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Last Fall, we were happy to introduce some of the work that Professor Katherine Mirica (Chemistry) has done with her students in Wikipedia in the post, Authentic Knowledge: Students in Wikipedia.This is the second part in a series about using Wikipedia for student assignments. 

Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy, photograph, 1901
Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy, photograph, 1901

...continue reading "Authentic Knowledge: Students Bring 19th Century Russian Literature to Wikipedia"


(Photos by Michael Evans and Erin DeSilva.)

by Michael Evans, Nuekom Fellow / Film and Media Studies
This guest post was originally authored on May 24, 2016 on the  blog: Teaching Out Loud.

I recently presented at Learning IgnitED! That's the name of the regular faculty workshop series offered by Dartmouth's Educational Technologies Group. In each session three or four faculty members get about 5 minutes each to present a problem that they had in their teaching and how they solved it. After everyone presents, the host moderates Q&A with faculty, staff, and interested observers. It's informal, fast-paced, often funny, and informative.

When I presented at the first Learning IgnitED! session in Spring 2015, we held the sessions in the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning. That's a great place for workshops and events. But now we have the Berry Innovation Classroom. It's our flagship learning space on campus. So now that's where we hold Learning IgnitED!

I teach in BIC, so I was glad to accept the invitation to present. Few presenters ever take advantage of Berry Innovation Classroom's special features for a Learning IgnitED! presentation. So I determined to jam as much active learning fun into one session as possible. Here what I presented (along with my observations) after a kind introduction from Mike Goudzwaard...continue reading "Seeing What Others See"

SwayneSteve Swayne, the Jacob H. Strauss 1922 Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department, offered a MOOC with the OperaX team last fall titled: OperaX: An Introduction to Italian Opera. Spring 2016 is the first term in which Steve has offered his residential course, Music 11: Introduction to Opera since creating the MOOC.

Please click “Continue Reading” for a Q&A with Steve about his course and his experiences collaborating to create his course. ...continue reading "Dartmouth Students Experience OperaX in Music 11"

On Friday, April 8th, students in Professor Tom Hendrickson's Ancient Books course (CLST 10) gathered in the Arts and Humanities Resource Center for a very unusual assignment. Using papyrus purchased 323_Thomas-Hendricksonwith funding from Dartmouth's Experiential Learning Initiative, they were constructing scrolls for the first of a multi-phase textual criticism project.

Please click "Continue Reading" for a Q&A with Tom about his course, the assignment, and experiential learning at Dartmouth.

...continue reading "Students Construct Ancient Scrolls in CLST 10"

The Experiential Learning Initiative launched in the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) in fall 2015. We checked in with Ashley Kehoe, Associate Director for Experiential Learning and EdTech alumna, on DCAL’s progress since the launch, pilot project updates, priorities for the future, and opportunities to get involved.

...continue reading "A Q&A with Ashley Kehoe on the Experiential Learning Initiative"

Professional Development!Petra Taylor photo

Part of my Faculty Fellowship with the Instructional Design group includes professional development and making contacts with the greater world of instructional design by attending courses, workshops and conferences. So far I have completed the OLC Mastery Series on “Blended Learning”, I am in the middle of an EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) course on “Assessment Beyond Letter Grades”, and as I write, I am currently riding the Dartmouth Coach, returning from a NERCOMP workshop “Instructional Design for Everyone”. If you have never heard of OLC, EDUCAUSE or NERCOMP, do not fear! I hadn’t either, up to about 3 months ago. But if you are interested in digging deeper into the realms of learning and teaching, then it may be worthwhile to check out what these organizations have to offer.

My experience with conferences and workshops up to this point had been limited to those in my area of research, along with some meetings on women in mathematics and a few others on open online mathematics education. Most conferences I have attended followed the well-known format of hour-long plenary lectures interspersed with shorter contributed talks, often in parallel sessions. Some conferences have poster sessions, but that’s not the norm in mathematics.

