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Online Learning Project

“Those technologies that allow students to be working when they want to be working have been very helpful, and I’ve shared them with my colleagues."
Read what St. Olaf math professor Kristina Garrett says about her experience using online technologies in "on-the-ground" courses.

The goal of the ACM Online Learning Project (OLP) is to explore ways in which online learning could be used to enhance the educational missions of ACM colleges as small, residential liberal arts institutions.

Responding to a request by the ACM Board of Directors in spring 2012, the consortial staff and the ACM Academic Deans initiated the Online Learning Project with two main objectives:

  • To investigate whether an online course could retain the exemplary characteristics of a residential liberal arts college on-campus course, and
  • To use the experience with this course to learn more about developing blended learning materials for on-campus courses.

Online course in Applied Calculus

As part of the Online Learning Project, ACM offered a summer online course in applied calculus, titled Calculus: A Modeling Approach, for students enrolled at ACM colleges in 2013-16.

In early 2013, mathematics professors Kristina Garrett (St. Olaf College) and Chad Topaz (Macalester College) collaborated to develop and teach a pilot online course in applied calculus. With technical assistance from instructional technologists Nancy Aarsvold (St. Olaf) and Barron Koralesky (Macalester), Garrett and Topaz created course materials and then taught the class that summer.

In keeping with the aim of offering a small, participatory course, enrollment was capped at 20 students and the course was structured to foster student-faculty interaction and build a community of learners.

The pilot course was assessed using student evaluations and interviews with course participants conducted by consultant Dr. Rachelle Brooks, who prepared a report of her findings for the ACM Academic Deans.

Following the success of the pilot course, ACM offered the course in summer 2014 taught by Chad Topaz, in summer 2015 taught by Kristina Garrett, and in summer 2016 taught by Knox College mathematics professors Mary Armon and Andrew Leahy.

Online Teaching Workshop in June 2014

ACM sponsored  a professional development workshop for faculty interested in developing and teaching online courses that seek to retain the signature characteristics of an on-campus residential liberal arts college course.

Read more about the Online Learning Project