In the academic year 2015-16, Five College Blended Learning funded 10 projects.These projects are described briefly below, and linked through to the content that those courses created in our digital repository.

Acquiring Chinese Character Literacy in the Beginner Level Chinese Courses

Sujane Wu  and Yalin Chen  (East Asian Languages & Literatures , Smith College ): The goal of this project is to develop an integrated online platform focused on improving Chinese character literacy, the reading and writing of Chinese characters, to better support a blended learning and flipped classroom model in our Chinese program. This proposed project is designed for the beginner level Chinese courses (CHI110 and CHI111) to help students overcome the most difficult yet essential and pivotal component of learning Chinese as a foreign language: the Chinese characters.

Development of Content and Language Integrated Learning Course with a Project Based Language Learning Component

Naoko Nemoto  (Asian Studies , Mount Holyoke College ): The goal of this project is to provide students with the new knowledge of Japanese linguistics, including the characteristics of the sound and writing system, history, and current social issues of the Japanese language and at the same time help improve their Japanese language communication skills. With this grant, I plan to create a series of visual (video and photos) and audio learning materials that can be independently used in any intermediate to advanced level Japanese language courses in Five College institutions and beyond.

Exploration of the Impact of Disability on Families through Parent, Sibling and Grandparent Narratives

Ashley Woodman  (Psychology , UMass ): The goal of this project is to further student learning and engagement in the course Impact of Disability on Families through exploration and analysis of case studies of families raising children with disabilities. Students will review narratives from parents, siblings, and grandparents of children with disabilities online. Through a combination of online discussion and in class discussion, students will explore key concepts and themes that emerged in the family narratives, discuss similarities and differences across family narratives, and draw connections between family narratives and course materials.

The Impact of Blended Learning Techniques in a Research Methods Course

Lauren Duncan  and Alexandra Burgess  (Psychology , Smith College ): The goal of this project is a) to increase student engagement in class content, improve the depth of student learning, and develop student skills related to collaborative idea building using blended learning approaches, b) to identify measurable learning outcomes and develop appropriate assessment materials, and c) to investigate the impact of these blended learning strategies on identified student learning outcomes. Several faculty members within the Psychology department at Smith College have begun to integrate idea-centered learning, specifically an online blended learning technique, into the teaching of Introduction to Research Methods. The proposed pilot project will further these efforts by facilitating the implementation and assessment of blended learning approaches aimed at increasing deep learning.

The Live Virtual Lesson Studies Project: Providing Preservice Teachers Authentic Access to the Process of Planning, Teaching, and Assessing Lessons Through Dynamic Blended Learning Environments

Michael Flynn  (Education , Mount Holyoke College ): The goal of this project is to give our preservice teachers opportunities to work directly with highly effective teachers; and second, to help develop a model for dynamic blended learning environments that replicates face-to-face experiences, connecting communities of learners. Throughout the project, as online and on-campus participants collaborate, we will gain an understanding of the key instructional components that actively engage participants in blended environments. We will also identify the most effective ways to use iPads as tools to connect learners and enhance virtual collaboration, utilizing a myriad of free apps and multimedia options.

Media in Cars

James Miller (Communications, Hampshire College ): The goal of this project is to create an empirical record that can be the basis for near-term forecasting regarding the mediatization of built environments. Students will learn about the technological, design and social factors of media in cars from about 1920 in the US. They will carry out literature reviews and archival investigations. And they will construct (ideally 3D) online models of media in cars as well as an online database of foundational information. The course will be blended in the sense that students will work collaboratively and virtually outside regular class meetings and the product of their efforts will be digital and publicly available.

Toward a Five Colleges Introduction to Comparative Politics

Timothy Pachirat  (Political Science , UMass ): The goal of this project is to create new technological and pedagogical dimensions for a large, introductory Political Science lecture course and to expand and improve existing, exploratory blended learning components. Additionally, the project seeks funding for a full-day Five Colleges workshop and other follow-up work to assess the feasibility of using blended learning technologies to develop the course as a “living” module with contributions from faculty from across the Five Colleges and available to be used as an open source, shared pedagogic resource in Political Science, Government, and Politics departments and programs across the Five Colleges.

Writing from the Diaspora: Contemporary Women’s Literature

Alicia E. Ellis  (German and Comparative Literature , Hampshire College ): The goal of this project is to facilitate deep engagement with the literature, and to enable students to participate in varied, open-ended, cooperative and individual work. The focus on blended learning work allows students to draw relationships between the literary and historical evidence and data gathered through archival testimonial sources. Using these resources in conjunction with selected online tools, students will learn how to present and visualize interactive data taken directly from the literary sources – Michelle Cliff, Edwidge Danticat, Toni Morrison and Claudia Rankine.

Web-Based Geographic Information Science and Technologies (GIST)

Charles Schweik  (Environmental Conservation and Center for Public Policy and Administration, UMass ), Andy Anderson  (Academic Technology Services , Amherst College ), Jon Caris  (Spatial Analysis Lab, Smith College ): The goal of this project is to develop an entirely new advanced blended learning course on GIST as it is used on the World-Wide Web. This course will build and draw upon open-access online GIST content for use by Five College students in a flipped course model. The supporting in-class component will focus on a team-based service-learning project. The material we produce will be made available as open access for all campuses, but also will have global reach through a group co-PI Schweik co-leads called