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21st Century Curriculum

21st Century Curriculum

Columbia College Chicago
on Oct 27, 2014

CONVERSATION CLOSED

Historically, Columbia College Chicago has built a reputation for excellence in preparing students for careers in the arts, the performing arts, and media. Ongoing intellectual, technological, and economic changes have created a new environment, however, for creative professionals and innovators. Through a series of questions, we will engage you in a conversation about ways in which the College can redefine itself and its curriculum to better prepare students for employment and lifelong learning in the 21st century. We look forward to a robust conversation.

A Subcommittee of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee developed the ten questions that will be posed one at a time in this discussion forum from Oct. 30 to Dec. 8. You can see the members of this Subcommittee listed as moderators for this discussion. They will each periodically assume this role.

The moderator’s role is to facilitate the discussion by adding relevant information (e.g. data, connections to resources, clarifications), providing some additional deep-dive questions to spur more discussion, and assuring a conversational environment that is consistent with the principles of the Civic Commons platform.

The moderator is not responsible for summarizing anyone’s comments or making any decisions based on the comments provided. All comments will be collected, aggregated and incorporated into the final strategic plan.

Moderators (6)

Participants (127) See All

What do you think?

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on 2017-07-24T10:40:55+00:00
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Recent Activity

Margie Nicholson
on Dec 08, 2014
"While it's important to prepare students to meet their 21st Century challenges, it's also..."
Columbia College Chicago
on Dec 08, 2014
"This and all the other strategic plan conversations will close tonight at 11:59pm. Conversations..."
Robin Whatley
on Dec 08, 2014
"Today a new initiative to support and build on computer science education in K-12 schools was..."
Jan Chindlund
on Dec 08, 2014
"And I want to add that the students in Creativity and Marketing did thorough and insightful work..."
Arlie  Sims
on Dec 08, 2014
"On the subject of online education, I wanted to point out that many resources--databases,..."
Erin  McCarthy
on Dec 08, 2014
"The short answer is advising, but we need to give advising and students a product-- the..."
Anne Becker
on Dec 08, 2014
"I feel very strongly about Columbia having a more robust presence in the area of online..."
Jeff Grady
on Dec 08, 2014
"As a student on his way out of Columbia College and soon to be entering the real world, I have a..."
Erin  McCarthy
on Dec 08, 2014
"I think the new focus of FYS will be a good start. Also, Fall 2015 HHSS and English will roll out..."
Soo La Kim
on Dec 08, 2014
"Just to put the resources piece into perspective, the many efforts of individual faculty &..."
Wendy Hall
on Dec 08, 2014
"Hello…some thoughts. Design the 21st century curriculum/college catalog/course descriptions..."
Soo La Kim
on Dec 08, 2014
"I would also add that it's the ability to ask productive questions, that is, questions that lead..."
Norma Green
on Dec 08, 2014
"In regards to using Chicago as our "living laboratory," I think many of us already do that.  I..."
Timothy McCaskey
on Dec 08, 2014
"I know this is an older thread, but absent other responses, I'll reply briefly:  I'd..."
Tony Trigilio
on Dec 08, 2014
"Thanks, Michael.  I'm very late getting to this thread, but I appreciate your note about..."
Arlie  Sims
on Dec 08, 2014
"I'm getting in late to this conversation, but I wanted to express my concern for making sure the..."
Julie Minbiole
on Dec 08, 2014
"You make an excellent point Greg that online learning could be such an incredible asset if..."
Sandra Kumorowski
on Dec 08, 2014
"I wanted to post one of the last comments to our forum. This past semester my Creativity in..."
Greg Foster-Rice
on Dec 08, 2014
"Julie makes a really valid point that any attempt at flipping the classroom necessarilly requires..."
Greg Foster-Rice
on Dec 08, 2014
"Both Kevin and Elizabeth make great points and I think there's a common ground somewhere between..."
Julie Minbiole
on Dec 07, 2014
"The point Kevin makes about limited contact hours with students has been a big concern of mine as..."
Julie Minbiole
on Dec 07, 2014
"We need to find a way to offer online classes that differentiates Columbia from other schools..."
Steven Corey
on Dec 07, 2014
"While there are numerous ways to incorporate Chicago into the curriculum, one approach is to..."
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 07, 2014
"Also "Flock Logic began as a collaboration between choreographer Susan Marshall and engineering..."
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 07, 2014
"I worry that CBEs show that a student can memorize things.  Not understand them well but simply..."
Kate Schaefer
on Dec 05, 2014
"We need an online learning hub; a place where students know to find their on-line or hybrid..."
Corinne Rose
on Dec 05, 2014
"I agree with an above comment that sometimes interdisciplinary can mean master of none. It is..."
Corinne Rose
on Dec 05, 2014
"Regarding an identity focus, I think when we engage identity we should stress teaching students..."
Michael Lawrence
on Dec 05, 2014
""the role of departments across LAS must remain central to creating not merely technicians but..."
Jon Katzman
on Dec 05, 2014
"Technological changes and easier accessibility to the means of production and distribution should..."
Margie Nicholson
on Dec 08, 2014 - 10:10 pm

While it's important to prepare students to meet their 21st Century challenges, it's also critical to be sure they are developing core competencies that are relevant across disciplines and centuries, such as writing. I'm aware that other schools provide writing software programs to help students edit and proofread papers before turning them in. I'd also like to see if students could benefit from the type of Writers Boot Camp that we're currently offering for faculty here at the College? Or maybe offer a Writing Marathon? We could have tutors available to advise and assist students as needed.

In thinking about the College's overall curriculum development, it could be beneficial to explore and experiment with some more innovative management structures. Rockefeller University in New York and the California Institute of Technology are two institutions that may provide inspiration and ideas. These organizations have been effective at generating multi-disciplinary interaction, cross-fertilization, and results. It could be exciting to offer faculty members the option of stepping outside their departments to work in a more cooperative, collaborative Innovation Lab setting.

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Dec 08, 2014 - 7:53 pm

This and all the other strategic plan conversations will close tonight at 11:59pm. Conversations and the comments made within them can still be viewed after this time, but any comments made after 11:59pm will not be included in the final report. Thank you for all your great participation!

 
Robin Whatley
on Dec 08, 2014 - 7:46 pm

Today a new initiative to support and build on computer science education in K-12 schools was announced by President Obama (see link below). The Chicago Public School system will be one of the largest participating school districts in the country. Funding, teacher training, partnerships with NSF, and a focus on involving minorities and women are some of the commitments that are being promoted. Could Columbia become an active and integral partner in this initiative? Could we open a window to the immersive creative/cutting edge side of computer science education through teacher training in programming and/or game design, for example? Our students, staff and faculty who are already learning and working in innovative computer science and technology fields could be important mentors and role models for CPS students, staff and teachers. A partnership like this would also provide immediate and tangible educational benefits to CCC teachers and students through opportunities for community engagement, internships and portfolio projects, and could forge future relationships in the form of potential students and collaborations down the road. 

And, if it is true (as this initiative claims) that by 2020 greater than 50% of all jobs in science, math, technology and engineering will be in computer science-related fields, we should find ways to integrate computer science training and practice into many more aspects of our own curriculum and degrees... Computer programming and other related training should be made easily accessible to our students, and also to our own faculty... http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/08/celebrating-computer-science-education-week-kids-code-white-house

 
Arlie  Sims
on Dec 08, 2014 - 6:07 pm

On the subject of online education, I wanted to point out that many resources--databases, organized research guides, electronic books, online help from librarians, etc.--are avaialble already on the Library's web site.  We have more to do, of course, but that resource is fully in place to support online courses and programs.  Examples of subject and course research guides at: http://libguides.colum.edu/browse.php

 
Anne Becker
on Dec 08, 2014 - 5:47 pm

I feel very strongly about Columbia having a more robust presence in the area of online learning.  The ad Hoc committee of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Senate prepared an indepth report related to online learning on our campus last year.  This report is available in IRIS and I sincerely hope that the strategic plan will encompass a digital curriculum that reflects the fabulous media and arts offerings CCC offers to students. 

 
Stratic_plan_abecker_pic
Jeff Grady
on Dec 08, 2014 - 5:46 pm

As a student on his way out of Columbia College and soon to be entering the real world, I have a few comments on what Columbia failed to do for me as well as what it did.  

 

First, what Columbia provided to me as an musician and artist.  The student body at Columbia is it's biggest assett.  The college itself serves as a physical place where these people interact.   That being said, every substancial portfolio piece I was able to produce was done on my own, on my own time, and by my own means. 

This is my biggest critique of Columbia.  Unfortunatley students will always be lazy, but not if you introduce them to actual real-life projects and force them i repeat, force them to collaborate with other departments.  Columbia may preach collaboration, but it is a rare thing to find.  Collaboration is a wonderful thing to say and hear and have your marketing department tell you, but few students do because of the fact that we are so busy doing (sometimes pointless) work that takes our time and creative energy away from doing the things we came here to do.

The entire approach to an art's education should be project based.  

What I would love to see happen at Columbia College is having Junior and Senior year be dedicated to indepth, collaborative, interdepartmental large-scale projects; such as: produce a complete musical/half musical/short play.  This involves writers, directors, actors, composers, musicians, costume designers, graphic artists.  Produce a feature length film, create a complete set of advertisments: film, graphic, outdoor, ect.  Open and build a gallery.  Everything Columbia Students came here to do should be preached and learned the first two years, and then turned loose to the students, with loose faculty supervision/ setting deadlines and bringing in panels of industry representatives for critique.  

Columbia admissions will argue that this already happens.  This happens on a small, highly restricted scale.  I remember looking into the Audio department and trying to figure out the logistics of when I got to be in that Large Recording Studio: Studio A and start recording.  It turns out, the only students allowed in that room are Seniors who are currently taking a single class that is allowed access.  Not only that, but you are only allowed one, 2-hour window for work on the final project.  That's it.  You get two hours to be in the room that is the reason you spent 4 years of your life and $200,000 worth of your parents money, the banks money or the governments money.  

I apologize if this sounds like an angry rant!  I'm a student about to graduate into the worst times to have an art degree.  

Columbia is extremely restrictive to students.  In my high school art room, we could develope in the dark room one day, throw clay on a wheel the next and work on Final Cut Pro to edit videos with no supervision.  I can't tell you how much creative work we produced.  

Art is not something that can be rushed or restricted.  By the time I have checked in, had my photo taken, given someone my ID, then had to explain who I was and what classes I was taking, as well as how long I was going to be there and then escorted to my workspace, I have lost all creative excitement and in fact grown very frustereated by the entire process. 

Columbia: make what we pay for availible to us.  We are taking out student loans, and paying $25,000 for nine months of "No you can't be in here" and "No you're not allowed to touch this." Ironically enough, one day in Sherwood, I was screamed at by a instructor for playing a marimba sitting in the hallway.  While holding my arm, he gets right in my face and barks, "Do you go here?!" (I hav a backpack on and am standing by other music composition majors) He then goes to tell me that if I'm not a percussion performance major, that I should in fact, never touch an instrument again, because of how disrespectful I was to this rosewood marimba.  A Columbia Professor telling a music major to never touch another instrument.  

In an ideal school, if you paid someone $25,000, you should damn well get to play any instrument you want, use as much paper as you want, use as much ink as you want, as much clay as you want and as much and be able to use an advanced graphic design lab.   

Columbia, please get rid of these restrictions.  We know you are using our Check-in data to run stats on if people really use the computer labs or not.  I'm just trying to have my work printed bigger then 8.5" x 11" with some decent color and some decent paper, but I'm not allowed into the A&D printing lab because I don't know what I'm doing, right?  I might break something?  Well good thing I paid that $200,000! 

I apologize if this sounds like an angry rant, but I am upset.  And I have a right to be.  I am a student who's creative mind wants more and more.  My creativiey thrives on the freedom to work in different mediums and learn new technologies and how they are applied to my art.  Columbia has done a fantastic job of putting all the bars up and forcing me down the narrow hallway that is Music Composition.  Which has been great!  But is going to leave me very, very unable to make rent when I graduate, forcing me to look around at other professions.  

Columbia, slim the admission doors and open the creative doors.  Let students be free to do the work they need and want to do.  Let freshman take nice cameras out of the cage.  Wait, there's only a dozen nice cameras and they're reserved for seniors?  What is this $200,000 getting us???  

 

 
Wendy Hall
on Dec 08, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Hello…some thoughts.

Design the 21st century curriculum/college catalog/course descriptions with terminology in mind that makes it easy for non-native speakers or first-generation students to understand.  As Columbia College Chicago reaches out internationally on a global scale this outlook might help those students.

Draw upon how and where students are learning outside the classroom and fold those ideas into a 21st century curriculum.  Chicago is mentioned in the college’s promotional materials as a vibrant and forward-thinking city that will enrich and extend your education as a cultural and creative learning environment.  Look to see what students are taking advantage of off-campus to fill-in their skills not currently available within the curriculum.

Encourage instructors and students to take advantage of the limited edition ‘one of a kind’ resources (both physical and 24/7 digital) that the Library/College Archives, in essence, provides to assist them in integrating research-based learning as they strive to creatively solve 21st century problems that will touch a universal scale. 

 

Columbia College Chicago’s history reflects an entrepreneurial spirit.  There is an excitement that is felt by faculty, staff and students alike that we are in an experiment here–of sorts--enduring to push the boundaries of what higher education could be…and, what better place to reflect that spirit than within the curriculum itself.

 
Norma Green
on Dec 08, 2014 - 2:21 pm

In regards to using Chicago as our "living laboratory," I think many of us already do that.  I want to mention an idea that was first floated in 2010 --Columbia College Chicago Center for the Study of the American City.  The idea was of a multidisciplinary effort that would attract, challenge and retain undergrad and master's students as well as attract and retain faculty and bring outstanding scholars and practitioners for visiting fellowships and lectures in a more college-wide approach than is currently used.  Initiated by Journalism and HHSS, all other departments could contribute to the curriculum to make it as diverse and inclusive as possible while expanding community engagement and optimizing enrollment through external partnerships.  Students who come to Columbia are already drawn to an urban campus and want to study (and most want to live) in a city.  They are part of what Richard Florida calls the "creative class" and we should nurture the idea through our geographic and intellectual positioning. 

 
Arlie  Sims
on Dec 08, 2014 - 10:45 am

I'm getting in late to this conversation, but I wanted to express my concern for making sure the curriculum is infused with critical thinking about information and media.  In a time when news, information, entertainment, and commerce are more and more difficult to parse out, students need to be skilled at identifying their needs for information, finding it, evaluating it according to the job to be done, and using it intelligently and ethically.  At an instituation that invites students to "author the culture of their time", we must help students understand the world around them by nimbly and critically navigating and contributing to the multiple streams of information available to them.  In all our work for interdisciplinary approaches, this skill set is imperative across the curriculum and across professions, from journalism to PR and advertising to film and television and game design and other areas, good information ethically and effectively used is powerful and essential.

 
Sandra Kumorowski
on Dec 08, 2014 - 1:25 am

I wanted to post one of the last comments to our forum. This past semester my Creativity in Marketing class collaborated with our Columbia Library led by Jan Chindlund. We were given a tour and visited the beautiful Blum Conference Room. There, in the middle of the room, was a framed picture with photographs of Columbia founders Mary Ann Blood and Ida Morey Riley. And underneath their photographs is Columbia's original logo (see attached photo) that reads "Columbia College of Expression" with a slogan "Learn to Do by Doing". The 1911 catalog read, "[the school] should stand for high ideals, for the teaching of expression by methods truly educational, for the gospel of good cheer, and for the building of sterling good character". At that moment I was thinking what a great mantra this college has had from the beginning. After seeing this picture I went online and revisited the Columbia College history and how it evolved into a wonderful institution we have right now. Each time period the college faced with new challenges and always managed to do better and following its original mission. I love the slogan "Learn to Do by Doing" and I think its our big strength. And Columbia truly is a college of expression. So now, when faced with 21st century curriculum challenges, we should go back to the core of Columbia and find inspiration in its original values and in its history. I am positive we'll come back as winners again.

 
Cce

Responses(1)

Jan Chindlund
on Dec 08, 2014

And I want to add that the students in Creativity and Marketing did thorough and insightful work using the library as a client. I think that bringing real world problems into the classroom for the students to work on is an excellent way to engage with the community, learn and practive 21st century skills, and prepare them for working in the real world after graduation. We brought our real world problems to these students and they developed some very innovative and feasible ideas.

 
Expand This Thread
Jon Katzman
on Dec 05, 2014 - 12:28 pm

Technological changes and easier accessibility to the means of production and distribution should lead us to increasing our roles as coaches and mentors since students have less tolerance to listening to something that they can find online.  We can encourage our students to reach for their artistic goals in a way that other institutions can't since our students have mostly already chosen an artistic path for their lives.   Their own identities are their greatest advantage in first part of their careers.  Our students also must have something to say...and that derives in large part from the hard work of reading and writing so that they are confident in their own cultural literacy.

 
Bill Guschwan
on Dec 05, 2014 - 11:49 am

I am a proponent of using constructivist teaching as explored in Early Childhood Education at Columbia to the college students. In addition, support for mindfulness and social emotional intelligence should be prioritized. CASEL, certification organization for SEL, is in Chicago, and perhaps conversations with them could extend certification to college level.

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 04, 2014 - 4:03 pm

I'm not sure this has been mentioned anywhere but we should remember accreditation when we are revising the curriculum.

 
Mark Klein
on Dec 04, 2014 - 12:32 pm

After following these threads for the last few weeks I see some common threads. There is an obvious pattern of interest, intelligence, creativity and passion, from this community.  What I feel is missing is going back to some more fundamental questions that frame a future for 21st century curriculum. 

1. What works?  Columbia College Chicago has been around for a long time, now, as an institution 'We' are all going against the rapid evolution of change (media, tech, culture). But, there are things that work, that are successful in both teaching and learning, that are even foundational to specific practice or fudamental to dicipline, and maybe even nuanced, but they work, wha are they?

2. What needs to change? There is much talk about collaboration, consideration toward evolution of industry and fields, teaching to the 'New' student. Now discourse on web-based teaching and learning options. Change requires planning, coordinating and inter-breeding programs requires, "Re-considering" (critically) what might need to change, re-tooling, expansion, purging, what are these factors? What needs to change?

3. What is our Common Goal?  What is the common Philosophy of Columbia College Chicago moving into the future? Teaching and learning requires specificity, but also adaption and adjustement to better facilitate individual needs, everyone is different.  These differences require a common language to make sure everyone is clear of purpose and also to articulate, individual perceptions. Getting behind a plan an objective, requires 'a stake in the ground' that communicates the beginning of a new path. What is our mission?  And, what are we willing to do to uphold it? How do students, teachers, staff, management, apply their own individuality to this sense of common purpose?  

Mapping ones destiny requires some very basic questions to be answered.  To be successful in the 'future' requires clarity in the 'now'.  Many of this discussion seems very broad-stroke that touches upon elements, but may lose the essence of its own objective.  Designing for the future requires critical assessment of; what have we come to, what is changing, and what we can expect to happen. I hope that we can take 'these' (multiple) discussions and map a meta-plan, that begins to understand the system we are trying to realize moving forward. 

 
Ann Hetzel Gunkel
on Dec 04, 2014 - 11:03 am

I agree with Sean, Terrance and others in their thoughtful responses. Central to our mission of 21st century education is the fundamental and radical function of the "liberal arts," that is, education beyond career training and/or preparation in a major or speciality. We must continue to emphasize and strengthen the core competencies of liberal education - those skills, habits of mind and being which enable engaged citizenship and critical civic participation. As CCC is not--nor should it be-- a conservatory or technical school, we must empower students with the skills of critical reading, thoughtful analysis, critical thinking, effective writing and communication, civic literacy, geographic, cultural and historical knlowedge. In short, the role of departments across LAS must remain central to creating not merely technicians but citizens, who are educated to contribute to much mroe than the marketplace. Our core offerings in history, composition, philosophy, cultural studies, religious studies, math, science, literature, foreign languages, among others...provide the central feature for a successful working arts & media professional: CONTEXT. Across the college and, in poaricular, in LAS, we allow students not only to master their crafts, but to situate their work within social, poltical, cultural, semantic, and ideological contexts. Only in this do well allow our students to develop as critical citizens who can contextualize their art & media-making, process information and data, question their roles and texts in a larger framework, and bring theoretical persepctives to bear on the arts and media that shape our reality. The core, therefore, creates the possibliy for a functioning democracy. Its importance should not be underestimated by deffering to buzzwords about entrepenurial skills. A genuine entrepeneur can think stragegically, critically and counter-hegemonically about curent paradigms. Those skills require critical and cultural literacies, and the ability to work for a more just world in all avenues of work and personal life - which our core courses provide.

 

Responses(2)

Ann Hetzel Gunkel
on Dec 04, 2014

I would add that these 21st century skills are directly linked to our conversations about minors: one way to integrate broader social and cultural context into the major course of study is for students to engage in a minor course of study. Wonderful minors already in place such as Gender Sdies, Black World Studies, Latino Studies, and Cultural Studies, introduce students of all majors to critical reading, social and political context, historical knowledge, theoretical tools & paradigms, the ability to question structures of power, and a broader understand of the American and global context.

 
Michael Lawrence
on Dec 05, 2014

"the role of departments across LAS must remain central to creating not merely technicians but citizens, who are educated to contribute to much more than the marketplace." I couldn't agree more. I hope our colleagues in the other schools, not just in LAS, are on board with this vision as well. I’d also plug First-Year Seminar as having a really important part to play in achieving this particular facet of our greatness. Students need opportunities to connect the great skills they’re developing in their major programs to the bigger questions and contexts that give those skills meaning, and I think FYS can be a great space for that. Ideas about, say, ‘city as text,’ or ‘community engagement,’ or even ‘entrepreneurial thinking,' can really start to mean something only if they are explicitly connected to these bigger ideals of liberal learning. 

 
Expand This Thread
Katie Collins
on Dec 04, 2014 - 9:20 am

Learning by doing and gaining real experiences in the classroom is key to preparing students for employment and lifelong learning in the 21st century. As an alumni the two main reasons I chose to come to Columbia as a student was our reputation of putting theory into practice and our deep connections to the community in Chicago. One of the ways Columbia currently does this is through CCAP’s Urban Missions program. 

A good example of an Urban Missions experiential course that we partner with every semester is Ad Agency. Ad Agency is course in the Advertising and Public Relations Department where students learn how to function in an advertising agency as a member of an agency team. These students work with actual clients to produce marketing campaigns, ad plans, printed materials, and assorted media.  

 

This fall, CCAP helped coordinate Columbia students to work with seven community-based organizations: Access Living, Medline Plus, Chicago Children's Choir, Campus Compact, OTIS Fresh Market, Chicago Commons, and Free Street Theater. Some of the projects being conducted this semester include a video PSA for Medline Plus' website, a radio public service announcement for Access Living, and a social media plan and logo design for OTIS Fresh Market. Ad Agency is a perfect example of the experiential learning opportunities CCAP makes possible for Columbia students and faculty, while modeling our core values around community commitment, partnership, and reciprocity.

Some examples of past work that students have produced out of this class are linked below:

Ad Agency partnered with Project Brotherhood to produce this PSA with Common to encourage African American men to go to the doctor.

Ad Agency partnered with Latinos Progresando to produce this PSA encouraging community members to be a mentor in their Teatro Americano program.

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Dec 03, 2014 - 6:47 pm

How do we best leverage online learning across all levels of the curriculum--for example, in hybrid classes, flipped classes, fully online master's programs, etc.--and what resources do we need to accomplish this?

