Tuesday, December 4, 2007

How does TLC compare? Brown

The story at Brown is much the same as at Columbia and Penn: there are workshops on various topics offered by Training.Brown. There are some courses listed specifically for grad students, but further investigation indicates that these are mostly the same courses that appear under the faculty and staff tabs. One thing interesting about the Training.Brown program is that, at least for undergrads, it combines training on technology with training about writing and research, led, respectively, by the Brown Writing Center and Library. The conjunction of these subjects seems ideal. All of these entities at Emory would be willing to see each other in complementary roles, but I can't say the the relationship has been formalized in any particular way, and I could see how doing so could produce specific benefits for undergrads, grad students, and faculty.

Apart from these specific training opportunities, Brown offers grants that will result in the Instructional Technology Group creating materials for your classes including customized websites, video productions, and animations to help teach concepts. As far as I can tell, however, these grants don't result in people learning new skills but rather in the people who already have the skills being directed to work on a project that faculty have imagined. This is nice for busy faculty, but it doesn't lead to a dissemination of knowledge and--again as with many of these grant programs--they won't necessarily benefit or be available to graduate students.

To help graduate students (and faculty) with projects involving technology Brown also offers Student Technology Assistants. The STAs are undergrads who can help with creating course websites, scanning and digitizing materials, or providing technical illustrations. Again, I'm not sure how much work the grad students do along with the STAs. Regardless, since one is interacting on a one-to-one level with an undergraduate, I'm going to guess that there is not much of an opportunity for discussing the ins and outs of pedagogy in the college classroom.

I'm going to try to call some people at Brown, Columbia, and Penn to see if there is anything else to the story that I might be missing.

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