Educause—the nation’s leading nonprofit focused on advancing higher education through the integration of information technology—has suggested that we have moved beyond the Information Age and have entered what they are calling the “Connected Age.” St. Lawrence’s approach is firmly rooted in face-to-face classroom instruction, but more and more we are extending the bounds of the physical classroom, reflecting the way in which remote collaboration and online engagement have revolutionized how information is shared and people meet and collaborate.
Educational Technologies, along with the Libraries and Information Technology division more broadly, supports faculty and students in using a range of technologies to connect St. Lawrence to the world. Scholars and experts in their fields will join classrooms on campus for lectures and discussions. Rather than simply read about the experiences of students in abroad programs, students in our language classes can see and hear directly from students involved in the program. Students in our abroad programs needing assistance with their writing can now work with a student tutor in our writing center over a web-conference connection allowing for a shared view of the student’s paper. Students engaged in our First Year Program college located in London stay connected to our campus and the student experience in Canton by connecting regularly to their sister First Year Program college on campus and engaging in collaborative projects across the pond via web conferencing. Working with colleagues at partner schools within the New York 6—a liberal arts consortium formed with funding from the Mellon Foundation—Educational Technologies staff are supporting a number of courses lead collaboratively by faculty across institutions:
- With funding from the Teagle Foundation, Latin American History Professors Evelyn Jennings (St. Lawrence) and Jordana Dym (Skidmore College) are engaged in a series of collaborative offerings focused on “Latin American History Through Travel.” Meeting weekly through web conference, they have brought two courses taking slightly different approaches to a related topic together for a shared course project culminating in cross-institution student presentations. They will join these courses fully on the next iteration. After that course, interested students will be able to join a trip to Cuba.
- With Teagle Foundation funding, Education Professor Bill Collins (St. Lawrence) has partnered with Education Professor Jim McKinster and Director or the Centennial Center for Leadership, Amy Forbes (both from Hobart and William Smith Colleges), on a course in Educational Leadership which has them meeting for three hours each week via web conference.
- With funding provided through a Mellon Digital Humanities Crossing Boundaries grant, History Professors Donna Alvah (St. Lawrence) and Andy Rotter (Colgate University) join their classes through web conference for one of their three hours of class each week to deepen their shared exploration of The Vietnam War.
- St. Lawrence has for many years been part of the New York State Independent College Consortium for Study in India and along with, most recently, Hamilton and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, sent students to India for a semester-long program. For the past two years, with funding provided by the Mellon Foundation, students have engaged in a pre-departure course the semester and summer ahead of their Fall semester in-country experience. Carried out through a combination of online, face-to-face, and web conferenced engagement, the pre-departure course allows the program faculty—drawn from across the institutions involved—to cover critical foundational material and prepare the students to maximize the impact of their time abroad. The course also allows the students to develop a bond well ahead of arriving in-country easing their transition into living and learning collaboratively
- St. Lawrence professor Gisele El Khoury is in the process of developing with Hamilton professor Mireille Koukjian a combined Advanced Arabic course. Both schools have strong Arabic programs at the introductory and intermediate level but are unable to enroll enough students at the advanced level more often than every other year. By combining their efforts and their enrollments, they will be able to offer the course annually through a combination of web conferenced connections and online engagement.