 

Responses(9)

Kevin Henry
on Dec 04, 2014

I believe given the high cost of education in the US that online learning can not only help in delivering compelling education in new ways but can do it very cost effectively. Columbia College Chicago should be a leader in this area given the incredible depth and breadth of our media-related disciplines. Unfortunately we have not explored the very essence of using media to deliver great educational content in new and innovative ways.

This is a growth area much like healthcare given that our delivery methods are outdated and inefficient. Our students across all disciplines will have opportunities in this new area if we actually use the opportunity to create compelling online learning experiences as part of our curriculum- part of what we do in the classroom.  The best online learning will happen not because a domain expert stands in front of a video camera and delivers content but rather because a team of videographers, animators, illustrators, actors, social scientists, etc. will be collaborating to reimagine how this new educational space will function

 
Jennie Fauls
on Dec 04, 2014

Because it's not yet realistic to expect that every student comes to class with a laptop, we could use more classrooms converted to computer labs in LAS.

I also think we could use more open labs (with very early and very late hours) for students.

 
Mark Klein
on Dec 04, 2014

This platform that Kevin talks about is about new opportunity with new technology.  Not only from what and how students learn but also what and how teachers teach. This requires a collaborative effort of many to find these 'new' ways that facilitate the new student. 

The Gorrila in the room is the obvious fear of "new technology" taking jobs away from people. But one way or the other the new will come if its not Columbia College doing it then someone else will recognize the opportunity and take advantage, then those not recognizing this will end up falling behind anyways, this is inevitable.

The better way to look at this is; what can technology do for our strenghts, after all the value of education process is inherent. Understanding one's industry, field, discipline or skill should be the primer for any teacher.  This may require personal training learning or research or professional pracitice. Being a college professor, part or full time, requires understanding what it is you are teaching as well as adapting the best method to teaching it.

Re-tooling, is core to any industry (including academia) that requires advancement. Education like many other industries is starting to see the massive cultural changes as provided by technology and new media plaforms. How do leverage these to help us? 

This does not be throwing out the old for the new. This is about critical assessment, see my bigger comment above; What Works?  What needs to Change? What is our common Goal, moving forward? 

New methods are only as good as the problems they solve, the platforms they support, and the objectives they actually achieve. This requires planning and not reinventing the wheel, but adding value where necessary.

 

 

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 04, 2014

I think it is also important to remember that not all classes can be taught online.  You cannot easily do a science lab online.  You can not take a theater class online.  You can't do a performance class online. 

That said, I think we as faculty need training on how to teach online.  Most of us have not taken an online class and have no experience on the otherside of the room as a student. 

In science classes we often spend much of our time convincing the students that they can do it.  Our students have a lots of fears about science (at all levels of ability) but need the direct confidence build that they are capable of doing it to suceed.  I'm not sure how we do that online.

 
Kate Schaefer
on Dec 05, 2014

We need an online learning hub; a place where students know to find their on-line or hybrid classes. When students register for an online class, their class location simply reads 'online'. For first year students, they have no idea how to begin the process of finding this online classroom. As an institution, this online learning center needs to be easily identifiable through the CCC website. We are making strides now that we are down to one LMS, but it is not a reliable system.

 
Julie Minbiole
on Dec 07, 2014

We need to find a way to offer online classes that differentiates Columbia from other schools offering online content.  If we begin offering online classes just like every other school, what will make Columbia special?  Why should students choose Columbia over another online school?  We need to think of a way to deliver online content in a way no other school is, perhaps focusing on ways students can still interact and engage face to face with experts working in their fields, which is one of the biggest strengths of our college. Online coursework can mean simply downloading content passively or perhaps it could mean actively engaging in a Skype chat or Google hangout with instructors and other classmates in order to maintain a sense of community and shared work.  We need to make sure online coursework enhances individual student learning and not simply facilitates enrollment.  With enough support for instructors, instructor training in use of these technologies, and creative thinking, the use of online instruction could be a really exciting avenue for Columbia.  

 
Greg Foster-Rice
on Dec 08, 2014

Both Kevin and Elizabeth make great points and I think there's a common ground somewhere between the two. I agree that we are behind the times in terms of the use of rich, online content. But then again, so are most colleges and universities. The real leaders seem to be places like Khan Academy for k-12 module learning.  That said, many if not most of our classes could never be taught 100% online. We shouldn't be tempted by (buy!) the golden fruit of MOOCs etc. What I hope we can do is enrich our current teaching environments through robust online components that allow us to flip certain parts of the classroom (lectures, passive reception of material, certain assessments) and allow the remainder of the classroom time to be spent on discussion, collaboration, active-learning, field trips, hands-on inquiry, etc. I say this as a historian of photograpy who would love to replace many of my lectures with videos or hypertext documents tailored to my interpretation of the content, while leaving my classroom as a place for more or less active engagement with historical materials and in-class projects.  There's been some movement in this direction by CITE, but it is something that I have little time to attend to during the school year. A summer boot-camp or academy would be terrific in this regard! Even an intensive 2-3 day workshop with a follow up module or two during the school year would help to create a cohort sensibility not unlike the one we hope to instill in our students.  We are, afterall, life-long learners. 

 
Julie Minbiole
on Dec 08, 2014

You make an excellent point Greg that online learning could be such an incredible asset if utilized to enhance, not replace, most courses at Columbia.  So many of the remarkable courses offered at Columbia simply demand an in person component.  And along Elizabeths point, I think it would be really helpful to have some experts in online learning, perhaps via workshops from the CiTE, or perhaps consider invite outside experts actually utilizing unique teaching styles in their classrooms to come speak with us.  Having  suggestions or guidelines from experts on what type of online learning technologies would best enrich a particular type of course would be a tremendous help.  In my field, biology, Paul Andersen is an excellent example of a teacher incorporating online work and technology into a field of study that also requires in person contact.  He utilizes online components to his various courses (physics/biology/chemistry) and has been so wildly successful in enhancing student learning with technology that he is spending this year consulting with schools around the country on best practices in implementing technology in teaching.  There are exemplary models of how to accomplish enhancing courses with online content out there, we just need to find them and explore ways to make them our own.  

 
Soo La Kim
on Dec 08, 2014

Just to put the resources piece into perspective, the many efforts of individual faculty & depts. to create online, flipped, and hybrid courses is very grassroots and DIY right now. The CiTE does our best to support these efforts within our own limited financial and human resources; we can only provide modest funding through our Fellowship Program and we recognize that our workshops, including our Flipped Learning Series, are not always accessible to everyone.

If we are serious about investing in online education on a larger scale, it will take quite a bit of investment in new infrastructure, policies that ease curriculum development & design & experimentation, and human resources, not to mention the finanicial resources involved.

Susan Marcus recently forwarded the link to UIUC's Center of Innovation in Teaching and Learning, which houses all their online courses for both students and faculty. They have a HUGE staff to accomplish this -- 6 staff in instructional development, 9 staff in instructional design, 12 staff in academic programs and services, and so on. What I think the UIUC's model demonstrates is an understanding that ongoing faculty professional development HAS to go hand-in-hand with curricular development and online learning. As others in this thread have noted, we have to figure out how to do online education with the BEST pedagogical practices in mind (and best suited for our disciplines), not the most common practices that are already out there.

 
Expand This Thread
Sarah Odishoo
on Dec 03, 2014 - 6:10 pm

 

I have seen no plans for online classes, so I am proposing a plan. (If you haven’t noticed I really like “plans.”)

This proposal is about using what we teach in parts of the college to explore new ways of how we might teach across the college – and potentially beyond.   We seek to explore the theatre and narrative arc inherent in the typical classroom setting.  There is subtle drama in the dialogue and interchange between professor and student and in the struggle to learn.  We seek to investigate a novel teaching and learning format that delivers an aesthetic blend of theatre, talk show and a dash of reality television.

 

 This experimental format holds out the promise to simultaneously serve both existing Columbia students, those in the classroom that are both audience members and part of the “cast of characters,” and new student audiences that participate with the class at a distance as an online learning community.  This is a profoundly richer notion of the “mooc,”which all too often are simply videotaped lectures. 

 

 The justification for this new approach to teaching online is that most “classes” online do not use the developing relationship between teacher and student/student and student. That discovery process, the relationships that form an intellectual process for inventive thinking, combined with the analyses between and among constituents is critical to learning, to realizing, perhaps for the first time, new meaning for an assumption, an old problem, creativity itself. That dynamic is missing in most of the sessions online. 

 

 This experimental production will be a live online forum in an online classroom that would be produced, appropriately, in collaboration with a video class, teaching Columbia students to produce, direct, and set the stage for online video courses.

This combination of new technology and Columbia’s curricular classes promises to make Columbia’s online classes interesting, compelling, and interactive. By using the LAS classes as one of the sources of ideation, the curriculum becomes one of a dozen paradigms of storytelling—the UR of all storytelling. It becomes for the students a source of ideas that inspires creative applications of their own making. It also becomes an appropriate intersection to teach the integration of the arts and media, broadening the aesthetic, so that the classroom itself masquerades as a show. This intersection of appropriately collaborative interdisciplinary learning invents a new way to present the classroom to the public education promise.

 

 Columbia College’s departmental content and structure is such that it is already prepared to integrate its knowledge base. The Liberal Arts and Sciences as its base with the arts and media as its creative voice is ripe for this kind of approach to online education as the Arts and Media are buttressed by the Classics.

 

 This proposal is an attempt to replicate that forceful classroom dynamic with a dramatically different setting and a more “realistic” teacher/student relationship.

 
Kevin Henry
From the Moderator: Kevin Henry
on Dec 03, 2014 - 5:31 am

I have been seriously concerned with the contact hours I have with students. 15 weeks with only 3 hours and 40 minutes a week. I believe one of the biggest problems we face as an institution centers on the low impact of student-teacher engagement. I'm not suggesting that it's a simple matter of increasing the time although I firmly believe that would help. I think there may be more innovative methods for increasing the engagement through a concerted effort to produce high quality (and consistent) flipped classroom assets, interactive content for delivery on tablets, deep contact with our skilled staff, and more opportunities for concentrated workshops (bootcamps). Front-loading some of the technical training in smart ways can, I believe, truly have a transformative effect. This would however have to be developed as a collective effort and a commitment to collaborative efforts.

 

Responses(6)

Susan  Stirling
on Dec 03, 2014

I agree with Kevin. There is a lack of engagement and consistency that comes with our existing schedule. Perhaps meeting more frequently for less time in addition to some creative content delivery would help. 

 
Jennie Fauls
on Dec 03, 2014

Agreed, and someone must add here that when the majority of teachers are adjunct faculty, contact hours become even more limited. Adjunct faculty not only don't have offices here amenable to conferencing but you can't fault them for rushing away to other jobs to make ends meet. It is hard for many among our teacher population to be present for additional engagement with students outside of allotted classtime.  I understand that Kevin is talking about course schedule structure, but let's look at contact hours from all possible angles.

 
David Noffs
on Dec 03, 2014

Great thread here, and it echoes recurring themes around thinking differently, innovation, experimentation, and new ways of teaching. We have an opportunity to fundamentally change how we approach our interaction with students here at Columbia and, as Kevin says, it is probably not just a matter of increasing contact hours, but perhaps changing how we deliver content as well. There are many ways we can, not only leverage technology and online resources (not just Moodle, but YouTube, Pinterest, Social Media, Twitter etc…) to generate content as Susan mentions, but also de-center the teacher/learner relationship and engage students in generating the content itself. 

 

However, as Jennie points out, time is limited for many adjunct faculty members and the time needed to generate “flipped” classroom content or online content can be significant. This should not deter us though, and I do mean collectively, from exploring how we might rethink our traditional course contact hours and how we interact with students. I think we must be truly imaginative in how we work to improve the experience of taking a course at Columbia.

 
Petra Probstner
on Dec 04, 2014

I completely agree with my colleague Kevin.

Having flexible curricular structures would be helpful, so we could assign learning methods according to content. In my opinion in the design area it would be easy to move a lot of the "technical" content online for flipped classroom or online course format and keep the face-to-face interactions "free" of talking and in this time we can focus on doing. As Susan Striling  pointed out it is of key importance that students understand why we are doing what we are doing. To gain this understanding there needs to be room for discussion and "digestion" of new material. If we have studio classes with 15+ students we would greatly benefit from building out a robust online knowledge source. A lot of us have started doing this in our classes, but there would be a big benefit of some centralized planning / farmework and technical support.

 
Julie Minbiole
on Dec 07, 2014

The point Kevin makes about limited contact hours with students has been a big concern of mine as well.  I think flipped or hybrid classes could be an excellent way of fostering more contact with students and making better use of our limited time.  Exploring innovative methods of teaching is an excellent idea and we really should prioritize this thinking moving forward.  However, we also need to think about the student side as well.  Students are going to need some training in to how best to use these online tools.  Our best students will likely pick up the new styles quickly and need little support, but there will be students that don’t realize the effort and time involved for the at home/online components.  Perhaps some peer coaching or a student support network might be helpful to promote student success in a flipped, hybrid, or online course?  Not all students will react the same way to these types of varied instruction.  We need to make sure we have ways to find out who is being helped by these new methods and who is not.  This provides a great opportunity for us to differentiate instruction for different students.  

 
Greg Foster-Rice
on Dec 08, 2014

Julie makes a really valid point that any attempt at flipping the classroom necessarilly requires not only retraining the faculty, but also the students for whom this is not a common technique yet.  I've witnessed the growing acceptance of moodle over the years, but even then I have had to engineeer specific ways to monitor student interaction with the LMS.  In my limited research into flipping, it almost seems easier for a K-12 teacher because they see the students every day, which serves as a constant reminder to check-in with the website or do the daily homework tasks because the studnets know they have to turn them in more frequently. Then again, many of our students work 40 hrs/week unlike the typical high schooler, which poses additional challenges when we try to add additional coursework outside of in-class contact hours.  

 
Expand This Thread
Susan  Stirling
on Dec 02, 2014 - 11:38 pm

The world is changing and design education needs to keep up with that change. Students need to study design at the intersection of making and doing. To learn why we make things is just as important as learning how to make things. To that end I have my students work in teams to solve real-world, relevant problems. This work often takes them out of the classroom to engage in research. They analyze their data as a team and then come up with concepts based on the research. Employers look for students who have these critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

 

Responses(1)

Kevin Henry
on Dec 03, 2014

For me this brings up a very crucial issue. I think there's a genuine need to have a broader collective conversation around the issue of 'innovation'. Students will increasingly work together and will continue to be creative problem solvers- especially in the design arena- but they also need to understand that often the best ideas are those that no one 'owns' but have been arrived at through difficult collaborative work, testing, and validation. Getting students beyond the idea of 'creative ownership' for certain disciplines is difficult. I think design, for example, has a lot to learn from film and theater but we should begin broader conversations across the institution to learn from each other and develop new ways of working. 

 
Expand This Thread
Stephanie Goldberg
on Dec 02, 2014 - 10:11 pm

I think many of us are heavily invested in a pedagogic myth—that if we employ certain  methods with millennials, they will be active learners and better prepared for the workplace.  That entails convincing them of the benefits of what they’re studying so they can “invest” in classes; creating small groups for problem solving because it encourages collaboration; giving them constant feedback and repeated opportunities to perfect their performance; building in frequent breaks and changes in subject matter to satisfy a taste for novelty; and encouraging task-based project learning rather than have them study concepts and apply them.  The problem is that if we do all these things, we’re preparing people for the workplace we have right now, not the one they may encounter ten years down the road.   But what if these precepts, like the New Math or whole word recognition, are wrong…or at least represent a swing of the pendulum that needs to be corrected?

What if grads are expected to do a job right the first time out?  What if, as managers or entrepreneurs, they have to make immediate decisions without taking everyone’s temperature?  What if they have to master a new technology in the space of a few days? What if they’re given a report and have to digest it overnight? The point I’m trying to make is over-reliance on a single set of educational assumptions can be dangerous, particularly when the rest of the world doesn’t subscribe to these theories and produces graduates who can work longer hours with less feedback and novelty and greater autonomy because they’re practiced and accomplished learners. 

 

Some students come in the door with superior metacognition skills; others will acquire these skills through our many academic support systems.  But that’s a scattershot method for preparing people for lifelong learning. How can we be more systematic?  Should this be part of an orientation boot camp?  Should there be non-credit online courses? Should we offer students learning-style seminars?  Should it be integrated into the first-year core curriculum?  Maybe the answer is all of the above. 

 

Responses(2)

Kevin Henry
on Dec 03, 2014

I think everything you point out Stephanie is spot on. The best way of addressing these complex issues, in my mind, is to begin convening broader conversations amongst the faculty, staff, and students and mapping out new strategies for addressing these very real scenarios. This would also require, in my opinion, constant vigilance of the strategies put in place so that they can be tweaked and modified based on outcomes. Life-long learning will continue to be extremely dynamic as more content goes on line, as teaching integrates more 'flipped classroom' assets, and as we begin to get a clearer view of the changes on the horizon. Nothing will be static anymore and in order to avoid burn-out we will need to think more flexibly and more smartly.

 
Dana Connell
on Dec 04, 2014

The second paragraph from Stephanie is exactly right.  One of the challenges in academy is analysis paralysis and a very long lead on every decision.  Historically CCC was a non-conformist and taught students in real time meaning, the college had greater flexibility in providing a current education within the discipline.  There are excellent examples in this thread of what is real today and a hint of the future.   

 
Expand This Thread
Barbara Iverson
on Dec 02, 2014 - 4:46 pm

From that article "After accumulating 120 of these credits (40 three-credit courses), a student can presumably earn a diploma. Competency-based education flips this on its head. Instead, students gain mastery of a subject regardless of the time needed to get there: learning is fixed, and time is variable. This format acknowledges that students come to a subject like sociology with different levels of understanding and sets of experiences—which, in part, lead to their learning at different rates.

In the end, rather than a transcript that lists courses and letter grades, a portfolio of competencies enumerates precisely what a student can do: this student can evaluate web resources; this student can sift through various sources of information and create an ethical argument; this student can use data as evidence in a research-based argument; and so on."

Competency based education makes TIME variable, and that is related to costs. Learners can use their dollars better if they can show what they know, and learn the rest at their individual pace. 

There are all kinds of tech supports now available for tracking individualized learning. Once students gain a skill set, they'd be presented with a project based, hands-on class where they work with others to produce something, and learn how the skills integrate and combine into behaviors, and move from novice to competent to expert. 

By serving students more efficiently and economically, Columbia would attract new students, and be able to provide educational opportunities for learners 25 and up, as well as traditional college-age students.

The CBE approach also works well for employers who can see evidence of what students do and how they work.

Here is a solid introduction to the idea of CBE or competency based education http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/got-skills-why-online-competency-based-education-disruptive-innovation-higher-education

 

 

 

Resources on CBE http://www.educause.edu/library/competency-based-education-cbe

 

Responses(1)

Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 07, 2014

I worry that CBEs show that a student can memorize things.  Not understand them well but simply answer the right question.

This is not to say they aren't useful though.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Keith Kostecka
on Dec 01, 2014 - 4:39 pm

What about making certain that all of our students graduate with a minor in addition to their major field of study?  I know we can not make this mandatory but what better way to make a Columbia College graduate attractive to prospective employers.

 

Responses(1)

Azar Khosravani
on Dec 03, 2014

I agree with Keith that having a minor can make columbia students more attractive to employers, especially if the minor field of study is very different from the student's major. Take any major at Columbia and add a mathematics minor to it. A math minor shows that the student has critical thinking and pattern recognition skills. It also shows versitality. Of course, we can only ecourage our students to consider graduating with a minor.

 
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Lisa DiFranza
on Dec 01, 2014 - 9:08 am

This is unrelated to the posted question, but check out this great example from Washington College, of an interdisciplinary project merging science and theater - funded by the Mellon Foundation.  

 

Responses(1)

Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Dec 07, 2014

Also "Flock Logic began as a collaboration between choreographer Susan Marshall and engineering professor Naomi Leonard who wanted to explore the possibilities that can emerge when a group of dancers and non-dancers carry out the rules for sensing and dynamic response used to model individuals in animal groups such as schools of fish and flocks of birds. The rules govern how an individual moves in response to the relative position and motion of its close neighbors. These simple rules can produce complex, beautiful collective motion as observed in nature; neither leaders in the group nor prescribed choreography are needed."

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 30, 2014 - 5:42 pm

How do we collectively research and develop professional master’s programs that respond to 21st century industry and intellectual demands, and what resources do we need to accomplish this?

 

Responses(4)

Jonathan Kinkley
on Dec 01, 2014

Drawing from my own experience as a grad student at UIC in art history, one of the main reasons I selected the program -- in addition to excellent faculty and program -- was the fact that I could get free tuition through either being a grad assistant, a research assistant or grad educator. This of course wouldn't just involve more fundraising but also dedicated funds from the College

 
Kevin Henry
on Dec 01, 2014

I think we actually need to start by looking in our own backyard. The creative industries in Chicago are very strong and diverse. It would be great in my opinion to convene a meeting with a large number of individuals and firms that are pushing disciplinary boundaries and have the first of many meetings where students, faculty, and staff engage in broad discussions about the future of new emerging programs and ask the outside firms to consult and be engaged from the very beginning. 

 
Susan  Stirling
on Dec 03, 2014

Master's programs that are most valuable today engage students in multi-disciplinary problem solving. Students work on teams with students from other areas to solve big problems. This prepares students for real world practice. Similar MDes programs can be found at the Institute of Design at IIT, SVA, Carnegie Mellon among others. Undergraduates will also benefit from these multi-disciplinary courses.  

 
Michelle Yates
on Dec 03, 2014

We could consider the possibility of combined B.A./M.A. degrees: a blended program where students in their senior year can start to take graduate courses. This is something that other liberal arts schools are offering. For example, my brother-in-law is getting a B.A. and M.A. in Engineering at the University of the Pacific. The B.A. program is 4 years, but he was able to start his graduate coursework in his 4th year, and then in his 5th year complete his M.A. degree, a degree which would otherwise have taken him at least one or more years longer to get if it was not combined with his B.A. degree. This option was one of the reasons that he decided to go to that particular school. If we envision that it takes students 4 years to complete a B.A. or B.F.A., then we offer the possibility of students getting a M.A. or M.F.A. degree by staying a 5th year. That 5th year could be a more intensive version of what many programs already ask students to do in a Capstone project. For example, in the Cultural studies major students write a Capstone thesis, that in many cases, is equivalent to or very nearly equivalent to a Master's thesis. These students are, in many cases, ready to go on to a Ph.D. program or onto jobs that require M.A.'s, but we don't yet offer a M.A. program. Just a thought.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 23, 2014 - 7:46 pm

How can we better incorporate the city of Chicago into the curriculum as both text and laboratory?

 

Responses(8)

Chamille Weddington
on Nov 24, 2014

It's quite engaging and easy to incorporate the endless resources that the city offers, specifically in the areas of culture, tourism and business.  As my interest is business and entrepreneurship, my viewpoint is that the core of curricular content should consistently include the study of local entities as subject matter in the analysis and application of business principles (Ex. positioning, branding, connecting with consumer audiences, etc.).  21st century curriculum is hinged on creating contemporary, relevant and useful experiences that more often takes place in the field in the form of field trips (virtual and on-ground) and even project-based learning that is in concert with a strategic partner.  A focus on providing creatives with business acumen by way of a learning experience is an effective way to impart the understanding of theory in a robust manner.  Because the city is full of learning opportunities - of which many are excitingly obscure and free, this type of pedagogical thinking makes sense from both teaching and fiscal standpoints. What I suggest is less of a strategy and more of a teaching philosophy that is rooted in possibility, a love of teaching and commitment to the student.

