17 December 2013

Call for Online Learning Proposals


President McCartney has asked the Online Learning Task Force to invite proposals to enhance existing courses, or create new courses, that include significant use of online-learning components to improve pedagogy. We hope a collection of innovative experiments will help the College decide which directions are most promising to pursue in this complex and rapidly changing landscape. A first round of proposals will be reviewed by February 10, 2014, to fund proposals beginning work as early as Spring 2014. A second call for proposals in late spring will fund Summer 2014 projects.


Proposals may be submitted by faculty, staff, or students, or any combination forming a team.


We do not want to constrain creativity by over-specifying what we seek, but perhaps this non-exhaustive list of possible projects will help clarify our goals.


o   "Flip the classroom" for an existing lecture-based course.


o   Incorporate "blended learning" in a flipped-classroom model that includes online feedback to students in advance of the class, and modifying the classroom activities in accordance with that feedback.


o   Create a short online course, perhaps carrying 1- or 2-credits, serving our students needs in some way, e.g., perhaps targeted to specific prerequisites for other courses, or preparing students for Study Abroad.


o   Create a course to run in collaboration with other institutions, with the interaction facilitated by technology.


o   Create a short online course aimed at alumnae or parents. (For example, a WFI course for alumnae is currently under development.)


o   Create a short online course aimed at high-school students, perhaps complementing our summer course offerings.


o   Create an online course that is specifically aimed at prospective students, and could enhance admissions.


o   Create a MOOC with one of the major providers, for example, on a topic that accords and advances our mission as a women's college.


o   Develop techniques to make it easier for a course to include Five-College students without weekly travel. (Such proposals may also be appropriate for support by the Five-College Blended Learning or Digital Humanities Mellon grants.)


o   Propose a research project to evaluate the effectiveness of some aspect of online learning.


o   Design and development of technical infrastructure to support new online-learning initiatives.


o   Enhance or accelerate or assess ongoing online-learning activities initiated prior to this call for proposals.



Proposals supported in Spring 2014 will be accompanied by a stipend of up to $2,500 per participating faculty member, and for Summer 2014 projects a stipend of up to $5,000 per faculty member, or student summer stipends, will be provided. Project teams are encouraged to include one or more students, who would be supported at standard in-semester or summer wage rates. Staff may be eligible to receive stipends, following established college policies. Educational Technology Services (ETS) in ITS will assign an instructional technologist and technical support for each approved project. Advanced consultation with ETS is encouraged for those crafting proposals. All funded projects will be expected to report their experience back to the Task Force and to faculty through various venues, such as Teaching Arts Luncheons or Teaching Circles.


Proposals can be submitted at any time before Monday, February 10, 2014 for Spring 2014 funding. A second call will be distributed in advance of Summer 2014. Proposals can be submitted via email or as written documents to Joseph O'Rourke, chair of the Task Force (jorourke@smith.edu). We do not expect proposals to be fully detailed, or to include a budget, but they should include enough detail for the Task Force to estimate a budget. A clear outline of the goals of the project and the proposed team composition will assist us in evaluation. Questions can be directed to any member of the Task Force (below). We look forward to hearing from you!



Joseph O'Rourke, Chair

Carrie Baker

Donald Baumer

Julia Collins

David Gregory

Nicholas Howe

Thomas Laughner

Kevin Shea

Hélène Visentin