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University Reimagines Courses, Complementing Online Global Reach


Georgetown's Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning will offer students a better mix of face-to-face teaching with online assistance and interactive web-based tools.

May 2, 2013 – Georgetown has announced the funding of 23 new technology-enhanced courses as part of the university’s initiative to create new approaches to interactive learning.

The effort, which complements the edX Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) the university will announce later this month, involves at least 100 faculty members from 43 different departments and programs and affects the learning potential of large numbers of students.

“With the funding of these campus courses, our edX MOOCs and our existing online master’s degree in nursing, Georgetown will have the ability to determine how best to blend face-to-face teaching with online assistance and interactive web-based tools,” says Provost Robert Groves.

New Beginning

The funding comes from Georgetown’s $8 million investment in its Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning (ITEL).

“This is the beginning of a whole new approach to creating an R and D environment to explore what it means to teach and learn at Georgetown,” says Randy Bass, associate provost. “Most of the new courses are collaborations among several departments and programs, which showcase the wide range of expertise and multiple perspectives of our talented faculty.”

Many involve “flipping the classroom,” says Bass, who has taken a leadership role in implementing ITEL as executive director of Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS).

Classroom Flipping

Instead of having students come to a classroom, hear a lecture, and then puzzle over it by themselves, the new approach involves having lectures or parts of lectures and other material online. This allows classroom time to be used for application, activities and exercises related to what students already have absorbed.

Jeff Connor-Linton, an associate professor of linguistics, is using his grant to flip his fast-paced Introduction to Language course. Students in the course explore a dozen diverse linguistics topics during a semester.

“With the support of ITEL, this project will implement a flipped classroom structure for some topics, allowing students to view lectures and practice analytical techniques online, and using class time for the application of fundamental concepts to real-world data,” he says. “We'll assess the impact of integrating online modules and the new classroom activities they enable by comparing student learning in enhanced modules with those in traditional classrooms.”

“We also plan to share our findings and materials with the Georgetown community,” Connor-Linton adds. 

Engaging Students

Parina Patel and Oded Meyer at the School of Foreign Service are using their ITEL grant for their international politics courses. They plan to include a lab component supporting lectures and enhance the courses’ learning objectives.

“The grant is going to allow me to create an engaging interactive and uniform lab experience designed to address the individual needs of the students,” Patel says. “And this is something I would not be able to do without using online tools.”

Computer science professors Mark Maloof and Clay Shields are using their grant to transform a challenging introductory course for majors that has become increasingly popular among students across the main campus.

“We have been infusing technology into the introductory course, using lecture capture and screencasts, moving more toward a blended learning environment,” Maloof explains. “The ITEL grant gives us access to expertise and provides the time and the resources we need to develop new material and methods at a pace that just wouldn't be possible otherwise.”

Best Learning Environment

Another goal of ITEL is to create online curriculum that faculty can teach and students can use and update in the years to come.

The 23 funded projects in this first group of ITEL grants will reach more than 2,000 students.

“There are no limits to the creative ways in which Georgetown marries state-of-the-art technology with faculty expertise to provide the very best learning environment,” Bass says.

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