Integrative Studies Online: Designs for Collaborative and Experiential Learning

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Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, is America's premier "land-grant" University with a significant outreach mission and global dimension. The Centers for Integrative Studies comprise the University's signature program in General Education. One, the Center for Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities (CIS-AH), provides interdisciplinary arts and humanities instruction frequently incorporating state-of-the-art teaching methods and technologies. In 2007, CIS-AH offered one of their courses (IAH241C Arts and Culture of Europe: Focus - The Middle Ages) in three teaching-learning formats: a traditional, on-campus, classroom setting; a virtual (online) setting; and, a "blended" (a.k.a. "hybrid") style course that met students in a classroom for one "contact" hour per week and then engaged online learning methodologies for the remaining scheduled hours of the week. For all three modes of distribution -- traditional, online and blended-- the enrollment, content and assessment features of the course remained the same. Engagement of and benefits to student learners were highest when content modules incorporated collaborative and experiential assignments, all of which were writing-intensive. The resulting outcomes showed that for these two styles of learning, students demonstrated the highest levels of engagement, critical thinking, and original inquiry regardless of the mode of the assignment's distribution. This paper demonstrates ways in which collaborative and experiential learning can be integrated successfully into all three modes of learning; and, focuses on the benefits of maximizing their use in online curriculum design in the following areas: integrated and cross-disciplinary courses, humanities-style courses, general education courses, and art history courses. The speaker will present also some ways of minimizing the obstacles students often encounter when engaged in online learning.


Keywords: Online Learning Environments, Blended Course Delivery, Collaborative Learning, Experiential Learning
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. S.M. McCombs

Associate Professor, Center for Integrative Studies Arts and Humanities
Department of Art and Art History, Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Courses taught for Michigan State University appear in the Center for Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities (since the program's inception); and in the Department of Art and Art History. Dr. McCombs publishes in the areas of medieval studies; and, also non-profit management. McCombs' education includes the PhD in Art (University of Chicago), MA in Art History (Rutgers the State University) and MSW (School of Social Work, University of Michigan). Among the organizations from which McCombs has received awards (grants, stipends, fellowships) as PI or co-researcher are Harvard University (Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies), the Exxon Education Foundation, ACLS, National Endowment for the Arts, the Kress Foundation, US Dept. of Justice, and US Dept. Health and Human Services. McCombs is a "Fast Forward" Fellow (National Science Foundation-Sloan).

Ref: T08P0216