Committee on Online Teaching and Learning

  • Harriette Hemmasi, Chair, University Librarian
  • Dietrich Neumann, Co-Chair, Professor of History of Art and Architecture
  • Elsa Amanatidou, Director, Center for Language Studies
  • John Cayley, Professor of Literary Arts
  • Wendy Chun, Professor of Modern Culture and Media
  • Tom Doeppner, Associate Professor (Research) in Computer Science
  • Casey Dunn, Assistant Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • Melanie Fineman, Undergraduate Student
  • Andrew Ferguson, Graduate Student, Computer Science
  • Jonah Kagan, Undergraduate Student
  • J. ‘Butch’ Rovan , Professor of Music
  • Karen Sibley, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives; Dean, School of Professional Studies
  • Kathy Takayama, Director, Sheridan Center
  • Catherine Zabriskie, Director, CIS Academic Technology Services

To contact the committee chairs, send email to

Web-based tools, resources, and methods of instruction have enormous potential both to expand access to higher education and to enhance student learning. While a Brown education will continue to be defined by personal, face-to-face interactions in an intimate setting, we must take advantage of the undeniable power to reach and teach students through the effective integration of online components inside and outside the classroom. Experimentation with mobile learning through webinars, wikis, course management systems, and blogs pervades the academy and has become as commonplace and necessary as well-equipped classrooms and alternative teaching spaces. Technology-supported diversified teaching and learning options open new possibilities for individualized learning and can promote cooperative, collaborative and problem-based learning that will help students retain knowledge, make connections, and apply knowledge appropriately in new and different contexts within their lives and throughout our globalized society.

This committee is being convened not only to consider opportunities for online teaching and learning at Brown, but also to develop ideas for future investment in this area. Building on the recent report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Online Education, the group will work to articulate a set of new ideas and more importantly guiding principles for online education at Brown. Topics to be discussed range from questions of quality control, learning outcomes, and creative pedagogy to issues of intellectual property and faculty reward and recognition. How will the University approach the design of new online courses and the development of new teaching practices, and what kind of infrastructure will be needed? What is our current capacity to deploy the needed technology and provide the assistance that faculty may need to incorporate digital content into their teaching, and what enhancements of this capacity are required? How can we adapt existing teaching spaces for new modes of teaching? Are there new spaces that should be developed? And how, finally, should we imagine archiving the new materials that are developed?

The committee will work in close collaboration with other strategic planning groups — especially the committee on Educational Innovation — to address all of these questions. It will also take steps to gain perspective from a broader range of faculty, students, and staff, and to reach out to peer institutions that are currently developing online educational capacity and programs. The committee will discuss its preliminary ideas and recommendations with the Provost and President in December. A final report and prioritized recommendations will be delivered by the end of the Spring semester.