Category Archives: What’s New


I will pursue the questions we are asked to address in Assignment #3 in the context of my involvement in a 4th-year research seminar course in Human Nutritional Sciences undergraduate program at the University where I work. Background: I have … Continue reading


I am most interested in how to facilitate student learning.    As a librarian, how that facilitation takes place is not always clear. Giving an instruction about library service or how to use a research database are obvious ones.  I don’t, … Continue reading

IMPACT at Purdue


IMPACT Program at Purdue University

Earlier this year, I was pleasantly surprised to find IMPACT, team-based, campus-wide, concerted efforts at Purdue University while surfing the Net.  The program is set to redesign undergraduate courses by “integrating a more enhanced student-centered approach that is informed by research and aimed at enhancing student learning, competence, and confidence” (IMPACT web site, Purdue University, 2011).  The scale of  the program is huge.  The program started in 2011, and currently “62 courses and 72 faculty[are] in the program.”  The University gives a $10,000 stipend per undergraduate foundational course to go through redesigning using the Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education:

  • encourages contact between students and faculty
  • develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
  • encourages active learning
  • gives prompt feedback
  • emphasizes time on task
  • communicates high expectations
  • respects diverse talents and ways of learning

The project is led by the Office of Provost and the staff from the five support units work together and help each teaching faculty to redesign the course.  The support units that are involved in the program are:  Purdue Extended Campus, Purdue Libraries, Discovery Learning Research Center, Information Technology, and Center for Instructional Excellence.  The main idea of IMPACT is to “[e]nable faculty-lead course redesign with campus-wide resources.”

This is definitely a huge step up from our humble blended learning project.  This scale of university-wide initiative would easily solve some of the planning and delivery issues we encountered in our project.  This is an enviable project bringing all the learning support professionals as a team to facilitate learners-centered learning of undergraduate students.


MPACT – Our Mission. (2011). Retrieved April 6, 2013, from


Cathy Davidson


Portrait Picture of Cathy Davidson

Cathy Davidson, portrait by Artie Dixon

“Technology is always about the human factors in addition to the affordances.”  Cathy Davidson, [comment to her own HASTAC blog Entry]

Cathy Davison* is Professor of English at Duke University and a co-founder of HASTAC among other things.  For me, she is the author of 36 Views of Mount Fuji where she colourfully depicted many  personal and interesting encounters she made in Japan while she taught English at an all-women university.  Her enthusiasm is very catching and I remember my English professor friend somehow pointed out to me that she might be too “Japanofile” for his taste.

Since her book on Japan in the 80’s, Cathy Davidson has become the strong voice and important player in the ongoing higher education reform movement.  She is a very interesting figure because she is successfully capitalizing on her leadership positions at the Duke and in her larger scholarly communities in bringing about noticeable impacts on the discourse of changing higher education.   Her ability to drive the changes by actively involving and engaging herself in the front line of educational experimentation and then, communicating about them in her blogs and her book, is definitely the key to her success.

She was one of the people who drafted a “Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in a Digital Age” to generate a further discussion.  My understanding of what motivated somebody like Cathy Davidson and other concerned educators and scholars to draft the Bill is that the sudden rise of privatized MOOCs**, especially Coursera during 2012.  Considering its sheer technological power to gather student information by so many numbers, it is not too difficult to imagine that the company wants to capitalize on it.  Cathy Davison is now going into the enemy’s ring and is proposing to teach a course, “The History and Future of Higher Education” on Coursera next spring.

She shares her thinking around how she is going about developing the Coursera course on her blog.  For example, she writes about how to organize peer reviews among students.  Whenever the discussion of peer reviews is being raised, there are inevitable concerns raised, and the typical one is plagiarism.  But I think that encouraging peer reviews among students would bring some reality into the closed “schooling” model we became so accustomed to.   Here  (same as the above hyperlink) in her blog, she is modelling how the instructor can go about organizing activities for students.  Here she writes about how to turn multiple choice testing into a learning tool for students.