Today’s workshop had a completely different format. Rather than being lectured at all day long and leaving tired, oversaturated and unable to repeat most of what was said, I came away invigorated, with many things to think about and having made a number of new contacts.

What was this new and exciting format?

This NERCOMP session was run by one organizer and four panelists (one of these panelists being Adrienne Gauthier, one of my colleagues here in the ID group). Each panelist started out by describing a typical problem with which they are frequently presented in their work. Throughout the day, as we were discussing various aspects of instructional design, these problems would resurface and approaches to solutions would be woven into the activities.

No panelist ever spoke for more than five minutes at a time, so that I never hit that urgent need for coffee. The participants were seated at round tables of 8, and whenever the panelists had presented a new aspect of their problems, rich discussion at the tables ensued.  These conversations explored the panelists’ solutions, and discussed their applicability to some other challenges. ‘Twitter-style’ reporting after such discussions was a very valuable way to hear from the other tables.

It was great to see instructional design being practiced in the organization of the conference. The presenters' goals were clear, and as participants we were able to engage in the day's learning together.  But I shouldn’t be surprised: this was a great example of instructional designers practicing good instructional design!

Having Fun!Petra Taylor photo

Now that it’s no longer the beginning of the term and things have calmed down a bit I’d like to take some time to reflect on the many fascinating projects in which I have been fortunate to be involved in my role as Faculty Fellow in the Instructional Design group. If you missed my first post, you can read more about my path to this interesting position here.

Having taught mathematics and scientific computing for many (many!) years, what I find most striking about my new role is the variety of subjects and faculty (and with that, of teaching strategies) with whom I get to interact. By thinking about learning and teaching challenges in subjects different from my own, I am able to leave my own quantitative box and allow myself to imagine scenarios which I would have previously thought not applicable or impossible in my own teaching. I very much hope that my interactions with faculty members have been fruitful for them, but they most certainly have been enlightening for me.

Here are just a few examples of topics I encountered.

Recently, I visited a class in the Russian department, which happened serendipitously: while working with the faculty member on the course site design, my German accent came through. Since the class focuses on cultural understanding, rather than solely studying Russian culture, a variety of other cultures are also explored, amongst them the German culture. The faculty member invited me to class where a really interesting discussion ensued that opened my eyes to some of my own cultural heritage of which I wasn’t previously aware. Sure, there were the somewhat expected topics such as punctuality, precision, etc. (and I presented a perfect German example, showing up 10 minutes early and fretting over the two clocks in the room which showed different times, neither of which agreeing with the actual time). But a more subtle discussion ensued around ways in which managers communicate criticism to employees. While it is common practice in this country to precede any criticism with a compliment to the employee on something they have done well (“I am very impressed with …. However …”), the ambiguity of the compliment joined with the critique would make many German employees quite anxious. I wonder how many times in my teaching career I have made students uneasy by drawing on my own cultural heritage, without taking theirs into consideration.

I've also had the chance to help Mike Goudzwaard (one of my ID colleagues) with setting up some assignments for a Religion class in which students discuss the use of religious rhetoric in political speech. This is a fascinating ongoing assignment in which students count, compare and rate (based upon a lexicon rating system which they derived in class) presidential candidates’ use of religious rhetoric. Here is an example graph, created from the students’ ratings:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.58.20 AM

Students have reported how this type of crowd-sourced engagement has enhanced their participation in the course and their understanding of these issues.

I have also had some really interesting discussions with several faculty members about team-based learning and group work in the classroom, and I’ll leave these for a future post!

By: Ashley Kehoe, Associate Director for Experiential Learning, DCAL

"Do you know how to read? Faces. Words. Pictures. Bodies. Games. Books. People. What are you really doing when you READ THE WORLD?"

