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Hamilton College Strategic Plan

From the Hamilton College Strategic Plan

Digital technologies and modes of thinking are changing the world. While many current students are “digital natives” accustomed to finding information and socializing online, most have little familiarity with recent developments in algorithmic thinking, machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, data analytics, coding, and the ways these new technologies and developments are transforming society and virtually every field of endeavor. A 2013 Oxford University study concluded that “nearly half of U.S. jobs are at risk of automation within the next twenty years.” Higher education must adapt or risk graduating students ill-prepared to participate in the world they will inherit.

Hamilton will respond in two ways: First, the College will build a campus-wide digital learning community with curricular and other initiatives intended to enable all students to understand and acquire the modes of thinking and the basic skills necessary to communicate and work effectively in an increasingly digital world. Among other objectives, we want students to understand the power and limits of computing processes; the potential uses of data, analytics, and computer modeling in different fields; the use of digital media to communicate and collaborate; the privacy, security, and other ethical and societal implications of an online world; and the basics of information fluency, including how to find, organize, evaluate, and interpret online information.

Because technology changes rapidly and interests and needs vary widely, Hamilton will not prescribe a specific set of skills all students should acquire. Instead, the College will encourage faculty to innovate with technology-enabled pedagogies, infuse digital competencies into new and existing courses across the curriculum, and explore the impact of technology through their classroom instruction and assignments. Existing examples of digitally intensive courses include those focused on chemical simulations, bioinformatics, polling analytics, and digital arts. New courses might examine ethical issues around the use of technology, the impact of digital devices on cognitive processing, or digital technology’s transformation of the economy.

We believe it is important pedagogically and strategically to teach digital fluency across disciplines, so we will:

  • Develop a digital learning hub and research incubator to foster digital innovations and support faculty and student efforts to create, share, and explore digital learning and research
  • Hire four faculty content experts, one in each of the College’s academic divisions, to teach courses, help establish the hub and incubator, and assist in the development of digital initiatives
  • Provide the support necessary for faculty to create digitally focused courses throughout the curriculum and to develop pedagogical strategies to support this focus
  • Consider designating approved courses as “digital intensive,” similar to the “speakingintensive” designation applied to courses that emphasize oral communication and the “writing intensive” designation to courses that emphasize written expression
  • Explore the possibility of adding a digital-intensive requirement akin to the requirements that currently exist for writing and quantitative and symbolic reasoning
  • Link, as appropriate, digitally focused courses with new experiential learning opportunities

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