Funding from the Teagle Foundation will enable Lafayette and the other members of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) to develop innovative approaches and methods of teaching and learning that incorporate digital communications and information tools.

With the support of a $280,000, three-year grant from the foundation, the schools will create shared courses and course modules using hybrid-learning approaches. Teagle defines hybrid, or “blended,” learning as a combination of online learning and face-to-face classes.

The potential benefits of using hybrid approaches include enhanced faculty-student interactions, greater effectiveness in meeting the needs of a broad range of student learning styles, and innovative ways for faculty members to communicate and students to understand complex information and problems.

Hybrid approaches also open up opportunities for high-impact learning practices that are the hallmark of the undergraduate residential liberal arts college experience, such as cross-disciplinary collaboration, inquiry-based learning, research and fieldwork, global learning, and community-based learning.

“We are very grateful to the Teagle Foundation for its support. This is a timely moment for the LVAIC colleges to develop strategies together in support of faculty teaching and student learning using hybrid approaches,” says President Alison Byerly.

Byerly is a leading voice nationally on emerging forms of digital scholarship, the changing role of the humanities in the digital age, the importance of curricular innovation, and MOOCs (massive open online courses). Fostering innovation in teaching and learning is a key objective of Lafayette’s $400 million Live Connected, Lead Change campaign.

The project director is John Meier, professor of mathematics and dean of curriculum and resources. A steering committee includes representatives from the six colleges and universities and LVAIC staff. Diane Dimitroff, executive director of LVAIC, is providing critical support, as are instructional technology and library staff members at the schools.

Over the last year, with funding from Teagle, a planning team developed proposals for the first projects the schools will tackle under the grant. These focus on building critical media literacy, using digital tools to meet state education assessment mandates for teachers, creating modules for community-based learning, and creating an instructional video archive of laboratory instrumentation.

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