These are questions posed in Read the World, a Comparative Literature course taught in the fall '15 term by Professor and Dean of the College, Rebecca Biron. According to the syllabus:

"This course teaches comparative methods designed to confront the (mis)understandings and (mis)translations that constitute reading across the world's languages, locations, cultures, historical periods, and expressive forms. Class work consists of hands-on exercises that engage ancient and modern myths and materials drawn from various media: text, movies, video games, anime, and digital arts."

The course was selected as one of twelve "Gateway" courses supported by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) Digital Learning Initiative and the Educational Technologies group.

I had the opportunity to partner with Prof. Biron to take on the challenge of enhancing the overall student learning experience in the course. One learning design strategy we implemented in the course was adding a team of undergraduate learning assistants - or students who had completed the course with Prof. Biron in a previous term, expressed an authentic interest in the course content and delivery, and demonstrated an ability to facilitate engaging discussion and active learning. The fall '15 learning assistants are:

  • Abena Frempong, '17
  • John French, '17
  • Whitney Martin, '17
  • Arjun Sachdeva, '17

The learning assistant team meets weekly with Prof. Biron to review what happened in the past week and identify strategies for better engaging students. At our meeting this week, I had the chance to interview the learning assistant team, and here's what they had to say about their experience so far:

Q: Why did you decide to join the Read the World teaching team as a learning assistant?

Abena: "I think that being a learning assistant specifically for COLT a really great way to see how you're thinking, and be really introspective. Being able to lead discussions and learning how to encourage rather than shut people down has been really helpful."

Whitney: "I really wanted to encourage other people to get the same experience out of [Read the World] that I had, and if I was a learning assistant, I could try to facilitate the same sort of questioning everything, and try to help [students] to pull the same amount of worth out of it that I had."

Arjun: "I get the opportunity to take the class again, and that's really special to me, having different perspective of students in the class, what we learn in class,  what skills are being practiced, it only comes from repeatedly practicing...You really do understand it better the second time, which helps us better help the students in the class."

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of the experience as a learning assistant?

Whitney: "Being able to follow the progression of the course, know what's coming up, and being really excited about each progressive step of the course. Knowing full well that there's a path that you follow and knowing it ahead of time makes it more interesting to relate back and see the whole picture."

John: "Having listened to [students'] conversations on day one, two, three...and then hearing a much more engaged, productive conversation weeks later, I wish I could hear that more. I like tracking that kind of increasing engagement."

Arjun: "Listening in on one group on any day, hearing them struggle through at the beginning, and if they have questions then prod them on. Not that there's always a right answer, but there's always something that clicks in a group, and that's so rewarding, when they're on the right track and engaging deeply with the material, and you recognize and help facilitate that in some way."

Q: What has it been like to be involved in the design and delivery of a course as a student?

Abena: "It's not as intimidating as I thought it would be...I think just being able to sit with you and Prof. Biron and talk through ideas and all ideas are valid. More often than not, we have a good idea and we're able to implement it right away."

Arjun: "We've all taken the class and been on the other side of it. The first time she was teaching it, Prof. Biron didn't have any learning assistants, so she was speaking to 75 students, and didn't really get as much feedback. But us being able to take the class, reflect on it, and realizing that if we had done this instead of that, we would have gotten more out of the material...has been a really cool process."

John: "I feel like we have a useful perspective, having been students. Managing this at the same time as two other classes and our clubs and activities, we have an idea of both what we would want that would engage us and feel good as students, and also what we would hope to get out it."

Q: Has this experience made you look at any of your other courses differently?

Arjun: "This course is built on the foundation of discussion and that's where you get the most out of it. It makes you engage with active learning constantly, which is not something that's really at the core  of many other courses...It's changed the way I approach other classes, I want to get into small groups with students in my other classes and talk about the material, not just read a chapter and answer questions on our own."

Abena: "I'm on a Hanover FSP right now working full time as a project manager, and sometimes bridging the gap between communication has been a problem. Being a learning assistant and learning discussion questions, what's a leading question vs. what's going to shut the conversation down, has been really helpful in going back to the workplace."

