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e-Learning Institute Broadens Focus, Renamed Office of Digital Learning

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Gary Chinn

In recognition of the increasing scope of digital learning, the College of Arts and Architecture’s e-Learning Institute will be renamed the Office of Digital Learning, effective April 1. Gary Chinn, director of the e-Learning Institute, will become assistant dean for digital learning.

“A broader conceptualization of digital learning acknowledges that today’s courses can move across a continuum of completely in-person and completely online,” explained Chinn. “Blended learning courses, which utilize a combination of online materials and in-person lectures, continue to grow in popularity. Courses that take place in a lecture hall but feature class assignments that have a strong digital aspect are another example. As students flow in and out of physical classroom spaces and virtual environments, a broader term like ‘digital learning’ better captures this fluidity of learning context.”

The Office of Digital Learning’s mission is to assist the College of Arts and Architecture in meeting its strategic plan goal of being a leader in technology in the arts and design disciplines. Its work will cover the following three areas: 1) Continued leadership over the college’s growing online portfolio of programs and courses; 2) Educational innovation and curricular innovation; and 3) Digital media development.

“The College of Arts and Architecture has long been a leader in online course development, and we are excited to expand the scope of that work with the establishment of the Office of Digital Learning,” said Barbara Korner, dean of the College of Arts and Architecture. “Today’s college students expect varied learning environments that combine digital and in-person course materials in unique ways. The Office of Digital Learning will help our college remain at the forefront of new innovations in digital learning, through work within Arts and Architecture and through multidisciplinary collaborations.”

Chinn notes that while the Office of Digital Learning will continue its “critically important” work of designing and developing online courses, it will also address curriculum and program opportunities that expand beyond online courses. “These opportunities could include multidisciplinary programs in collaboration with other colleges, as well as courses that exist at the intersection of disciplines within the College of Arts and Architecture,” he noted.

According to Scott Wing, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Arts and Architecture, the e-Learning Institute has long served as a university leader in developing new modes of teaching in the performing arts, visual arts, and design, and will continue to do so. “Gary's continuing leadership in the newly named position with expanded responsibilities enables the broadening mission of the office. The Office of Digital Learning accurately represents the closely intertwined nature of digital technology as it is woven into innovative course design and new research methodologies in the arts.”

Chinn’s goal, he said, is for the office to be a place for experimentation and exploration. “I feel this is something we currently do well, and will continue to do, at the course level. But I also hope that the office can support similar experimentation at the curricular level,” he explained. “The e-Learning Institute has served the College of Arts and Architecture well for a decade, and I look forward to continuing our work under the banner of the Office of Digital Learning.”

For more information, visit http://eli.aanda.psu.edu.