 
Kevin Henry
on Nov 28, 2014

As 21st century educators in a world where students increasingly seek input to questions and issues they are exploring in class from online sources, I wonder how the college can truly leverage blended teaching by creating more online content with a unique Columbia feeling to it.

 
Jaime de'Medici
on Nov 29, 2014

To me, one of the biggest advantages Columbia has is that it is located in downtown Chicago, versus state schools that might be removed from large cities and all they have to offer. There are - obviously - countless resources, offices, talent, etc., that can be utilized right in our own back yard, so to speak.

To me, offices like the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca.html) and the Chicago GRAMMY U chapter (https://www.grammypro.com/chapters/chicago) come to mind as resources that would benefit our students/offer potential for collaboration.

If there was a larger discussion/meeting/committee on this topic, I would be interested in being involved, as I have a background in hyper-local content/collaboration in Chicago.

 
Kevin Henry
on Nov 29, 2014

I think the city of Chicago is one of most salient attributes for all the obvious reasons. The cultural richness of the city as experienced through museums, restaurants, neighborhoods, etc. is what many students from other cities come for. Nevertheless it takes time to get anywhere in the city and often by the time everyone has arrived at a pre-arranged destination, the first half-hour to hour is gone. Students often have to leave a little early to make it back on time if they have another class that same day. For commuters this is even more challenging.

I think one way of approaching the city as a rich extension to our student's education is by setting up relationships with various institutions and requiring students to go to the institution with a very specific goal in mind. By exposing a student to the various options in the city they will become more aware of available resources.

A better solution (involving a bit more work) is to work directly with an institution- the History Museum for example- and have them put together a specific program or set of artifacts for viewing that relate directly to what's happening in the classroom. This helps the museum, for example, know that CCC students are coming to the institution and deeping the commitment and collaboration. When this happens enough, the institution is much more likely to collaborate on developing content specifically for a class.

When I think about the museum campus alone that is just down the street from our own, I'm reminded that class activities have to be built with outside partners as soon as possible. Perhaps a small office within the college could be developed to help build those partnerships. 

 
Michelle Rafacz
on Dec 01, 2014

I have had great success incorporating the city of Chicago into my course curriculum using resources like Lincoln Park Zoo. The Zoo just so happens to be my research laboratory as an adjunct scientist, and I've found that exposing students to the Zoo, its history and importance to the city of Chicago and beyond, and to research being conducting there has made a great impression on my students. I mainly use field trips to accomplish this, but I can see how entire courses could be designed around this and other resources in Chicago.  Our museums, Shedd Aquarium, and Lincoln Park Zoo among other resources could very easily be used to enhance curriculum not just in the sciences, but also photography, writing, illustration, and animation, among so many other disciplines and majors.

 
Michael Lawrence
on Dec 02, 2014

In FYS, we’re particularly curious about this conversation about city as text/lab/classroom, since President Kim noted in his Redefining Our Greatness paper, "We must ... use the first-year seminar to introduce our students to our city and all that it offers them.”

I’m wondering: What problems are we attempting to solve when we think about making better use of the city — and are those problems necessarily curricular? Is city engagement in itself a sort of learning objective, or is it a tactic in support of some other end? Do students leave Columbia feeling like they haven’t gotten to know Chicago well enough? Is our concern primarily about connecting students to potential employers? Is this about “community engagement” — and if so, in the 21st century, do we still define “community” by our geography? Are we trying to use the city to entice prospective students? Are we trying to better sell the idea that Columbia stands as an alternative to ivory tower isolation? Does it make sense to make college-wide proclamations about one particular direction in which our many curricula ought to move? What parts of the existing curriculum do we want to cut to make room for more engagement with the city? How do we equip faculty to engage the city? Should familiarity (or scholarly expertise) with the city impact decisions about faculty hires — and if so, would this conflict with our commitment to various kinds of diversity?

I look forward to continuing this conversation as we work to imagine what role a re-visioned FYS may play in achieving this goal. 

 
Steven Corey
on Dec 07, 2014

While there are numerous ways to incorporate Chicago into the curriculum, one approach is to provide pathways for students, all the way from FYS, through the rest of the Core, to upper-level capstone projects, that incorporate and explore urban themes.  Introducing first year students to museums and other cultural resources is a great start, so too is highlighting other courses that students can take all the way through to graduation which lend themselves to using Chicago as a source for active or inquiry-based learning.  In the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences (HHSS), courses with urban and Chicago based-themes are among the very first to fill.  Even these classes, though, can be enhanced to build upon the richness of Chicago-based resources so that students routinely engage the urban environment through research projects that collect data points found in the city, or experiential learning through internships and opportunities for community organizing and educational outreach.

Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, students in the Cultural Studies program will have the opportunity to select a new Urban Studies concentration that brings together existing courses in HHSS and English, as well as courses from other departments that will be added over time.  The new Urban Studies concentration is just one example of how to cluster or highlight existing curriculum that naturally build upon people, events, and institutions in Chicago.  In fact, Columbia College Chicago’s location and robust offerings in art and media allow for the creation of a College-wide, One Columbia, major in urban studies that would be unique in the region—indeed the country—in emphasizing art and design, as well interdisciplinary cultural studies and traditional liberal arts.

 
Erin  McCarthy
on Dec 08, 2014

I think the new focus of FYS will be a good start. Also, Fall 2015 HHSS and English will roll out a new Cultural Studies concentration in Urban Studies.

It would be worth dedicating more resources into establishing stronger faculty ties to the city's cultural institutions and organizations which could lead to increased internship and employment opportunities for our students, as well as programming partnerships.

 

 
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Keith Kostecka
on Nov 23, 2014 - 4:45 pm

If we are really committed to student success, why is the college's IT so poor?  We need to do something about this rather than to keep talking about it.

 
Paulette Whitfield
on Nov 21, 2014 - 4:01 pm

Initially, I posted this comment under "Aligning Resources with Goals".  But I think it might be an appropriate comment posted for this discussion as well. 

 I am responding to Philippe's request to identify educational clusters of skill sets as students move into the careers of the future.  I would start to identify the cluster of skill sets as follows:

1.  Communicators - communication in written form, or via oral communication, to the general public, community, audience or fan base.  Communicators need access to graphic designers and printers to enhance their ability to communicate effectively.  

2.  Performers - Musicians, dancers, actors, photographers, fashion designers who all need access to technology and graphic designers to showcase their ability

3.  Managers -   the ability to manage and track  the success of these professionals requires critical thinking and access to the technology and software that is foundational to decision-making.

4.  Cultural Engagement - providing a cultural and historic background to ethnic diversity in America, the ability to speak different languages and the ability to cross cultures with sensitivity will be critical as the US becomes increasingly diverse.

These are my initial thoughts.  But consider all the resources Columbia has already at its disposal:  software, technology and academic expertise.  Continuing to educate via the "department" paradigm will be detrimental as the age of online learning and students opting out of college become the norm. 

 

Responses(1)

Eric Booth
on Nov 23, 2014

Paulette, I would add that the skill set of teaching artist capacity.  It cuts across all arts disciplines, and is essential for sustainability and community engagement in all art forms.  It also happens all across CCC in currently-disconnected ways.

 
Expand This Thread
Sarah Odishoo
on Nov 21, 2014 - 12:45 pm

I am back. This time I want to say something about a plan, an overall concept. I read the"Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Student-Centered Interdisciplinarity & Collaboration" (a well defined Report onthe obstacles and challenges CCC faces in creating such interdisciplinarity at CCC). The Report ends with recommendations, and one of the recommendations is as follows: "A real shift in culture needs faculty leadership, a grounding in hybrid practice, and room to experiment."

I agree with this directive, but it does not address the core issue--a blueprint, a plan, a schema for what the Report clls an Interdisciplinary Curricular Model."

II

Dr. Kim offered a suggestion early in his administration (and I am paraphrasing what I remember): A core of LAS classes, and the "majors" as "planets" (my word) circling the LAS core.

Students could have had an Interdisciplinary Curriuculum in the core and could choose individual classes in the Majors "designing, " a core of individually selected classes from different programs of instruction that would suit a more flexible construct for their final degree.

The "model" of an interdisciplinary culture would mean that both majors and Interdepartmental displinary majors would co-exist and that as the Report makes clear "...it is important that we do not build models that encourage students to run back and forth between disciplines..." that would mean fewer "required" classes in department with majors.

Back to the construct, the third orbiting tier could be exit classes in the senior year. The purpose of those classes is for the student both to reflect on his/her academic engagement and to be deliberately present in assessing the knowledge, insight, and deliberative judgement used during his/her academic career. That could be final project, artwork, film, a book, a portfolio of work or evidence-based decision-making.

The exit classes would have an emphasis on vocational purpose--

Read vocational as "calling: knowing who one is, what one believes, what one values, and where one stands in the world." Ellen Condliffe Lagermann "The Challenge of Liberal Education: Past, Present, and Future."

Finally CCC was created for the outlier--this direction begins to reflect the creative mind in search for what is not--in order to Be...

 

Responses(1)

Paulette Whitfield
on Nov 21, 2014

Initially, I posted this comment under "Aligning Resources with Goals".  But I think it might be an appropriate comment posted for this discussion as well. 

 I am responding to Philippe's request to identify educational clusters of skill sets as students move into the careers of the future.  I would start to identify the cluster of skill sets as follows:

1.  Communicators - communication in written form, or via oral communication, to the general public, community, audience or fan base.  Communicators need access to graphic designers and printers to enhance their ability to communicate effectively.  

2.  Performers - Musicians, dancers, actors, photographers, fashion designers who all need access to technology and graphic designers to showcase their ability

3.  Managers -   the ability to manage and track  the success of these professionals requires critical thinking and access to the technology and software that is foundational to decision-making.

4.  Cultural Engagement - providing a cultural and historic background to ethnic diversity in America, the ability to speak different languages and the ability to cross cultures with sensitivity will be critical as the US becomes increasingly diverse.

These are my initial thoughts.  But consider all the resources Columbia has already at its disposal:  software, technology and academic expertise.  Continuing to educate via the "department" paradigm will be detrimental as the age of online learning and students opting out of college become the norm. 

 
Expand This Thread
JIm Sweitzer
on Nov 21, 2014 - 12:23 pm

I teach astrobiology and astronomy and try to keep my eye on 21st Century Skills, since my students won't be going into scientific research. So, I would like to see focused attention to integrating science and math into the 21st Century Skills our students will need.

I know, for example, that skills in map-based image analysis is valuable in the real world. This is the ability to use GIS tools. It's unfortunate that we don't teach geography with GIS, but I try something similar with the Mars research my students do. I had a journalism student recruited by NASA and she got the job in communications in good part because she was experienced in using JMARS -- our GIS tool for the planet Mars. Strange as this story is, NASA is quite interested in Columbia students.... but they need to be somewhat "literate" in the ways of space science and 21st Century Skills.

One other 21st Century Skill I would like to see some emphasis on is developing ways for students to work on teams to solve problems or make productions. I struggle with that every time I try group work and would benefit with an interdisciplinary project with someone in another departments. Keeping curricula focused on skills is, I think, key. Although I love working on the questions of astrophysics and astrobiology, our students need meaningful experiences with the types of media and working groups they will confront in their professional careers.

 
Suzanne McBride
on Nov 20, 2014 - 10:52 pm

I've had the privilege of taking students to both Ireland and Iowa for J-term courses and been blown away by the nearly immediate transformation - in varying degrees - of the students who participated. I'd love to see a way for us to do more of these short-term (one- to three-week) courses at other times in the year, especially the summer. The challenge, however, is how students with little or no means can participate in these experiences. There were at least two students interested in taking the Ireland J-term 2015 course, but neither had the money to pay the college's required $750 non-refundable deposit by this month's deadline. And even if they could come up with the money - I had a few anonymous donors who were willing to chip in - these students didn't have the $900-plus needed to purchase the tickets. I hope in the future we as faculty and staff could come up with creative solutions to ensure all our students have access to these life-changing courses.

 

Responses(1)

Kevin Henry
on Nov 28, 2014

I studied abroad as both an undergraduate and a graduate student and that experience has sustained me for all of these years because it allowed me for the very first time to experience my culture through a foreign set of eyes and from a distance. It seems like if there were more ways to allow students to be away with none of the complex upfront costs more students would take part in what was for me and all of my students a truly transformative experience

 
Expand This Thread
Sarah Odishoo
on Nov 20, 2014 - 10:40 am

I think the issue of "identity" is at the heart of our conversation about interdisciplinarity. We are not a research institution. We are not a trade school. We are not an Art School, i.e., the Art Institute. We are a faculty of artists, scholars, and communicators who teach within the context of the human history of ideas, understanding that those ideas are the stuff of art. Our identity is based on revealing the bridges among those ideas. their interdependence,and their contexts reflecting the culture to students for their future.

And until our curriculum reflects that context, we cannot go on with the business of educating collectively and with purpose. (We not only have to say what we are, we have to say what we are not.)

In any case, the following are some thoughts to discuss:

--a cohort of faculty for themed courses: full and part-time faculty would attend seminars in which  agreed upon sets of sequenced aspects of themes, ie, film, art, design, science, theater, etc.,  can be taught during the year.

--Formation of Learning Communities: The Learning Communities would be departments' faculties. It wouldn't be an Interdisciplinary major. It would be an Interdepartmental Disciplinary major. That is, Those different departments' faculty would decide on what   opportunities to create for an interdepartmental major. They would collaboreate in creating courses that would/could enhance each other, and students could take them knowing that the courses would have overlapping concepts, projects, themes that would be integrated.

--The direction of the culture and the world has moved into a multimedia/multidiscipline/multimodal mode. We cannot in good conscience think we can offer silo disciplines and expect students to be hired. "Authoring the culture of the times" means knowing the culture of the times.

The crisis in identity at the institution is not a wall; it's a door. And we need to know together what it is that is worthy of our pursuit, our energy, and our responsibility. We cannot do this without the collaboration and coherence that reflects our strengths and commitment.

 

Responses(2)

Parker Stockman
on Nov 29, 2014

When I applied to Columbia in 2010 and started in 2011, the school was marketed to myself and my cohort AS an art school. If we are redefining our identity, what do we use as shorthand for the kind of school that we are? The school seemed to be a nexus for the creative when I applied--one of the largest art schools with programs that were to be open amongst disciplines. That's not exactly what I found. I think that you're right--identity should be at the heart of this conversation.

 
Corinne Rose
on Dec 05, 2014

Regarding an identity focus, I think when we engage identity we should stress teaching students to always question the lenses through which they see the world. A "me" focus in identity based curriculum can be too much and can hamper efforts at encouraging civic engagement, awareness of privilege, etc. Here is a very good read on this:

 

 
Expand This Thread
Daniel Jordan
on Nov 20, 2014 - 9:53 am

I saw this morning that the new NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) report just came out. The highlights seem to be about sleep patterns and meeting with advisors. I haven't read through the report yet, but the news reminded me of a couple things. First, the engagement indicators (I've made the "themes" bold and the specific indicators are below the corresponding them):

Academic Challenge

Higher-Order Learning

Reflective & Integrative Learning

Learning Strategies

Quantitative Reasoning

Learning with Peers

Collaborative Learning

Discussions with Diverse Others

Experiences with Faculty

Student-Faculty Interaction

Effective Teaching Practices

Campus Environment

Quality of Interactions

Supportive Environment

And the high-impact practices:

  • Learning community or some other formal program where groups of studentstake two or more classes together
  • Courses that include a community-based project (service-learning)
  • Work with a faculty member on a research project
  • Internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement
  • Study abroad
  • Culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis,comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

These have been around a while, but it occurred to me that, if we're rethinking our curriculum, building at least some of the engagement indicators into the Core and considering the high impact practices when thinking about the structure or majors is worth considering.

If I could specificially mention one of the engagement indicators: Learning strategies (and meta-cognition). I've long held a bias that going to a classroom and telling students that you're going to teach them learning strategies verges on insulting and at best they're just going to tune it out. But everything I read says I'm completely wrong. This may be something to consider including in FYS, or maybe there's a way the college could support faculty across departments learn how to include such things in introductory classes.

 
Parker Stockman
From the Moderator: Parker Stockman
on Nov 19, 2014 - 11:31 pm

Hi, all! I am Parker Stockman, and I'll be moderating for the next ten days. I look forward to hearing what you have to think on the next few questions!

A little about me: I'm currently acting as the graduate voice on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, and I'm honored to have been asked to on this Committee and on the Curriculum Subcommittee. I'm currently working to finish my MFA in Ficiton Writing.

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 19, 2014 - 6:00 pm

 

Are there any questions we haven’t asked that you wish we had asked?

 

Responses(3)

Michael Caplan
on Nov 20, 2014

Here's my question:  What is the role of "mindfulness training" in our curriculum?

There is nothing more cutting edge/21st Century than what is sometimes called "inner technology."  This is the process of learning about the process of one's own mind.  Whether it's the 2000 year old meditative processes of Buddhism or what is now called "mindfulness," there is nothing more transformative than self-knowledge.  It is almost completely overlooked in the Western Academy, but it is changing the world.  From treating PTSD in veterans, to Silicon Valley embracing meditation techniques to spark creativity, learning about one's own thought process is not New Age-y fluff, it is the core of what will enable the next generations to evolve, both inwardly and outwardly.  

Like I said, there is much resistance to teaching this approach to self-knowledge in the classroom, but without it, our students only have half the tools that they need to succeed.

 
Parker Stockman
on Nov 20, 2014

Great question, Michael. I was doing some research on metacognition and practices using it in the classroom for the Learning Studio recently. I found this great article that might be helpful in a robust discussion of what you advocate for here.

 
Tony Trigilio
on Dec 08, 2014

Thanks, Michael.  I'm very late getting to this thread, but I appreciate your note about mindfulness as a vital component of a 21st-century education.  It's helpful thinking of it as an "inner technology."  I also think of it as, to invoke Foucault, a "technology of the self" (but not just self-oriented, as I mention below.)  For several years, I've taught a poetry craft seminar (at times with undergrads, and at other times with grad students) called Meditation and Poetics.  One of the goals of the class is to rethink the craft issue of "lucidity" as one of "mindfulness" or "wakefulness."  As with any mindfulness training, the goal, too, is to make sure we're not perpetually located in a separate self -- that is, the goal is to make sure we experience the self as part of a larger interconnected world.  I'm really glad you brought this up, and I'd love to talk more about how we could make the principles and practices of mindfulness part of our larger curriculum, where appropriate.  The benefit for students, as artists and communicators, and as people, is extraordinary, I think.

Best, Tony

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 19, 2014 - 6:00 pm

 

How can we best demonstrate to students the transformative value of study abroad and study away programs and create immersive study abroad opportunities that are affordable?

 

Responses(7)

Jon Katzman
on Nov 20, 2014

1) Departments that support study abroad programs should encourage students to become aware of these programs as early as possible.  Then students can create better plans to attend a program and they will generally get more out of it.  Better planning leads to a better understanding of where they will be traveling to, who they will be traveling with, and the opportunities that they might be able to pursue once they are there.  

2) Creating immersive study abroad opportunities that are affordable: Hire the best local people possible and trust that they can provide significant value added to the departments and the administration.

http://www.colum.edu/academics/semester-in-la/

 
Joseph Chambers
on Nov 20, 2014

I have the pleasure of being Alumni, Staff and Faculty at Columbia College Chicago. The number one reason myself and many of the alumni in Los Angeles attended Columbia College Chicago was because of our study abroad opportunities in Los Angeles.  Having a program in Los Angeles helped me and thousands of alumni compete with graduates from schools like UCLA, USC and AFI.   Like many of these schools, we should continue to expose our students to successful alumni and real world projects and professionals. Student and professional synergies are not only extremely helpful in focusing education, but are also essential to the growth and sustainability of this institution in a very competitive collegiate landscape.   Many of our alumni found their creative voices in Chicago and then moved on to another city to start their careers. We should inform and share our study abroad opportunities with students who are entering the entertainment, web, design and gaming industries. Let's start by finding our true success stories and sharing them with prospective students, incoming freshman and the CCC community as a whole. 

 
Sandra Kumorowski
on Nov 22, 2014

Together with Tom Hamilton (who started the program 8 years ago), I have been leading our Global Markeing Program in Prague for the past 4 years. The program has been extremely successful and based on student feedback, majority of them had a life-changing experience. To best demostrate the transformative value, based on my experience there are several important elements each study abroad program should have:

(1) The right instructors (adaptability, flexibility, project management). Instructors teaching in a study abroad program MUST demostrate the ability to completely adapt to a new culture, in which the program takes place. They must be knowledgeable of the customs, norms and habits of that particular country. Students cannot sense any attitude on behalf of the instructor other than positive towards any element of the new culture. Furthermore, the instructor must show certain degree of flexibility in instruction to adapt it to a new learning environment. Instructors leading a study abroad program must be good project managers as well. Thorough planning is a key to a succesful study abroad program.

(2) Academic rigor. From my observations over the years, students who choose to spend money on a unique experience abroad do expect high level of academic rigor. That's where they see the value.

(3) Professional connection. Depending on the program topical focus, students should be exposed to professional connections in the country they are visiting. E.g. marketing students in our Prague program always meet industry professionals in Prague and visit companies/multinationals located in Prague such as FCB Prague, Google, Microsoft, etc. 

(4) Cultural exploration is a must. Each study abroad program should dedicate class time and extracurricular activities to cultural exploration.

(5) Extensive planning process. Our summer program planning starts in late summer of the previous year. First information meeting usually takes place in October in addition to our participation in a Study Abroad Fair organized by Columbia's International Office that takes place in early fall. Our program plan is so detailed to include activities almost for every hour of the day. That gives the instructors freedom to fully focus on the students. 

(6) Student psychology. Over the years, I have noticed how much student behavior changes during their stay in a different country. This is especially true for students that have never gone beyond the US border. These students must be paid special attention. During the first weeks of acclimatization, the instructor's role is critical to ensure a smooth transition into a new environment, new learning mode and new student friends. Anytime a student has a personal issue, he/she seeks the advice and support of the instructor. The instructors are the main support system for the students and have to be ready to resolve problems that go beyond the classroom. Many students and parents approached me after the program was over to thank me for this. Thus I believe it is important for instructors to study and understand student psychology in a foreign country.

 
Virginia  Heaven
on Nov 24, 2014

I have taught a course for two summers in Florence for a month.  Even though there are generally about four courses running many of the students take one course only and spend a small fortune on the experience. The way it is structured allows for a maximum of two courses.  It makes sense to plan a six week semester where the students can take four courses and get more value for their money.  Here's an example of how misaligned study abroad is: a student just walked into my office for approval for a course that lasts a month goes to four European cities and costs over $7,000.  I approved it even though I explained it made no financial sense because she is an adult and can make up her own mind. But it makes no sense--a six week semester abroad with four classes would cost minimally more and provide 12 credit hours.  This would require faculty that collaborate on a "package deal" of courses and perhaps rather than CWE provide access to core courses that satisfy major requirements or LAS.

 
Norma Green
on Nov 26, 2014

Testimonials of current students and recent alums are probably the most compelling and persuasive.  Based on my experience as Columbia's Fulbright Campus Representative for faculty and administrators, I know that the annual workshops offered on how to apply and write a winning proposal are reinforced by the faculty panels I've assembled that offer varying perspectives and strategies.  Someone who is thinking about study abroad and study away needs to hear from someone who has "been there, done that" to help stir their imagination and motivate them to act.

