Committee Chair Brendan Connell ’87 greeted the group. He reminded attendees that there are six Dartmouth faculty members on the Committee roster. The 2014/15 plan is to hear from three of these members at each of the meetings. Brendan introduced Bruce Sacerdote ’90 (the faculty representative to Alumni Council) and Christine Thomas (Chair of the Committee on Instruction) and asked them to share items of concern to the faculty as of late.
Bruce reported that Dartmouth is very supportive of its faculty. Bruce shared that the Economics department – of which he is chair – is filled with great teachers and great researchers. The College recently granted the department $400,000 of non-restricted funds. They are using this money to offer a course on transitional economics and another course on financial regulation. These courses will culminate in student trips to put their reading/knowledge into practice. They also hope to provide funding for students to stay on campus to publish the work that they have developed in a class. Sacerdote wondered what the College could do to expand opportunities for experiential learning.
Christine Thomas commented that rigor is evident in the classrooms but we may need to do more outside the lecture hall. She said that the Committee on Instruction is looking at an expansion of off-campus experiences for learning, academic rigor, and grading practices. The Curriculum Review continues.
Brendan introduced Professor Andrew Friedland; Josh Kim, director of digital learning initiatives; and Mike Goudzwaard, instructional designer. He asked them to update the Committee on Dartmouth's first foray into an online course offering through EdX. Josh shared that Dartmouth joined the EdX consortium one year ago as it aligned with the College's values to expand access to education, to improve teaching and learning, and to continue research in how people learn. Andrew elaborated that his involvement in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is making him teach differently in the classroom. It is enhancing his on campus work. There are alumni, grad students, instructional designers, and a videographer involved in the development of the MOOC and this collaborative process is positively impacting the online offering and the lecture hall teaching simultaneously. Pre-registration for the course is going well. Approximately 50 people per day are registering. They are from U.S., India, and UK primarily. 25 percent hold a BA or MA. 54 percent are male. The only requirement to take the class is that you have access to the Internet.
Andrew shared that there is a monitored online discussion board that is part of the MOOC. He will monitor for one hour per day and graduate students will assist. He will seed the discussion thread, and "community TAs" may also be appointed to assist. Josh said they plan to determine how these early offerings go and work to improve them as well as use information from the process to enhance on campus teaching. The MOOC will be shared widely. Alumni are welcome to participate. Anyone is welcome to participate. This is a chance to share the Dartmouth brand internationally.