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DCAL Headlines

Here are just a few notes about upcoming events and projects at DCAL and other items of interest to teachers. Navigate the site's resources at the left and above. For more news, see DCAL News.

The DartmouthX Initiative Call for Proposals - Round 2

DCAL is pleased to invite faculty to apply to teach a MOOC, a massive, open, online course. DCAL will select two courses for this next round. The courses will be developed in 2015-2016 and launched in 2016-2017.

Why should you teach a MOOC?

  • You'd like to open your course up to anyone, anywhere in the world, for free.
  • You'd like to work with a team of experts to develop something new.
  • You're curious about how online courses can improve teaching in the classroom.
  • You want to become a more effective teacher.
  • You think it would be cool to teach a class with 10,000 students in it.

For more information about Dartmouth's MOOCs, please visit . You can also find information at the edX site,

Please submit a 1-2 page proposal that includes:

  1. Faculty for the course (if multiple faculty are proposed).
  2. Proposed course name.
  3. A brief description of the course.
  4. A brief explanation of why you want to develop and teach a MOOC.

Email your proposal as an attachment to DCAL by 11:59 pm on Friday, October 16, 2015. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee consisting of the current DartmouthX faculty, the DCAL Faculty Advisory Board, and representatives of DCAL, the Library, and Academic Computing, in consultation with leadership at the College. We will announce the selections on Monday, November 16, 2016.

We encourage you to contact Josh Kim, DCAL's Director of Digital Learning Initiatives, to talk about your proposal before you submit it.

On September 25th from 12:30-2pm, DCAL will host a discussion with the DartmouthX faculty, who have created four MOOCs so far: Andrew Friedland's Introduction to Environmental Science, Vicki May's The Engineering of Structures Around Us, Introduction to Italian Opera taught by Steve Swayne, and Don Pease and Jed Dobson's Literature of the American Renaissance. This discussion, designed primarily for faculty both thinking about applying for DartmouthX and who would never want to teach a MOOC, will be built around the DartmouthX faculty talking about their experiences. Register for this discussion here.

The Gateway Initiative

The Provost's Office, in collaboration with the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) and Academic Computing, is excited to offer a new opportunity to support the redesign of certain courses.

Called the Gateway Initiative, this effort is aimed at enhancing learning and classroom pedagogy in 'gateway' courses, i. e. courses that are required for entry into the discipline and have large enrollments by necessity, but not by design.  In such classes, course content is very often delivered in a traditional lecture format.  Yet a growing body of research over the past decade (see link below), in particular from the fields of cognitive psychology and education, has shown that other pedagogical approaches, sometimes in combination with technological innovations, can be significantly more effective than the traditional lecture format, evidenced by improved learning outcomes, retention, and student satisfaction.

For information please go to the Gateway Initiative page.

Open Classrooms: Visit a colleague's course and have a lunch on DCAL

We have a diversely talented teaching faculty at Dartmouth and we can learn a great deal from each other. DCAL will get this informal network started by setting up a system for visiting colleagues' classes, not for evaluation purposes, but for sharing and learning from each other.  We'd like to open windows into our courses and classrooms by making visiting simple and inspiring.

DCAL will support class visits by

  • offering recommendations for the process of planning visits
  • funding a luncheon for pairs of instructors who have completed a visit
  • scheduling an end-of-term luncheon discussion for participants in class visits

We want this process to be simple, unencumbered by elaborate evaluation schemes and rubrics, but we have supplied some recommendations and documents on our website that might help you make the most of your visit.

Please note that you need not schedule two visits, one for each participant's course, to qualify for the luncheon reimbursement. Each class visit qualifies both participants for a lunch on DCAL. Librarians, educational technologists and other staff who support learning at Dartmouth are also eligible as visitors, but you must arrange the visit with the course instructor.

For detailed information and procedures, please see

Dartmouth Centers Forum Theme for 2014-15: Pop Culture: What puts the 'pop' in popular culture?

Each academic year the DCF chooses a theme upon which to base its programming. The 2014-2015 Dartmouth Centers Forum theme is Pop Culture: What puts the 'pop' in popular culture?

Popular culture: the phenomenon when an idea, an image, an attitude goes mainstream. Communal recognition gives pop culture power, but what does pop culture say about the society in which it circulates? Critics deride pop culture as a 'dumbing-down' of concepts, reducing them to their lowest common denominators, while others claim pop culture sublimely reflects collective social consciousness that underpins human civilization. Mass media was essential to the development of pop culture, and has been skillfully deployed by social movements ever since—from newspapers and magazines to blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Our digital age offers potentially vast opportunities to spread ideas, yet personal experiences are frequently fragmented. Can one find meaning in the mainstream? Is the power of popular culture over?

Flipping the Classroom

How 'Flipping' the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture.  It may not have the gee-whiz factor of high-tech innovation, but changing expectations for what happens in class may prove to be a bigger advance in teaching.  Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education website.

Worth Listening to or Reading

From American RadioWorks: "Don't Lecture Me" featuring Eric Mazur (Physics, Harvard) and Joe Redish (Physics, U Maryland) by Emily Hanford. We have known for years how ineffective even the best and most entertaining lectures are for student learning. Now you can hear that again right from the mouths of some of the best lecturers ever. Follow this link for detailed information, an mp3 link and a transcript.

From Faculty Focus (10-19-2011): "Grading Practices: Liabilities of the Points System," By Maryellen Weimer, PhD. Does grading really motivate learning or something else? Try this link.

Grants to Attend Conferences on Teaching and Learning

DCAL makes grants of up to $1000 to support attendance at conferences and programs devoted to the applicant’s professional development as a teacher. Please review the DCAL Mission statement before applying; these principles will guide the application approval process. Successful applicants will be asked to contribute to a DCAL professional development event in the year following the grant. First-time applicants are especially encouraged to apply for this opportunity to attend programs and conferences.

These funds are for travel, lodging, registration and other costs of participation. A faculty member in good standing may apply for one grant per fiscal year. To apply for a DCAL mini grant, please contact to request an application. The application must be completed and returned to DCAL for approval before the event. If you are approved for the grant, you will be required to submit original itemized receipts for reimbursement after the event has taken place.

Applications for events held during Dartmouth’s fall and winter terms should be received no later than November 1st; those for events held during spring and summer terms no later than March 16th.

Syllabus Template

A syllabus template is now available on the DCAL website. We hope that this template will give you some ideas and make developing a syllabus for your course a bit easier. Please modify the template as needed to make your own personal syllabus and let us know if you have comments/additions. was created by two social psychologists and professors who sought to offer a resource for faculty, staff, and students regarding stereotype threat. This website offers summaries of research on this topic and discusses unresolved issues and controversies in the research literature on the phenomenon. Included are some research-based suggestions for ameliorating negative consequences of stereotyping, particularly in academic settings.

Physics Professor Eric Mazur Switched from Lecturing to Active Learning

An excerpt from "Using the 'Beauties of Physics' to Conquer Science Illiteracy": A Conversation with Professor Eric Mazur of Harvard University (New York Times July 17).

Q. When you teach Physics 1b, do you give "fantastic performances?"

A. You know I've come to think of professional charisma as dangerous. I used to get fantastic evaluations because of charisma, not understanding. I'd have students give me high marks, but then say, "physics sucks." Today, by having the students work out the physics problems with each other, the learning gets done. I've moved from being "the sage on the stage" to "the guide on the side."

More News

Last Updated: 9/17/15