 
Susan Marcus
on Dec 02, 2014

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Students talking to other students about their experiences studying abroad and what it meant to them is the best way to demonstrate the transformative value of studying abroad.  Also sharing their creative practice as influenced by that study is important.  College advisors should have more information about study abroad so they can help students plan for the costs - study abroad must never slow a student down from graduating on time.

 
Randall  Albers
on Dec 03, 2014

Abroad education at Columbia has been been understaffed and under-resourced for many years. The people in the International Office have done a remarkable job of supporting programs in spite of that fact, but we have only scratched the surface of potential for such education and for developing outside revenue streams.

We began abroad programs in the Fiction Writing Department sixteen years ago. At that point, there were very, very few such opportunities for students anywhere in the college, but over the course of 18 years, we built programs in Moscow, Prague, Rome, and Bath, England.  We also participated in the Florence program and in Semester in LA.  Despite our being a relatively small department, we were able to enroll the vast majority of classes in these places. Moreover, we initiated and nurtured relationships with individuals and institutions that raised the profile of Columbia, especially in Europe and Australia.

How did we manage to help students learn the value of international education and commit to financing this experience for themselves?  We undertook a comprehensive approach.  Over time, we developed a range of programs, some short term, some longer, pegged at different price points that would appeal to the largest range of students.  We put the opportunities on our website so that prospective students would know of them. (Most schools these days have something right up front about abroad opportunities on their websites.) We sent information out to faculty to be read in their classes. We scheduled info sessions in the department in addition to participating in the college-wide abroad fair. We paid a part-time faculty member to give focused attention to marketing abroad and LA programs, to identifying and staying in touch with students expressing interest, and to guiding their process of getting passports, finding flights, registering for abroad classes, and a host of other things. We included examples of world lit—Kafka, Woolf, Gogol, and many others—in reading lists for courses throughout the department.  We asked students who had participated in programs to speak to prospective participants, stressing the enormous value of such experiences for their own artistic development and vision.  And as often as possible, we showcased the work coming from students who had gone abroad and collected testimonials for our website and printed materials.

Faculty who speak of the value—the necessity—of seeing artistic and media work in a world, not just local, context can have a powerful effect on students who need these experiences in order to become our future leaders.  Faculty encouragement and advising is crucial, in fact.

The college needs to develop scholarships designated for abroad students, put more resources into the International Office, encourage (and support financially) more partnerships leading to exchanges of students and faculty, and create new business models designed to tap external revenue streams—for instance, by marketing more energetically alumni and to non-Columbia populations or by offering logistical and educational/accrediting services to students from other colleges and universities, especially those with majors similar to our own.

The future of abroad education could be very bright indeed with the right kind of effort from faculty and staff and with the right kind of support from the college.

 
Expand This Thread
Louis Silverstein
on Nov 19, 2014 - 4:09 pm

I believe that the biblical words, "Without A vision they people shall perish" apply most significantly when we education for the 21st century. What is our vision and our students' vision of the 21st century? Is is one that is already set in stone and students need to be thought how to find their niche? Or is the 21st century a social construct that can be changed to make if more fit for human beings  who surely recognize that, in the words of Ray Charles, it is a greenback dollar world, but who also wish to/need to learn how to change the world where we pay heed to the words of Walt Whitman--"I sing the body electric." There is much beauty and justice in the world but too much ugliness and injustice, resulting in competitiveness of such an order that we need all kinds of pills, too much alcohol and other distractions in order to face reality.  Is our and our students' picture of the 21st century one, in the words of Waichee Dimoc, that reinforces a stalled revolution in which one gender and not the other has been transformed . . . a corporate world that still presumes that an ideal worker is one unfettered by care obligations, who can work late and and move where needed, whose total devotion to work requires someone else doing what needs to be done at home?" 

There is much that Columbia has done in the past that has relevance to the questions being posed now in the Strategic Learning project. An example is that the LAS curriculum used to include a class entitled "Organizing For Social Change" in which students learned the knowledge and skills necessary to work to bring about social change in the various realms of their lives--that is, to refashion society to make it more fit for the wondrous beings who are our students. As Bishop Camera informed us before he was assassinated: When I fed the poor, they called me a saint." When I asked why are there poor, they called  me a communist." 

Our students need to be encouraged not only how to fit into "The Reality" lying in store for them but also encouraged write an new script for the future that they then act out as they go about their lives. By doing so, they will truly have experienced a liberal arts education in which they learn to think,l to feel, to act as they meet the challenged laid down by Albert Camus, "to be neither victim nor executioner." 

 
Liz Chilsen
on Nov 19, 2014 - 2:20 pm

An article from yesterday's Chronicle of Higher Ed seems relevant here. It discusses the trend, reported by faculty, toward more learner-centered teaching. Online teaching tools offer a rich and relatively easy way to move in this direction. I've worked in a number of capacities via the CiTE, supporting faculty use of Moodle, and have implemented some baby steps in this direction in my own courses, using Moodle discussion forums for example. The engagement of my students in face-to-face classroom work is richer and more active in semesters where I've used even these simple online discussion tools. Stan has mentioned the need for the College to have robust support structures, working with faculty and staff to develop, learn and embrace online tools and methodologies, and I agree this is an important step. Even hands-on, skills-based courses can benefit from online instruction.

 

Responses(2)

Jessica Jacobs
on Nov 20, 2014

Liz, I agree with this and posted a similar suggestion in the "Aligning Resources & Goals" forum. As we move to improve and increase online enrollment, I would love to have more pedagogical training on best practices for teaching online.

 
Paulette Whitfield
on Nov 21, 2014

Thanks so much for posting this article.  It helps to address some of the issues that I've been facing over the last couple of years.  I will positively look into more techniques for student-centered learning.

 
Expand This Thread
Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 19, 2014 - 11:42 am

Apparently it's been hard to find the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Report on Student Centered Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration on this thing, so I'm posting it again here.

It's pretty comprehensive and might help as we -- as Soo La Kim wrote -- look at the "overgrowth and underbrush" that's getting in the way.

 
Kirk  Irwin
on Nov 17, 2014 - 8:59 pm

There are many very thoughtful comments here that I agree with. Regarding interdisciplinary study, this needs to be interdisciplinary not NON disciplinary. There is a difference. The tendency in recent curricular changes at the college has been in favor of non-disciplinary study. This is a less expensive alternative and therefore the prefered approach administratively. Faculty members, both part timers and full timers, who advocated for more expensive discipline-based methods were shut out of dicscussions and replaced with inexperienced faculty who advocated for a non-disciplinary outlook. Several of the non-disciplinary advocates had fraudulant CV's, but that did not seem to matter since there was no discipline-based methodology by which one could assess a faculty member's credentials. The best way to acheive an interdiscplinary curriculum is to strengthen discipline-based methods and pedagogies and provide opportunites for collaboration in areas common to several disciplines in upper level studios, probably in the third year second semester. These could propel a student into a very dynamic and successful senior thesis experience. When i go around the country reviewing the curricula of other design schools I am impressed by schools who have managed their transitioin into progressive curricula holding in a creative tensioin the need for interdisciplinary study and the the need for discipline-based methods.

 
Margot Wallace
on Nov 17, 2014 - 5:37 pm

By Question 5, I realized what the tweeting student wrote, that all the questions were framed as what We can deliver to Them. I brought Them, my Marketing class, to this conversation, and listening through their ears I realized how different the answers might be if the pronouns were flipped.

 
Jennie Fauls
on Nov 17, 2014 - 2:19 pm

In response to the forum question today about encouraging minor areas of study and interdisciplinary options--think about the following:

Consider a first-year student who has 5 classes with 5 different adjunct instructors (or grad instructors or staff who teach).

This student might be in search of a connection to a major but might also be uncertain about her chosen major. As we discussed, she might also have gotten some advising that lacked in direction about these options. 

If she has 5 great instructors but none feels particularly connected to their own department either, or enlightened about the latest curriculum or options, that student could feel adrift.

I think that this scenario is realistic for a first-year student here. They're not exposed to the FT faculty member yet who could end up supervising their thesis 3 years later. 

Each question we ask in this forum should consider this same circumstance of a student whose instructors are grad students, staff who teach and adjuncts. What can the college say provides a first-year student with a direction or a dialogue about options for an interdisciplinary course of study? Isn't it true that only FT faculty carry that knowledge? 

So...I don't know--train all  faculty in  first-year advising? (To some extent, at least?) Provide all faculty with an accessible department point-person who is FT faculty, not admin? 

In my own experience, it's the students who can't find information or the right contacts who leave. Surely we can make systemic adjustments to fix that. 

 

Responses(1)

Tom Nawrocki
on Nov 20, 2014

I think Jennie's comments are on target with my experince at the college over the last three decades.

 
Expand This Thread
Tracy Cargo
on Nov 17, 2014 - 2:18 pm

When my son was in high school five or six of his high school buddies attended Columbia.  They left and completed their education elsewhere.  I inquired as to why they left, two stated financial reasons, two said that the programs and what was offered was behind the time (one Fashion and Film Video) and the last one felt that for what he was spending (loans) it was taking entirely too long to complete his program.

I feel that the students would be better suited if their learning environment mirrored what they will encountered when they graduate which is why I was very happy when CCC built the Media building.  Staff and Faculty need to embrace "new" technologies because new equipment, applications or devices are not going anywhere.   

I strongly believe we need a person or persons whose job is to specifically go out and bring back what is going on so that is what we teach so that our students are competitve and are very able to pay back their loans and are financially able to give back.   

When these companies have competitions - Superbowl has the Frito Lay commercial competition; all Film/Video, Television and Writing students should be asked to participate for the experience of producing a commercial.  There are photo contests all the time.  We should have our students submit their work for the exerperience  and participate. 

I also think, the college recruiters need to ask the prospective student what they are looking for from a college.  Ask them directly, why they chose another institution over us.  Also, ask students that have left, why. 

The one thing that the dorm creates is a community for the students to mingle and discuss their programs.  I do realize that there are more areas on campus for the students to mingle and do the same but it does not appear that the students are using them for that purpose.  Maybe the faculty can talk to faculty in similar programs and encourage the students to discuss media projects.  An Actor (Theater), Film Student (Cinema Arts and Science), Writer (Creative Writing), etc. gathering these students as a project so that they can collaborate. The reality is we need other disciplines in order to complete a movie, commercial, television program, etc.  Somewhat like a Manifest during the semester.

I apologize for rattling on and on and on but these are just a few things that I have thought about over the years.

 

 
Mikhaela Padilla
on Nov 17, 2014 - 7:46 am

Regardless of major, the achievement upon graduation is emphasized in action: action in thought, action through expression, and action in preparation for a lifelong of learning. Each student should be capable to demonstrate ethical judgement and intergrity, be comfortable working with colleagues and clients of different ethnicites and cultural backgrounds, and know about global  cultures, histories, values, religions, and social systems. In my First Year Seminar class I have noticed a few of these skills practiced by conducting research, gathering information, and acquiring feedback, collaboration, and perspectives of fellow colleagues. This is just a stepping stone leading towards something greater and more beneficial. 

Engaging with a text or question, arranging dats and arguments, and self sxpression is more important than the gain of general knowledge. In the long run, students benefit from the skill of critical thinking and analytical reasoning, written and oral communication, innovation and creativity, the application of skills and knowledge in "real-world settings", and excellent research and evaluation skills. Regardless of major, these are skills, experiences, and knowledge that every student at Columbia College should acquire to assist them in their career and in the "real world".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responses(1)

Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 17, 2014

There have been some great suggestions on this thread. Notably, Ken's suggestion about faculty teaching across schools, and this great post from Sean.

Hampshire College has five Interdsiciplinary Schools, as opposed to departments. Obviously our version of this would look different but it's an exciting model:  

https://www.hampshire.edu/academics/interdisciplinary-schools

 Last year I was on an Ad Hoc Committee of the Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee, on Student-Centered Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration. I’m attaching the extensive report here:

 
Expand This Thread
Tristan Brennan
on Nov 17, 2014 - 3:39 am

A curriculum designed to sew seeds of intelligence and global social awareness in the 21st century is one that mandates course credits in studies heavily saturated by current events, political Rhetorical analysis and a fundamental grounding in economics. We are all members of a global society and to function in the professional sphere uninhibited, it is important to understand the broader global implications societal trends have domestically and abroad.

We must strive to maintain a consciousness that reflects that of the global community and is not closed off to new growth.

 
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 16, 2014 - 7:58 pm

The professional and creative fields are increasingly engaged in interdisciplinary, collaborative problem-solving activities. How can we restructure the curriculum to prepare students for this 21st century reality?

 

Responses(11)

Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 17, 2014

We already have many interdisciplinary departments and curriculum.  Science and Mathematics alone has five distinct disciplines even lumping all mathematics together. HHSS is also interdisciplinary.  There are many collaborations between faculty and between faculty and students that happen in these departments.  For example, I am collaborating with a mathematician in my department on using Mathematica to elucidate biological concepts that are heavy in math to increase student understanding.  Our departmental structure facilitated this collaboration and our students have enjoyed the products (laboratory exercises) of this research.

I think that we need to remember that all fields of science are already interdisciplinary at this point.  It is impossible to work in a vacuum and remain active in your field. 

That said, I think we should make sure that we have learning objectives that value group learning and creative problem solving in the classroom.  Effective collaboration is a learned skill.  Sending a group off to figure it out is not the same as helping them learn how to be a group.

 
Nathan Bakkum
on Nov 17, 2014

I agree that if we're talking about restructuring curriculum to emphasize interdisciplinary, collaborative problem-solving (as opposed to restructuring administrative structures and processes to better enable interdisciplinary curriculum), we need to re-think learning outcomes in a way that emphasizes processes and ways of thinking. We separate students into distinct cohorts in order to push them toward mastery of a particular set of skills, and we tend to think of interdisciplinary collaboration as an advanced outcome that is best met by students with a firm grounding in their discipline. Collaborative, problem-based work should be the standard for our students from Day 1, helping students learn their discipline in concert with other students working toward related but distinct goals. 

A foundational mantra of music education is "sound before symbol." This means that students should actively engage in singing major triads in the context of real musical experiences (for example) before labeling them as such. The experience becomes the hook for the label, and a relevant context makes the label mean something. In just the same way, our students should have the opportunity to discover the value of a deceptive cadence while scoring a a short film cue (for example), just as directing students should have the opportunity to develop a musical language alongside their growing understanding of the visual language of film. Those two students require different assessments, but their experience should share a single learning outcome.

We might think about embracing broader learning outcomes that are inherently team-based rather than individual. This semester, a group of faculty members in Music, Audio Arts & Acoustics, and Interactive Arts & Media launched a new collaborative course called "The Sonic Experience." The course consists of three five-week modules per semester, and the student population of the course is split between the three collaborating departments. Here are the learning outcomes for the course:

1. (Literacies) Fluently apply technical languages associated with music composition, audio and electronics, art history and literature, and software programming, in both written and spoken presentation.

2.(Theories) Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the relationships between a range of theoretical systems (such as music, electronics, acoustics/psychoacoustics, mathematics, computer science) relevant to the development of sonic arts.

3. (Applications) Creatively apply theoretical and practical understandings in the development of musical platforms, production environments, compositions, exhibitions and performances.

4. (Contexts) Discuss ways in which electroacoustic works and digital platforms have shaped and been shaped by the details of specific historical, cultural, and technological contexts.

5. (Aesthetics) Analyze and critique conceptual issues as well as specific individual performances, recordings, and platforms within and across relevant theoretical and technical contexts. 

These outcomes are necessarily lofty and broad; a single student's experience of the course will force them to engage with each of these goals while acknowledging that each student brings a discipline-specific – and necessarily partial – perspective to the experience. (Notice the outcomes' focus on relationships between types of language and on a range of potential outputs.) By putting students from a range of related backgrounds together and pushing them to explore particular musical, technological, and aesthetic questions, the course succeeds in generating a sustained, idiomatic interdisciplinary conversation that broadens the perspective of each student and leads them toward a recognition of the specific ways that they can contribute to broad conversations and projects within the broad field of music technology.

Ideally, a modern curriculum should strike an even balance between open-ended, discovery-based collaborative projects and more focused, foundational work in a discipline. These two types of experience need to go hand-in-hand throughout the curriculum.

 
David Flatley
on Nov 17, 2014

I think that a number of synergies will come as we explore some of the solutions to addressing questions from more than one of our six areas of focus.  In other words, and I don't think this is any coincidence that Dr. Kim has lifted up engaged learning as a key area, some of what we may look to do there will address/support this question.

Certainly real world learning, and experiences that our students would encounter by engaging themselves in the community outside the Columbia classroom (be that through experiential coursework, an internship, etc.) will likely require collaboration, will involve problem solving (actual problems!), and may very well require work that involves wearing more than one hat (multiple/inter-disciplinary approach). 

Given that such opportunities are currently already out there, the question that rises to the top in my mind is how do we build this as a stronger, larger, more intentional piece of the Columbia experience at large?  How might we formalize some of this engagement so that more students are able to benefit from the opportunity?  I think I've mentioned some of these in a past post: such as, integrating first year seminar with such experiences, or considering honors classes that have built in rigorous engagement, or maybe designing capstone experiences with this in mind.  The point is we need to determine how to be more intentional here, and also provide the foundational structures and resources to make these experiences more central to the Columbia experience overall.

 
Beth  Ryan
on Nov 18, 2014

David, thanks for articulating the value of real world learning.  I am one of many faculty members that is involved with the Urban Missions program of CCAP.  In our Introduction to Management first year student Learning Community,  we partner with a community-based organization that CCAP faciliated and are working on real life problem solving.  The students are benefitting tremdously and the CBO is gaining fresh thinking from the demographics of the population they are serving and trying to reach.  We are piloting this in one section and I am excited to scale this.  CCAP provides the framework and relationship matches that make it feasible for us as fcaulty to integrate this into our curriculum.  We should look at this across all disciplines.  

 
William Frederking
on Nov 19, 2014

I think that the first step for the college in creating a 21st Century curriculum to support our students is to create a 21st Century structure at the college.  Is the current department/school structure actually supporting interdisciplinary curriculum? To create interdisciplinary curriculum you have to have a curriuculm approval process and college resources, human and physical, that support interdisciplinarity. Every major at the college already includes "department" (Major) courses, LAS courses, and college-wide electives, but many of these areas compete with each other for resources and students. Could there be a knowledgeable, high functioning College Curriculum Committee in addition to (or instead of?) the School Curriculum Committees.  An informed College Curriculum Committee could develop new, or revise current, majors to include course offerings not currently offered within the Major department. Courses that share resources such as lighting or movement studios or specialized computer labs, that are no longer "owned" by the department and support students in majors that are truly "across departments" and disciplines. With a structure that allows for interdisciplinary thinking rather than department- (discipline) specific thinking, perhaps the college could offer prosective students a unique learning environment that would better prepare them for 21st Century opportunities.  

 
Sarah Odishoo
on Nov 19, 2014

I think the issue of "identity" is at the heart of our conversation about interdisciplinarity. We are not a research institution. We are not a trade school. We are not an Art School, ie, the Art Institute.  We are a faculty artists, communicators who teach with the context of the human history of ideas, understanding that those ideas are the stuff of art. And until our curriculum reflects that context, we cannot go on with the business of educating collectively and with purpose. (We not only have to say what we are, we have to what we are not.)

In any case, the following are some thoughts to discuss:

--A cohort of faculty for themed courses: full and part-time faculty would attend seminars in which an agreed upon set of sequenced aspects of the theme, i.e., film, art, design, science, theater, etc.

Formation of Learning communities: The Learning Communities would be departments' faculties. It wouldn't be an Interdisciplinary major; it would be an Interdepartmental Disciplinary major. That is, different departments' faculty would have opportunities to create Interdepartmental majors that would collaborate in creating courses that could enhance each other. 

The direction of the culture and the world has moved into multimedia/multidiscipline/multimodal mode. We cannot in good conscience think we can offer silo disciplines and expect students to be hired. "Authoring the culture of times" means knowing the culture of the times. 

That crisis in identity at this institution is not a wall; it's a door. And we need to know together what it is that is worthy of our pursuit, our energy, and our responsibility. We cannot do this without collaboration and coherence that makes a difference.

 
Anne Foley
on Nov 20, 2014

Interesting article on the "Maker Movement".  It is about an initative at Arizona state that, "brought together teachers and students, engineers and artists, entrepreneurs and policymakers to discuss how education can be mmore hands-on and collaborative."

 
Clayton Smith
on Nov 21, 2014

One thing I think we should keep in mind while thinking in this vein and looking to future curricula is the global aspect of collaboration. It's a little simpler to focus on collaboration within the classroom, or even between departments, but it's a little more difficult to navigate the nuances of collaborating with colleagues across time zones, across language barriers, etc. With our LA programs, it seems there's an opportunity to engage in cross-country collaboration where students would have to tackle the problems of working with schedules that are two hours behind their own, working on major projects with people they may never meet face-to-face while still being productive, etc. 

 
Howard Sandroff
on Nov 30, 2014

There is one simple change that could enable interdisciplinary study while we wait for the college to change its structure and that is by making faculty joint appointments. At nearly every retreat over the last decade I have stood up and made this suggestion, "how about joint appointments"?  There are many of us that can readily and easily move between fields and have sufficient expertise and credential in more than one disciplene. Departments would benefit immeasurably by having a colleague who can facilitate these connections between academic units.  The question has been asked, how can we engage student in interdisciplinary awareness, the first and best answer is by example, faculty who are jointly appointed to multiple departments/schools clearly and obviously illustrate the college's committment to interdisciplinary study.  Most of our peer institutions recognize this benefit and appoint faculty jointly in two or more departments. We are clearly way behind nearly everyone when it comes to making this first step.

There is little doubt that the College has to change the existing administrative structure to accommodate and facilitate interdisciplinary endeavors.  There are many good ideas on how to restructure the college but this simple change would initiate and welcome iinterdisciplinary activity with little sturm und drang.

 
Chamille Weddington
on Dec 01, 2014

Hybrid curriculum that is a combination of case studies, small group discussion, portfolio-building projects, written reflection and field trips is deeply effective for creative students.  To preface, quite commonly, creative study is attractive to those who are suppressed (i.e. hidden, subdued, crushed, stifled) emotionally AND from a socio-economic standpoint, because it is liberating. So, we need be conscious of the opportunity we have to “free” the student.  Curriculum can do that, and it is student-centered when it does that.  Studies that invite students to explore ideas, question foundation and practice creative solution with rigor (i.e. offers depth, connection and challenge) is freeing, as it tends to encourage students to commit to assignments and produce work that is consistently of higher quality.  If student-centered hybrid curriculum is administered college-wide we can make broader advancements in the area of learning outcomes.

 

 
Corinne Rose
on Dec 05, 2014

I agree with an above comment that sometimes interdisciplinary can mean master of none. It is important for students to have some solid disciplined based training while gaining exposure and opportunties to experiment accross discipline. 

In helping to break down silos and prepare students to live and work in the 21st century it is imperative that equip them with critical thinking skills that connect and carry accross discipline. Our students are consumers and producers of multiple media and disciplines.  Our curriculum must be expansive in what is considered "text" and provide for multiple literacies and fluency in "reading" across media and discipline--words, image, graphics, dance...     

