Columbia's Digital Media Initiatives Bring Teaching Tools, Business Opportunities and More Exposure For Columbia Faculty
Each of the three organizations included in Columbia's digital media strategy bring a number of benefits and resources to faculty. The following is a guide to understanding each organization from a faculty perspective, including directions on how faculty can work with each organization.
CCNMTL offers a wide range of services that can enhance the teaching and learning process. All CCNMTL services are free to Columbia faculty and instructors. Many faculty who work with CCNMTL technologists return to the Center with more complex multimedia projects as their experience with teaching and learning in new media grows.
CCNMTL educational technologists work with faculty to build course websites, ranging from the simple posting of the course syllabus and a link to Columbia's Electronic Library Reserves, to developing more robust projects, such as simulations, study environments, multimedia glossaries and interactive case studies.
Faculty whose courses are built around core readings can work with project managers to create Multimedia Study Environments (MMSEs), which include a spine text with annotations and related multimedia resources including faculty commentary in video form. In the production of The Souls of Black Folk, an MMSE exploring one of the central works of African-American culture of the 20th century, CCNMTL teamed up with four Columbia faculty led by Manning Marable. The site contains the complete text of W.E.B. Du Bois' "The Souls of Black Folk," along with references to historical events and biographical experiences, archival film footage, recordings for nearly 30 spirituals, more than 150 texts and documents written by or to Du Bois plus video commentary by the four professors.
Faculty who engage their students in more hands-on experiments can work with CCNMTL to build case studies, training environments and online simulations based on their existing course materials. Like Brownfield Action, an environmental science simulation developed in collaboration with Dr. Peter Bower, these comprehensive learning environments employ a full range of media, data, primary resources and other reference materials to help guide students through the necessary steps to solve complex problems.
Some disciplines require that skills be learned and mastered through application. For such classes, CCNMTL technologists can work with faculty to create a specially developed work environment. Several projects in the health sciences make use of these tools, including Virtual Techniques in Dentistry (VirTechs), developed in collaboration with the School of Dental and Oral Surgery. VirTechs is a collection of videos demonstrating dental procedures with spoken and written commentary that complement live, in-class demonstrations. Their ability to review the demonstrations online allows students to gain a more comprehensive understanding of each procedure.
Columbia DKV is a service unit of the University that offers assistance to faculty by bringing their work, research or ideas beyond the classroom and campus to a wider audience. The editors and technologists work with faculty to develop e-seminars (three- to five-hour learning experiences) or post online course information created by faculty on Columbia Interactive. Business development specialists at Columbia DKV move faculty projects or discoveries into the online learning marketplace through licensing or joint development projects with commercial interests.
Once an e-seminar subject has been selected, a Columbia DKV editor with expertise in the subject and an educational technologist collaborate with the faculty member in the development of an online learning environment based on his or her content and a list of course objectives. At the very beginning of the development process, a Columbia DKV rights specialist works to gain clearance for public use of the course resources. The e-seminar is built with faculty consultation and is released after faculty review and approval. While e-seminars are constructed with an external audience in mind, they can also be used to supplement existing Columbia course materials. Because all e-seminars are free to the campus community, e-seminars are also a way for faculty to experience directly the work of their colleagues. Results of collaboration between Columbia DKV and faculty are also promoted in the worldwide digital market by Fathom.
New course tools developed by faculty with CCNMTL could also have a niche in the online learning market. Faculty can work with members of the Columbia DKV business development team to consider these possibilities and potentially link with existing businesses. Faculty and students who have developed a new online tool or educational software can also approach Columbia DKV for space and support services in its business incubator.
Fathom's objective is to project the unique character and resources of academic institutions and their faculty to a global audience. To that end, Fathom works with liaisons at its 13 member institutions to create content and courses that are then distributed through Fathom. At Columbia, Fathom has worked with its colleagues at Columbia DKV to identify subjects and projects with Columbia faculty. Columbia DKV then develops those projects and all projects are promoted on Fathom. These may be lectures, panel discussions or existing classroom materials -- or they may require entirely new development work. Since the launch of Fathom last year, more than 175 Columbia faculty members have appeared on Fathom, and it has showcased other Columbia resources such as the Oral History Archive.
Fathom offers faculty a new way to disseminate their research and ideas by using innovative features of the Web, thereby encouraging global access, enabling interactivity and links to relevant content, and supporting the use of multimedia formats for knowledge.
Global access. Fathom's audience is broader than the traditional academic audience. It is a growing audience of intellectually curious people interested in high-quality research and learning for personal enrichment and professional advancement. Over 30 percent is outside the United States.
Interactivity and links to relevant content. Fathom's audience interacts with the specialized content created by faculty contributors, utilizing sophisticated searching and browsing technologies. Fathom also strives to connect relevant subjects, books and courses through connections supported by search technology and experienced editors. Interactive formats are also utilized, such as threaded message groups and chat sessions for interested faculty.
Multimedia formats. Enhancing the one-dimensional format of text, Fathom supports a wide range of multimedia features such as video streaming and animations. It has also pioneered in the creation of e-seminars, which support scholarly material with structured formats that also appeal to a general audience.
Fathom is actively increasing its audience through strong partnerships with its 13 member institutions and their alumni, who include Fathom on their websites and in their publications. In addition to working effectively with the network of its members, Fathom disseminates the content of participating faculty through arrangements with broad knowledge-seeking audiences such as the BBC, the New York Times and AARP.