This section of the COPLACDigital Handbook provides an overview of the Digital Liberal Arts at a Distance grant and the contact information for those involved with the grant.
Digital Liberal Arts at a Distance significantly expands a successful multi-campus digital liberal arts seminar, funded by the Teagle Foundation, that was piloted in spring 2014 and, after refinement, taught again in spring 2015. The seminar, titled Century America: Campus, Community and the Great War, chronicled the impact of the First World War on fifteen (mostly rural) colleges and their local communities between the start of the war in Europe in 1914 and the end of the global influenza epidemic in 1919. The seminar enrolled 23 undergraduate student researchers from a total of 15 COPLAC campuses. To our knowledge, the Century America seminar is the first to combine distance learning (synchronous and asynchronous) technologies, digital history/humanities tools, and traditional historical research.
With the Mellon Foundation grant, we are scaling up the multi-campus, team-taught, interdisciplinary digital liberal arts seminars by training new faculty, engaging campus archivists/special collections librarians and instructional technologists, and broadening the topical range of future seminars to include the social sciences. Journeying well beyond the traditional classroom setting, students and professors will meet weekly in seminar using teleconferencing technology. Students enrolled in the online seminars will undertake community-based research projects, in order to create websites that make their research accessible to the public. They will work with a variety of digital tools to incorporate digital maps, timelines, audio, and video into their work. Faculty and student participants will disseminate the results of our work widely, both in articles and at national conferences, and through an objective analysis of the assessment results. We also intend to secure COPLAC Board commitment to a permanent budget line that will sustain multiple annual seminars over the long term.
We will train 24 faculty members from COPLAC member campuses in the innovative pedagogy required for team-teaching the digital liberal arts seminars at a distance; offer up to 16 multi-campus, topical and interdisciplinary seminars; assist the two-person faculty teams with developing their seminars; and provide robust technical assistance and archival support to faculty and students before and during the seminars. The project will practice economies of scale through distance technology; foster interdisciplinarity and a consortium-wide community of faculty, instructional technology, and librarian/archivist expertise and practice; expand undergraduate research options on each campus; afford students the opportunity to study under digitally trained scholars from a range of disciplines; and prepare students for careers where liberal arts thinking is essential.