 
Expand This Thread
Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 16, 2014 - 12:45 pm

As we navigate the territory between liberal humanistic education and occupational education,  perhaps we can approach the puzzle from a different angle, by  considering the idea of cultivating within each student a sense of vocation or calling. By this, I mean the way Frederich Beuchner defines a calling, as:  "the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

Mike Lawrence and I (in FYS) have been reading Ellen Condliffe Lagemann's article "The Challenge of Liberal Education: Past, Present, and Future," in which she makes a strong case for vocation as the core of liberal learning.  (This connects to the Community Engagement thread as well, as she calls for a development of "civic intelligence.") Here is a snippet:

" The word vocation implies more than earning a living or having a career. The word vocation implies having a calling: knowing who one is, what one believes, what one values, and where one stands in the world. A sense of vocation is not something fully achieved early in life. For those of us who are lucky, it grows over time, becomes more articulate, and deepens. Granting, then, that a sense of vocation develops over time, it is still not unreasonable to suggest that one purpose of a college education, and a central purpose of liberal education, should be to nurture an initial sense of vocation. This might encompass personal dispositions such as awareness of the importance of deliberate choices, individual agency, and social connection as well as recognition, albeit initial, of the ways of thinking and acting that seem most personally congenial. It should also include a capacity for civic intelligence. This requires that one recognize one's personal stake in public problems, global as well as domestic. It also necessitates respect for tolerance, the rights of others, evidence-based decision making, and deliberative judgment--in a word, respect for the values of due process that are essential to a democratic way of life. Vocation is not simply about an individual calling. It is about one's calling within one's society and, increasingly, across different societies around the world."

An emphasis on vocational purpose will necessarily shift the way we consider our roles as educators, and the choices we make to re-shape our institution. I highly recommend this article.

 

Responses(1)

Sarah Odishoo
on Nov 20, 2014

Lisa's contribution and the article by Ellen Condliffe Lagemann is insightful and portentous to our conversations about directives toward defining CCC's identity as both a liberal arts college and a place for students to find their calling.  The objectives of a liberal arts education as foundation for exploring one's own calling and the opportunities to experience both the path and the act of learning out of the box to then learning out of the boxes is a grand vision-- And one that is more directed at the future of a multimodal world with leaders trained to see it in its possibilitie.

 
Expand This Thread
Ray Gaida
on Nov 14, 2014 - 11:28 am

I just read an interesting article about a talk that Apple's Jony Ive recently gave. In the article he expressed his dismay in the current landscape of design education with respect to hiring candidates at Apple. Additionally, Steve Jobs would continually point out that Apple tends to be at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts. 

I think there may be potential opportunities with respect to developing a curriculum for the 21st century with a focus on the design aspect of consumer electronics and technology. This could include not only the digital aspect of technology (interfaces, etc), but also the physical design of the device.

Additionally partnerships and/or internships should be investigated with companies such as Apple where form and function are equally important in the products they produce.

 
Sean Andrews
on Nov 14, 2014 - 10:42 am

I am not sure how something like this would work at Columbia, but as we think about how to have more of an integrative curriculum that is connected to the real world, this experiment at the University of North Carolina seemed relevant. Basically, between 2012 and 2015, a pan-campus theme of "Water in Our World" is being used to create an interdisciplinary conversation about this social and environmental issue. Even if we didn't go all in, we could certainly create some mini-modules of some sort - linked courses across the colleges that would all unite and look at some theme from their disciplinary perspective with the expectation that there would also be moments where these linked courses would all be in conversation with one another. 

A different model - again from New Century College at GMU, where I taught for four years before coming to Columbia - is to have something like this on a smaller scale. There they have a Cornerstones curriculum, where students take four 6-week, 6-credit classes over the course of a year. These courses are taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty, divided into separate sections, but often joining together for common experiences. The courses are designed to meet most of the student's general education requirements, so after that year, they can completely devote themselves to their major and minor field. Their program is only for a cohort of 175 students, but it might be possible to scale it up, or run several instances at once if there was greater demand. In any case, this is a different way of both carving up Gen Eds. and creating a collective, collaborative, experiential learning community.

 

Responses(5)

Janell Baxter
on Nov 14, 2014

Seems related to the optional Critical Encounters program

 
Michael Lawrence
on Nov 14, 2014

There's some cool stuff along these lines that could inform the direction of FYS -- we could help build some campus-wide conversations that engage both students and faculty in exploring big questions. The Seminar could function as a sort of hub for these conversations, connecting various speakers and events to a classroom space and the level of sustained engagement that would be possible there. It seems clear that there's interest in identifying the need that Critical Encounters was working to address. It's got me thinking about role FYS could play there, providing a structured seminar experience and home base from which to go out and explore these big, messy, complicated questions....

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 17, 2014

I like this idea.  Environmental Science is truely interdisciplinary and very important today.  Students need to understand the science of climate change, pollution, etc. and also how that plays out at the local, national, and global levels with politics and social issues. 

 
Robin Whatley
on Nov 17, 2014

Both of these programs, the UNC pan-campus themed "Water in Our World" and GMU "Cornerstones" echo programs that were implemented with degrees of success at Columbia - Critical Encounters and the current FYS programs. The course descriptions for the GMU Cornerstones classes, Narratives of Identity, Global Networks and Communities, Inquiry for Action: Facilitating Change, and Human Creativity: Science and Art mirror the tetrad underpinning FYS, except that FYS students are fulfilling a single core requirement and GMU students are fulfilling four core courses. Maybe this could be one approach for the gen ed core (currently the LAS)... determine how to inculcate and/or emphasize the important tetrad goals that so much time has been spent honing in FYS across the gen ed core: questioning, exploration, communication and evaluation. The tetrad goals, probably not coincidentally, mirror components of the scientific method and scientific reasoning, and in my mind, encompass crucial abilities that all Columbia students should have in their toolboxes.

 
David Noffs
on Nov 17, 2014

And on a technology note in order to support more innovative models, such as bringing a multidisciplinary approach to curricula using cohorts, we need to adequately support our infrastructure and technology. Modern learning management systems like Moodle support the use of cohorts, but we can't create and manage them if we don't coordinate our academic and IT initiatives. I think I need to jump into the "Aligning Resurces with Goals" forum, but wanted to post here as well. Good thread.

 
Expand This Thread
Anne Foley
on Nov 13, 2014 - 2:55 pm

I'm not sure about this, but I think the rule against "double-dipping" may go back to a time when the then general education distribution included courses in most or all of the departments.  As I recall, the rationale was to encourage breadth by effectively requiring students to take more courses outside of their major department.  I don't recall if the rule was revisted when the LAS Core was established.  Perhaps the rule lasted longer than its rationale.

 
Stan Wearden
From the Moderator: Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2014 - 10:05 am

There also is a question today in the Student Success conversation space to which I hope many people will respond. It has to do with linking curriculum to other areas of student success. I would love to see some feedback on linking curriculum to community engagement, internships, and portfolios. That last item is of particular interest to me. Not only can well developed portfolios serve students career development goals, they also, if linked in specific ways to curriculum, can be powerful assessent tools. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the Student Success conversation space as well as in this space.

 

Responses(6)

Mindy Faber
on Nov 15, 2014

In a sense, the challenge we face is this: what new systemic "learning structures"  need to be developed that can support student success and 21st century learning? These new learning structures disrupt the traditional idea of what college looks like.

Below is a diagram from Knowledge Works, an organization that uses strategic foresight to reimagine the future of education. Applying these concepts to Columbia, i wonder what this might look like?

Perhaps:

  • Faculty operate as personal learning advisors for students who design learning playlists that are customized to interests, career paths and values.  
  • Stackable certificates and compentency-based badges can be used to credentialize student mastery in skills, knowledge and performance.
  • Robust learning experiences are cultivated through these learning structures that unfold across a range of non-traditional settings and new platforms for learning (online modules, internships, short course design challenges, etc.).

Columbia College's role is to design these learning structures that extend beyond the classroom so that experiential, informal and self-directed learning is not only recognized, but credited. We evolve into a non-traditional college for the non-traditional student in a way. But i tend to think of it more as the college and student of the future.

Columbia's extensive reach into the community and industry coupled with its vast talent pool of adjunct faculty and alumni, provide a unique advantage over other competing institutions. These "learning agents"  contribute to the development of our own digital badging and credentialing system where students navigate through a scaffolded series of modules, leveling up towards points and credentials.

Instead of course credits, student earn points when they participate in say CCAP's Big Art Program, a volunteer experience, an online module or even a paid internship. Points add up toward credits for graduaton and students can add these to their digital dossiers and portfolios.

We could begin simply by piloting a learner-centered data infrastructure that tracks student learning experiences throughout their matriculation.

Tools like YouTopia are already developed to support this kind of data infrastructure. i am sure something modest and doable could be piloted along these lines, especially through programs and faculty that are already doing student engagement in a structured way (CCAP, a revived Critical Encounters, etc.)

In the Convergence Academies, we are already exploring these new learning structures.

 
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Bill Guschwan
on Nov 16, 2014

In my opinion, portfolio is somewhat over stressed. Perhaps it is because I am in the tech area. Whatever technology they learn here will be somewhat obsolete when they find a job.

I prefer emphasis on netfolio. That is, what is their network of people like? How big and impressive is their network of people? Do they know how to develop a network? How to contact and stay in touch with people over the years? How to make requests? How to land a job through a friend of a friend? 

Next weekend, my capstone students will be showing games at the Chicago Toy and Game fair. In this way, they are linking their curriculum of their games to building out a network. At this fair will be game designers and makers. By leveraging a prototype of a game for their portfolio, they have opportunities for networking. They will be given instruction of how to ask for business cards and then follow up and request a Linkedin connection.  So linking curriculum to networking is a big focus for me. They will repeat this process in March at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco. 

I prefer to use the Epistemic Frame which has 5 components. The five components are Skills Knowledge Values Identity and Decision Making. In this model 60% of a person is outside the purview of academia. Giving them values of networking and improving social emotional iq in those areas is critical. 

 
Matthew Board
on Nov 18, 2014

For any visaul discipline, a portoflio is a key element in the success of a student. The quality of a students work in an online form matters a great deal. As someone who works in the industry in which I teach, my portfolio is vitally important in opening a conversation with potential clients.

However, having some cool pics on a website isn't enough anymore. At least for game artists and developers. Employers not only want to see virtuosity in a given skill. They want to see how an individual can identify and solve issues; and then articulate what the issue was and how they solved it.

 

 
Tom Nawrocki
on Nov 20, 2014

I like the idea of allowing students to be flexible with final projects for classes.  For example, literature classes can allow students to create work involving their major interests instead of writing the standard paper.  Students could produce short films, audio segments, collections of photos, fashion sketches, etc. that are inspired by the material covered in the classroom and readings.  This final project would be accompanied by a written artist's statement.  At completion the project and statement could be included in the student's portfolio.  Students working on these projects are more engaged in the class and finish the semester with a product of personal importance.

 
Sandra Kumorowski
on Nov 22, 2014

If portfolios is one of the key areas how we are going to differentiate ourselves from competition, then all upper level classes (perhaps all 2000-level and up) should have a portfolio element embedded in the syllabus and/or in learning outcomes. What that element is might be different for each major/discipline. And it needs to be consistent accros the college. I teach upper level classes and all of them have a "real client/real world" element and students truly appreciate the added value.

 
Julie Harris
on Nov 24, 2014

How to amplify student success is a major task, but Columbia has everything it needs to get the job done and become a leader in the industry. I'm inspired by the talented creatives we have as students here, but if we don't put an emphasis and highlight our competitive and high-quality internships and portfolio work, we are doing them a disservice. In terms of portfolio development, it is essential to have portfolios become mandatory for the Advertising and Public Relations department and other disciplines as needed. What Sandra Kumorowski suggests about having a portfolio element makes a lot of sense. I am encouraged that this will become a reality in the coming year. As an internship coordinator, I work directly with many students daily who are trying to find an internship or job, but some don't have a portfolio to bring to the table. In the future, students should be expected to have their portfolios prepared for Industry Night which will be a step in the right direction. If our charge is to foster and elevate student success, I urge our college to build its reputation in strengthening this area by requiring a polished portfolio by their senior year.

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 12, 2014 - 7:45 pm

How can we best demonstrate to students the value of strategic major-minor combinations and interdisciplinary study?

 

Responses(10)

Insook Choi
on Nov 13, 2014

Student Success criteria: Strategic major-minor can strengthen interdisciplinary skills. Interdisciplinary major-minor combination requires curriculum affordance and flexible pathways. The curricular paths must allow students to combine major-minor with two most important 21stC student success criteria: to develop agile skills by being exposed to interdisciplinary perspectives, and to strengthen employability. In order to guarantee students sucess criteria, in addition to minors in existing programs, create a pool of college-wide ubiquitous minor options that are decoupled from existing programs and not owned by particular departments, but rather are shared by faculty consortia. Those options are minors comprised of sets of identified courses targeted to build economically viable competencies with specific learning outcomes, and with flexible prerequisites. The nomenclature can be “Digital Media”, “ Computer Programming”,  “Media Entrepreneurship”, “Civic Engagement”, or “Global Talent Management” to name the few.

 

 
Robin Morrissey
on Nov 13, 2014

Some very thoughtful and creative discussions here, glad I logged in--

I am responding to the question RE: how we (ccc community) can best demonstrate value to students of major-minor and interdisciplinary study and to provide my experience of attempting to create programming I wanted to see here.  

A few years ago, while teaching Writing & Rhetoric and FYS, I had a strong desire to find meaningful interdisciplinary opportunities for my students.  At practically every meeting I attended many faculty were talking about wanting opportunities to collaborate across disciplines.  I came up with some ideas and met with my Dept Chair with a few proposals, then went to work.  After 3-4 months of knocking on doors (Dept Chairs, Professors, Coordinators, and Adjuncts), and several meetings and revisions of proposals and plans I was able to initiate an essay contest that would allow (Freshmen only) winners to work with senior Radio production students to turn a written essay into a Radio essay.  I taught in a Freshman-based program, hence that constraint.  My colleague and I worked tirelessly to get the program up, publicized, promoted, and together read through student submissions.  I did this as an Adjunct, receiving a very small sum to help defray the cost of promotional materials.  We ran this successfully for 3 years, in the end the radio essays were aired on Columbia's radio station, available on the station's blog, and linked to a web site created for the Writing & Rhetoric program.  I strongly believe this program very well could have continued to thrive and evolve had my colleague and I been able to sustain our energy while balancing other obligations (in addition to working as an Adjunct here, I worked a full time job at a university in Evanston, and going to grad school for a second degree).

My experience provided hard evidence that, one, Columbia faculty *want* opportunities to collaborate, two, these types of programs are viable and fill a need here, and three, with rarely fewer than 25 submissions per cycle students responding.  I think this also addresses the question above, and wanted to share this as a means of showing how some of us have been thinking about this for a while at CCC and this is one way (many more needed) to address and explore the possibilities.

As so well illustrated, there are many excellent ideas for expanding the existing curricular scope and design of Columbia's programs. I'm interested in major-minor connections and innovation, but also recognition- and award-based extra-curricular programming that invites students to challenge their varied skill set, use them broadly, and create something they had no idea was possible until asked.  I'm interested in expanding FYS programming to provide the space and context for projects similar to that above.  I envision courses that are instructor-guided, where projects are contextualized by contemporary frameworks of socially engaged art practices/relevant works of literature & theory/and current social and political events relevant to students (campus issues of freedom and agency), and actively engage media literacy for both instructor and students.

I would be happy to share more about my past experience in another appropriate discussion, but think this is sufficient for the dialogue here.  Sorry for the long post!

 
Kenneth Daley
on Nov 14, 2014

I want to raise the idea/possibility of integrating LAS faculty into the curriculum of degree programs across campus.

 

While there are degree programs in LAS, the majority of teaching in LAS is in service to the core curriculum. This is important work, but I think we’re underutilizing the talents and expertise of our LAS faculty – over 100 full-time faculty members.

 

There are a great many classes in major and program curriculums across campus that, in a discipline-specific context, focus on quantitative skills, symbolic reasoning, textual analysis, critical theory, technical writing, historical research, etc – classes or modules that LAS faculty are especially well-trained to teach – or to team teach with faculty members in the various arts and media departments.

 

This sort of cross-fertilization – within degree-program curricula – would encourage the kind of interdisciplinary activity already described in earlier threads. It would do much to demonstrate to students the value of interdisciplinary study and of strategic major-minor combinations.

 

Similarly, if faculty in FPA and SMA were to teach courses that contributed to the core, these values would be reinforced in all areas of our students’ learning experience.

 

 
Timothy McCaskey
on Nov 17, 2014

There have been a lot of great comments here on the importance of interdisciplinarity and cross-pollinating faculty among major programs.  When I first read this question, though, what I wondered most was what is meant by the "strategic" modifer.  Does this mean the major and minor should be related enough that an interdisciplinary approach to studying both is clear?  Does it mean they should overlap enough in core competencies that a student's time to graduation is not adversely affected?

Of course, affirmative answers to these two questions come from a reasonable place.  However, given the diversity in interests of our faculty and student body, we should take advantage of the opportunities we have at Columbia for students to diversify their thinking skills and gain multiple literacies along the way.  I say this as a physicist (and musician) who was only minimally encouraged to stray far from my undergrad science and math majors.  My fear is that despite the opportunities available here, a rigid response to this question may institutionally push students away from truly pursuing their interests.

 
Robin Whatley
on Nov 17, 2014

By modeling the results of interdisciplinary projects and collaborations, and by making these projects and collaborations visible and accessible! ALOT of interdisciplinary work is going on at Columbia, and there have been many attempts to clarify and build on interdisciplinarity in the past.

The following excerpt is from a report on student-centered interdisciplinarity authored by a subcommittee of the Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee last year. This report was created in an attempt to "identify, from past research and from discussions with our colleagues, the most insistent challenges, those impediments that time and again keep students from effectively engaging in and faculty from fully developing collaborative and/or interdisciplinary projects and experiences."

Curricular Challenges

 Students and faculty are largely unaware of the variety of interdisciplinary or collaborative courses already offered.

• Lack of knowledge of one another in different departments and schools—including lack of knowledge of other departments’ curriculum, degree programs, facilities and their students’ skills and interests—hinders collaboration and interdisciplinary work on a broad scale.

• Many of the interdisciplinary offerings that exist currently are examples of “simple” collaborations, whereas “complex” collaboration would require the more difficult transactions across schools within the college.

• Students can’t always articulate what they’d like to be a part of or how to get there, especially for an entrepreneurial project. They may have an interest or skill they’d like to use with other students inside or outside their department, but aren’t able to find others with complementary skills who can help them create something tangible.

• Students are not advised to be more intentional about their coursework, and schedules are often comprised first of requirements and then electives, and the electives might be chosen solely based on day and time, and not on content.

• Students need pathways, advising and outreach from the Advising Center, the Portfolio Center, the schools and the departments to help link them with other students.

• Columbia has had several initiatives to foster an environment of faculty collaboration and shared curriculum, however the existing reporting and budgeting processes have never provided the incentives and operational logistics to the faculty and administration to actively engage in these efforts.

• There is lack of dedicated resources such as a permanent and appropriate space where students, faculty and staff can play/work/learn without restriction.

• The message to “Live what you love” might benefit from a cultural shift in how we approach and ultimately deliver our programs to our students. Students currently are admitted and are funneled directly into specific majors (through Orientation, advising, etc.) with prescribed degree requirement that leave little to no room for exploration or experience outside of a major. (This contributes to the specialty culture described in section one of this report.)

• Although First-Year Seminar introduces students to interdisciplinary experiences, there isn’t a mechanism in the Core curriculum that reinforces this holistic educational approach as students move beyond their first year.   

Recommendations

• Interdisciplinary and/or collaborative projects must be built in to classroom assignments to make the best use of student time and funds. Students could also benefit from oversight and monitoring from staff and faculty for self-started projects, and it’s difficult for that to happen outside of a credit-bearing class.

• We are almost certain to have a new set of college-wide Core requirements (Dr. Kim has been very vocal about this, and it is likely the incoming Provost will have this as a priority, as well.) The College could consider Interdisciplinary courses as a requirement in the new distribution.

This will mandate clear criteria for identifying this category of courses and also additional review and quality control. But this is certainly one way to visibly support students’ curricular interdisciplinary experience.

• One of the most important contributors to the future growth of our school is the ability to offer interdisciplinary majors that allow students to customize their learning experiences based on their skills as well as their career aspirations.

The need for this type of major is exhibited by the rising number of students taking courses outside their major in several key technology- driven departments that focus on Online Production and Distribution. The ability to customize curriculum based on students’ career potential and goals, coupled with a rigorous oversight of the contributing interdisciplinary courses, will position the college to offer innovative programs of instruction that meet student, academic, and business needs with a flexible and constantly improving curriculum.

The Interdisciplinary major, and other models of customization, however can only be a part of a larger cultural shift toward interdisciplinarity. Customization of majors encourages students to think across boundaries of discipline, but don’t require that we, as faculty, engage in the same risk-taking interdisciplinary culture shift. Also, interdisciplinary work, as noted in the culture section, runs the risk of seeming sloppy. A real shift in culture needs faculty leadership, a grounding in hybrid practice, and room to experiment.

• The existing Interdisciplinary Major should be modified with the following requirements: 1) a series of foundational courses gathered from existing courses across the college; 2) a sequence of specialized classes for the interdisciplinary student; 3) flexibility for students to construct their final major requirements with learning outcomes overseen by contributing faculty.

• In order for the college to offer innovative programs of instruction that meet student, academic, and business needs with a flexible and constantly improving curriculum the faculty must be untethered from the traditional program development and approval cycles.

• Develop an Interdisciplinary Curriculum Governance Model. Creating a new model for interdisciplinary curriculum development and approval will allow faculty to work collaboratively on interdisciplinary majors. Students will benefit from having the best courses taught by the best instructors regardless of school or department. Majors that span creative practices across school boundaries will be able to be developed using new models of budgeting and governance.

• Rather than focusing on faculty-driven prescribed or forced interdisciplinary courses, we recommend developing opportunities for students that are relevant to them, that center on a theme - or even a single object, i.e. “smartphone” as new Provost Wearden described in one of his forums – led by faculty from varied disciplines to introduce, explore, experiment beyond the known.

• With respect to technology and its role in delivering the means to an end, technology is but a tool that in the visual and performing arts is not always required or even desired. There is a concern that the emphasis placed on technological needs for our students will overshadow the importance of critical analysis, thought, creativity, resourcefulness and other skills that are also required for living a life you love.

• With reservation, we support the idea of allowing customization of existing degree programs to better serve students. How would this differ from the existing Interdisciplinary Major? A larger group would be needed for this discussion in order to develop this idea and implement it within existing systems and structures in order to make this a seamless process that will work with and for all college stakeholders and our students. Again, it is important that we do not build models that encourage students to run back and forth between disciplines, rather than building a new, fresh interdisciplinary culture.

• Develop new administrative management systems for faster and more efficient cross- and inter-communication between departments, departmental consortiums (e.g., Visual Arts departments of A+D, Fashion Studies and Photography) across campus.

• With President Kim’s commitment to “shape a consistent institutional narrative about ourselves”, we recommend there be 1) a repository for students/faculty/ staff to upload interdisciplinary/cross-disciplinary/ collaborative student/faculty/staff opportunities and ongoing experiences and 2) a single, dedicated web presence where these can be found. 

Please see the report in its entirety uploaded below for the full discussion of cultural obstacles, current curriculum and curricular challenges, issues surrounding support and incentives, and the need for dedicated space (physical, virtual and/or conceptual).