*The 2011 Inside Higher Education interview Cathy Davidson when she published a book, Now You See It.

**You can listen to CBC Spark for more detailed discussion on MOOCs as an emerging format for online higher education.  The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Inside Higher Education are the obvious sources for tracking the sudden rise of MOOC’s.


To Blog or Not To Blog

A lady sitting on a bench using computer

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon on Flickr CC

The theme that I selected for my webinar is creating more authentic learning dimension using social media in higher education.  I decide to select the blog as one social media platform as an example and its potentials to incorporate into the courses in higher education.

I was lucky to find Mark Sample’s blog entry, “A Better Blogging Assignment” in the regular ProfHacker column of the Chronicle of Higher Education.   He is a vocal advocate of the use of blog in university courses.  He uses the blog in every course he teaches.  Despite his strong commitment to using the blog and its pedagogical values, he confesses in this blog entry that he is tired of reading student blogs and evaluating blogs week after week .  He writes, “I do want to reignite my sense of discovery and excitement about student blogging.”  He thus asks for his readers to contribute different models of how the blog can be used in university courses.  In response, a long list of comments were generated, some offering their own example, others simply sharing the values of the blog, and also some warning the trap of using the blog as an assignment.  It gave me an amazing wealth of information to see how teaching faculty is using the blog in their courses and how they are experiencing it.  I also found through the conversation created around the Sample’s blog entry that other digital humanities scholars, as Sample is one, are actively integrating the use of the blog into their courses.  They are offering good examples to consider for the possibility of the blog use in other disciplines.


Sample, M. (2012, July 3). A better blogging assignment. ProfHacker. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved March 22, 2013 from

Sample, M. (2012) Toward a better blogging assignment.  2012 THATCamp, the Humanities & Technology Camp. Retrieved March 22, 2013 from  (The same material presented at the 2012 THATCamp venue and includes more comments.  I particularly likes the comment from a history professor briging recent graduates to give feedback on the blog.)

Sample, M. (2009). Pedagogy and the Class Blog.  Retrieved April 5, 2013 from (I found this link from one of the comments made to the above 2012 THATCamp blog.)

Selected Examples of the Blog Use in University Courses (From the comments in response to Sample’s article):

  • Miranda Nesler refers to  her summer course where she opens up her professional blog to her students to do weekly entries.
  • Daniel Greene uses the blog to curate weekly readings  with students taking their turn with this course.  “This means a long post of 500-750 words that integrates 5-6 other pieces of media and expands on some aspect of the week’s readings or activities–adding new stuff, giving us history, expanding it into a different community or political issue, whatever. “
  • anetv uses “blogs to augment papers, and to support writing in more casual, lower-stakes, exploratory ways.”  She curates her class blogs in her Teaching web page.

A Great Experimentation!

Photo Credit: culmsurf CC

Photo Credit: culmsurf CC

Two professors, Cathy Davidson and Dan Ariely are currently running an experimental undergraduate course, “Surprising Endings’ as a Winter 2013 course at Duke University.  It is quite an ambitious undertaking in which the students work in groups and each group is to come up with their segment of a MOOC for public consumption at the end of the course.  In this course, the students are the driver and select their own topics, readings and use two professors as their consultants.  The students meets face-to-face in the class while they are also busy writing public blog entries about what they are learning.  Duke Today published the article, “Teaching 2.0 Make a Class do Cartwheel” reporting about the course.  The video attached to the article gives us a glimpse of what might be going on in the course.  This course seems to be practicing all the principles that applied to student-centered, authentic, and self-directed learning: “Learning by Doing, Making, Teaching.  Very intriguing!  The course also provides one professional videographer and 5 TA’s to help students produce a professional grade video artifact.  Thirty-three (33) students and 5 TA’s?  Wow, this is definitely a resourceful university. YouTube video from the Surprising Endings course is here. Check it out!