The Digital Excellence Commitment (DExC) has expanded beyond MacBooks and iPads to technological skill-building through the new Digital Agility Program.
Student and faculty feedback on the DExC from last academic year inspired the establishment of the Digital Agility Program. The creation of the program was a cross-campus collaboration, with the Committee on Teaching and Classroom Practice (CoTCP), the DExC subcommittee, the Baldwin Center for Teaching and Learning and the Accessibility Office and Information Technology (IT) all contributing to the development of the materials.
The Digital Agility Program is modeled on Bryn Mawr’s Digital Competencies Framework, which outlines digital skills that help with curricular and co-curricular opportunities while in college. However, Senior Director for Digital Innovation and Chair of the DExC subcommittee Sherri Castanzo felt that modifying these guidelines to the devices provided by the DExC would make the program even more helpful.
“We started to adapt that framework and ‘Bowdoin-ize’ it so that it covered topics … more applicable to the skills that we need in our community,” Castanzo said.
The campus community can access the program through Canvas, a platform chosen because of its familiarity to students and faculty. An extensive array of modules are available, ranging from file organization to more advanced training on academic software.
“We wanted to develop a program that would be a self-paced, personalized experience for students because students come to the College with different levels of technical expertise,” Castanzo said.
Professor of History Patrick Rael serves as the Chair of the CoTCP, which has worked with the DExC subcommittee and IT to help faculty make the best decisions in regards to working with and integrating new technology in the classroom.
Rael appreciates how the program drives the College’s commitment to not only make technology accessible to all students and faculty but also to supply them with knowledge on how to best utilize the resources at hand.
“I suspect that there may be many—students, instructors and staff—who find increasing tech demands daunting,” Rael wrote in an email to the Orient. “I would like to see us expand our efforts to reach those in the campus community who may feel that they need support.”
Though the Digital Agility Program was initially brainstormed as a resource for students as part of the DExC, it is now available to faculty and staff as well.
“We ended up releasing it to the entire college community because more people were interested in having and learning some of these skills as well,” Castanzo said.
Castanzo believes another key benefit of the program is the brief length of each training. The committee was looking for a way to help students fit the Digital Agility Program into their busy schedules. It eventually landed on short videos for each specific tool or technology, a format that also lends itself well to the schedules of faculty and staff.
Rael emphasized that building the skills necessary to navigate a world increasingly dependent on technology will only become more essential in the years to come.
“Helping members of our community cope with this is fundamental to our mission. The broad training embodied in liberal arts education is vital to maintaining a healthy society. As technology increasingly mediates this training, though, it is vital that we make it accessible to all,” Rael wrote. “The Digital Agility Program is about equity and accessibility. Just as participating fully in our community life requires fluency with tech, so too participating fully in our civic life will require technological agility.”