Kadenze is pleased to launch a new course – Introduction to Psychology – and welcomes a new partner – Wesleyan University – to our online creative education platform.

Psychology courses typically use lectures and tutorials to focus on key concepts, the history of psychology and the scientific methods used in psychological research. This course takes a different approach. It harnesses the creative and collaborative power of project-based learning using a series of digital projects which are scaffolded to create a coherent understanding of this important field of study. As a result, this course demonstrates a creative approach to teaching a traditional subject online.

A radical feature of this approach is Digital-Intro

Lisa Dierker, Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan University, curated the online course Introduction to Psychology for the Kadenze platform. The course is delivered through a series of projects using, what Professor Dierker calls, Digital-Intro, to explain and frame the work students undertake alone or in small groups. By actively making and reflecting throughout the course, students find the learning engaging and develop transferable digital skills. Professor Dierker is driving the development of and promoting the use of Digital-Intro as a distinctive pedagogical strategy.

Why are digital skills relevant for contemporary education and critical to diversity, equity and inclusion? 

Most of the top 25 highest paying, in-demand jobs (e.g., database administrator, project marketing manager, UX designer, business development manager, solutions architect, etc.) require diverse digital skills. This enduring trend threatens to further increase current social and economic disparities given the continued under-representation of both women and individuals from racial minority groups across all technology-oriented industries. At the same time, students, particularly women and those from under-represented groups, continue to overwhelmingly pursue undergraduate degrees in social science and related fields (National Center for Education Statistics, 2017) with their first two years of college largely consumed by general education courses that rarely introduce students to technology. General education currently represents an untapped opportunity to achieve greater equality and inclusion in the U.S. workforce. 

Enter, Digital-Intro where Professor Dierker and her team are working to transform general education courses into active, project-based experiences. Projects are aimed at exposing students to a wide range of digital skills as they learn traditional disciplinary content. 

How does Digital-Intro enhance the Introduction to Psychology online course?

Within our digital Introduction to Psychology course now available on kadenze.com, students explore concepts and content in the field of psychology through video storytelling, programming, data visualization, experimentation, design and more. This novel curriculum solidifies new content knowledge, exposes students to modern digital tools and provides the opportunity to create tangible learning artifacts. The goal is learning through the creation of “stunning acts of communication”, an idea that is both aspirational and we believe, wholly achievable. Even more than introducing students to a discipline, Digital-Intro creates opportunities to learn leading digital tools and software platforms that empower students to enter the expanding digital workforce.

Within our newly launched Introduction to Psychology courses (Introduction to Psychology Part 1 and Introduction to Psychology Part 2) students can learn about the foundations of human behavior including contributions of the brain, sensation and perception, emotions, development, learning, mental health, memory, our social world and more. Lessons are delivered through a series of video presentations aimed at teaching about the field of psychology and preparing students conceptually for approaching a series of digital projects. These projects allow students to engage with the course concepts by investigating for insight, designing for change, advocating for influence, teaching to learn, and making learning stick.

The following diagram illustrates the knowledge flows and transfers which are enabled by the Digital-Intro approach to this course.

Graphical user interface, diagram, application

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Distinctive contribution to creative education 

The underpinning pedagogy of these courses marks a distinctive and significant contribution to the field of creative education. Kadenze is proud to bring this course to students and creative educators across the globe. The course embeds digital literacy studies and practice within the study of Psychology, ensuring that the two areas of knowledge enrich each other and the students who undertake the course. Educators can learn from this innovative pedagogy and see how they too might apply Digital-Intro to their discipline and transform their classes into highly interactive, creative, and engaging sites with real-world impact in digital literacy. This vision aligns with Kadenze’s aims to offer high-quality courses in creative fields from top universities, such as Wesleyan University; to support and celebrate creative and innovative pedagogy; and to take action in areas of social justice, diversity and inclusion.

Digital-Intro for all students’ general education

The Digital-Intro initiative is 100% committed to Open Educational Resources both in the content created and in the contributions that Digital-Intro classrooms and communities will make in expanding this resource. Open Educational Resources are open to everyone and can be used, revised, re-mixed, improved and redistributed freely to create expanded access, equity, and inclusion. Open Educational Resources made by new learners serve as an empowering resource for newer learners!

Right now, Digital-Intro is in its infancy. Lisa Dierker and her colleagues at Wesleyan are excited about the vast possibilities and warmly welcome everyone to get involved. For more information, see their website at https://digitalintro.wescreates.wesleyan.edu/ and feel free to reach out. Lisa Dierker: ldierker@wesleyan.edu

Credit for Image: University of Michigan Health Lab published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.