Arts & Humanities Advisory Group – Fall 2013 Meeting Notes

In attendance: Steve Bertolino, co-convener (LIS), Jason Mittell, co-convener (FMMC), Dana Yeaton (THEA), Mary Ellen Bertolini (WRPR/CTLR), John Bertolini (ENAM), Rebekah Irwin (LIS), Joe Antonioli (LIS), Joy Pile (LIS), Brenda Ellis (LIS)

1. Curricular Technology (Joe)
2. Digital Humanities (Jason & Rebekah)
(3. Videoconferencing (Steve for Petar) – not gotten to)

1. Curricular Technology
Joe shared statistics of faculty use of various Hub and LMS technologies, comparing between Fall 2012 and Fall 2013. Use of most curricular tech has increased, especially in Moodle, though use of Middfiles has decreased. WordPress has remained approximately the same.

Joe brought up how many faculty do post a syllabus to the Hub but a minority still do not, and queried assembled faculty on ideas why. A lengthy discussion followed. Various aspects of the process were brought up:
–Some faculty want or need their syllabi to be dynamic, and they make changes during the semester which the students need to know about. The Hub can help with this, as it alerts students to changes since the last time the student logged into the Hub.
–Some faculty have a static syllabus, which also works with syllabus upload feature (PDF format), or can work in Moodle.
–Some faculty email a syllabus directly to students, which may or may not work as well as the Hub for them.
–Some faculty still give paper copies of syllabi and find students like this.

The discussion then turned to the question of whether encouragement for faculty to post syllabi to the Hub/Moodle is coming from students. Various opinions were given, based on anecdotal experience from both faculty and staff. There was general agreement that often students don’t have a specific preference but want to see consistency from faculty. Further, it was agreed that students want to be given reasons why a faculty member is choosing the option they take, especially when it’s an online option. It was briefly discussed how this student preference extends to online assignments as well.

Joe floated an idea about having academic roundtables (perhaps in the spring, or another time) centered around faculty practice instead of LIS/CTLR programs. For example, instead of having a roundtable discussing “curricular tech” or “the liaison program,” having a roundtable whose topic was “digital identity” and have various faculty showcase projects they’ve used in the classroom about that topic, addressing whatever parts of LIS/CTLR they have utilized. Discussion followed, mostly of faculty riffing on the basic idea and considering adaptations to current structures, including ideas like a tech fair focused on how to use various software, a story archive for faculty to share/read about other faculty’s attempts in the classroom, and split presentations by LIS/CTLR staff which include a section on ideology & pedagogy followed by a section demo-ing the tech involved with faculty choosing to come to one or both sections. It was emphasized by both Joe and Jason that no one should be mandating that faculty need to use technology in the classroom or to regulate “how much” they can use, but that whatever is done by LIS/CTLR has to appeal to the broad range of faculty attitudes towards technology, from early adopters to casual experimenters to those interested but unsure how to explore to those who would prefer not to explore. Mary Ellen noted that technology discussions also have to have a component of being aware that many tenure-track faculty are justly worried that a failed curricular tech experiement or two will result in lower student feedback and affect tenure review.

At the end of the discussion, a question about hearing that LIS was exploring streaming video for curricular use came up, and LIS staff on the Curricular Technology Team present gave a brief confirmation and noted the potential uses of streaming video in the classroom, while emphasizing that LIS is barely at the beginning stage of exploring this.

2. Digital Humanities
Jason and Rebekah spoke about Digital Scholarship/Digital Humanities, which is slowly becoming branded at Middlebury as “digital liberal arts.” They are applying for a Mellon grant to make, somewhere in Davis Family Library, a digital liberal arts “lab” which would operate in support of faculty who wanted to pursue digital liberal arts scholarship. Where this would be located physically in DFL is an open question, as are any staffing questions. Another idea may be to explore “remote hubs” of smaller lab spaces across campus, perhaps in Axinn or Armstrong Library.

A clearer definition of digital liberal arts scholarship was asked for in practical terms.
–Digital liberal arts scholarship uses digital tools to investigate and circulate humanistic scholarship.
Potential examples:
–GIS for historical analysis
–data mining on literary texts
–video and audio for scholarly dissemination/presentation of research
–open access publishing of research
–digital methods of analyzing existing scholarship

Jason noted that a benefit of digital liberal arts would be in helping faculty in the humanities and arts find ways to collaborate with students. Such collaborations already exist in social science and hard sciences departments. Another goal is to be able to offer scholars outside of Middlebury with sabbatical year fellowships to the digital liberal arts lab which would include funds for collaborating with students and for staffing support.

Rebekah spoke about ideas for Special Collections to become more of a workable space for both digitization efforts (perhaps as another “remote hub”) and as a regular classroom space for classes designed to work with Special Collections materials.

As by this point we were about 10 minutes over time for the meeting, further discussion was tabled.

Leave a Reply