The College of Arts & Letters has emerged as a leader at the University in leveraging advances in technology to improve the quality of our pedagogy and scholarship because our approach has been strategic and holistic. Our digital strategies are wholly integrated into our in-person strategies to provide the highest quality educational experiences to our students.
In order to promote quality in our online programs and hybrid courses, we have adopted a multi-tiered approach that pairs faculty, graduate students, department and college administrators, and institutional-level staff (HUB/ITS) across the design, development and revision process. Our regularly offered graduate course, “Practicum in Blended and Online Learning,” engages graduate students in exploring learning theory, best practices for design and development, and methods for evaluation and revision of online courses. Students who have completed this course are eligible to participate in our graduate internship program as a Tech TA. Tech TAs are embedded in CAL departments and work with faculty and departmental administrators to develop, evaluate and revise online and blended courses across the curriculum.
At the college level, our academic technology staff works closely with the departments and Tech TAs, as well as with staff at the HUB and ITS to follow best practices and to innovate in sustainable ways. We have been leading the adoption of the Quality Matters rubric for course quality (in collaboration with ITS Teaching/Learning) by integrating the quality metrics into a framework for regular evaluation and revision of our courses. This framework ensures continuous quality improvement of our courses and programs through regular FLCs and workshops for faculty teaching online, surveys to assess how faculty are implementing the QM rubric, and one-on-one faculty consultations as needed. Department- and program-level strategic decisions are made within the context of this program and through regular strategic planning with departments.
The College of Arts & Letters offers a graduate certificate in college teaching in collaboration with the Graduate School. Our program follows the main requirements of the Graduate School and expands some requirements in order to make them more robust and tied more closely to online and blended learning. Students are awarded badges for each of the main components they finish, as well as a badge when the program is complete and student work is certified by our Assistant Dean for Technology and Innovation, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and the Graduate School.
Departments are required to articulate a systematic approach to online curriculum that privilege the desires and needs of our undergraduates. Specifically, we identify courses students need to complete their degrees in a timely way and ensure those offerings are available during the summer. We have started to coordinate offerings across the college summer online portfolio to facilitate the completion of requirements, minors and majors through our online programs.
OCCI revenue is being reinvested into these programs to ensure that they are sustainable and continuously improving.
Our digital strategy in the College is not, however, limited to pedagogy. Working in collaboration with the College of Natural Science, College of Education, Lyman Briggs College, the HUB, the Graduate School, and MSU’s Academic Advancement Network, we have developed a faculty fellows program in connection to the Domain of One’s Own initiative to help faculty and graduate students create, maintain and develop an online scholarly presence designed to cultivate a community of scholarship around their research and pedagogy. To date, we have 140 registered users or our web hosting service and 24 faculty members in the fellows program, 11 from the College of Arts & Letters.
Further, our Critical Diversity approach to Digital Humanities will enable us to attract and retain faculty and students from traditionally underrepresented groups who understand the affordances and limitations of technology for scholarship and pedagogy.
This will provide us with the resources we need to continue to advance and improve our efforts to leverage emerging digital technologies to improve the quality of our curriculum, both online and in-person.
The Critical Diversity approach to DH is also put into practice through our digital humanities centers: WIDE, Matrix, LEADR (with the CSS) and the DHLC, each of which advance scholarship in their areas by adopting innovative digital practices that have had success in bringing in grant money and establishing Michigan State University as a leader in digital scholarship and pedagogy.