Stonehill Faculty Embrace Innovative Learning through Use of New Interactive "DisCo" Space

October 24, 2014

David Finkel Skype's with students in the course "Development of American News Media”

Faculty members are embracing the MacPháidín Library’s new Brian J. Flynn '92 Discovery and Collaboration Space, dubbed “The DisCo.” Recently opened, the innovative learning space offers an interactive area with advanced technology that maximizes student learning outcomes.

Connecting With Experts Through Technology
For example, students in Journalism Professor Maureen Boyle’s “Development of American News Media” class were able to catch up with Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Finkel via Skype recently. Using the DisCo’s large panel high-resolution screens, students heard first-hand about Kinkel’s reporting in Iraq during the surge and what went into writing his two narratives, The Good Soldiers and Thank You for Your Service.

“The DisCo was a near ideal setting for the Skype chat. The setup and large screens created a comfortable, intimate atmosphere for a serious video chat,” says Boyle, who was at first unsure how well the idea would work. “The library staff was wonderful in helping do a test run a few days before the Skype,” she adds.

Also pleased with the skype session was Finkel himself, who emailed Boyle shortly after to thank her for the opportunity. “I went to a Boston University narrative conference in the spring and he was one of the main speakers. At his book signing at the end of the conference, I asked him if he would be willing to talk with one of my classes at Stonehill. He said he would. So, a few weeks ago I emailed him, reminded him of our talk and we set a date for the Skype. It was as simple as that,” notes Boyle.

In his chat, he detailed the importance of storytelling and details in crafting a book. Finkel said he went to Iraq to tell a story of what it was like for these young men and women who went to war. He stressed he had no political agenda and wouldn’t discuss politics or his opinion on what he saw or the war. The books, he said, speak for themselves.

Understanding 19th-century American History and Culture
In his First-Year Seminar course “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” which uses the life of the great social reformer and abolitionist leader as a basis and lens for understanding 19th-century American history and culture, Professor Todd Gernes has been utilizing the DisCo for a sequence of digital archival laboratories.

“Students are exposed to high-quality digital facsimiles of manuscripts, documents, and visual sources which can be projected onto multiple high-resolution screens using wirelessly networked tablet computers,” says Gernes, who works in close collaboration with Elizabeth Chase (left), head of collections assessment and user engagement for the MacPháidín Library, in the labs.

“Her advanced expertise in archival study, adds important dimensions of structure, detail, and precision to the labs,” notes Gernes.

The writing-intensive seminar draws on African American history, the history of social reform movements in the U.S., and American literary studies while weaving literature, film, and primary materials to trace Douglass’s complex life and times.

“Moveable tables and chairs allow students to work in small groups, constructing and sharing historical knowledge with the whole group.  Lab reports are later posted on our course blog, Historical Thinking, and integrated back into class discussion and further research.  In this way, information fluency, the ability to locate, evaluate, organize, interpret and apply information and media, becomes an integrated practice and outcome of the course,” says Gernes.

For more on the DisCo, visit here







MacPháidín Library staff at the open house for the
Brian J. Flynn '92 Discovery and Collaboration Space
in September.