Northwestern launches digital learning website

By Storer H. Rowley
May 12th, 2016

digital learning

Showcases innovations in teaching, technology and learning inside the classroom

Northwestern University has created a new digital learning website to showcase the university’s best practices in online and blended educational innovation to teachers and students on campus, as well as to the outside world.

The primary goal of the new website is to provide a glimpse into what is happening inside the Northwestern classroom and to help connect the dots between various innovations in teaching and learning.

“We really want to highlight how creative and innovative our faculty are,” said University Provost Daniel Linzer, “and now we have a way to show many of the incredible things they are doing with new online technologies and cutting-edge learning tools.”

This site was created through a partnership between the Office of the Provost and Northwestern Information Technology with input and collaboration from many faculty, administrators and offices across the campus. To learn more about the team behind the project, check out the contributors.

“We hope this site inspires faculty to learn more about digital learning and continue thinking creatively about how technology can support their pedagogy,” said Marianna Kepka, assistant provost for academic administration and senior director, Office of Change Management.

The website shows how many instructors at Northwestern are experimenting with new ways to improve teaching and learning in the classroom and virtually through new technologies and tools. Whether it’s developing a full-blown online course or simply becoming more familiar with the Canvas learning management system, many opportunities to try new technologies and to connect with others are available.

One example of the innovative new learning technologies created at the University and shared across campus — and widely at other institutions — is the Lightboard, developed by Michael Peshkin of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The Lightboard allows an instructor to create video lectures and directly interact with handwritten notes and diagrams while facing the camera and students through a sheet of glass that illuminates what the teacher draws on it.

“I created the Lightboard so that I can get these small video lectures to my students as they need them without a lot of production overhead, but also, with training, allow any faculty member or student to produce their own,” Peshkin said.

An upcoming University event will allow instructors to share cutting-edge digital teaching methods and connect with one another.

TEACHx is a free one-day event for instructors on Monday, May 16, in Norris University Center, and faculty and staff are encouraged to register and attend. They will have an opportunity to learn more about teaching through technology and the growing educational technology community of practice. Presentations will include those experimenting with blended learning, online learning, MOOCs, social media, mobile applications, learning analytics and active learning spaces. The day is designed with short talks and digital poster presentations to highlight instructors’ leading innovations for teaching and learning at Northwestern.

Finally, the website includes a feature on Northwestern’s massive open online courses, or MOOCs, including a variety of free online courses that are offered by the University. Additional courses will be featured as instructors develop new online strategies for delivering their course content to a global audience — anywhere, anytime.

MOOCs at Northwestern have afforded some faculty both global reach and local impact in their teaching. One professor who has experimented with MOOCs is Todd Murphey, associate professor of engineering at McCormick. His innovative approach to bringing together online MOOC students with his Northwestern students enabled new learning and brought home benefits to Northwestern students in the classroom here as well.

This underscores the value many faculty members have found in exploring new forms of pedagogy that, in turn, benefit Northwestern.

The website is designed to tell the multiple stories about innovative learning and teaching at Northwestern and will continue to evolve as future experiments yield new approaches and ideas.

Originally posted on Northwestern University’s news website.

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