The McGregor Project at the College of Wooster

The College of Wooster recently received a grant from the McGregor Fund to create an undergraduate research center at the college. The two-year $250,000 dollar grant was awarded to the college to build upon one of Wooster’s core strengths – its Independent Study Program. The College of Wooster hopes to accomplish several initiatives with the grant. First and foremost, the College wants to better showcase the Independent Study program to the global academic community by having its students engage with scholars around the world throughout the I.S. process. In order to accomplish that goal, The College of Wooster is committed to bringing the I.S. program into the digital age.

To that end, the College of Wooster held a kickoff meeting for the first phases of the McGregor Project on 29 November 2010. The meeting’s purpose was twofold. First, it was to showcase current student and faculty work using digital research and presentation methods (where yours truly presented along with my adviser, Professor Holt) Second, the meeting was also held to start the process of creating digital abstracts for current senior’s Independent Study projects. The College will then create a digital abstracts database of the 60+ volunteers in the pilot group. Because the abstracts are going to be digital, students are strongly encouraged to use digital presentation tools as part of their abstracts. The three digital tools that are suggested for use this year are Prezi, WordPress, and iMovie. The College is starting small with a volunteer pilot group for now, but hopes in subsequent years to build up the project, with the goal being that eventually every senior would create a digital abstract as part of their independent study.

Highlights of the meeting included:

-Carolyn Newton, Provost of the College exclaiming, “We’re taking Independent Study into the digital age!”

-Professor Holt’s presentation on using digital tools for research and sharing it – The Bahian History Project

-My presentation on Twitter and WordPress as a way for students to be part of the larger scholarly conversation on their topic, and as a way to sell yourself (You can find the rough outline of my notes here). I tried to stress that part of using digital media was, “learning how to learn” digitally.

-Larry Stewart, Professor of English at the College going on for 4 decades, stressing that its OK not know what your doing –your not expected too. Have fun with digital media, but he also warned to ensure that in the end, your project, presentation, etc. actually benefits from using digital media tools.

-Instructional Technology and The Writing Center both their showing support as major players in the project. The actual guidelines for the project are posted on the IT’s website here.

I am really excited about this project, and was happy to present my experiences using digital media. In the past year, I have learned so much about digital media and digital humanities. I have made new friends and many professional contacts along the way that has made my jump into the digital media/humanities world a great experience. It is really exciting to see an institution embrace digital media whole-heartedly as part of a campus wide initiative by incorporating it as part of the senior capstone project. The administration, faculty, informational technology, writing center and many more all seem aboard for the College of Wooster’s ride into digital media and scholarship. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

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