Project Profiles 2021

Harnessing innovation requires three critical actions: 1. Define needs and opportunities; 2. Identify novel solutions, and 3. Access resources and move ideas to implementation. Digital Learning & Innovation has been a transformative force for innovation at Boston University, funding and co-managing over 50 digital education projects.

In 2021, DL&I-supported experiments continued to deliver increasing value to our students, alumni, and learners looking to enhance their BU experience. The following is a spotlight of ongoing projects and a look ahead at the newest pilots to be supported by the Shipley Center for Digital Learning & Innovation in 2022.

BU Digital Learning & InnovationLeveraging BU Alumni Expertise for Workforce Development

The Network for Professional Education (The Network) launched in April 2021. The BU School of Social Work-initiated project has two key objectives: 1. Provide access to high-quality training and career development programs for health and social service professionals and agencies and 2. Via The Trainers Hub, engage School of Social Work alumni to share their expertise by providing training and consultation services. With guidance from The Network Alumni Advisory Board, the project team is focused on expanding outreach.

BU Digital Learning & InnovationTapping into BU Alumni as Mentors

In February 2021, BU’s College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College and the School of Social Work jointly launched the Interprofessional Leadership in Healthcare Certificate. The program is guided by an Alumni Advisory Board with representation from SAR, SSW, MED, and SPH and taps into the vast experience of BU alumni who practice across the care continuum. The pilot team recruited 30 alumni healthcare professionals to create an interdisciplinary coalition of e-mentors who will facilitate subsequent sessions with cohorts enrolled in the certificate.

BU Digital Learning & InnovationAwarding Digital Badges in Curriculum Pathways

The PhD Professional Development Pathways Platform project team created an online digital-badge tracking platform for BU doctoral students to plan, track, and share their development of skills and their achievement of learning goals connected to program-identified core capacities. After a successful pilot in summer 2021 with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the team will be expanding access to all BU doctoral students and adding pathways aligned to competencies that can be highlighted with mentors and employers.

Creating Digital Experiences in Arts Education

In August 2021, DL&I confirmed its support for a Visiting Media Artist in Residence to enable the College of Fine Arts to develop and deploy an innovative software tool – RANDOM ACTOR – for interactive, generative computer graphics in a narrative setting. With a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and practice-based work, BU students will be able to hone their skills in interactive design, generative graphics design, media production, and coding in an aesthetic context with their efforts culminating in an on-campus theater production in Spring 2022.

BU Digital Learning & InnovationSupporting Peer Tutoring

Through the Tutoring Writing in the Disciplines (TWID) project, the Boston University College of Arts & Sciences Writing Program, in partnership with collaborating academic departments, provides peer tutoring opportunities for student writers in the disciplines. Leveraging the WCONLINE platform, BU student tutors provide discipline- specific assistance and assume important peer-to-peer mentoring roles. The Program team plans to develop further partnerships with other BU academic units in which writing is crucial for undergraduate course work.

BU Digital Learning & InnovationSupporting Lifelong Learners through a Theological Lens

To address the needs of clergy, faith-based, and social justice leaders, BU School of Theology launched the Lifelong Learning Project with a focus on congregational issues and peer-based community building. Programming consists of short, practical faculty- and alumni-led online workshops wherein participants develop plans and processes they can implement within their own communities.

Maureen McCarthyDeveloping Novel Professional Development Technology

The Training Opportunities to Augment Learning (TOTAL) web app, a digital platform connecting biomedical trainees to professional development events, launched in fall 2020. Offered in collaboration with seven institutions, career development events cover a wide spectrum of opportunities, including academic, business, administration, and industry research, law/compliance, policy, and others. Looking ahead, the project team plans to expand programming to include additional disciplines and broaden the approach with other units within Boston University and beyond.

BU Digital Learning & InnovationBridging the Gap to Organic Chemistry

Prepare with CARE (Chemistry Active-learning Resources for Educators) leverages novel educational technologies and pedagogies to support students’ learning and outcomes as they progress to upper-level chemistry courses. In Summer 2020, the project team partnered with the Educational Resource Center to redesign and launch OrgoPrep 2.0. The project team is working toward extending the CARE model to other BU disciplines and to high school educators.

Looking Ahead 2022: Expanding Experiential Learning Opportunities

A team at the School of Social Work is working to pilot field education learning labs utilizing a digital behavioral health platform that enables students to engage online in role-play simulations and receive feedback that leverages human-centered AI. The virtual learning platform unifies metrics from evidence-based care and telehealth and will be deployed to supplement students’ field internship experiences.

The Yellowdig for Language Learning pilot aims at fostering meaningful asynchronous interactions between students and purposeful interaction with the target languages by leveraging the latest technologies in student engagement to enhance the student learning experience at Boston University. In the Spring 2022 semester, the Yellowdig platform will be piloted in two Spanish courses.

The second phase of the Using VR to Address Social Determinants of Health pilot is a collaboration between the Boston University School of Medicine, Sargent College, and the School of Social Work to explore virtual reality and artificial intelligence to enhance the student learning experience by equipping health professions students with the knowledge and tools to address social determinants of health. More details about phase 1 are available here, which will be updated with the latest developments.

About the Authors

Diana MarianDiana Marian is a Senior Project Manager. In this role, she works with BU faculty, staff, and other stakeholders to facilitate the development of new pilot projects and guide their implementation using an Agile PM approach centered on design thinking. She holds a Master’s degree from Harvard Graduate of School of Education, where she focused on education initiatives for 21st-century demands and strategic management of education non-profits.

Diane CarrollDiane Carroll is a Project Manager whose current focus is in support of lifelong learning programming at BU. For these and other Digital Learning & Innovation initiatives, she blends project management, instructional design, and user experience best practices, tools, and processes to support faculty and staff in reaching project milestones.