Digital Projects and Platforms

Digital Projects and Platforms

The Need

In May 2020, I was approached by Joan Saab, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Rochester. She was tasked with thinking about ways to help faculty prepare for the fall semester in the wake of the rapid shift to online learning that took place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty pivoted quickly to using Zoom and other online tools, but the results were mixed and the approaches still unfamiliar and limiting to many of our faculty. As we looked ahead to an uncertain fall semester, we knew that we needed to do more to help faculty think intentionally about the courses and how digital tools and platforms might help them increase engagement and deepen their learning experiences, even if we remained fully online.

The Digital Scholarship Lab at River Campus Libraries supports faculty and student research through the use of digital tools and methods in order to create new knowledge and technology-rich experiential learning opportunities. In this capacity, Vice Provost Saab asked us to develop a series of faculty development workshops aimed at introducing faculty to options for furthering student engagement through digital tools and project-based assignments.

The Workshops

In the following three weeks, the Digital Scholarship Lab worked with colleagues across the library to design and develop six workshops. The five thematic workshops included a showcase of assignments, potential tools, and exercises designed to help faculty think about how they might incorporate similar approaches in their classes. The series culminated in a 2-day assignment design workshop where faculty developed and tested an assignment for implementation in a future course. The workshops were as follows:

  • Course Sites and Digital Publication 
  • Audiovisual Analysis 
  • Spatial Thinking and Mapping  
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality  
  • Cultural Heritage Objects and Exhibits
  • Digital Project Design and Implementation

Each thematic workshop followed a similar format:

  • Faculty and Instructor Introductions (15 min)
  • Introduction to Thematic Topic (10 min)
  • Faculty Showcase (30 min)
  • Hands-on Exploration (30 min)
  • Break (15 min)
  • How Did They Make That? Exercise  (30 min)
  • Other Resources and Next Steps (20 min)

The Numbers

Over 50 faculty and graduate students registered for the workshops with over half attending multiple workshops. Half of the workshops had waitlists.

The attendees represented 27 departments, programs, and institutes across all of the colleges: The College of Arts, Sciences, & Engineering, The Warner School of Education, Simon Business School, University of Rochester Medical Center, and Eastman School of Music.

  • American Sign Language
  • Anthropology
  • Art & Art History
  • Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
  • Computer Science
  • Digital Media Studies
  • Eastman School of Music, Humanities
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • English
  • Film and Media Studies
  • Frederick Douglass Institute for
    African and African American Studies
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Languages and Cultures
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Psychiatry
  • Religion and Classics
  • Simon Business School
  • Susan B. Anthony  Institute
  • Theatre
  • URMC, Internal Medicine
  • URMC, Medical Humanities & Bioethics
  • URMC, Pediatrics
  • Visual and Cultural Studies
  • Warner School of Education
  • Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program

The Feedback

We received positive feedback from the series and requests for future workshops.

  • “I really appreciated the content and the way that you structured the time.”
  • “The workshops were a great opportunity to meet other colleagues and gain a new sense of community as well as learn new things.”
  • “Thank you so so so much! Really grateful for what you are doing and eager to work more with you in the fall!”
  • “These were both wonderfully helpful, as I plan for effective individual and group assignments and research projects completed in several stages across the semester.”
  • “I’m taking all the workshops being offered and so far I can definitely think of ways to incorporate all the tools I’ve learned in my upcoming courses.”
  • “I admire the role(s) the DSL has taken on as a trainer/supporter.  Nothing else like it.”

To learn more about the workshops series, please see Matt Cook’s Tower Talk article, “Digital Summer School: A new workshop series helps instructors teach in a virtual classroom.”

The Resources

All of the resources that were gathered for the workshops, including videos of the faculty showcase presentations, were curated and made publicly available on the Digital Projects and Platforms website.