The following is a guest post from Gina Siesing, Bryn Mawr College's Chief Information Officer and Director of Libraries.
Beth Seltzer, Jenny Spohrer, and I had the pleasure of co-facilitating a “Think Tank” session at Davidson College last month, focused on the Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies model and design of allied programs across liberal arts peer institutions.
We planned this event in collaboration with wonderful Davidson colleagues, Kristen Eshleman and Sundi Richard, who led the design thinking portion of our workshop, and we benefited from sponsorship and coordination support from LACOL, the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning – thanks, Liz Evans!
In the first half of the workshop, we focused on the components of the BMC Digital Competencies Program and how we put each element in place to forge an institutionally supported program at scale. These elements included the Digital Competencies Framework itself, which we developed iteratively with input from faculty, students, alumnae/i, and colleagues in a broad array of institutions and industries who are seeking digital fluency and related meta-skills in those they select for graduate and professional study and those they hire. We explained how we worked with institutional governance and in a grassroots way across campus to build awareness and support for the program. We described key college partnerships, such as the President’s Office, Dean’s Office, and LILAC in our context, and program materials and resources that are core components of actualizing this curricular and co-curricular program.
Students are at the heart of the BMC Digital Competencies Program, and we shared examples of the programming and learning opportunities available already to students and in development across the curriculum and through student employment framed as professional development, internships, independent research, digital scholarship projects, and other contexts. On our program website and through brochures and curricular materials, we’ve developed visualizations for the different types of pathways students might take to acquire digital competencies during their time at Bryn Mawr, and we’ve focused extensively on scaffolding for students so that they have many opportunities to reflect on what they’re learning and to practice telling compelling stories – in person, on resumes, and in digital portfolios – about their capabilities and how those apply to their chosen pathways.
In the second half of the Think Tank, faculty and staff from the eight participating institutions were led through a design thinking process to design their own versions of the digital competencies/digital fluency/digital dexterity program, appropriate to their particular institutional goals and contexts. The group worked in teams to articulate their “North Star” – the guiding light or core goal for the particular program that they’re aiming to create – and then to map out a pathway to bring this program into existence. We presented these goals and plans of action for one another, and we all came away with rich food for thought and a phenomenal new network of colleagues engaged in allied endeavors in the liberal arts.
As a follow-on to this in-person workshop, we’ll be reprising the Think Tank in January as a two-session webinar through the liberal arts professional development forum EDU-PLACE. We’re looking forward to this chance to connect with another group of peer institutions and to continue spreading the joy of digital competencies and liberal arts collaborations!
Between digital competencies program activities, we like to take time to “smell the roses” (or paint the flowers!) and to celebrate the amazing opportunities of working in the community of liberal arts scholar-practitioners who share so generously and who always inspire us with new ideas to inform our local efforts.