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Where's the Classroom?

A Discussion Group to Experience and Evaluate Digital Courses
co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching & Learning and the
Information Technology in Education Committee at Trinity College
Spring 2013
We invite members of the Trinity community to participate in this discussion group on digital courses and their implications for residential liberal arts colleges such as Trinity. Our definition of digital courses includes non-credit MOOCs (massive open online courses) as well as credit-bearing distance-learning (all online) and blended learning (a mix of in-person and online). While we do not necessarily endorse any of these models for Trinity, our interest in learning more was sparked by recent announcements from Wesleyan University to offer Coursera MOOCs (beginning spring 2013), Wellesley College to offer edX MOOCs (fall 2013), and ten universities that have formed the Semester Online virtual consortium (fall 2013).
To enrich this discussion group, all participants must experience learning in a digital course from the student’s perspective by auditing/enrolling and completing some online lessons, then report back to the group with their evaluations. All Trinity community members (including staff and students) are welcome to participate, and up to 10 faculty members are eligible to receive a $200 stipend, funded by the Center for Teaching and Learning, Dean of Faculty, and Information Technology Services.
To apply, send an email to by Friday, February 1st that includes:

1) Your name, contact information, and Trinity affiliation
2) The title of the digital course you have selected, a link to its description, and dates offered in Spring 2013. Note: If this is a free online course, such as a MOOC, you must be enrolled as a student to apply to join the Trinity discussion group. If this is a closed course, you must have contacted the instructor and received permission to audit online or receive student-level access to some online lessons.
3) Why did you select this course, and what do you want to learn from this discussion group?

Participants must agree to participate in at least two discussions:

a) Thursday, April 4th, 2013 during Common Hour (location TBA)
b) Tuesday morning, May 14th, 2013 for Spring Institute for Teaching & Technology (SITT)

ITEC and CTL will review applications shortly after the deadline, and award stipends to up to 10 faculty members who participate in both sessions. For any questions, contact ITEC co-chairs Jack Dougherty (Ed Studies) or Jim Trostle (Anthropology)
To explore online open courses and modules, see a variety of resources, including:
   Coursera - a for-profit company by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller
   edX - a not-for-profit online initiative by MIT, Harvard, UC-Berkeley, and others
   Next Generation Learning - blended learning in liberal arts by Bryn Mawr College
   Open Learning Initiative - online course modules by Carnegie Mellon University
   Udacity - a for-profit company launched by former Stanford professor Sebastian Thurn
   and more. . .
To read contrasting perspectives on digital courses in liberal arts education, see:
“What You Need to Know About MOOC’s.” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 2013.
Desantis, Nick. “Online Enrollments Grow Again, Though Many Colleges Are Undecided on MOOCs.” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 8, 2013.
King, W. Joseph, and Michael Nanfito. “To MOOC or Not to MOOC?” Inside Higher Ed, November 29, 2012.
Kolowich, Steve. “Elite Online Courses for Cash and Credit.” Inside Higher Ed, November 16, 2012.
Lederman, Doug. “Promise and Pitfalls in Online Ed.” Inside Higher Ed, December 21, 2012.
Lewin, Tamar. “Massive Open Online Courses Prove Popular, If Not Lucrative Yet.” The New York Times, January 6, 2013, sec. Education.
Watters, Audrey. “The Year of the MOOC.” Hack Education, December 3, 2012.
Young, Jeffrey R. “Coursera Announces Details for Selling Certificates and Verifying Identities” The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Wired Campus, January 9, 2013.