Colgate University and Hamilton College, who last year forged a unique partnership as contributing members in edX, recently received a $91,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to further their exploration of online learning technologies within the residential liberal arts context.

The two schools also will use the grant to foster collaborative ties with two other liberal arts institutions that are edX charter members — Wellesley and Davidson.

The Mellon grant will provide:

  -- Funding for faculty members, instructional technologists, and others from the four schools to meet and discuss online pedagogy and the ways in which it can inform traditional forms of teaching. There also will be virtual meetings among participants and administrators from the four colleges, as well as smaller workshops for Colgate and Hamilton participants.

-- Partial support for a new staff position, shared between Colgate and Hamilton, that will specialize in online pedagogy and assessment. The staff member, who will be based at Colgate, will directly support the creation of online offerings.

  -- Course development stipends for faculty members. 

“This grant will provide a vitally important forum for faculty to engage in conversations about online technologies and higher education,” said Douglas Hicks, Colgate provost and dean of faculty. “We want to learn with our peers how online resources can support the residential, low-student-to-faculty-ratio model of teaching and learning to which we are committed.”

Hicks worked closely with Pat Reynolds, Hamilton College’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, on the schools’ partnership and admittance into edX, the nonprofit online learning platform.

Colgate is now offering Living Writers on ColgateX, a course available on what is called the edX edge site. More than 660 people — alumni, students, parents, and friends — are participating in the course that delves into the works of four prominent international authors.

Earlier this year, geology professor Karen Harpp offered The Advent of the Atomic Bomb course as an online option for Colgate students and alumni. She spoke about the experimental edX program at the Colgate-sponsored Innovation + Disruption Symposium held in New York City.

Hamilton College also has experimented with online learning, and Reynolds said he likes how alumni and the general public have been able to learn about faculty scholarship through edX involvement.

He added, “I am delighted that Mellon is supporting the dissemination of our experience from edX to enhance understanding of online educational technology among our faculty and with those of edX members Colgate, Davidson and Wellesley.”

Hamilton and Colgate are committed to sharing production facilities and technical expertise, as well as coordinating marketing efforts, in creating four online courses that will be delivered in the next several months through the main edX platform.

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