Collaborative 105: Scaling studio-based learning across disciplines.

Like its Fall 2014 predecessor, the Phil 105 course collaborative is co-taught by a philosopher and a designer. This semester, class structure expands to involve intermittent in-studio collaboration with two other courses, Introduction to Rhetoric (Engl 286-01) with Matt Pavesich, and Shaping National Science Policy (Biol 262) with Francis Slakey. Collaboration is facilitated by a custom-built online platform, funded by one of this year’s sought-after ITEL grants.

One participant in the Fall 2014 class put it this way: “Rather than only learning the material, this course encourages full engagement with the material. … Questions that currently plague the field are the same questions we try to answer in the course.”

“The course collaborative scheduled for this semester represents an important next step in scaling up the studio model at Georgetown,” adds Kelly Heuer, a member of the EthicsLab founding team. “We are so excited to broaden and deepen the resources available in studio as we invite even more students into this challenging learning environment.”

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From the Georgetown Registrar:

This course will introduce students to the world of bioethics in a studio-based format. Co-taught by Maggie Little, Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and Arjun Dhillon, Head of Design of EthicsLab, the course will use a combination of traditional philosophical approaches, design-based thinking, and work with outside experts. Topics covered will include Clinical Bioethics, Research Ethics, & Personal Genomics.

The class will be studio-based. Taught in EthicsLab, a new innovation lab in Healy Hall, the class will meet as a group 3 hours weekly, but students will also be expected to participate significantly in Open Studio Hours. The class will also be collaboratively linked with two other studio-based courses taught by Profs. Matt Pavesich (Engl 286:01) and Francis Slakey (Biol 262) to enable interdisciplinary work. Assignments will include traditional analytic writing and collaborative team projects. No background in design methods required or assumed.

Prerequisite: prior enrollment in Introduction to Philosophy or Introduction to Ethics.

Our experimental classes turn Georgetown’s Introduction to Bioethics inside-out.

In Fall 2014, two exciting initiatives upended two different sections of Georgetown’s standard Introduction to Bioethics course offering, Philosophy 105. In Spring 2015, the experiments continue.

One 2014 class deployed a studio-based classroom model that blurred the lines between design, philosophy, and real-world bioethics projects. The other was the first truly hybrid course offered in this area: a “flipped classroom” model of learning which makes extensive use of the KIE’s pioneering Introduction to Bioethics MOOC.

Each of these pilots was structured as the first stage of a broader project. The hybrid course not only used existing MOOC content, but served as a venue for building content and refining the student experience for the next MOOC iteration. The studio course was designed to test a variety of pedagogical tools and approaches that now, in Spring 2015, form the core of an interdisciplinary course collaborative in bioethics as part of a university-wide initiative to develop innovative boundary-crossing curricular structures.

This spring sees the unfolding next step of each of these projects. Follow along as MOOC 2.0 gathers steam and launches on April 15th, 2015; and read on below to learn more about this semester’s interdisciplinary collaborative course.

Above all else, these experiments are an effort to broaden the range of options available for teaching bioethics to beginners (and beyond) at Georgetown, building a portfolio of innovative pedagogical tools to be sampled and incorporated by other faculty across the university.

Hybrid 105: A classroom designed for maximal interaction.

The “flipped classroom” model has taken the world of educational design by storm over the past decade. Educators from elementary to graduate school have been experimenting with inverting their standard pedagogical model, moving “homework” into the classroom and “instruction” outside it. On the college level, this typically involves using online resources for lecture, which students can access at their convenience prior to class, and using in-class time to ask questions and spark discussion. Students receive an unprecedented level of interactive access to their professors now that so much less time in class involves the one-way transmission of information from professor to student, and professors are able to radically enhance student learning by using in-class time to for collaborative learning experiences driven by student interest and need.

In this course, students learned not only from the KIE faculty involved in creating its innovative Introduction to Bioethics MOOC, but a variety of other online resources and texts. The course used the MOOC as the basis for a “living textbook,” explains instructor Travis Rieder, who served as one of the MOOC course fellows during its live run in Spring 2014, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University. Classroom time minimized lecture and maximized the kind of reflection and interaction so important to building understanding, respect for difference, and individual beliefs on intense moral issues.

From instructor Travis Rieder:

…this is something of an experimental class, which is partnered with Georgetown’s Bioethics MOOC in a variety of ways. I think of this class as being ‘next-gen’, as it involves a kind of blending of traditional college learning experiences with technology-enhanced learning. In line with this general attitude, our class does not have a traditional textbook; instead, it has [a dynamic online] ‘Multimedia Course Packet’ …This is a living textbook, and will grow, change, and evolve as a result.

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Studio 105: Taking studio-based learning in a new direction.

This course was offered as a pilot project in EthicsLab, an initiative by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics to make 
progress on complex bioethical problems 
by supplementing traditional approaches with new methods from innovation and design labs. Students worked on real-world bioethics projects such as genome sequencing, clinical trial design for ethically complex populations, and informed consent procedures, with teachers and partners out in the field. The class was structured to work as a design studio, in which project progress and student learning advance in tandem. Students built bioethics knowledge as they developed resilience, inquisitiveness, and collaborative skills.

“In studio courses, students are encouraged to fail publicly, and fail fast,” explains instructor Arjun Dhillon, Head of Design at the KIE’s EthicsLab, who will be co-delivering the course with KIE Director Maggie Little. “Though discomfort with failure of any kind—not to mention rapid, public failure!—can feel like anathema to high-achieving Georgetown students,” adds Kelly Heuer, another member of the EthicsLab team who was involved in a similar effort in Fall 2013, “that’s precisely what makes it such a powerful tool for learning and personal growth. Moreover, studio model’s emphasis on creative and collaborative inquiry oriented around tangible artifacts makes it an unusually effective way of exploring bioethics issues, which must ultimately be addressed in the messy and complex human reality that gives rise to them in the first place.”

From the Georgetown Registrar:

This course will introduce students to the world of bioethics in an innovative, studio-based forum. Co-taught by Maggie Little, Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and Arjun Dhillon, Head of Design of EthicsLab, the course will teach students through a combination of traditional philosophical approaches and new design-based thinking, and will incorporate work with two Scholars in Residence, one from the Genographic Project at National Geographic and one from a clinical research project in women’s health.

Topics covered will include Clinical Bioethics, Research Ethics, & Genomics.

The class will be studio-based. Taught in EthicsLab, a new innovation lab in Healy Hall, the class will meet 3 hours weekly as a group; students will also be expected to do homework ahead of class and to attend at least two Open Studio Hours per week. Assignments will include traditional analytic writing, video annotation, and collaborative team projects. No background in design is required or assumed.

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