How to Create Meaningful Online Learning Communities | National Humanities Center


How to Create Meaningful Online Learning Communities

December 7–11, 2020


Visual notes from the 2019 Graduate Student Residency.

Since 2015, the National Humanities Center has offered PhD graduate students in the humanities an opportunity to learn about and experience best practices in teaching and learning. Each year, a cohort of students works in small teams to address a relevant theme and create group and individual instructional materials.

Focusing on the process of translating research to practice, students are given guidance on how to create meaningful learning experiences for any level audience in sessions led by prominent scholars, master educators, and technology experts. Most importantly, the design of the residency requires direct and collegial work among students from different universities and disciplines, creating a much richer network of humanities professionals.

Program Overview

In response to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, this 5-day virtual residency will model best practices for undergraduate teaching in the digital world. Graduate student cohorts will interact and learn from university professionals, and participants will also have opportunities to work with each other through interactive sessions and projects. The program will not simply be a series of Zoom meetings, although there will be live events scheduled. Instead, we will construct an online learning environment that features design principles students can directly apply to their teaching experiences specifically for the humanities classroom.
Topics will include:
  • open education resources (OER)
  • online course design and instruction
  • how to build community and relationships
  • interactive teaching technologies
  • student assessments
  • class evaluations
VGSWR is also designed to address issues for early career scholars and educators to consider in life after the PhD program. Topics will include:

  • Teaching at an HBCU
  • Teaching at a Community College
  • Applying Copyright Law to Research and Classroom
  • Finding Support for PhD–Life Balance

Program Goals

2019 GSSR
Participants in the 2019 Graduate Student Residency Program.
The Graduate Student Residency Program focuses each year on a specific pedagogical theme paired with an emerging instructional technology tool. Participants are also introduced to learning science theory to better inform their instructional design and lesson writing.

Throughout the program, participants will work in cross-university and interdisciplinary teams to create instructional materials for their teaching portfolio by applying these skills. Sessions will be designed and led by established scholars in the humanities who can model innovative uses of instructional technology in their research and their teaching. Workshops will provide participants with hands-on experience in connecting their own research to practice.

The primary goals for this program include:

  • Working with a diverse team to identify and map solutions to an instructional challenge
  • Identifying a compelling topic from research and scholarship to develop instructional materials
  • Training participants on the development of classroom-ready materials for the university classroom, including familiarizing them with the most recent research on learning sciences
  • Providing structured feedback on the practice and implementation of writing for a broader audience rather than solely an academic one
  • Writing, revising, and publishing classroom-ready lessons in the Center’s digital repository. These materials will be freely and openly disseminated to the full network of NHC educators. Student authors will receive full citation.
  • Developing skills that are marketable and valuable in the job search
  • Bolstering participants’ CVs through selection to and completion of the National Humanities Center’s Graduate Student Residency Program

More than simply developing a strong pedagogical understanding, this program will also provide a broader introduction to the Center and its work in humanities education and outreach. These activities will aim to:

  • integrate the work of the internship to provide more access to ongoing Center initiatives and workplace culture
  • identify a theme with strong cross-disciplinary opportunities that encourages advocacy and outreach at the school, university, and national level

Application Process

Students are nominated into the program by the student’s home institution. The National Humanities Center will accept up to ten (10) students per partner institution. NHC staff work with university representatives to develop recruiting materials, including an orientation meeting with faculty and students. The program quickly reaches capacity so participating institutions are encouraged to indicate their interest and submit applications as soon as the application portal opens.

Once selected, students will work with NHC staff to complete all required paperwork and prepare for the residency program. Participants will also participate in a short welcome orientation video conference and receive a detailed syllabus.

The tuition cost per participant is $750 and covers all programming for the NHC Graduate Student Residency Program.

For more information, contact Andy Mink, Vice President for Education Programs.

Next Steps and Timeline

  • November 1, 2020: University partners submit nominations for up to ten current humanities PhD students for a position in the residency program.
  • November 4, 2020: The NHC will establish contact with participants, schedule video orientation, and share expectations and syllabus.