Digital Discoveries: Creating Pathways to Digital Peer Leadership in the Liberal Arts
Concurrent Session 9
Like many liberal arts institutions, Muhlenberg College is exploring the role of the digital in our mission, goals, and practices. We believe that digital spaces, pedagogies, and tools can amplify our liberal arts mission and values, and support deep relationships between teaching and learning, appreciation for diverse ways of knowing, and an education that prepares students for citizenship and life long learning. At the heart of our student-centered environment is a nationally recognized peer-mentor model. With blended and online learning in its infancy at the College, we are only just beginning to explore how to remix this model for our emerging digital learning initiatives. The innovation challenge we propose is to design the framework of a robust and sustainable peer-education network for blended and online learning environments. Our goal is to create an innovative peer education model that empowers students to develop the relationships, skills, and competencies the need to excel as leaders in digital learning contexts.
In an increasingly digital and social networked learning environment, students have more opportunities than ever before to explore the traditional liberal arts through innovative digital learning modalities. To remain true to our identity as an institution that cultivates and recognizes students as peer leaders in curricular and co-curricular realms, we aim to reimagine peer mentorship strategies for digital learning domains. One potential element of our approach is a summer pre-orientation program designed to empower incoming first year students with activities, tools, and mentoring to shape their identities as digital learners and peer leaders. We envision an impactful alternative pre-orientation week for a small cohort of first year students that will prepare them to become digital learning peer leaders as they advance beyond their first year. During pre-orientation, students will engage in an array of engaging and informal digital learning activities: their introduction to the campus and surrounding community will be enriched through working with Google My Maps; a digital storytelling component will help foster participants’ personal agency and voice; and they will take the first steps towards creating a digital identity that is owned and managed by them within the framework of Muhlenberg’s new Domain of One’s Own pilot project.