High-Impact Educational Practices in the Online Classroom?

January 19, 2018 § Leave a comment

On Friday, January 26, 2:45 – 4:00 pm in the Lafayette Park room, I’ll be co-presenting at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) along with Steve Greenlaw of Mary Washington University and Gretchen McKay of McDaniel College.  Below is the  program listing along with the abstract we submitted for this session:

Program Listing

High-Impact Educational Practices in the Online Classroom?

In 2014, 28% of students took a distance course, with the majority of those (67%) attending public institutions and 35% at public two-year institutions. While online learning promises to improve access, it often seems incompatible with high-impact practices (HIPs) that benefit low income and underserved students. Panelists, drawing on personal experience teaching online and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Online Humanities Consortia, Open Learning: A Connectivist MOOC for Faculty Collaboratives in the state of Virginia, and Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments, will discuss opportunities and strategies for HIPs, including writing-intensive courses, collaborative assignments, undergraduate research, diversity/global learning, service learning, and capstone courses, in an online setting. Small groups will explore models, discuss challenges of implementation, and consider institutional strategies to address those challenges.

Rebecca Davis, Director of Instructional and Emerging Technology, St. Edward’s University; Steve Greenlaw, Professor of Economics, University of Mary Washington; Gretchen McKay, Chair of the Department of Art and Art History, McDaniel College


Online learning promises to improve access to higher education. In 2014, 28% of students took at least one distance course. Of that number 67% attended public institutions, and 35% were at public 2-year institutions (Allen et al., 2016; Fox 2017). Low-income and underserved students, however, may struggle in online courses due to technical difficulties, social distance, lack of structure, and lack of student supports (Jaggers, 2010).  Furthermore, high-impact practices (HIPs) that have been proven to benefit student learning through engagement–with greater gains seen by underserved students–often seem incompatible with online delivery (Kuh, 2008; Finley & McNair, 2013). In the stereotypical online course, students read from an online text, take machine-graded quizzes and exams, and possibly “participate” in a discussion board with which the instructor may or may not interact. This session will focus on ways to transform the online classroom with high-impact practices to promote student engagement and build student agency, preparing students to flourish as they strive for the American Dream.

Three panelists representing three institutions (private Baccalaureate, public and private Masters), three roles (faculty, center for teaching and learning, instructional technology), and three disciplines (art history, economics, and general education capstone) will share models for HIPs in the online classroom.  Panelists will draw on personal experience teaching online and for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Online Humanities Consortia and Open Learning: A Connectivist MOOC for Faculty Collaboratives in the state of Virginia, as well as Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments (under contract with MLA, forthcoming 2018), a curated collection of 600 pedagogical artifacts for humanities scholars interested in the intersections of digital technologies with teaching and learning.

First, panelists will discuss opportunities, challenges, and strategies for the following HIPs in an online setting:

  • Writing-Intensive Courses
  • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Diversity/Global Learning
  • Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
  • Capstone Courses and Projects

Next, they will engage the audience in small group discussions of implementing HIPs online at their own institutions.  Each group will consider an assigned example, discuss challenges of implementation, and consider institutional strategies to address those challenges.

Outcomes will include:

  • Recognizing the feasibility and appropriate use of high-impact practices in an online setting;
  • Recognizing effective assignment design for online settings
  • Understanding the challenges of combining online learning and high-impact practices;
  • Developing institutional strategies for supporting these innovative pedagogies.


Allen, E., Seaman, J., Poulin, J., & Straut, T. T. (2016). Online report card: Tracking online education in the United States. Needham, MA: Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group.

Finley, A. P., & McNair, T. (2013). Assessing underserved students’ engagement in high-impact practices.

Fox, H. L. (2017). What Motivates Community College Students to Enroll Online and Why It Matters (No. Issue 19). College of Education at Illinois: Office of Community College Research and Leadership.

Jaggers, Shanna Smith . (2011). Online Learning: Does It Help Low-Income and Underprepared Students? (CCRC ASSESSMENT OF EVIDENCE SERIES No. CCRC Working Paper No. 26). New York: Community College Research Center Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved from http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/publications/online-learning-low-income-underprepared.html

Kuh, G. D., Schneider, C. G., & Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2008). High-impact educational practices: what they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.




Reconciling Online Learning and the Liberal Arts College

August 8, 2016 § Leave a comment


Pokémon Go View from Westin Alexandria

Today, I’m speaking to teams at a workshop to launch  round two of the Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction, a project of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).  For some thoughts on round one, see these blog posts by Gretchen McKay (http://gretchenkreahlingmckay.net/uncategorized/thoughts-at-the-end-of-cic-online-humanities-consortium-i/) and Kevin Gannon (http://www.thetattooedprof.com/archives/640).

Here’s a description:

Reconciling Online Learning and the Liberal Arts College

The future of liberal education depends upon an integrative vision of digitally-informed learning that is not merely content delivery online but rather is reshaped in the same ways that digital learning has already fundamentally changed our culture. This session will present a vision for the digital transformation of liberal education through a curriculum that scaffolds self-directed, digitally-augmented problem-solving and the institutional strategies to support it.

Slides are available via slide share and references are below:


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Liberal Arts Online: An ACS Blended Learning Webinar

March 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

On March 9, 2012, I led a webinar for the Associated  Colleges of the South‘s (ACS) Blended Learning Initiative.  I include the description and slides below:

Improving technology, changing students, challenging finances, and alternative credentialing sources have all combined to create an online learning boom in higher education. For liberal arts colleges, online learning promises to enhance the curriculum by moving some tasks online to allow for more active learning face-to-face, increasing student time on task, connecting study abroad or internship students back to campus, adding curricular resources, or expanding access to liberal education. Whatever the motivation for considering online learning, liberal arts colleges are forging new ground in bringing the liberal arts educational model–highly interactive, close work between students and faculty–into an online context. This seminar will explore a variety of models for using technology to fulfill the essential learning outcomes of liberal education and suggest ways faculty might enhance their courses with online teaching.

Liberal Arts Online

March 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

On March 17, 2011 I led an Inside Higher Ed Audio Conference, “The Liberal Arts Online”. Slides are available via slideshare.

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