News

Grant to Fund New York Six, SLU Hybrid-Online Learning Project

ITHACA – The Teagle Foundation of New York has awarded a $150,000 grant to the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium, of which St. Lawrence University is a member, for the New York Six Blended Learning Project.

This pilot project will engage faculty from the six member campuses, including St. Lawrence, in the integration of blended or hybrid learning in new or existing courses, in which face-to-face engagement will be combined with technology-based elements, such as online tutorials or modules, online journals, blogs, webinars, videos and group chats.

“Our institutions are actively exploring emerging pedagogies such as blended learning to determine the most effective ways to integrate technology into an already strong liberal learning foundation,” said Amy Doonan Cronin, executive director of the New York Six. “The support of the Teagle Foundation will enable faculty to collaborate with colleagues on other member campuses in the development and testing of hybrid courses.”

The blended learning courses will be offered to students during the 2014-15 academic year. The goal of the project is to enhance and improve student-learning outcomes while also examining the impact of blended learning on the experience of both students and faculty.

“I am excited that we have been awarded this grant because, although it will involve only small numbers of faculty, it provides an opportunity for faculty across the six colleges to collaborate in meaningful ways that will benefit students on all of the campuses,” said St. Lawrence Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs Val Lehr. “It also provides an opportunity for faculty and IT (information technology) collaboration, something that always enhances teaching and learning.”

The grant proposal calls for two approaches to integrating blended learning in up to 12 courses across the six campuses in the consortium, which also includes Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Skidmore College and Union College.

In the first approach, the institutions will target comparable classes on two or more campuses, with a faculty member on each campus leading the course discussions with his or her students, and all classes using common online elements. Faculty members will work together to develop the online elements, resulting in a team-taught, blended course at each participating school.

In the second option, faculty will develop a blended learning course to be offered across two or more campuses, but which is not team-taught. Students on the remote campuses will experience the course as more of an online course, with face-to-face interaction occurring as a combination of videoconferences and occasional in-person meetings with the instructor.

“I think it’s important for our current and future students to be exposed to non-traditional forms of learning as it will inevitably be a means of lifelong learning,” said St. Lawrence Vice President for Libraries and Information Technology Justin Sipher.

“Understanding how to learn when not faced with a faculty member in the front of the classroom, how to collaborate with fellow students when they are not sitting in a desk next to them, or how to do quality research when the library or librarian isn’t ‘there,’ are all challenges that our students must learn to navigate,” Sipher said. “This grant will help us broaden the e-learning and teaching experience for St. Lawrence students and faculty in a thoughtful way that aligns with the values and benefits of a liberal arts education.”

Visit newyork6.org for more information on the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium.