Ithaka S+R Releases Report on Hybrid Classroom Experiments at the University System of Maryland
New York, NY—During the same month that The New York Times declared 2012 the “Year of the MOOC,” Ithaka S+R partnered with the University System of Maryland (USM) to determine the feasibility of using MOOCs in new ways—incorporating MOOCs and other online technologies into undergraduate classrooms. The results of that study are available today: Interactive Online Learning on Campus: Testing MOOCs and Other Platforms in Hybrid Formats in the University System of Maryland.
Over the course of a year, Ithaka S+R worked with faculty on seven USM campuses to set up side-by-side tests in classes from statistics to biology comparing sections using interactive online learning technologies to those taught through more traditional methods. Four of these used MOOCs and three used a course from the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) at Carnegie Mellon University. Ten additional classes incorporated MOOCs in order to gain further insight into the opportunities and challenges presented by using these materials in campus environments.
Findings indicate substantial promise for using interactive online technologies in traditional college settings. The USM faculty were enthusiastic in their willingness to experiment with MOOCs and found they could serve as useful tools for accomplishing their goals with students and—perhaps most importantly—most would like to continue using them in the future and would recommend them to their colleagues. Specifically, faculty reported that by using the lecture videos to cover content, they were able to engage in more active teaching activities with their students. Some instructors also found that MOOCs could be used as a tool to strengthen students’ foundational skills in critical thinking. Additionally, despite the significant time investments faculty made to use MOOCs in the study, they believe they can save time teaching by incorporating existing online materials into their courses.
The study also found that student outcomes were roughly the same in hybrid sections as in traditional face-to-face sections. These results held in the subgroups we examined, including those from low-income families, under-represented minorities, first-generation college students, and those with weaker academic preparation.
While these findings point to the potential benefits MOOCs and OLIs might offer, Ithaka S+R also found several challenges will need to be overcome before the wider-spread implementation of these technologies will be feasible. To better fit this type of use, MOOC providers will need to make their courseware more modular and must consider the intellectual property and licensing implications of making this content available in different contexts. At the same time, universities must provide leadership, infrastructure, support, and incentives to help faculty engage with this new type of content, in much the same ways that the USM committed to in this study.
MJ Bishop, director of the Center for Academic Innovation at the USM, said of the project: “The University System of Maryland is especially pleased to see the positive reaction of our faculty participants in this endeavor, and to see that our comparison of MOOCs with traditional teaching settings showed roughly the same academic outcomes. As important, though, the study reflects USM’s careful stewardship in this process, because challenges remain before we can grow the use of these new technologies. We are even more confident in the soundness of the approach we are bringing to this study, an approach that values a deliberate and careful collection of feedback from students and faculty.”
As project advisor and President Emeritus of Tufts University Lawrence S. Bacow notes: “This study provides much needed data about the benefits and challenges of adapting MOOCs for traditional institutions and putting these opportunities in context. This is an important step forward, and I hope that university and college leaders and faculty take note of these findings and consider ways that they can take advantage of existing online content in their courses. I hope, too, that the institutions and platforms offering MOOCs continue to explore ways that these resources can benefit mainstream students at public universities.”
Ithaka S+R would like to thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their generous funding of this project.
Supporting the Digital Humanities on Your Campus—A Webinar with Nancy Maron
Join Ithaka S+R for a webinar on July 17th at noon.
As faculty and students continue to build new digital projects, how can institutions develop end-to-end systems that address the needs of those projects over time?
Today, NISO is releasing the recommended practice for its Open Discovery Initiative. This important initiative is intended to bring greater order to the indexed discovery services that have achieved a market penetration of roughly three-quarters of US academic libraries, according to the most recent Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2013 (pages 53-54). With such a high share of libraries positioning indexed discovery services as the primary discovery interface for their users, it is essential to address the concerns—both real and perceived—about how these systems work and interact with libraries and content providers. The ODI report recommends practices in the areas of usage statistics, various data sharing mechanisms, content availability, and fair or unbiased linking.
I chaired the “fair linking” subcommittee, which interpreted its mandate as addressing perceptions of bias in search results and relevancy ranking while bringing greater transparency to the business connections between content providers and discovery services. I am especially proud of the principle we have established that “Discovery service providers should offer an affirmative statement of the neutrality of their algorithms for generating result sets, relevance rankings, and link order” (126.96.36.199, at page 25). While there are many ways to game any system, I believe we have set out some valuable principles regarding not only neutrality but also transparency that will allow libraries more effectively to steward the discovery interests of their user communities.
Bridging the differences in interests between content providers, discovery services, and libraries was no small task, and I thank all the members of the ODI committee, chaired by Marshall Breeding and Jenny Walker and staffed by NISO’s Nettie Lagace, for their contributions.
The University of Rochester is set to open a new data visualization lab with a direct link to the University’s supercomputers. Ithaka S+R provided support in the design phase by collecting information through interviews and workshops and identifying key requirements for the space itself and for the technology to be installed in the space.
The Visualization-Innovation-Science-Technology-Application (VISTA) Collaboratory lab will be used in many ways including research in the sciences, engineering and optics as well as the humanities and social sciences. The leader of the project makes a compelling case for this sort of visualization facility. To quote from the press release: “The best analytical tool we have is still the human brain,” said David Topham, Ph.D. the executive director of the HSCCI and a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “We can see relationships between data that computers cannot. But in order to do that you have to have the information in front of you so you can see the patterns and connections that matter. In other words, you need to be able to see the forest and the trees simultaneously.”
For more information on the VISTA Collaboratory Lab, please see the press release from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Roger Schonfeld and Alisa Rod are presenting at several sessions during the Library Assessment Conference in Seattle, Washington. This year's conference theme is "Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment."
Monday August 4, 11-12:30; Session 2
"A Mixed-Methods Approach to Questionnaire Development: Understanding Students’ Interpretations of Library Survey Questions"
Heather Gendron, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Alisa Rod, Ithaka S+R
New Report—Sustaining the Digital Humanities: Host Institution Support beyond the Start-Up Phase
Digital Humanities has captured the imagination of many faculty, staff and students in recent years. Experts in the field, from veterans of Digital Humanities Centers to library digitization units, know well the challenges that digital projects can pose, just to keep content and software up to date and relevant. As more scholars experiment with building digital humanities resources, how are their host institutions approaching the challenge of supporting these efforts over time?
Ithaka S+R has just published Sustaining the Digital Humanities: Host-Institution Support beyond the Start-Up Phase, undertaken with generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The final report explores the question of sustainability from the institutional point of view: while many libraries and digital humanities centers think deeply about supporting digital outputs, is there a campus-wide strategy concerning who gets to build what, the resources they have access to, and the systems in place to support complex digital research resources once they are built?
The final report suggests that while many faculty report building things, not everything thought of as a “DH” project could or should pose significant sustainability challenges. Some are smaller, private experiments, some are easily executed using existing platforms and templates. Yet even for those significant digital research resources that do have long-term goals and merit ongoing support, few if any institutional strategies take into account the full range of activities needed, from project set up and management, to preservation, long term hosting, upgrading, and dissemination, some approaches to managing this are beginning to emerge. The report outlines examples of good practice, and suggests three archetypes—service, lab, and network models—that illustrate campus-wide approaches to addressing these issues.
Since each campus truly will need to develop and adopt the strategy that fits them best, the Sustainability Implementation Toolkit offers useful tools to help understand one’s own campus landscape, identify areas of overlaps and gaps, and to bring together key stakeholders, including senior administrators, to engage in a productive discussion about new, coordinated systems, that take into account the range of project types and needs, as well as the resources available to support them.
We hope you will find the report and toolkit useful and welcome your feedback.
Sustaining the Digital Humanities
Host Institution Support Beyond the Start-up Phase
Published June 18, 2014
As more and more scholars experiment with building digital humanities (DH) resources, how are their host institutions approaching the challenge of supporting these diverse projects over time?
In this study, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ithaka S+R explored the different models colleges and universities have adopted to support DH outputs on their campuses. This final report, Sustaining the Digital Humanities: Host-Institution Support beyond the Start-Up Phase, and the accompanying Sustainability Implementation Toolkit, are intended to guide faculty, campus administrators, librarians, and directors of support units as they seek solutions for their institutions.
Over the course of this study, Ithaka S+R interviewed more than 125 stakeholders and faculty project leaders at colleges and universities within the US. These interviews included a deep-dive phase of exploration focused on support for the digital humanities at four campuses—Columbia University, Brown University, Indiana University Bloomington, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. This research helped us to better understand how institutions are navigating issues related to the sustainability of DH resources and what successful strategies are emerging.
Our final report describes three models—service, lab, and network—that represent different approaches to supporting digital humanities work. Profiles of the four deep-dive universities show these models in action and highlight the opportunities and challenges these campuses face as they work to create coordinated strategies for supporting the digital humanities.
The toolkit offers concrete instructions for campus decision-makers embarking on an assessment of the DH landscape at their institutions. This includes interview guides, survey questions, and general guidance on conducting a landscape assessment on campus; suggestions for analyzing the data to help surface service overlaps and gaps; and a facilitation guide for hosting discussions on what a campus-wide strategy should address and include.
Ideally, this report and the toolkit will help key campus stakeholders engage in productive conversations about the value that digital humanities resources deliver, about the direct and institutional costs required to undertake and to support them for the long term, and about the most effective ways to marshal that support across the span of the institution. We believe the findings may also aid university administrators and decision-makers as they create systems that can support faculty and their digital projects in ways that bolster the mission and aims of the institution.
- Richard Detweiler, President, Great Lakes Colleges Association
- Martin Halbert, Dean of Libraries, University of North Texas
- Stanley N. Katz, Director, Center for the Arts and Cultural Policy Studies; Lecturer with rank of Professor, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; President Emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies
- Maria C. Pantelia, Professor, Classics, University of California, Irvine; Director, Thesarus Linguae Graecae®
- Richard Spies, Former Executive Vice President for Planning and Senior Advisor to the President at Brown University, Former Vice President for Finance and Administration at Princeton University
Ann J. Wolpert, who was the Director of Libraries, MIT, was a valued member of the advisory council. She passed away in October 2013.
Roger Schonfeld and Alisa Rod will be speaking at several events at the ALA Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.
Friday, June 27, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm