Wellesley and Other Leading Liberal Arts Schools Met This Week to Establish Online Teaching and Learning Consortium

May 13, 2015
Representatives from Wellesley, Colgate, Hamilton and Davidson sign an agreement establishing an online learning consortium.

Wellesley, Colgate University, Davidson College, and Hamilton College gathered Monday to announce the formation of a new consortium promoting joint educational and technological collaboration with a focus on online teaching and learning in the liberal arts.

The founding institutions, which are all members of the edX collaborative and were among the first liberal arts colleges to offer MOOCS and experiment with blended learning, will work together to explore of the role of edX and other online platforms and technologies in learning and pedagogy. The schools will share research and data concerning the educational value and lessons learned from the creation and delivery of online courses, modules, and open educational resources.  

Members of the consortium spoke with the Chronicle of Higher Education to discuss the group’s mission. “The focus is not on bringing down the cost of education, but on improving online-teaching projects — whether all-online or hybrid courses — by sharing experiences and collaborating,” wrote the Chronicle’s Jeffrey R. Young.

The yet-to-be named collaboration will launch with two primary goals: to expand online learning at the four colleges and to help faculty members make sense of how students are learning online, representatives including Wellesley’s Adam Van Arsdale, associate professor of anthropology, told Inside Higher Ed

The consortium also hopes to create ways to connect professors interested in team-teaching. At this week’s meeting, a participant suggested the website could serve as a “dating site” where faculty members could post their interests and find potential collaboration partners.

“Teaching is a very intimate thing,” said Van Arsdale. “When you’re sharing a classroom space -- whether that be a physical or digital space -- it requires some degree of comfort and personal knowledge. One of those goals of this collaboration is to provide venues for those personal connections to be established.”

The establishing agreement was signed by: David Smallen, VP for Libraries and Information Technology, Hamilton College; Wendy Raymond, VP for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Davidson College; Douglas Hicks, Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Colgate University; Andrew Shennan, Provost and Dean of the College, Wellesley College.