Many Glendon faculty and staff promote digital literacy to strengthen student engagement and learning outcomes. Across the Glendon Campus, technology has become more readily available and courses frequently include an online component or an eLearning option.
One of the key participants in supporting technology enhanced learning is the Glendon Digital Media Lab (GDML). The lab, first established with an Academic Innovation Fund grant, offers students and faculty access to professional media hardware and software and direct, hands-on experience in digital production and has expanded to three locations on the campus.
“Digital literacy is a key competency to set students up for success both during their studies and post-graduation,” said Audrey Pyée, associate professor, Chair of the Department of History and a project co-lead with Mark Jurdjevic, associate professor in the Department of History, and Philippe Theophanidis, assistant professor of communications. All three are co-directors of the lab. “Media literacy has not only become increasingly essential as a pedagogical tool but has also become a highly sought-after skill by all employers. Educators need flexible digital equipment to integrate a variety of media-related experiential education experiences across a range of courses.”
The lab creates various opportunities to explore the digital realm: from virtual field trips to video interviews, podcast creation, website design and management, audiovisual translation, 3D environment design, telecollaboration, digital storytelling and edition, and visual identity creation. In addition, it brings learning outside the classroom walls with an interactive speaker’s series and the student-run Glendon Digital Media Club.
“Through the Digital Media Lab, Glendon offers unparalleled opportunities that provide students a competitive edge over other post secondary institutions,” said Dael Vasquez, a BA (Hons.) graduate in communications and political science. “Surrounded by world-class technology, Glendon students are limited only by the potential contained within their vastly creative imaginations.”
Both faculty members and students benefit from the equipment and the training that the lab provides.
“I started teaching with GDML’s lab computers and equipment a year ago,” said Sarah Choukah, a lecturer in communications. “Their availability enabled a radical change in my teaching approach and vision.”
Through GDML resources and skilled support from the co-directors and librarians, course activities and projects consistently went from conception to production at an exciting speed. Putting new skills in practice never dovetailed so well with deeper capacities for critical questioning and insight. For students, it also opened new possibilities for learning through team leadership and initiative, as well as individual creativity and ethos.
The digital world also provides another way to support students who require linguistic assistance with some of their disciplinary courses. Usha Viswanathan and Marie-Élaine Lebel, two professors from the Language Training Centre for Studies in French, identified this need and created a series of online modules to help students improve their facility with French.
“This allows them to make the most of their university experience,” said Lebel. “Lack of language skills remains one of the main barriers to Glendon students’ participation in courses taught in French.”
The modules are accessible on Moodle and are tailored to the needs of all Glendon students: francophones, francophiles and anglophones.
The six modules focus on grammar, grammatical category, stylistic components, the art of writing, the art of reading, style and grammatical accuracy. The students are given exercises that are intended to help them understand how to write a bibliography in French (including the structures and conventions), and to recognise “anglicisms,” or English-style grammatical patterns. The modules also encourage students to improve their reading skills and help them understand context better.
The exercises are automatically corrected, enabling students to receive immediate feedback. Students can complete the exercises at their own pace and can redo an exercise if they want additional reinforcement.
“I have had the benefit of language support in my introductory Canadian Studies class, GL/CDNS 1920 6.0 (FR) Comprendre le Canada contemporain,” said Geoffrey Ewen, assistant professor of Canadian studies and history. “This has been a wonderful help for the students. Most students have consulted the language support assistant in the writing of their essays and the individual attention and feedback has allowed them to produce significantly better work. The [online] exercises that have been produced are helpful not only to French second language learners, but to francophones as well.”
By Elaine Smith, with files from Julie Marguet and Agnes Lemesre-Valy