In the academic year 2016-17, 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.

Fundamentals of Music

Christopher White  (Music and Dance , UMass Amherst ): In introductory music theory and fundamentals classes, students not only develop basic musical skills, but also engage with larger interdisciplinary topics. Throughout the semester, we ask how music communicates, how we delineate between sound as art and sound as noise, and how some moments in music are surprising while others are completely expected. Our blended classroom would use interactive online assignments to enhance students’ skills acquisition while connecting these skills to broader concepts. They would learn to master tasks, from reading and manipulating music notation to producing short melodies, chord progressions, and even songs. These more sophisticated assignments will incorporate interdisciplinary concepts: for instance, students will learn to compose music via basic statistics, learning to manipulate and analyze datasets to identify musical norms, using these norms to produce their own songs, and even connecting these ideas to larger notions of the ways music communicates ideas and emotions.

Be My Valentine

Laura Kalba  (Art , Smith College ): Focusing on a largely unprocessed collection of Victorian-era Valentine’s day cards held at the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, MA) and existing digital artifacts, including online ephemera databases and exhibitions, the following upper-level colloquium invites students to critically reflect on the connections between nineteenth-century print ephemera and the ephemerality of images and texts in the digital era, paying particular attention to the gendered and affective dimensions of these everyday artifacts. Inspired by L. Dee Fink’s Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (2013), the course selectively draws upon blended learning model in an effort to promote active forms of learning; to encourage students to engage more deeply with the past through the first-hand study of archival documents; and, finally, to underline the social value of interdisciplinary humanities research through the production of public scholarship, hosted on the website of an important national learned society and research library.


Michele Hardesty  (Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies , Hampshire College ): Beyond the Riot: Zines in Archives and Digital Space will use online, classroom and site-specific learning to engage students with zines as primary sources for exploring feminist, queer, and POC cultural production in the 1990s. As the title suggests, these explorations will include, but go beyond, the well-known history of Riot Grrrl. With a blend of data visualization, digital annotation, DIY videogame creation, and physical zinemaking, students will create transformative means of researching zines and engaging with the contexts of their production. This course will be headquartered at Hampshire and taught by Dr. Michele Hardesty and Dr. Alana Kumbier, but will include multiple sessions and collaborators at other sites. This course will be offered to all Five College students in Fall 2016.

Chinese Characters

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.

Yue Opera

Ying Wang Lisha Xu (Asian Studies , Mount Holyoke College ): This project aims at better meeting the course objectives by incorporating two “blended learning” approaches into the classroom teaching—1) having a theater practitioner contribute to the curriculum and 2) reinforcing learning by utilizing internet technology. Among the objectives of the proposed course, broadening and deepening students’ understanding of Chinese society in the aspects of gender and performing art and improving their skills in writing and doing literary critique are two fundamental ones. Including a theater practitioner in the course design and material development will enrich the curriculum tremendously and provide our students with the first-hand and course-tailored learning materials they would not have access otherwise. Incorporating the internet technology (to build a course blog in this case) will allow our students to have a “publishing” experience, giving them a good opportunity to practice writing clearly and concisely and in different genres and styles.

Ecological Narratives

Malcolm Sen  (English , UMass Amherst ): Students will be introduced to methodologies of literary and linguistic analysis in this 300 level course taught at UMass Amherst which will allow them to form opinions about policy documentation and international reports on climate change. The project will utilise digital tools to analyse such documentation. In conjunction with this real-world, grounding approach students will read literary texts which centre on specific geopolitical locations to critique the particular environmental issues and challenges faced by those regions. Podcast lectures will also be a core aspect of this course which will introduce students to leading critical voices in the growing field of ‘Environmental Humanities’. Finally, students will produce, collate and edit their research for the course website that will help them (and future students) visualise the multiplicity of concerns and the entangled relations between human and non-human nature across a variety of geopolitical locations. It is expected that this course, if funded, will provide the foundation for a digital resource on Climate Change (as understood from a humanities perspective) for future students who will contribute further to it.

Immigrant Lives

Lili Kim  (Critical Social Inquiry , Hampshire College ): The goal of this project is to utilize technology and digital resources to deeply engage students in conducting transnational historical research through identifying, investigating, and interpreting primary source materials that span across time, languages, and continents to produce histories of Koreans in the United States. The emphasis and incorporation of blended learning work will allow students to access a growing number of important digital archives on Korean American history and U.S. history, and to help overcome the logistical stumbling block of not being able to travel to the archives to conduct research. Using selected online tools, this blended learning course will enhance opportunities and access for students to work collaboratively and individually on organizing and analyzing primary sources as well as synthesizing scholarship in the field. Students will ultimately help fill in the gaps in and further our understanding of Korean American history through their collaborative research projects, which will be available and archived online.