 
Robin Whatley
on Nov 17, 2014

Following on the curricular recommendation in the last bullet point above re: a repository for interdisciplinary opportunities and experiences, I would like to add that providing dedicated space for supporting and modeling interdisciplinarity at Columbia was determined to be crucial.

Again, here is the section on roadblocks to interdisciplinarity at Columbia with regard to Space:

While interdisciplinary projects are put into practice in classrooms across Columbia, the most ambitious being Manifest and the three courses devoted to it, there is no central place where students, faculty and staff can go to find each other when they have an idea for a project, to see examples of past integrative projects for inspiration, or to find more information about how to model the process of collaboration on interdisciplinary projects. In addition, students don’t know about potential interdisciplinary classes that already exist. The lack of a central repository of past collaborative and/or interdisciplinary courses and projects forces us to re-engineer the wheel again and again. A physical hub is critical for formulating, sharing and trying out ideas, for identifying potential faculty and student collaborators, for developing course materials, and for discussing successes, pitfalls and assessment methods and results of past and current projects. 

Recommendations 

• Provide exposure to faculty and student models of creative interdisciplinary study and learning that engages students in critical thinking and problem solving to foster the exchange of ideas, methods, and skills.

• Foster and incentivize student and faculty interaction and dialogue in a dedicated organizational and physical space to encourage collaborative leadership for interdisciplinary activities in and out of the classroom.

• The recent upgrades to the Talent Pool website (via the Portfolio Center) have made it more user friendly and should facilitate increased collaboration between students and provide a larger web presence for connection between students and professionals. Introduce incoming and current students to the new and improved Talent Pool via First-Year Seminar or other Core courses so that they can take advantage of it as soon as possible.

• We recommend that a central space (aka, playroom, marketplace, lab) be dedicated to both physical and online engagement where students and faculty go to work, to play, to experiment, to store works in progress or to find out about courses that offer interdisciplinary experiences. This space would provide a meeting place for students, faculty and staff to find collaborators and examples of interdisciplinary projects that are in-progress or completed. Ideally it would be a space where successful and not so successful processes and evaluation methods could be explored, critiqued and implemented. Talent Pool and the Portfolio Center would be closely allied.

Please see the report in its entirety uploaded in the earlier post for the full discussion of cultural obstacles, current curriculum and curricular challenges, issues surrounding support and incentives, and the need for dedicated space (physical, virtual and/or conceptual). The report on student-centered interdisciplinarity was authored by a subcommittee of the Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee (submitted to the Faculty Senate in May 2014 and to Provost Wearden in Summer 2014). 

   
Daniel Jordan
on Nov 20, 2014

I want to echo what Tim said above. I coordinate the mathematics minor, and the majors I see aren't necessarily what you'd expect. Sure, a management major minoring in math might be "strategic," in the sense of getting a job. But a fashion design major with a math minor? I have no clue what kinds of amazing cross-pollination of ideas that might produce. We should definitely promote our minors, but let's try not to make choosing a minor seem predictable and boring--minors should be a way to make you unique and enhance your creative potential.

 
Cara Dehnert
on Nov 20, 2014

I think that the college is well-poised to integrate business and entrepreneurial skills and education campus-wide.  And, while I'm admittedly biased as a member of the Business & Entrepreneurship Department, I objectively see many benefits to this interdisciplinary endeavor.  Leaving aside the portion of our student body that chooses to major in a degree in Business and Entrepreneurship, by integrating a fundamental business foundation and education in all areas of artistic practice (through double majors, minors, or even just elective coursework), we provide our students with the management skills to best represent and manage themselves throughout their careers.  In my professional experience as both a lawyer and an art administrator, I've learned that, despite anyone's best intentions, no one is going to look out for an artist's interest better than that individual, and by equipping our students to be their own best advocates and managers, we will ideally prepare them for a long and success career in whatever genre or industry they choose.  To answer the question directly - how do we do that?  We work together.  We understand that we're collaborators and partners in this, and we recognize what programs we, as a college, offer that can come together in ways that rationally make sense.  For example, a student studying music would benefit greatly from a minor in music business.  This enables that student to manage him/herself and his/her artistic career; it also prepares that student to make transitions in the future should a career as a musician end up not being his/her path.  At a minimum, we need open and effective lines of communication between departments and schools, including both advising and admissions.  I would love to see the college go a step further and integrate fundamental business skills into the LAS curriculum, and would welcome the opportunity to participate in such a conversation.  

 
Clayton Smith
on Nov 21, 2014

I think there's a wealth of experience to draw from in this respect. Chicago has a booming entrepreneurship community, and no one can speak better to the importance of interdisciplinary studies than a working entrepreneur. We have great resources nearby, with the shared work spaces like 1871, TechNexus, and NextSpace, it seems like there should be a way to forge partnerships with these spaces that would allow our students access to the wealth of business owners who know the value of being able to wear many hats and to pivot smoothly, professionally speaking. There are entrepreneurs in Chicago for every field, and if we can tap into that vast resource, our students could get some great insight into the benefit of preparing themselves for a broader spectrum of professional activity.

 
Erin  McCarthy
on Dec 08, 2014

The short answer is advising, but we need to give advising and students a product-- the programs/opportunities for students to learn about a topic or subject from multiple perspectives and disciplines. Communication, collaboration and planning is essential, but I don't know if conversations should be between schools, departments or faculty members. I would love to see more programs/majors that draw from across the college.

 
Expand This Thread
Abel Valle
on Nov 12, 2014 - 1:49 pm

The concept of "double dipping" is beneficial. Not only does it help fulfill the requirements for general education, it helps the student to "breathe." Students, like myself, can get overwhelmed with the classes they are taking regarding work from school and homework. At home, students might have work and it can be extremely difficult to balance employment with education. And when one class counts as a requirement for both general education and a major, that can help relieve us of doing double the work; killing two birds with one stone. Stress disintegrates the drive to move forward. 

 

Responses(2)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2014

I'm reading a lot about double dipping as a solution. Are there many students who find it difficult to take a minor or elective courses because of the rules their majors have about counting courses or because of scheduling conflicts?

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 24, 2014

The short answer is yes.  The math minor would be completed by many more students with double dipping but because the majors (AAA and IAM) require many of the classes they don't qualify with a minor.

 
Expand This Thread
Insook Choi
on Nov 12, 2014 - 1:37 pm

Why we cannot wait to innovate: Creative industries’ often-nuanced complaints are that educational institutes do not prepare students’ skill sets well. Some companies provide remedial training for graduates. In reality, most companies just want to pick up those who are fully ready to join the workforce. When I participated in Mayor Bloomberg’s Media Initiative in New York, executives and project managers complained about graduates from art institutes, design schools, and the like. One of my colleagues described students’ misplaced arguments when they try to get work done: “We would go on and on, well, it is interesting but I’ve got no time for this. If you want that attention, go back to school.” The so-called “21st Century skills” were not invented by academia. They were forced onto academia by business and government partners.

 

Partnership for 21st Century Skills is an organization that identifies innovation, creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, self-management: these skills “are what separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in today’s world and those who are not” (quote from link below). If we teach students to be innovative, they will not be confused between professional discourse and “academic” arguments. Information, media, and technology skills are also top ranked skills for 21st Century students. Innovation in Columbia is one area that is not strategically cultivated. Innovation is not about special interest projects driven by token candy incentives. Innovation must be curriculum focused and return on innovation investment must be measured in terms of student learning outcomes. Innovation is about scaling up, accompanied by strategy to work towards an institution’s goals.  How can we prepare students to be innovative when we are not? And how do we achieve our goals without innovating? Do not wait to innovate!

 

 

Responses(7)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2014

I would be interested in hearing some response to Insook's post. How do we help our students to develop these skills, and how do we define specific learning outcomes related to these skills?

 
Sean Andrews
on Nov 13, 2014

On the one hand, I think innovation is a product of understanding the context and the actual workings of technologies and media. You can't innovate if you don't know what has already been done, if you can't see what might need to be done, or if you don't know what is possible to do - within given technologies, social institutions, etc. On the other hand, allowing for more project based learning - especially projects that might integrate learning across a student's coursework in a given semester (e.g. letting a media arts student produce a short film for both a class in their major and their history or humanities course a la Epic Rap Battles). The issue here is to get students to take command of their learning, to own their outcomes, to innovate because they are inspired. Innovation in that sense seems to be something that is comprised of all the other elements Insook mentions in the list - problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, self-management - along with a given set of technical skills in writing, coding, production, or studio art.

And I would also echo Stan's point above about portfolio based assessment as, in my experience, this has been one of the best ways to get students to think about their own learning.  Many students at Columbia have portfolios they use to present their best work in their field, but a broader understanding of a graduation portfolio would be that it is a space where students also reflect on their learning.  If you define the competencies and outcomes students are supposed to achieve in advance, and revisit them throughout the students' carreer, by the time they reach graduation they are primed to talk about their achievement of these outcomes across their college experience (e.g. this example from NCC at GMU which required learning portfolio at graduation.) There are also a wide variety of new products that help them to do this, like Seelio and other digital portfolios.

On that longer list, I would also repeat a post I put near the bottom about what actual surveys of employers say.  

I don't know if anyone else has shared this survey of employers from last April, published by the AAC&U, but it seems relevant to the overall conversation about the core.  http://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/LEAP/2013_EmployerSurvey.pdf

Some highlights: 

Employers recognize capacities that cut across majors as critical to a candidate’s potential for career success, and they view these skills as more important than a student’s choice of undergraduate major. 

  • Nearly all those surveyed (93%) agree, “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.” 
  • More than nine in ten of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning. 
  • More than three in four employers say they want colleges to place more emphasis on helping students develop five key learning outcomes, including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings. 
  • Employers endorse several educational practices as potentially helpful in preparing college students for workplace success. These include practices that require students to a) conduct research and use evidence-based analysis; b) gain in-depth knowledge in the major and analytic, problem solving, and communication skills; and c) apply their learning in real-world settings. 

Employers recognize the importance of liberal education and the liberal arts. 

  •  The majority of employers agree that having both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of skills and knowledge is most important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success. Few think that having field-specific knowledge and skills alone is what is most needed for individuals’ career success. 
  • Eighty percent of employers agree that, regardless of their major, every college  student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences. 
  • When read a description of a 21st century liberal education, a large majority of employers recognize its importance; 74% would recommend this kind of education to a young person they know as the best way to prepare for success in today’s global economy. 
 
Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2014

This is great feedback, Sean. Thank you!

 
Soo La Kim
on Nov 14, 2014

I certainly appreciate the need to prepare our students for employability and rewarding careers. But in the rush to make them "market ready," I hope we don't lose sight of what academia does have to offer, especially with regard to innovation and creativity. In the anedote that Insook relates about her colleague, what I also hear is that industry often has no time for the kind of meandering, nonlinear, exploratory, sometimes day dreamy, even idle, thinking that is often the precondition for innovative and creative problem solving. What a stimulating academic environment should provide are opportunities for the kinds of experimentation and risks that often take time to bear fruit, that might even end in spectacular failure and can teach us valuable lessons. If a student in the work world isn't able to distinguish between professional discourse and academic arguments, I don't think the fault lies in teaching students to construct academic arguments (i.e. well-reasoned, well-evidenced, and coherently structured thought), but in the need to teach them how to apply those skills in professional contexts, how to adjust their communications to their audience, etc. This is all to say that, as Sean's post illustrates, I don't think any of the skills that employers are looking for are foreign to academia - what perhaps needs attention is helping our students translate and transfer what I see as fundamental liberal arts education skills into professional, discipline or field specific contexts.

To do that, as has been said already in this forum and elsewhere, students need opportunities to work in interdisciplinary, experiential, truly collaborative contexts. And these conversations have revealed how much curricular innovation is happening in pockets all across the college. What isn't happening is that these sparks of activity are not catching fire and spreading across the institution because there are often too many barriers, faculty & depts. are isolated, there aren't adequate channels of communication that can help faculty and students connect, resources aren't shared, etc.)

Maybe instead of thinking about what new curricular structures or pathways need to be built, we should think in terms of what overgrowth and underbrush we can clear away, so that the seeds of innovation that are already planted or that faculty want to plant are given a chance to grow. So, we might ask, if this exisitng community engagement project could be the basis of an interdiscipllinary curriculum scaled up across a department or across several departments, what would need to happen in terms of resource allocation, faculty FTEs, credits, etc.?

This doesn't directly address Stan's question about how to translate into specific learning outcomes, but I wanted to emphasize that what college can offer students is the luxury of time and space. So I'd love to see ways to create spaces (incubators, laboratories, residencies, pick a metaphor!) that give faculty & students opportunities to play and then if there are innovative assignments, projects, curricula that emerge, they can be supported and quickly adopted on a wider scale.

 

 
Sean Andrews
on Nov 14, 2014

On the one hand, I have read a few stories about employers making this kind of claim recently, but to me this sounds less like a failing of our academic process and more like the whining of petulant managers who feel entitled by a slack job market. Even Wall Street firms who primarily recruit from Ivy League schools expect that they will have to do some on-the-job training for new graduates to bring them up to speed on the kind of thinking their organizations expect. 

On the other hand, in so far as this is a growing expectation - namely, that employers would like to have ready-made, corporate-critical-thinking cogs they can easily plug into their innovation machines - I think Soo La is right that we should focus on what we do well in the academy rather than trying to simulate a hands-on work environment relevant to every student's future career. In the end, simulations will always be simulations: until students have the experience of actually working with others on an actually existing project with real world effects, meeting with clients/customers/etc. and having to turn ideas into actions that affect others, it will remain hypothetical. Perhaps more importantly, the kind of simulations we might design will only be relevant to a random selection of the kinds of environments any given student is likely to find themselves working.

This is a round about way of advocating for the other aspect of student success Stan mentioned above: internships. As the internship coordinator for the Cultural Studies program, I have seen how rich a learning experience a good internship placement can be. Instead of trying to figure out ways that we can make Columbia College more like the outside world, we should be setting up more opportunities and structures for students to intern or apprentice with organizations they find important, inspiring, etc. This will likely be a much better way to inculcate the kinds of practical applications of thinking you are talking about - in all the variations that students' careers might take. I know there is an initiative to start a better college wide program on internships (I couldn't make the meeting a few weeks ago as I was teaching) so perhaps that is something that would help - particularly if students were generally required to take an internship in some field in order to graduate. 

 
Bill Guschwan
on Nov 17, 2014

Innovation appears to be a talent or instinct and would need to be assessed on an individual basis using something like a conative profile tool. It is questionable whether it can be taught. Certainly such a talent could be mentored and coached. So pedagogy would need to be more constructivist in nature than traditional. I have used Kolbe index (http://www.kolbe.com/why-kolbe/kolbe-wisdom/). Second, innovation is by definition an emergent form of knowledge creation. How can you list outcomes for something who's output you can not know beforehand? The way you measure this might ruin your ability to teach it. I have been using David Shaffer's Epistemic Network Analysis as a solution to this problem (http://edgaps.org/gaps/wp-content/uploads/ena-pubs-009.pdf).

 
Soo La Kim
on Nov 18, 2014

Sean, that Weird Al Yankovic video is awesome.

I do think it'd be helpful to try to define what we mean by innovation or creativity. As Bill notes, innovation implies a creative solution that's unexpected, that you can't necessarily anticipate beforehand. So, while I don't think we can have learning outcomes for emergent knowledge creation ("be innovative" would be pretty vague!), I think we can assess the skills that tend to lead to innovative or creative solutions. For example, the ability to analyze a text or artifact, interpret its meanings in multiple contexts, synthesize and integrate it into a new whole.  And I think the ability to incorporate feedback and to reflect on one's learning are essential.

 
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Responses(1)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2014

Thank you for your response. What kinds of courses do you wish you could take? What skill or knowledge areas would you like to be able to develop furtheer?

 
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Michael Unghajer
on Nov 12, 2014 - 11:02 am

Double-dipping and triple dipping classes are absolutely phenomenal. Students throughout the four years of being at this college have to dan many credit hours in order to graduate. It becomes almost impossible when you have a major that requires several credits that gets hindered by the fact you have to take a single class about humanities or social sciences as two separate classes. Instead, you can take a class that covers both of those ideas, so you have another credit slot to take a class for your major or even another LAS class or elective. It makes it easier to take classes you need AND want when you can get 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 classes and have room to take more classes in your major. 

 

Responses(4)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2014

How would you feel about courses that consist of 3-5 week modules that cover various knowledge and skill areas?

 
Howard Sandroff
on Nov 13, 2014

Stan we have already taken that approach in our interdisciplinary degree proposal which is currently making its way to Academic Affairs.  The course The Sonic Experience is built out of 3, five week modules; each with very specific learning outcomes.  In fact in a few of the modules, the topics are very narrow extensions of the foundations laid in introductory and intermediate course work.  We believe that this "innovation" will help to focus and connect common elements from the three constituent disciplines.

 
Carissa Degen
on Nov 20, 2014

Hi Michael!

I'm a reporter for The Columbia Chronicle and we're currently covering this particular round table discussion for next week's issue. Would it be okay to quote you and your statement in the article?

Thanks!

 
Rosita Sands
on Nov 30, 2014

We are currently including the modular approach in a couple of new courses in the music department. This approach allows us to match instructor expertise with the particular knowledge and skill sets required in the course.  This is a practical solution for a survey course designed to address different areas of study within a particular field.  However, the modular approach allows us to use multiple instructors, so that students have the opportunity to study with an expert in each of the particular areas and a single instructor is not called-on to teach a topic or area that falls outside of their sphere of knowledge and/or experience. 

 
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Emily Garrison
on Nov 12, 2014 - 10:58 am

The majority of the core classes required by Columbia have helped by giving me skills that are also applicable to my major except for the First Year Seminar class. The intended meaning of what a student is meant to learn from the class is never truly conveyed. Writing and Rhetoric is meant to help your English skills, College algebra helps your mathematic skills, but it is never made clear what First Year Seminars intended use is. The class does help students to explore other medias rather than their major specific media through the use of project but does not give a clear reasoning behind the prompts of each project. Just some clarity and organization surrounding the course would be extremely helpful and useful in clearing up some confusion myself, and many other students I have talked to on the matter, have surrounding the course.

 

Responses(6)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 13, 2014

What do you think we can do to strengthen First Year Seminar and make it more relevant to students?

 
Michael Lawrence
on Nov 13, 2014

 

Emily’s point above is really interesting. On the one hand, she sounds a bit disappointed that her work in FYS didn’t feel applicable to her major. On the other hand, the thing she seems to have found beneficial is that FYS gave her an opportunity to explore beyond the major. It almost sounds like FYS’s greatest strength may also be its greatest weakness!

I’d be curious to hear more from Emily and other students here. Do you like having opportunities to explore beyond your major through classes like FYS? When do those opportunities feel burdensome and annoying, and when do they feel truly useful and enjoyable? 

 
Suzanne Blum Malley
on Nov 14, 2014

I'm going to jump in with some thougts I have for First-YearSeminar. First, I would like to revise the learning outcomes for FYS so that they are consistent with and/or expand upon the outcomes we collectively envision for all of the foundations experiences we are offering our students and are deeply connected to the learning outcomes we articulate for every student at the College. We would then be in a much better position to explain to students why the heck they are taking the course, what they should be getting out of it, and what types of learning experiences they can expect to have.

Second, I would flip the current structure of inviting faculty in to teach a course with shared (even if loosely) core texts, assignment types, and units. Instead, I would invite faculty to work from the learning outcomes/experiences that we believe every FYS course should have to design the most exciting/engaging/thought-provoking/smart learning experience they can think of for a group of 18 (or so) first-year (first-semester?) students from across fields ofstudy at the College. We would encourage faculty to leverage their knowledge, expertise, interests, and ways of knowing to develop a course that does something along the lines of these things:

  1. Engage students in an in-depth process of questioning, exploring, evaluating, (connecting), and communicating (I tend to add and extra "connect" to the "tetrad" in there) something as determined by the faculty member and/or the students.
  2. Use City of Chicago in some way as "text" and site of engagement/research/experimentation for the course
  3. Participate in a collaborative learning and production experience (while developing and understanding of  and enacting strategies for productive collaboration and assessing their own and their team's performance)
  4. Create something that can be shared with the wider Columbia College Chicago/Chicago Community in some way (in other words, produce something that extends meaningfully beyond the class itself)

I imagine that as folks develop courses (independently or with their colleagues), we could have some form of FYS steering committee review the courses/syllabi to ensure that they are actually designed to do those 4 things (and/or meet any other learning outcomes). If they do, we say, "GO do it!" I think this model might allow faculty and students to bring level of enthusiasm to course that I think is key to a successful FYS experience.

There are, of course, structural complications here and we still have to address the fact that to succeed in any way at all, the entire college must embrace and take responsibility for teaching, supporting, and believing in the fundamental value of an First-year or First-semester seminar.

 
Michael Lawrence
on Nov 14, 2014

This all sounds great to me. I'd add to this a question about the importance of these things happening outside a student's major. Certainly a foundation program housed in a department could offer something that speaks to these goals. Is it important that students go through this intellectual experience with students and faculty who do not share their specific passions and expertise? I think the answer to that is absolutely yes, but we have to recognize that even saying that will feel like a threat to the deeply siloed ways many faculty and students operate.  

Second point: Is there something uniquely "Columbia" about all this? Sure, there's the Chicago element, but what else? I'm wondering if this experience shouldn't have some essential thread that showcases the way Columbia folks uniquely operate. Maybe a strong focus on something like "creative process" -- very broadly concieved?

Lots to play with... looking forward!  

 
Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 19, 2014

Suzanne,

About FYS:

I agree that it’s important to “revise the FYS learning outcomes so that they are consistent with and/or expand upon the outcomes we collectively envision for all of the foundations experiences we are offering our students and are deeply connected to the learning outcomes we articulate for every student at the College.”  

It's really easy to underestimate the enormity of that necessary task. It involves reimagining the very purpose of FYS, which is connected to bigger decisions about what we want Columbia College Chicago to be (not seem) as an institution, and what students need and want as they begin their journey here.

With respect, the tactics you suggest are solid – but they also seem, to me, a “safe” revision of the course. They're based on the best aspects of what FYS is now, in combination with the “teacher passion” model that many schools offer. Columbia is not many schools. It’s unique.

As someone who believes in FYS and is committed to reimagining the course, I think it’s important that we begin by holding our feet to the flames to articulate the need and purpose for FYS as a port of entry into a uniquely Columbia core curriculum, then decide tactics and management strategies from there.

 
Fereshteh Toosi
on Nov 19, 2014

Lots of good stuff here. In response to Suzanne's recommendations, my primary concern is that of choice. It is not fair to place students in a topics-based course if they don't have any say in what the topic will be. With the model you are suggesting, we will need to have a way for students choose the course based on a description, which is not how most core classes are administered at this time. Will students tend to enroll in topics that align with their chosen disciplines, and if so, how will the course encourage multidisciplinary approaches?

 
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Beatrix Budy
on Nov 11, 2014 - 3:04 pm

Eliminating “double dipping” and focusing on competencies related to a major or minor is a great idea. I very much agree on this with Constantin. Otherwise we block students from majoring in any areas that have some overlaps.

 

Responses(4)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 11, 2014

I'm pleased to see so much focus on competencies and learning outcomes. Beginning with a discussion of what outcomes we should be seeking will keep the conversation much more rational and much less oriented toward "turf protection."

