Welcome to the site where we will be training students to be Beta-Testers for digital assignments created by faculty at the Unviersity of Mary Washington.
This program develops Student Digital Assignment Beta-Testers collaboratively through DTLT, DKC, the HCC, and potentially the Library. The purpose is to provide faculty we work with at DTLT the opportunity to test (and get feedback on) their digitally-inflected assignments before using them in the classroom. With the emphasis of President Paino on the incorporation of advanced digital fluency into the curriculum here at UMW, this is a great opportunity to grow the capacity of the students, as well as provide a new resource for the faculty.
Increasingly, students are becoming more involved in the pedagogical process within their institutions on campuses across the country. Recently, Inside Higher Ed featured the Mellon-funded project at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. Their program, called Students as Learners and Teachers, trains student-observers in pedagogy and then pairs them with a professor who they don’t have a course with to give the professor feedback. As put in the piece:
Both professors and students benefit from the program through increased engagement, metacognitive awareness and a stronger sense of identity, and improved classroom experience, Cook-Sather said, sharing the following comment from a student partner: “My preparation for and my discussions with my faculty partner have made me more self-reflexive about my own experience and responsibilities as a student.”
A different kind of program exists at Harvard, where they have Learning Lab Undergrad Fellows, who help faculty “design and test assignments that utilize innovative modes of communication such as movement, drawing, speaking, etc.” The students often also advise and work with faculty on new technologies that the assignments would involve. Again, these students receive training on working with faculty and pedagogy.
In the initial pilot program, interested students who are already employed by one of the units will go through a total of 8 hours of synchronous and asynchronous training which would include a mix of readings on digital fluency and metacognition, online discussions on Slack, and mock assignment evaluations. They would do the training in down time during regular work hours. The students would complete the training over a four-week period with an optional 5th week focusing on online learning.
Once the training is complete, as a pilot, Beta-Testing services would be made available to the Digital Knowledge Fellows and the Digital Pedagogy Lab Fellows. Depending on the level and depth of the project, Beta Testers wouldn’t be expected to complete the whole assignment, but devise a plan and even a mock-up of what they would do, which would enable them to give feedback on the process and pedagogy of the assignment. This work would be, again, done during the students’ down time at their usual job.