Call for Proposals: Department and Program WID Projects W2019

Writing in the Disciplines at Dawson invites faculty members to submit proposals for department and program-based projects focused on writing, critical thinking and active learning in the disciplines.  Building on the college-wide presence of WID Writing Fellows and Spring Institute participants, these projects provide WID support for innovations in instructional and curricular design.  One or two projects will be selected for the W2018 semester.

Proposals should be submitted to Ian MacKenzie, WID Director, by Wednesday, October 31, 2018.   If you would like to discuss a potential application, don’t hesitate to contact Ian.Continue reading

Design Thinking for Learning Experiences – WID Spring Institute – June 4 & 6

What do a spatula and a research assignment have in common?  They can both be well – or poorly – designed.  In both cases, the experience  that derives from good or bad design will have a conclusive impact on the desired outcomes.



Can design thinking help teachers create learning experiences that students will find awesomely engaging and intellectually challenging?  How might wicked problems replace generic topics as the focus for authentic disciplinary inquiry?  These are the guiding questions for this year’s WID Spring Institute.  We’ll introduce some key ideas of human-centred design, and explore the possibilities for adapting design thinking methods to the creation of new learning activities and assignments.   Participants will investigate how good design decisions can be supported by best practices for the thinking/writing process.

Activities in this two-day workshop place a strong emphasis on collaboration – and so we encourage teachers from specific disciplines to register as groups of two, three or four – although individuals participants are welcome too.  Workshop structure is based on the widely-adapted process of human-centred design: Empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test.  For example,

So, the preliminary sketch for the workshop process looks like this:

A.  Empathize + Define + Ideate

i) Meaningful Learning Experiences – SPACE students

ii) Why Design Thinking? – Ian MacKenzie, WID

ii) SPACE & Make Things that Matter : Ideation in Practice – Joel Trudeau, SPACE

B. Prototype + Test

iv) From Ideas to Prototypes: Backwards Design for Learning Outcomes – Jeff Gandell, DALC

v) Feedback on Prototypes – SPACE students


Lead facilitators: Ian MacKenzie (WID), Joel Trudeau (SPACE), Jeffrey Gandell (DALC)

June 4 & 6, 10am-4pm, room 3H.10.  Morning coffee and lunch provided.

Interested, have questions, or ready to sign up?  Contact Ian MacKenzie, WID Director at imackenzie@dawson… by May 30.

Interested in learning more about design thinking in education?  Drop in on the IDEO discussion “How Can Design Advance Learning and Education?” or visit Stanford’s to explore their view of a design approach to higher education.


Cinema and Communication: WID Project Progress Report W2018

Our project, Critical Thinking and Writing in New and Interactive Media, proposed the creation of an on-line ‘tool-box’ of pedagogical resources for teachers and students involved in new and interactive media production.  After a very productive and stimulating term, we’re very close to realizing our goal.

What exactly are new / interactive / immersive media forms?  Many will be familiar with the projections of Jenny Holzer, or have experienced the multifaceted MAC exhibition on the life and work of Leonard Cohen.  These are excellent illustrations of new and interactive media at work.

The Cin-Com WID project began by carving out the media terrain we would survey, establishing research questions to guide the development of learning activities, and sketching the outlines for a glossary of concepts and terms useful for visitors to the site. We decided to focus on interactive and installation/immersive modes of documentary production, with the orienting questions aimed at understanding the differences between new versus traditional media and the particularities of interactive and immersive media experiences.

At the next stage, we set up a blog as an intermediate platform and began to gather our resources. Over the course of the term we collected, reviewed and annotated relevant teaching, journalistic and theoretical materials, and also built an on-line archive of links to documentation of several, recent new media projects (in installation, interactive, immersive modes) to be used as case studies. At the same time we drew designs for the architecture of the toolbox, using Wix, a free, on-line website builder.

As the term draws to a close, we are completing two scaffolded assignments for courses focused on interactive storytelling and installation/immersive forms of documentary production, along with an additional, stand-alone assignment aimed at critically evaluating new media works. We are also putting the finishing touches on the site we’ve designed.

The next stages will involve completing the glossary and resource annotation, polishing the assignments, editing content and publishing the site. Keep an eye out for our new/immersive media storytelling site in the fall..

Myriam Rafla and Cheryl Simon