 
Kayla Christou-Mason
on Nov 12, 2014

In my opinion, the idea of “double dipping” is incredibly helpful. It helps fill in the required credits, and helps student finish their requisites on time. Many students I know are concerned with not being able to graduate on time because they have not finished all of their required courses. I believe that classes that “double dip” give students an easier time and take off some stress. I think those will make Columbia an even more enjoyable experience for students.

 
John Barajas
on Nov 12, 2014

I understand Constantine wants to completely eliminate “the concept of “double dipping” and  instead suggests that “we should focus on a set of competencies”, but I would love to keep double dipping. It would save me so much money. I wouldn’t need to waste money on a class that I consider to be a waist a time. If my major and minor have a class related to each other why would I want to take another class to complicate things? I would just end up getting the same results. The problem is it would be double the work. I don’t want to have to stress out worrying about two classes that are similar when I could take one class that covers my major and minor requirements. I then could take another class so I can finish my LAS requirements or a class that I find interesting. So instead of trying so hard to find a way to keep students from double dipping, it should just be kept.

 
Daniel Jordan
on Nov 13, 2014

John, to clarify: double-dipping is currently not allowed, at least between the major and the Core (you can double-dip, to a limited extent, between the minor and Core). Constantin is suggesting eliminating the ban that currently exists.

I agree with, it seems just about everyone here, that the current ban on double-dipping should go. But I do see some rationale for the original ban--specifically, the idea that a liberally educated adult should have a breadth of knowledge and experience beyond what's necessary for the intended career. Forgive me for repeating myself from an earlier post, but I think the hallmark of the liberally educated is the ability to think about a problem from different angles. This is part of what separates a college from a vocational school or conservatory. But it seems to me that it is much better to make "breadth" one of our Columbia Core outcomes, as an affirmative requirement, rather than an arbitrary-seeming rule that leads to silly redundancies in students' transcripts and barriers to graduation.

 
Expand This Thread
Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 10, 2014 - 8:42 pm

In response to Stan’s question about giving our students a more interdisciplinary education:

Any conversation about interdisciplinarity has to move beyond “what does your discipline think of my discipline?” 

Interdisciplinary scholarship and creative work trespasses beyond the bounds of disciplines to synthesize new ideas and concepts. To do it, we have to be brave enough to rethink the epistemological assumptions of our “home” discipline, and to acknowledge that our disciplinary boundaries are fluid, not precious.

It’s scary but true: interdisciplinary work requires us to step off the solid ground of expertise. 

Interdisciplinary thinking and creative work is not sufficiently fostered by students “visiting” other majors, or by students from different majors being in a class together. 

I think we should create a designated interdisciplinary teaching and learning center that would research and cultivate this work, and support faculty who model it. Maybe students should have a six credit interdisciplinary requirement.  Quality interdisciplinary courses  — not the combination of courses in various disciplines — would fulfill the requirement.

 

Responses(4)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 11, 2014

Great thoughts! Thank you.

 
Howard Sandroff
on Nov 25, 2014

Lisa, I invite you to look at the  proposal for a BS in Music Technology, an initiative that has been under development for 2 years (and is in the process of wiggling its was through Academic Affairs).  We actually created the course you allude , its called The Sonic Experience, taught by faculty from three departments in 5 week modules.  Its currently running as an "experimental course" which will become the centerpiece of the new degree program when it is finally approved and implemented.

 
Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 25, 2014

Howard! After I wrote that post I did read your fantastic proposal, for the Academic Affairs Committee meeting. It is, indeed, a wonderful plan. As you point out, to create quality interdisciplinary work takes time and a lot of care. You all are doing amazing things! Thanks.

 

 
Howard Sandroff
on Nov 26, 2014

thanks Lisa, its moving forward and will hopefully be broadly available.

 
Expand This Thread
Azar Khosravani
on Nov 10, 2014 - 2:56 pm

I agree with Michelle Rafecz that it should be one of our goals to teach our students critical thinkign skills. 

 

Responses(3)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 10, 2014

Thank you. I would like to see folks expand a bit on what they mean by "critical thinking skills." Or maybe a better questions is, how do you operationalize critical thinking skills in the form of specific educational outcomes.

 
Timothy McCaskey
on Dec 08, 2014

I know this is an older thread, but absent other responses, I'll reply briefly:  I'd operationally define critical thinking as the act of making informed judgments based on observations and evidence.  Of course, the judgments and observations/evidence will vary depending on discipline.

 
Soo La Kim
on Dec 08, 2014

I would also add that it's the ability to ask productive questions, that is, questions that lead to the production of new knowledge, new solutions (an essential component of problem solving).

 
Expand This Thread
Constantin Rasinariu
on Nov 10, 2014 - 2:36 pm

We can create flexibility in our major requirements by completely eliminating the concept of “double dipping”. Instead we should focus on a set of competencies needed to achieve the goals articulated by the major. To this end, one step would to establish a universal set of learning objectives. Each course brings to the pool its learning objectives. Then the major requirements would just list the set of learning objectives needed to be achieved.

 

Responses(5)

Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 10, 2014

I like this idea.

 
Stan Wearden
on Nov 10, 2014

A focus on universal learning objectives would be a great way to inform everything we do in the curricular sector. I'm interested in hearing more about specific learning objectives people would like to see all Columbia College Chicago students meeting.

 
Michelle Rafacz
on Nov 11, 2014

I completely agree. Students can be exposed to so much more information outside of their major by pursuing a minor. To make this work efficiently, as long as certain learning objectives are achieved, the same course could then satisfy requirements for more than one program of study.

 
Luis Nasser
on Nov 11, 2014

There is no question that eliminating anachronistic, artificial boundaries would immensely help students get a better education. I am in complete agreement with Michelle and Constantin. The idea of "double dipping" is silly. Students need to gain competence and a skill set in order to be eligible for graduation in their various areas of interest. from personal experience, I can say there has never been a situation in a professional musical setting where my competence in physics has been a "minus" or a "distraction". It has only ever been a plus. A good starting point towards a universal set of learning objectives would be for all the faculty to accept that every aspect of the program needs to serve the common goal of achieving this competence. In that model, there would be no "useless" classes, or classes that are "unfortunate requirements" needed to graduate, but which are less important than others. This is a crucial first step, and would require a significant change of culture here in Columbia.

 
Rafael Martinez
on Nov 12, 2014

I would believe that double dipping would help people explore into minors and double majors because of the free space one would have in their schedule giving them a chance to look into other interests the school can provide.

 
Expand This Thread
Insook Choi
on Nov 10, 2014 - 11:50 am

We can explore an alternative granularity of the concept called “courses”. A 3-credit course can be structured in a number of modules, which I assume many syllabi are already exercised in that way, and dedicate one module to enable interdisciplinary crosstalk.  Interdisciplinary crosstalk can be facilitated in three ways: 1) by synchronizing scheduling for classes during the particular module – commonly done by faculty; 2) by sharing a project or assignments facilitated by asynchronous methods -- CA+S, Television, and other collaboration-based programs do this very well; and 3) by allowing students from other discipline to take a dedicated module for 1 credit – this is not seen as frequently but the new degree proposal in Music Technology is working on modular structure which can facilitate this.  The baseline is that cross-disciplinary learning is best facilitated in designs of regular curriculum structure not requiring extraordinary efforts by faculty and students outside of regular curriculum structure.

 

 

Responses(1)

Stan Wearden
on Nov 10, 2014

Interesting thoughts. Thank you.

 
Expand This Thread
Alton Miller
on Nov 10, 2014 - 11:46 am

Re interdisciplinarity: One simple structural approach would be for every department to add one or more one-credit courses inviting students into the creative environment of their department. Students would be offered a free taste of a variety of alternative portals, and the one-credit course ("free" to students registered for 15 credits) can be a down payment on a minor or certificate program. 

 

Responses(5)

Insook Choi
on Nov 10, 2014

Alton, our posting just crossed. "Free" to students is a good strategy. But perhaps not free taste. Students' home departments need to recognize the credit of the courses ouside of their discilpine as legitimate.

 
Stan Wearden
on Nov 10, 2014

Are there other thoughts on what we can do to give our students a more interdisciplinary education?

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 10, 2014

Why not just allow any classes in the core to double dip for their majors.  If they’ve taken a course then they have taken the class.  This would allow the students to have more flexibility in their majors.  I can’t see of any reason not to do this that I can think of at the moment.

 
Insook Choi
on Nov 10, 2014

This is a thought experiment: Let’s flip the definition of minor. As major programs are becoming more specialized, rather than “minors” in existing programs, is it feasible to redefine minors with a set of ubiquitous fields of studies to be defined College-wide? Hypotheticals are “Major in Dance with minor in Digital Media”, “Major in Game Programming with minor in Design”, or “Major in Fiction with minor in Computer Programming”. These minors would not be miniature versions of existing majors. They are intentionally decoupled from majors and offered for broad exposure.

 

 
Margot Wallace
on Nov 11, 2014

Introduce an interdisciplinary mindset at Open House. Pair the department presentations. Otherwise the perception could be: browse the curricula aisles before you pick one.

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 09, 2014 - 11:05 pm

How can we create flexibility in our major requirements to allow students to explore other areas of the curriculum--for example, by taking minors, or double majors, or engaging in interdisciplinary study--without slowing progress toward graduation?

 

Responses(18)

Christopher Shaw
on Nov 10, 2014

Speaking from my experience in Mathematics, one significant obstacle to growth in our minor is the restriction on double-counting of courses between major and minor programs. Many of the students that enroll in our advanced courses, and would be natural candidates to pursue the mathematics minor, are B.S. students in Game Programming or Acoustics. Since both of these majors already include the bulk of our minor curriculum as a requirement, there are not enough courses left in our minor curriculum for those students to take. 

This has two negative impacts that I can see. The first is that these students, many of whom have completed a significant portion (or even all) of the minor requirements, are not able to add "Mathematics Minor" to their transcript or CV, when those two words could have been a valuable aid to students seeking employment or admission to graduate programs. The second is that it disincentivizes these students from taking other advanced math courses that they may find interesting or useful, simply because they do not have room in their coursework for college-wide electives. 

In our department we recently proposed a new major in Applied Mathematics with a modular structure allowing students to complete a concentration in a related area (programming, to start with). If this major were to be approved, it would be attractive for someone who wanted to gain experience and mentorship in game programming from the excellent faculty in IAM, but still have an educational focus in mathematics.

Whether or not the major is eventually implemented, I think that opening up the restrictions a little to allow students to count a larger number of their major requirements or LAS core courses toward a minor course of study is something we should consider. 

 
Stan Wearden
on Nov 10, 2014

I look forward to hearing many responses to this question. The right major-minor combination can greatly enhance a student's education and career opportunities. How can we make it easier for students to do this?

 

Too many of us won't admit it but we still cling to our silos while watching enrollment decline. A need for open, honest discussion on this, maybe even mandated. The students aren't the problem here - we are. Denial ain't just a river.

 
Jill Sultz
on Nov 10, 2014

 

At times it feels like the only boundaries that exist between various creative areas are those delineated by colleges and universities. Frequently students express confusion about what major they should choose not only because they have multiple areas of interest but because in the "real world" these divisions do not exist. Filmmakers work in television, Writers write across disciplines, and visual artists create art. As we move forward, it might be beneficial to consider the blurring or elimination of these lines; they frustrate students and create a sense of divisiveness and territorialism.

 

 
Suzanne Blum Malley
on Nov 10, 2014

We need to develop the expectation that students will combine their major programs of study with a minor or minors. Historically, minors have been a peripheral part of our conversation about progress to degrees. We also need a better way to see possible/desirable major/minor combinations because I think lots of folks don't know what is out there beyond their own programs. It would be great to have a section of our new colum.edu site dedicated to exploration of major/minor connections, maybe even with alumni feedback on combinations that had an impact on their career trajectories or discussing the the way the "real world" works across areas as Jill Sultz mentions above.

Additionally, when programs develop 4-year path-to-degree plans, they should include potential and suggested major/minor combinations (think add-on modules) for students to choose from. All of our program choices can be overwhelming, so by offering a couple of pre-packaged possibilities we may encourage participation in and beyond those options.

Finally, we still have work to do in terms of reducing credit hour requirements for many of our BA degrees. Degree programs can and should leave room for minors and other forms of curricular exploration.

 
Jane Jerardi
on Nov 10, 2014

It might be necessary to 'count' students differently.  If you really want to encourage interdisciplinaryity it might mean not counting a photo major/dance minor as a 'photography' student or a dance major/theater minor as a 'dance' student - it would mean opening up the possibilities for departments and not only counting their 'majors' as their students but rather students in their courses.One way also would be to actually appoint faculty to multiple departments.  What if you had a faculty member who taught both in Interdisciplinary Arts and Dance? Or, in Theater and Dance? Or Television and Writing?  This happens with some part-time faculty but it might make sense to think about this for lecturers and full-time faculty also. It might also mean being open to some type of team teaching or two (or more) courses scheduled at the same time meeting together for certain class sessions.

 
Stan Wearden
on Nov 10, 2014

Thank you! These are all helpful contributions!

 
Eunju Sohn
on Nov 10, 2014

We can improve (or eliminate) current double-dipping rules for courses that students have taken (maybe except some core courses for each major).  So one course can be counted for multiple majors/minors.

 
Eunju Sohn
on Nov 10, 2014

To be clear, I mean that each course can be counted toward graduation credits for multiple majors or minors.

 
Paula Brien
on Nov 10, 2014

Currently, Columbia's undergraduate students can share the following credits:

1) A student can share up to 9 credits between LAS Core (or IAI Gen Ed) reqs and reqs in a minor. That's usually three 3-credit courses. For sciences or additional languages, it might be two 4-credit courses totaling 8 credits.

2) A student can share "one course" (no matter how many credits) between his or her major and minor reqs.

Notes:

Students cannot share any LAS Core or IAA Gen Ed reqs with their major's reqs.

There seems to be no policy on how a student can share credits between two majors (when "double-majoring") or two minors (when "double-minoring). I recommend addressing this in a way that thoughtfully benefits the student.

The student's major or minor program director has the authority to substitute or waive the reqs within the off-the-rack major or minor to tailor it to the student's unique needs. This is an important tool that can make a minor, second minor, or second major fit well into the student's overall progress to graduation.

At a certain point, it might become useful for such an academically ravenous Columbia student who has synergistic major/s and minor/s to explore an interdisciplinary Major, whereby the student can blend courses from two (and only two) academic departments into a self-created major at Columbia.  (By the way, I've seen student cases where blending from three academic departments might be a smart expansion of the IM. And, some colleges permit course reqs for a self-designed major to come from any academic department needed.)

-- observations from an academic advisor

 

 
Paula Brien
on Nov 10, 2014

"Additionally, when programs develop 4-year path-to-degree plans, they should include potential and suggested major/minor combinations (think add-on modules) for students to choose from. All of our program choices can be overwhelming, so by offering a couple of pre-packaged possibilities we may encourage participation in and beyond those options."

Suzanne: This is a great idea. I'm unsure how common it is for faculty advisors in a student's major to include a discussion of synergistic minors. I would recommend that it be early and often.

I know students would welcome that discussion, although I can tell you from experience that a good number of our students will be tentative about exploring the option for a minor. It really helps students to chart out a possible minor's course sequence within the student's coming semesters so they can see it concretely.

Other students want to load up on multiple minors in order to enjoy their passions, and they are a bit willy-nilly about it. They, too, can be helped by concretely planning for the reqs in the assorted minors, even if the resolution is to taste-test from each and ultimately drop some of the minors so that the student can graduate within four years (give or take).

I can't speak for all college advisors in my office, but I tend to broach the idea of a minor when any student has enough unused College-Wide Elective credits available along with enough semesters remaining at Columbia to absorb a minor.

-- observations from an academic advisor

 
Paula Brien
on Nov 10, 2014

"The right major-minor combination can greatly enhance a student's education and career opportunities. How can we make it easier for students to do this?"

Stan, I think the No. 1 action Columbia can take to make it easier is to ensure that each major and minor has a clearly sequenced "track" for both a four-year and a two-year plan. Note that these tracks must be updated for each academic year, as majors and minors morph and the reqs change.

 
Lillian Elliott
on Nov 12, 2014

In order to make more room for students major classes, the gen ed’s should be decreased. Currently, I am a music major and some what struggling with my music core classes, but  I am not able to give them the attention they deserve because I am doing “busy work” for FYS and Writing and Rhetoric. I see why they are inflicted in the curriculum, students should learn to manage time, but maybe if their were alternatives for required classes that had to do more with our major it would be helpful. Especially being a first semester music major I am learning theory which is similar to learning a new language and it demands a lot of time outside of the classroom. No disrespect to the FYS and Writing and Rhetoric class, i have learned some insight in the classes, but not much that will further my major’s career; essentially what i would like to put most of my time in. I think theses changes could make a lot of first-year students’ experience a lot less stressful. 

 

 
Sean Andrews
on Nov 12, 2014

Thanks for these details, Paula. I am also curious - as we think about reorienting these things - what kinds of accreditation restrictions exist. In other words, what kind of classes, taught by what kinds of programs, are required by our accrediting body in order to remain a legitimate, BA granting institution? Maybe it is too early in the game to talk about these things, but it would be good to know where the bright lines are. This would also help us to know, generally, what other institutions are requiring. As much as we might like to buck the system, students transfer in and our of Columbia and these standards will have a lot to do with their time to graduation once they get here or once they leave. It is obvious why we should be concerned about the former, but the latter is also relevant to helping students understand that there are classes you will likely have to take no matter what college or university you go to.

This is not only because that is what accreditation bodies have agreed on, but because employers believe these are important. On that topic, I don't know if anyone else has shared this survey of employers from last April, published by the AAC&U, but it seems relevant to the overall conversation about the core. http://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/LEAP/2013_EmployerSurvey.pdf

Some highlights: 

Employers recognize capacities that cut across majors as critical to a candidate’s potential for career success, and they view these skills as more important than a student’s choice of undergraduate major. 

  • Nearly all those surveyed (93%) agree, “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.” 
  • More than nine in ten of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning. 
  • More than three in four employers say they want colleges to place more emphasis on helping students develop five key learning outcomes, including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings. 
  • Employers endorse several educational practices as potentially helpful in preparing college students for workplace success. These include practices that require students to a) conduct research and use evidence-based analysis; b) gain in-depth knowledge in the major and analytic, problem solving, and communication skills; and c) apply their learning in real-world settings. 

Employers recognize the importance of liberal education and the liberal arts. 

  •  The majority of employers agree that having both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of skills and knowledge is most important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success. Few think that having field-specific knowledge and skills alone is what is most needed for individuals’ career success. 
  • Eighty percent of employers agree that, regardless of their major, every college  student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences. 
  • When read a description of a 21st century liberal education, a large majority of employers recognize its importance; 74% would recommend this kind of education to a young person they know as the best way to prepare for success in today’s global economy. 
 
Mia Gjeldum
on Nov 15, 2014

Frankly, I think gen ed's are distracting. I know that they are required in order to have a degree, but I wish there was a way to incorporate them more into my specific major since they aren't going anywhere. My music classes are already difficult enough, as well as trying to double major, gen ed's seem to be forgotten but overall stressful. I find myself more annoyed and frustrated with them, rather than them helping me in anyway. A lot of the gen ed courses seem easy and pointless, in the least offensive way possible. Since they are required in order to graduate, is there a way to focus them more towards majors instead of just "general" courses? 

 
Lissette Hall
on Nov 17, 2014

I firmly disagree that gen eds are distracting or useless.  It is unfortunate that the caliber of gen eds that CCC currently offers are not challenging to students from what I have heard.  Thankfully, I completed this portion of my education prior to transferring to this campus and couldn't be happier about the knowledge with which I entered.  The only thing that can academically unify a campus that has so many arts focused programs is to maintain some kind of core curriculum in the form of gen eds.  These courses should be a foundation for thoughtful engagement in our community and not just witty references at dinner parties. 

 
Elizabeth Davis-Berg
on Nov 17, 2014

I think that the problem that gen eds always face is that they aren't part of your major and it is often difficult to see how they will be useful to you when you're in college.  However, as many of us who have been out of college for a while can attest, we use the knowledge and skills obtained in these classes all the time.  Often in unexpected ways.  Life does not only happen in your major, and what you learn about history, science, politics, writing, math, and research are skills that will be used throughout your life.  The world of the future requires an ability to navigate beyond todays professions and we all need a well-rounded education to do so.

 
William Frederking
on Nov 19, 2014

If we ensure that each major at the college has the proper credit hours, the correct mix of requirements and electives, that allow the student to explore other areas, then each major will have flexibility. A BA at most institutions in this country is 36-54 credits. If the core required courses for each major are essential, then the number of requirements for each major could be reviewed and possibly lowered. Fewer requirements for each major would allow students more options to minor or double major.

 
Expand This Thread
Jennie Fauls
on Nov 07, 2014 - 9:15 am

Has this question been raised yet? --> Should there be a required threshold for technological expertise/ability for all faculty at Columbia? What about a standard, at least, of being able to meaningfully use the LMS as part of your teaching in every course?

 

Responses(3)

Christopher Shaw
on Nov 07, 2014

I don't know if it's been raised yet, but I don't think it's a good idea to institute such a specific standard (meaningfully using an LMS, for example) in case pedagogy doesn't warrant it. I do think that there are 21st century standards everyone should be held to. Our department recommends that all instructors use and respond to students by email, make certain students have access to course information outside of class, and offer ready access feedback about their progress in the course - but if that's all that one uses an LMS for, I don't know if these would together constitute "meaningful use". 

I say this as someone who both uses an LMS in all of my classes (Moodle for some, and Pearson-branded software for others), and coordinates between 10 - 15 other instructors, many of whom do not use an LMS, but are effective in the classroom regardless. 

 
Jeff Schiff
on Nov 09, 2014

Likely our best bet is to continue to purposefully integrate reluctant and under-prepared/exposed faculty to the twin benefits of digital communication and lms-supported teaching--rather than penalize those who fall short of the "threshold" you mention, Jennie.

If for no other reason, we should consider the diversity and inclusion angle. Old is not necessarily in the way. My best teachers, after all, used little more than chalk, print-bound texts, and potent speech to educate and inspire.

I'm all for a good mix.

 
Insook Choi
on Nov 10, 2014

We need to purposely assume that, given an adequate framework and support, most faculty would be intellectually engaged into rethinking pedagogy with digital communicaiton and LMS. Diversity and inclusion is the most important angle for technological advancement. It is especially important for Columbia to account for it's diverse creative practices. Do we have an adequate framework to host diversity? Is our LMS good enough? if not, how do we go about to change the conditions that create barriers for diversity and inclusion? While we do not have all solutions in any near future, the first step to take may be surprisingly simple and easy. Begin articulating the needs (not demands) and requirements gathering collaboratively.

 
Expand This Thread
Andrew Causey
on Nov 07, 2014 - 7:59 am

What changes do we need to make to our areas of study (not just the major ones) address economic and technological changes? The first step might be for All of us (whether we work in major, minor, supporting, elective, or exploratory fields at the school) to remember that we are relevant. None of us at Columbia College is the 'fluff' of society, although in current times we may feel that our endeavors are secondary to the seemingly serious work of financiers, politicians, and corporate-bodies. We should not accept that we are responding to economic and techological changes, but rather convince ourselves, rightly so, that we are the ones helping to enact and direct them.

 
Lisa DiFranza
on Nov 06, 2014 - 8:26 pm

I’m interested in the important thread about interdisciplinarity that has implications beyond today’s specific Civic Commons question. 

