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Summer Interns 2017: Digital Competencies and More

August 23, 2017

Over this past summer, ETS coordinated five interns in ten-week student internships. We had two types of internship. Our digital curriculum internship was mostly centered on helping members of the Bryn Mawr community better understand new changes and features in new and preexisting technologies. Our AR/VR internship was an opportunity to build upon our successful Winter 2016 internship and challenge our two interns to conceptualize, develop and showcase a completed app for the Microsoft HoloLens.

While these two internships contained vastly different projects, we wanted to encourage collaboration. To that end, we merged both internships by having all of our interns work in the same space, using a weekly check-in model, and encouraging collaborative methods of communication. While our AR/VR interns were both computer science majors, our digital curriculum interns' interests drew both from the humanities and the sciences. Not only did this allow our interns to utilize each other as testers (whether for an app or to ensure wording made sense), but it also made the intersections between the humanities and STEM fields apparent.

Digital Curriculum Interns

One critical skill that all of our interns quickly adopted was project management, albeit with vastly different projects. Our digital curriculum interns used project management techniques to manage the 10+ projects they worked on over the summer.

Francesca Agnello '18 (Anthropology major and Italian minor), Leslie Goloh '19 (Computer Science), and Emily Hsu '19 (English major and Film studies minor) developed audiovisual production and analysis skills as they edited, polished and published videos from the 2017 Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Conference. They also scripted, recorded, screencasted and edited informational videos explaining BiONiC and the new features in Moodle 3.2.2. Though a large portion of their internship revolved around audiovisual production, working on a variety of video projects gave our interns the ability to understand client needs, accessibility concerns, and best practices.

These internships were also valuable opportunities to experience and enhance learning opportunities with various offices across campus. With the work of our interns, we were able to develop documentation and support to help the Dean's Office better understand Moodle's capabilities. We also worked with the Registrar's Office to create a series of six informational videos explaining BiONiC and its features as they might apply around preregistration and registration periods. What impressed us most about our digital curriculum interns was that they were able to come midway into these projects, provide invaluable feedback, and basically manage these projects independently (with some help from ETS staff members).

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Interns

On the other hand, our AR/VR interns used project management to divide and conquer when creating HoloMuseum, an augmented reality museum application for the Microsoft HoloLens. Nadine Adnane '20 (Computer Science major, pre-med track) and My Nguyen '20 (Computer science major) quickly enhanced their troubleshooting skills to solve programming and software dilemmas while staying mindful of how an AR museum might be made more accessible to all users through the HoloLens. Over the course of ten weeks, Nadine and My reinvented the experience of walking through a museum through HoloMuseum by creating a augmented reality application with three 3D objects (Athena, Nereid, and the Three Graces) with plaques and audio-commentary.

While both of our interns came in with strong coding and programming skills, they continued to grow in their roles as women in technology as they enhanced their own connections between the humanities and STEM fields. At the beginning of their internship, Nadine and My attended HoloHack Philadelphia 2017, a Microsoft-sponsored Hackathon for the HoloLens. At the two-day Hackathon, they were two of only three women attending the event, and only two of the small number of people that had held, let alone developed, for the HoloLens.

After returning from HoloHack, Nadine and My came back with a renewed sense of energy to develop an application that would invite more people into the AR/VR world. And not only did the AR/VR interns come away with a collective understanding of how hard skills like programming and coding could communicate with the humanities, but they also learned about how to better describe and document their development process so that non-coders might be able to use them as resources. By the end of the internship, they had a HoloLens app that maximized on user experience, accessibility, and coding skills to provide an engaging and innovative experience.

Digital Competencies

We also got the chance to work with the interns to pilot programming for the Bryn Mawr College Digital Competencies Program. A core part of this program is asking students to reflect on the digital skills they've gained in order to develop a more holistic critical perspective on their technological abilities. At weekly check-in meetings, we would ask each intern what competencies they had developed, tracking their progress over the summer.

One noticeable discovery was that, even as early as the second week, all of our interns recognized the digital competencies they were gaining. By the end of the internship, all of our interns had developed competencies in new areas (project management and metacognition and life-long learning were the top two competencies), but had also developed the vocabulary to describe these skills and their value-add to their educational and professional experiences.

In total, our interns collectively:

  • Explored 18 out of 19 digital competencies
  • Used over 200 Post-its for their project task boards
  • Presented and/or attended three conferences

Our interns will be speaking about their work at these upcoming events:

  • Digital Competencies Tech Talk - September 19th 4-5PM in College Hall 224
  • Bryn Mawr & Beyond - November 3rd 10-11:30AM in the Great Hall
  • HoloLens Tech Talk - November 7th 4-5PM in College Hall 224

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