening here on campus,” he says. He also believes the service will provide valuable feedback. At a recent Dartmouth Communicators gathering, Kim explained how edX will serve as “a laboratory for learning about learning,” since the platform retrieves data, not just from Dartmouth courses, but from all the universities involved in the nonprofit platform. “When we put lots of material online, we’ll learn what works and can use the findings in our classrooms here at Dartmouth,” Kim says.
Another recent technology initiative was Canvas, an online learning management system Dartmouth launched in December 2013, which enables faculty and students to exchange ideas and information through media including video, images, text, calendars, and hyperlinks. Canvas is efficient: since it is cloud-based and continuously updates automatically, it allows Dartmouth’s educational technologists to work on education goals instead of spending time on system upgrades and testing.
“It’s also a great opportunity for instructional designers to work with faculty to discuss how they can meet their teaching objectives,” Kim says. “I believe that authentic learning involves strong relationships between our educators and students. Our opportunity is to leverage technology to bring our faculty and students together.”