A History of the DLA Program by the Numbers

The DLA program is a peer-learning model designed to provide support as students engage new technologies and digital platforms ​to advance their learning. Started in fall ‘16, the Digital Learning Assistant (DLA) program builds off of a broad ethos and campus-wide commitment to peer-learning at Muhlenberg for helping to shape, guide, and support students’ academic success.  With the expansion and growth of digital learning opportunities and pedagogies across the curriculum, the DLA program seeks to intentionally support students in achieving their digital learning goals.  The program just completed its second full year and is enjoying success in offering both student support and in helping faculty imagine more boldly what is possible in their courses with the DLA program as a dedicated resource for students engaging new ways of learning and sharing.  

Trained DLAs provide individual and small group drop-in ​sessions (2-3 students)​ on digital technologies, tools, and practices that are currently used, or emerging, in courses and programs ​at Muhlenberg. DLAs are also available to partner with instructors throughout a semester-long course to ​support and build​ digital learning projects, workshops and tutorials.  ​

Current DLAs are trained in five primary areas of focus, that align with faculty interest and faculty development programming supported by recent Mellon Foundation grants and other targeted initiatives:

  • Mapping and GIS
  • Digital Archives and ​Information Visualization
  • Mediamaking and Digital Storytelling
  • eP​ortfolios/Domain of One’s Own/Web Publishing
  • Sketch-up and 3D Printing

Our award winning DLA program has done amazing things in the last 6 years. Our students have presented at conferences, co-authored articles, and published their own digital projects with the world. If were to count just a few of 

21 DLAs

2 Physical spaces (aka The HiVE)

40+ Class sessions

4680+ Hours logged 

2 Pre-orientation programs

6 Conference presentations

18 Camp Design Cohorts

Let’s break these down just a bit. In 6 years we have trained 21 DLAs with more than half of our students returning to work with the program for all four years. The DLAs have worked in the basement of Ettinger (002) and in our new home in Trexler (B06). They have led classroom sessions on Voicethread, Domains, StorymapJS, and podcasting and answered a number of questions during drop-in hours relating to these same tools. They have presented at a number of conferences:

  • Online Learning Consortium: Innovate New Orleans, LA, April 2017. Presented with Karl Schultz ‘18, Daniel Lester ‘18, Jenna Azar, Instructional Design Consultant, Jordan Noyes, Instructional Technology, Timothy Clarke, Instructional Technology, and Lora Taub-Pervizpour, Digital Learning: “A Toolkit For Developing Peer Leadership In Digital Learning: Updates From Solution Design Summit 2017 Winning Team.” 
  • Domains 2017: Indie EdTech and Other Curiosities Oklahoma City, OK, June 2017. Jarrett Azar ’20, DLA, and Jenna Azar, Instructional Design Consultant: “We’re not DoOOMed: From Student Tutor to Instructional Technologist.” 
  • PCLA Digital Liberal Arts Fellows Summer Conference Ursinus College, PA, August 2017. Jordan Noyes, Instructional Technologist, and Jazzie Pignattelo ‘17, DLA & Studio Art Major: “Using Omeka for Teaching, Learning, and Research” 
  • Media, Communication, and Film Studies Programs at Liberal Arts Colleges (MCFLAC) Forest Lake, IL, June ’18. Professor Corzo-Duchardt, Visiting Professor of Media and Communication and Lissa Heineman ‘18, DLA and English/Film Studies: “Fostering Media Production Curricula in a Liberal Arts Context” 
  • PCLA Student Symposium on Digital Scholarship Bryn Mawr College, PA, July 2018. Jarrett Azar ’20, DLA and Digital Summer Research Assistant, Dr. Lora Taub-Pervizpour, Associate Dean for Digital Learning, Daniella Viale, Italian Studies Lecturer, and Timothy Clarke, Instructional Design Consultant: “Va bene! Creating an Open Educational Resource in Pressbooks”
  • PCLA Student Symposium on Digital Scholarship Bryn Mawr College, PA, July 2018. Anthony Fillis ’19, DLA and Summer Research Assistant, Irene Chien, Assistant Professor in Media and Communication: “Virtual Reality and Pedagogy” 

Finally, DLAs were critical voices in the Camp Design cohorts. They spoke to the student experience in online courses and also had a hand in building the Canvas course structure for Camp Design alongside us. During that summer they logged 1179 hours in just 14 weeks. 1179 HOURS! 14 WEEKS! And all this happened as their own lives were flipped upside down, sideways and topsy-turvy by COVID-19. They took it all in stride moving their drop-in hours to Zoom and continuing to support digital projects. 

Our DLAs have done much to be proud of over the years. As the program continues to support digital learning, it grows and expands in a new ways. Stay tuned as we explore not just where we have been, but where we see this program going in the coming years!

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