Innovative Teaching in Undergraduate Philosophy: A Bass Online Apprentice Project

“The goal of the project is to create a “one stop” Sakai site that allows students to both engage in self-paced research skills training, and to share the results of this training with others in their class in a media-rich way online.” – Adela Deanova

Adela Deanova, a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy is a Bass Online Apprentice this fall with the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) as part of The Graduate School’s Bass Online Apprentice Fellowship program. This program provides Ph.D. students with hands-on experience in online college teaching. Adela is assisting Andrew Janiak, the Creed C. Black Professor of Philosophy, in a Gender & Philosophy course (offered Fall 2017) by creating online teaching materials and making these available in a media rich way. The apprenticeship training will expand Adela’s understanding of different teaching technologies that can be used to communicate this socially valuable material.

Motivation to Become a Bass Online Apprentice

Adela Deanova
Adela Deanova

“I decided to become a Bass Online Apprentice to further develop my understanding of how to best use technology in the classroom to engage students with important themes in the humanities. I spent the last two years project managing Project Vox, a Duke Library and Humanities Writ Large website initiative that highlights the work of women philosophers in the early modern era who have been inaccurately ignored in standard introductory philosophy courses.”

“The Project has become a unique online, media-rich resource for students and researchers to learn about these women philosophers, and to help change the way we teach history of philosophy at the university.”

Connection to Duke Archives Alive Initiative

The Gender & Philosophy course is part of the Duke Archives Alive Initiative (Trinity College of Arts & Sciences) which enables students to engage in class with rare archival materials from the Rubenstein Library, under archivist guidance. As the semester progresses, students acquire the necessary research skills on a weekly basis by completing step-by-step specific research tasks both in the Rubenstein library and online. For this course, students will complete a final written research paper using the rare books from the Rubenstein and create a digital presentation of their research. Adela explains the learning experience:

“The results of this research are displayed online on a weekly basis, using interactive Sakai applications that allows students to share texts, images, and comments with classmates and instructors. The idea is to provide an interactive experience where students can engage with the physical materials in the archive, and to create and communicate their research using the latest online technologies.”

Project Design

The Bass OA project is completed in two phases. Phase I involves collecting and creating online learning resources to teach students the specific library, archive, and digital archive research skills they need to complete both the written and digital components of the final research project. Working with Duke librarians, Adela will create archive and digital literacy assignments and teaching resources to complement this undergraduate philosophy course. The Sakai site will include links to online materials, readings,  videos, assignments, and will engage students with multimedia discussions using VoiceThread.

CIT Supports Teaching Innovation

Adela shares insights on what she’s learned about how CIT supports faculty in their exploration of innovative teaching: “I think what has impressed me the most is how much personal support CIT offers to instructors who are enthusiastic about exploring new ways to engage with their students, including online.”

In the future, Adela hopes the research skills teaching modules she is developing, including the digital component of the research project, will be re-used by other humanities courses at Duke University.

Interested in Applying to the Bass Fellowship Program?

Sophia Stone manages the program for CIT and will meet with students who have an interest in learning more about project assignments and the apprenticeship experience.  Students apply directly through the Graduate School. The application cycle opens in early October and closes in late November. Award recipients will be notified in mid-December. The Graduate School will announce exact dates closer to the start of the cycle, and they will be posted with the award listing on the school’s online application system.

Previous Online Apprenticeship Projects