Whitney: "I'm in all really small literature, Socratic classes, and  being a learning assistant has really made me appreciate that more. There's a difference between chatting and facilitating a valid discussion about a controversial topic, and being in this class again has made me appreciate that a little more."









Our own Ashley Kehoe began a new adventure this week as she has transitioned to her new role as the associate director of Experiential Learning in the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL).  

EdTech Team
Looking forward to future teamwork with Ashley!

Although Ashley isn't far away, we in the Educational Technologies team wanted to take this opportunity to say how thankful we are for our time with her on our team.  Ashley has consistently advocated for the student perspective in all that we do, a viewpoint that benefits everyone in the community.  We are thrilled that Ashley will be leading this new initiative, and look forward to working with her to continue to support innovative education at Dartmouth moving forward.

Morgan MatthewsThe author, Morgan C. Matthews, is a 2015 graduate of Dartmouth, where she studied sociology and sustainability.  This year, she is working as a Presidential Fellow in Dartmouth’s Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL).


This August, I had the opportunity to beta-test Dartmouth’s newest MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Introduction to Italian Opera, which is launching this October.  As a first-timer to both opera and online courses, I came into this experience with many preconceived notions.  Having taken one week of the course and benefitted from conversations with a member of the production team, I wanted to share my learning: from my expectations for the class, to the unexpected and delightful experience I had as a student in the Opera MOOC.


  • MOOCs work just like regular classes, but have an online platform.
  • I should learn the same things in a MOOC as I would in a residential classroom.
  • Online learning is completely independent, and I won’t interact with other people while I take this course.

Before I started the Opera MOOC, this is what I imagined it would look like:

After dinner, I would flip open my laptop and log in to edX.  With my nightly cup of tea in hand, I would watch a video in which a professor lectured about an opera.  Then, I would read an article about Mozart while studiously taking notes in a Moleskine journal.  Having finished this assignment, I would take a short quiz on the new things I learned before proceeding to my favorite online distraction: Facebook. 

Notably, my expectations for being a student in a MOOC emulated experiences in many classes I took at Dartmouth: in terms of how course material is presented, what class activities look like, and what I would learn.  The only difference I anticipated was that, because the course is online, I thought I would not have any interactions with the professor and other students taking the course.


  • MOOCs can be designed differently with the audience and educational platform in mind.
  • You learn differently in a MOOC because it is free and online!
  • The professor and everyone involved in the course are interested in fostering online communities, and this is reflected in the activities you do in this class.

To my surprise, the first thing I did in the MOOC was not watch a lecture or do a reading, but instead participate in a discussion.  The first course activity was posting about prior experiences with opera and engaging with other students’ responses in the discussion thread.  To emphasize the importance of discussion in the course, the tab immediately to the right of “Syllabus” in the course navigation is “Discussion.”  As I went through the four sections in the first week of the course, I was presented with activities I had not anticipated: online searches for examples to share in a discussion, contributing to a word cloud, sharing tips for listening strategies, and writing a short analytical essay on the opera.  Lectures, which I anticipated being the focal point of the class, were short – about five minutes each – and guided my own explorative learning in the course.  While the discussions were not live when I beta-tested the course, I was intrigued to see what other students posted in discussions and to see how they reacted to the ideas I shared.

Although this online course may not have converted me into a committed opera fan, it did cause me to ask some questions about my previous classroom learning experiences, and think about how I can help myself learn better.

  • How often did my large lecture courses in college encourage me to discuss a course concept with a fellow student? 
  • How many times did I explore course concepts further through personal-interest online searches? 
  • Did I ever take time during a term to reflect on what I had learned, besides studying for exams?

For me, the answers to these three questions are “not often enough.”  Even if I forget how to practice “close listening” when appreciating opera (which was a learning objective in this MOOC), I am not likely to forget what I learned about myself as a student.  My advice after my first MOOC experience, therefore, is this: Take a MOOC, and make discoveries about a new subject and about yourself!