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The Digital Initiative: A Prospectus for Living in a Digital World

Vision

Starting in September of 2013, UB faculty, staff, and students will undertake a university-wide Digital Initiative to understand the profound effect of the evolving digital world on our lives while also harnessing digital  power for learning—in effect to answer the question, “What does it mean to be living, working, playing, creating, and learning—and thriving—in this new digital world?”

The goal of this initiative is to engage the UB community in an inclusive, participatory, and creative process to produce innovative thinking in response to the core understanding that digital technology has already and irrevocably changed our world. As Marshall McLuhan observed, the message of any medium or technology is the change in scale, pace, or pattern it introduces into human affairs. The UB Digital Initiative will thus develop a critical understanding of the digital revolution and its impact on teaching, research, and learning on the one hand, and living, working, and playing on the other.  In so doing, we hope to create innovative, actionable, and measurable change across the University of Baltimore.  If we are successful in this initiative, what we learn will deeply inform our scholarship, what and how we teach, and the role each of us plays as a citizen in our civic and professional communities.

Action Steps: The First Wave

To begin this initiative, President Bogomolny appointed a Digital Advisory Board with wide institutional representation and led by the Provost, the Vice President for Planning and External Affairs, and the Director of the Center for Digital Commerce, Communication, and Culture.  The Board met several times late in Spring 2013 and at the beginning of the present academic year. The Board enthusiastically recommends the following action steps to launch and sustain this UB-wide Digital Initiative in the coming academic year:

To begin this initiative, President Bogomolny appointed a Digital Advisory Board with wide institutional representation and led by the Provost, the Vice President for Planning and External Affairs, and the Director of the Center for Digital Commerce, Communication, and Culture.  The Board met several times late in Spring 2013 and at the beginning of the present academic year. The Board enthusiastically recommends the following action steps to launch and sustain this UB-wide Digital Initiative in the coming academic year:

Coordinating Committee

Establish a Coordinating Committee, chaired by the provost, to drive and support a set of coordinated initiatives focused on exploring digital life.  The Coordinating Committee will serve to lead, staff, and inspire the UB community in implementing a wide range of innovative research, teaching, and experiential activities in an engaging learning process.

Environmental Survey

Implement an environmental survey of existing activities and practices at UB that reflect the theme of living and learning in the digital world.  A team of faculty and staff members will undertake an in-person survey designed to encourage collaboration and conversation around these issues and engage people in support of the initiative. The main goals of the survey will be to understand the diversity of knowledge and interests around these issues and ensure that the widest-possible range of ideas, opinions, and concerns are heard and addressed through the initiative.

Convocation

Launch a multi-year Convocation theme in Academic Year 2013-14 on Living and Learning in a Digital World that informs University-wide projects, classes, lectures, art series, and exhibits through such activities as:

  • A Digital World lecture series.
  • Faculty development related to pedagogy and learning in the digital world.
  • Art projects in all media, both community and individual, addressing our digital existence.
  • A monthly research lunch for the UB community to support and generate present research on the digital world.

CELTT-led Cohort

Support a CELTT-led cohort of faculty, students, and staff to develop curricular and pedagogical innovations to provide a lens on the impact of digital thinking on 21st century university education. The cohort will be informed by the study of social practices, digital humanities, computational literacy, and other approaches, all with the goal of achieving distinction for UB as a nexus of scholars and students of digital learning.

UB Digital Commons

Create, support, and staff a UB digital commons—a kind of a collaborative laboratory/incubator/co-working and learning space—to enable research within UB and engage learners outside UB in shared work space to support brainstorming of ideas, workshops, non-credit courses, and other forms of learning.

Digital World Conference

Plan Digital World Conference for 2015-2016 with UB, local, national, and international presenters on the topic of living and learning in a digital world to showcase the University of Baltimore as a major player in the epistemology of the new millennium.

Business Practices

Create a work group to improve and enhance UB business practices in the digital world. Using data from the environmental survey, campus experts, and additional community engagement, identify, prioritize and implement business process improvements.

Grant Program

Following on the success of internal grants programs, including UB21 Catalyst Grants, the UBF Fund for Excellence, develop a grant program to support initiatives designed by faculty, staff, and students that contribute to this initiative.

Blog/Twitter Feeds/Hashtags

Develop a UB Digital Initiative blog and Twitter feeds (along with a set of common hashtags) to communicate UB-wide and beyond about the various activities and to ensure coordination of efforts.

Advisory Group

Develop and engage an advisory group to include business, professional, government, and academic leaders to support continued development of the initiative and spin off projects.

The Second Wave

Having generated interest and engagement and gathered information, we will continue to come together to facilitate engagement around learning to sustain the larger initiative and keep the University of Baltimore focused on matters digital in subsequent years.  We could develop regular inquiry and reading groups open to the campus community and form a kind of virtual college to inform how UB should respond in its future structure, processes, and pedagogical approaches. Learning about the social impact of living, working, playing, and creating in this digital world could inform new theory, pedagogy, curriculum, programs, and scholarship and lead to a proceedings or edited volume by UB faculty authors. Ongoing results of our focus on digital living and learning could include scholarly works, a common reading and/or common digital project, a new integrated and interdisciplinary degree, a specialized journal, new teaching strategies, and additional and essential ways of engaging learning partners external to UB.

At the end of the day, the whole should be greater than the sum of the parts of the initiative, and, to repeat, what we learn will deeply inform our scholarship, what and how we teach, and the role each of us plays as a citizen in our civic and professional communities.

 

Published September, 2013 by the Digital Initiative Committee 

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