While we are behind other institutions,structurally, there is a clearly a lot of strong will to do interdisciplinary work on the part of faculty and students. I learned this as member of the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Student-Centered Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration last semester.   

As an interdisciplinary artist, and someone dedicated to examining First-Year Seminar as an academic entry point to Columbia’s core curriculum, I wonder if FYS might evolve into a Columbia College Chicago center for integrated, interdisciplinary teaching and learning. 

1. FYS is an academic unit set apart from any school, and, in fact, connected to all schools and departments. 

2. The FYS Teaching Academy is solidly in place - a robust model of interdisciplinarity that involves faculty and staff from all over the College.

3. The FYS curriculum can be naturally structured toward interdisciplinarity and collaboration, which would convey the high priority this work has (should have) on our campus. Students would dig in right away, in their first year. 

As more Columbia faculty jump on board to teach FYS, it seems a natural center-point for rigorous interdisciplinary teaching, learning, thinking and creating.

I'm excited for this discussion. What do others think?

 

Responses(1)

Howard Sandroff
on Nov 08, 2014

A number of us have been working on an interdisciplinary degree.  The obstacles have been considerable and we haven't scaled all the ramparts just yet.  One solution to come from the discussion is the creation of an "interdisciplinary Institute".  An academic/administrative unit to sit at the provost level, co-equal with the Schools and without faculty since all the faculty interested in interdisciplinary topics are already resident in a department.  The institute would provide the mechanism to support new and existing programs and coordinate its own resources along with the resources of the schools and departments.  It wouldn't be "owned" by any discipline and would be independent from some of the administrative constraints that prevent faculty from developing interdisciplary courses of study.  It would be a place to "get things done" as opposed to the current structure which seems more purposed to "preventing things from getting done".

 
Expand This Thread
Chris Kerr
on Nov 06, 2014 - 12:53 pm

Students, faculty and staff could benefit from a more efficient approach to learning technical equipment and software at the college. In the Art and Design department, we have state of the art equipment and technology, but insufficient curricular offerings which would allow students/faculty to learn/use the advanced machinery and software. In the Fabrication Facility, Computer Lab, and Printmaking Studio, students tend to congregate and try to teach themselves 3D printing, laser cutting, screenprinting, 3D software, etc. Students frequently complain that many courses around the college are taught in a "survey" approach which exposes them to processes, but doesn't encourage mastery of the processes. Professional support staff are available to teach students/faculty, but they are often times outnumbered and have a difficult time teaching one person at a time. If their efforts were recognized, encouraged and supported; staff could be an excellent teaching resource at the college. This would allow students/faculty to better learn outside of the classroom and allow them to make/teach more advanced projects in their courses. Are there other institutions that support hybrid staff/faculty positions? Could a system be set up which allowed faculty and staff to work together to teach frequent and ongoing machinery and technology tutorials? Interested faculty, students and staff would all benefit from a more nimble and responsive approach to learning rapidly developing and emerging technologies and equipment. This initiative would also promote retention, graduation, job placement and ensure that the college's resources are being used in an efficient and sustainable way.

 

Responses(1)

Jeff Steele
on Nov 17, 2014

Chris raises an excellent point.  Digital manufacturing (3D printing) is permeating every industry simultaeously, and has become the go-to resource for startup entrepreneurs wishing to prototype quickly (including crowdfunding).  Last month Forbes highlighted the surge in demand for 3D printing and digital manufacturing job skills, across manufacturing, design and creative industries ("Box Trolls").  These skills need be taught wherever 3D modeling skills are taught.

 
Expand This Thread
Howard Sandroff
on Nov 06, 2014 - 12:38 pm

We first have to STOP speaking our aspirations for the college as if they were already fact. There exists no current mechanism to actually create interdisciplinary/interschool studies.  We are decades behind most innovative institutions in this regard.  Restrictions concerning faculty load, course numbering, faculty evaluations, varying procedures from school to school, administrative stumbling blocks and obstacles galore.  We can't even take the most obvious first steps:

1.  Give specific multi-discliplinary faculty dual or joint appointments which will absolutely facilitate interdisciplinary study and

2.  Create some kind of administrative/academic unit given over entirely to interdisciplinary study.

These are the obvious first steps and as one who is currently involved in an interdisciplanary initiative, I can tell you that the ramparts built around each department, school etc. . . . make it a very very difficult task.

isn't it time to stop talking endlessly about these things and just do something.

 

Responses(3)

Andrew Causey
on Nov 07, 2014

I think Howard is absolutely right here. We are encouraged to create interdisciplinary offerings, but the administrative and bureaucratic hurdles are nearly impassable except at the inter-departmental level.

Once, several years ago, there was a move to create a special number for all interdisciplinary courses which would have been housed and administrated in the Provost's office (to facilitate cross-school interactions). As I remember, the first questions were: Who will review these new courses for academic rigor!? How will we assess teaching effectiveness!? and (perhaps most frantically) "Which department will get the FTEs!?"* With that kind of welcome, those of us interested in working together across the school pretty much shrugged and went back to teaching our departmental courses.

Interdisciplinary, cross-school courses CAN work, but we have to actively pave the way for them to happen. We have to be flexible and creative at all levels.

*FTE is Full Time Equivalency is, if I understand correctly, the way departments count the number of hours they teach (thus showing quantitatively how much work they are doing at the school); faculty teaching outside their own department (ie in a separate interdisciplinary realm) thus diminish their department's FTE numbers, which seem to be used to argue for increased funding.

 
Howard Sandroff
on Nov 07, 2014

Yes Andrew, I remember.  I keep saying this at every turn.  We have to stop patting ourselves on the back for how "innovative" we are and actually sit down and study the administrative obstacles that have been constructed for the supposed purpose of organization, some times for its own sake.  Each and every year I am confronted with yet another redundant initiative, or hyped up mouthing about interactive, interdisciplary and collaborative learning and each and every time I try to do just that I run into some kind of administrative obstacle.  Faculty do these things IN SPITE OF THE COLLEGE ADMINISTRATION, not because of it.

Before we construct yet another redundant initiative to foster "21st century curriculum" we need to first:

 

1.  stop the bull and look at the actual facts

2.  look to the history to see where we've failed in the past

3.  look to the history to see where we've suceeded

4. clarify our goals with real down to earth language and dump forever the hype, jargon, and similar obfuscations 

5.  take on one project at a time, appoint faculty to study and make recommendations and DO IT

6.  stop doing the same thing over an over again somehow expecting a different results

7.  stop the obsessive bean counting, and lets do what we need to for the students

8.  hunt down all the obstacles (andrew's mention of FTE is a great first start).  Forever cease using adminstrative/management/organizaitonal/funding excuses to scuttle a good idea.  My favorite in response to my suggestion of making joint appointments, "well if we do that how will jointly appointed faculty be evaluated, or have their load calculated, or get tenure?".

My answer, do it first with a tenured full professor, there are other logical answers but frankly these are not substantative objections.

9. and finally, deal with actual facts, not aspirations or fantasies, reality.  As long as we keep describing ourselves as "great" (without any real evidence) we will never actually be "great".

 
Fereshteh Toosi
on Nov 07, 2014

I agree with both Howard and Andrew on these points. And I want to echo what Lisa DiFranza discusses above. The Teaching Academy already involves faculty from across the college. With a few adjustments (we've already had a couple name changes, another can't hurt) FYS could be the interdsiciplinary hub that we are looking to create! We've already offered a few J-Term classes that fit the bill, that have been interdisciplinary and/or team-taught. To get this to work for the regular semester, in addition to obstacles around faculty workload, we will need to cross-list some of interdisciplinary courses so that they fulfill their major requirements. Otherwise, it will be challenging to get students to enroll.

 
Expand This Thread
Columbia College Chicago
From the Moderator: Columbia College Chicago
on Nov 06, 2014 - 9:40 am

What changes do we need to make to our major areas of study to address economic and technological changes?

 

Responses(6)

Aileen Klein
on Nov 06, 2014

Since this is my first comment, let me begin by saying how enormously impressed I am with everything about this school.  Now for the topic: I do understand that to keep up with the times that change is important. However, I am unclear how certain changes will affect the curriculum for my son, who is pursuing a career in film (directing).  The very reason he chose this school was because of the "Innovation in the Visual, Performing, Media and Communication Arts."  The school has built an excellent reputation for preparing students for careers in these areas, so I am confused as to what sort of changes and "new envrionment" is necessary to build on something that has worked so beautifully in the past, specifically for Cinema Arts & Science majors.

 
Sean Andrews
on Nov 06, 2014

To follow on Aileen's comment, I don't think it is always obvious what we mean by "economic and technological changes." It is a floating signifier that gets filled with whatever the reader interprets it to mean.  We've been talking about the changes that come from, as Benjamin put it, "The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" for almost a century. And, as in artistic movements of the past, the best innovators were also trained in (or at least could perform in) the traditional means of their craft. And, as I said at the beginning, having a strong foundation in the core competencies of the liberal arts has proven to help students weather not only the changes that have occurred but those that are projected to occur.

If we are talking more specifically about the transition to digital media, I think the work people like Jackie Spinner in the journalism department is exemplary - showing students how to use Twitter as a space of micro-blogging and news publishing. introducing students to the professional use of tools they generally use for recreation is one path. But just as important - to bang this drum again - is to be able to understand what is going on under the hood of these platforms. In the past, students might only need to learn how to craft a good lede to a story, how to address an editor, how to treat a source: now they also need to know how to help their social media rankings and make stories "go viral." Then again, as Will Bunch recently said in his report on the Online News Association meetings here in Chicago:

"Journalism won't be truly reformed until we focus a little less on becoming the virus and a lot more on becoming the cure, whether it's for the wounded souls of Ferguson or struggling folks like Maria Fernandes, who died just trying to make ends meet. If we can do that, if we can truly feed the tortured soul of journalism that's buried but still breathing deep down inside the new machines, it won't really matter if it comes in the form of a question or a statement, will it?"

As more of our culture becomes dominated by Twitter bots and algorithmic filter bubbles (e.g. on Netflix, Amazon, Google search, etc.), it seems being able to communicate and collaborate with real human communities, to understand and adjust the role of poltical and social institutions, will become all the more important. So whatever changes we make to "keep up" or "adapt" to whatever economic or technical changes we percieve in the broader society, this will remain the balance we have to strike.  

 
Suzanne Blum Malley
on Nov 06, 2014

Thanks so much, Aileen Klein , for joining our conversation as the parent of a student studying here. I think your comments raise an important caution against huge curricular changes that move too fast and have unintended negative consequences for students currently enrolled in our progams. First, I'd like to assure you that any curriculur changes we make will be implemented carefully and thoughtfully so that there is always a clear path to degree completion for students. Second, and perhaps most important, through these discussions I think we hope to explore ways to make sure that what we offer our students, and your son, is current and up-to-date in terms of their abiltiy to adapt to any new technologies or working conditions that come their way. In other words, we hope to maintain the best of what we have been doing so far, but also make sure we prepare students for professional and civic lives that require a deeper flexibility and cross-disciplinary/collaborative ways of knowing than may previously have been the focus of specific programs. 

 
Aileen Klein
on Nov 07, 2014

Thank you to both of the above people who responded to my comment! (I am not that technologically confident, so I'm glad I did it correctly!).  Both gave me more to think about.  The part that instilled confidence the most was where Suzanne says that you "hope to maintain the best of what we have been doing so far, but also make sure we prepare students for ...." My question is how (and I know I am being specific, and that this may not apply to all majors or disciplines) these changes will be applied, especially for the Cinema Arts and Science majors.  I would just like to be assured, I suppose, that what we were promised--hands-on, camera-in-hand from day one, experiential learning, amongst other things--will still be the primary focus for a very bright, creative student who is clear about his path.  I don't want to be misunderstood--I am totally for a "holistic" education--and I want my son to be well rounded and prepared for life and that iof course includes the LAS curriculum.  And again, the combination at CCC is wonderful and I really feel like my son will be getting the best education he can at CCC.  So...I know there are no concrete answers tjust yet as to what these changes are or when they will be applied, but I would love to hear from someone in the Cinema Arts and Science department as well!! To quote Bruce Sheridan, "Our curriculum maximizes learning so that graduates leave with four years of filmmaking experience under their belts and begin their careers ready to author the culture of our times."  Keeping up with technological advances in the industry, learning new equipment and software or anything else that expands on what already works seems to be the goal.  And yes, of course we have to be aware and prevent any huge changes that could have negative consequences!! (Thanks again for responding--I think this forum is a wonderful idea!)

 
David Purcell
on Nov 20, 2014

That's an excellent question (and a challenging one.) But on that note - our Curriculum Committess College Wide may need to address the timeframes within which they review their materials (and the context in which they do so.) For example, in some (for example, content) industries, what may have been a core skill/competency 10-20 years ago, may now not be necessarily outdated, but more of a (recent) historical lens upon which to learn the indusrty (and gauge the industry); but some of the core/necessary and applied competencies (in connection with business acumen may have shifted and transformed considerably.) An examination of our content driven entertainment and information industries illustrates this quite dramatically (for example, film, news, journalism, music,, etc.). I feel a real examination of how we look at what exactly our curriculum delivers (and how adaptable the mindset is) in light of the reality of these changes is vital - it is not about formulaic or staid review in this age.) What may have been an applied skill/learning objective may now be part our "historical context" - we need to be continually searching for what are the next applied skills/learning objectives that our students require.

 
Peter Carpenter
on Nov 30, 2014

I'm not sure if this report from a Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Distance Learning has made it into the discussion.  I looked for it, and am not finding it here.  Please forgive the redundancy if this has made it to the discussion already.  

This report was submitted to the Faculty Senate at the end of Spring 2014, and has a number of recommendations for moving forward with online learning strategies.  I hope its inclusion here will help the Steering Committee moving forward.  

 
Expand This Thread
Sharon Marie Ross
on Nov 05, 2014 - 5:50 pm

per Fereshteh's post (sorry--somehow the links won;t ;et me reply directly easily :D)--that would be awesome and it sounds like something that would be AWESOME for first-year seminar!

 
Onye Ozuzu
on Nov 05, 2014 - 9:38 am

I think that there might be benefit in thinking about connections between technology, cultural diversity and conceptual frameworks.  A few years ago I heard Insook Choi speak at a one day symposium hosted by the School of Media Arts on Emerging Technologies.  She used the example of a digital interface for a music editing software that was laid out visually like a tape deck.  She pointed out the absurd truth that many, many users of such software have never seen nor used a tape deck...yet the orientation of functions to one another, the relative size of virtual "buttons" etc was entirely derivative of this old technology that only we "old folks" could relate to.  In reality the visual interface COULD be arranged in any number of oriendtations.  Her suggestion was that this automatic downloading of a visual framework based on historical technologies might actually be limiting the potential of the creative USE of the technology.  Later in her talk she moved to a discussion of the embrace cultural diversity as a necessary under pinning or bedrock to exploration in the interdisciplined practice that is integrating emerging technology into evolving cultural practice.  These two elements of Insook's talk resonated deeply with me because I had actually seen this happen.  In a previous institution I worked with a group of colleagues to shift our required curriculum for our major such that we juxtaposed dramatically and culturally specific content.  Many of the issues we grappled with along the way, as you can imagine dealt with barriers to acceptance (structural racism, top down decision-making process etc).  Once we made it to application though we were MOST interested to find among many outcomes that our students exploration of TECHNOLOGY and other kinds of interdisciplinarity in their work increased DRAMATICALLY.  What experience with deeply engaged cultural diversity surfaced was a keep awareness of the relationship of conceptual frameworks to assumptions about WHAT we do.  So a student that went from a Ballet class to a Hip Hop class comes to know as a necessary process of learning that there are values and basic assuptions in each class, culturally based assumptions that dictate WHAT is done in those environments respectively.  They see the "tape deck" and it's relationship to the practice happening in the room.  And they realize that the "set up",  the assumptive framework, the culture, is mutable, that it is something they can shift and in their own rehearsal or creative process they can bring together elements, skills practices garnered from either the Ballet class or the Hip Hop class and rearrange them in new ways to serve specific and particularly relevant questions of USE.  We found this ability to be imminently transferable and our dancers were voraciously exploring film, theory, voice, digital editing of video, photographs, sound etc etc in ways that were surprising, to us.  I say all this to say that maybe diversity and inclusion are about more than creating fairness and opportunity and access for historically marginalized "other".  Perhaps it could be an expressway for all of our students to the conceptual and assumptive fluidity that can underscore their explorations of the intersectionality of contemporary human experience and its relationship to the past, evolving technologies and their potential uses, economic contexts, and environmental pressures.

 

Responses(2)

Suzanne Blum Malley
on Nov 05, 2014

Thank you, Onye. I think you articulate here the very core of what we hope our students might be able to do with the learnign experiences we offer - to have a "keen awarenessof the relationship of conceptual frameworks to assumptions about WHAT we do" and I would add to HOW we think. I would love to hear what folks think about we could do shift our curriculum along these lines in large scale? 

 
Soo La Kim
on Nov 06, 2014

Yes, the connections Onye is making among technology, cultural diversity, and conceptual frameworks resonate deeply with me too. I agree that diversity has to be part of the conversation about curriculum, not just to create more inclusive canons of course materials (though that's important, too), but to create opportunities for deep interdisciplinary questioning of conceptual frameworks, disciplinary and cultural assumptions, biases, exclusions, etc. in order to make room for new models and ways of thinking.

I think one thing we could explore are the conceptual frameworks and assumptions that govern the process of curriculum and course design itself, both at the micro and macro levels. I would love to have a deeper conversation not just about learning goals and assignments, which are certainly necessary and productive, but about what kinds of learning experiences we want students to have. I think that's distinct from thinking in terms of outcomes and measurable skills. Can we think intentionally about the learning environment (physical, conceptual, contextual, technological), so we're thinking not just about what goes "into" the curriculum and what comes out of it (outcomes), but how students experience the curriculum and what opportunities they have to DO stuff with it in the way Onye describes her Dance students doing?

I'm thinking that the learning outcomes or abilities Lisa DiFranza outlined in an earlier thread, which I'm copying again below, also start to describe learning experiences that we might want for our students. In working with departments on drafting learning outcomes, I heard a lot about the desire for students to TAKE RISKS - how do we engineer learning environments that help students do that? How do we create moments of expectation failure where the conceptual framework (of ballet, e.g.) no longer work in a new context (Hip Hop)? How do we create opportunities to disagree, to dwell in ambiguity, to collaborate deeply, to integrate new ideas not just from course to course, but on a departmental or programmatic level?

1. To walk in someone else's shoes, and place a value in compassion.

2. To disagree, live and in person, and to learn something from that event.

3. To maintain a sense of agency, a belief that their voices matter in the world.

4. To live with ambiguity.

5. To collaborate, in and out of the classroom and in the community, and see the value of the risk taking that collaboration requires.

6. To think, work and imagine across disciplinary boundaries, and integrate various kinds of information and ideas.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Mindy Faber
on Nov 04, 2014 - 8:03 am

Suzanne, i am loving this forum and reading all the smart discourse! I am wondering how the conversations might shift if we added the phrase "Learning Experiences" to the topic title - eg: 21st Century Curriculum and Learning Experiences?

Often the word, curriculum implies content knowledge that we as educators convey to students. In this networked knowledge abundant world, where young people can access most anything they need to know from their mobile device, effective teaching means not only having knowledge in your discipline but having the ability to translate that knowledge into the design of learning experiences that help students cultivate appropriate dispositions. For example, in IAM, the game design curriculum is largely structured around engaging students in collaborative and iterative learning experiences because those are the skills necessary for success in the industry.

In the Convergence Academies, we have identified 6 pillars that serve as guiding principles for instructional design and pedagogy. These are Play, Iterative Learning, Collaboration, Critical Response, Authentic Participation and Choice of Expression. I wonder what pillars might help guide Columbia faculty in the design of learning experiences that enable students to construct knowledge and build skills within their disciplines.

 

Responses(8)

Beth  Ryan
on Nov 04, 2014

Mindy, this is great.  Thank you for sharing these principles.  We would benefit from a shared set of principles and a template in Instructional Design and Curriculum planning.  Currently, many people are doing a superior job, yet it is still pockets of great activity on campsu and not a share dapproach to education.  I am not suggesting that we get steeped and strict in rules and dictates, yet I do think the college wourl benefit from a suggested pedagogical approach to instructional design and curriculum planning.  

 
Jennie Fauls
on Nov 04, 2014

In the Program in Writing and Rhetoric we are beginning to pilot a curriculum that centers around 'pillars' of a sort, as well. It is a shared vocabulary as well as a set of collective principles. It consists of 10 'key concepts:' alphabetic text, affordances, image, genre, ethos, field, arrangement, circulation, kairos and remix.

Our inquiry about writing in the 21st century, throughout the semester, centers around using the terms to communicate various narratives in multiple media. It's an effort to organize learning experiences for first-year students. We believe that each term is meaningful and transferable across our foundational courses. An example is the term 'affordances.' Students communicate about genres, modes and platforms for 21st century communication by considering their different affordances. (What affordances will a WordPress blog offer me that a hard copy, text-only paper won't?)

I agree that it will serve our students well for programs and departments to discuss shared structures, language and principles. I think it's important that they have practical application in addition to being philosophically reassuring. We look forward to sharing our new book and curriculum with the college community. Student writing already reveals a great deal of 21st century innovation; a new level of originality and meaning-making. 

 
Christopher Shaw
on Nov 04, 2014

Mindy, I think that's a great point. "Curriculum" connotes a structure which is predetermined by faculty decisions, in which students are the actors. But as we all know from experience, students have the power to drive classroom discussion and topics of study, and in some cases are even asked to present course material themselves. At Columbia, I think that encouraging this type of student agency is an essential element of the classroom experience. I don't have six pillars, but in my mathematics classrooms, I prioritize collaborative work, experimentation, and meaningful participation in class discussion.

 
Soo La Kim
on Nov 05, 2014

Mindy, I see a lot of overlap between the 6 pillars you list and many of the learning objectives articulated for various Foundations curricula in the departments. Because the CiTE has been working with various departments across the college in revising Foundations curricula, we've been part of similar conversations about similar goals discussed in different disciplinary contexts. I know that faculty in FYW, FYS, and key departments have met to talk about these common goals and I think such conversations should continue and happen on a larger scale, so that any given dept. or program can see how their foundational curricula aligns with those of other depts. and can connect concepts and terms. If students only hear "affordances" within the context of their FYW course, and don't know that terms in other disciplines are related and relevant to the concept of affordances, they're less likely to transfer skills across courses and fields of knowledge. So, how do we make these curricular pillars, concepts, principles, objectives, etc. more shareable?

 
Suzanne Blum Malley
on Nov 05, 2014

Thanks, Mindy. I agree with the need to think in terms of Learning Experiences and I'd like to see these conversations follow that pathway. I also wish there was a way to link to crosspost because your post in optimizing enrollment is another #mustread for the 21st Curriculum and Learning Experinces discussion.

 
Suzanne Blum Malley
on Nov 05, 2014

Soo La,

I think the question of how we align the learning experiences, concepts, principles, and objectives across foundations programs and then ensure that we are revisiting and devleoping them throughout a student's course of study is a crucial conversation for a reimagining of a Columbia Core. I would love a discussion of those things overlap with some of the ideas that Onye Ozuzu brings up in her post above, including connecting to Insook Choi 's creative practice work with departments and, and Onye describes it, the embrace of cultural diversity as a necessary under pinning or bedrock to exploration in the interdisciplined practice that is integrating emerging technology into evolving cultural practice."

How might we bring all of these things together to map learning experiences for our students?