Mapping the Futures of Higher Education: Teaching, Learning and Research in the Age of Google

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Lisa Tagliaferri

    Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY Graduate Center)

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Mapping the Futures of Higher Education: Teaching, Learning and Research in the Age of Google


The Graduate Center (CUNY), The Futures Initiative, United States of America


Paul Arthur, University of Western Sidney

Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751
Paul Arthur

Converted from a Word document



Short Paper

higher education
digital humanities

geospatial analysis
interfaces and technology
digital humanities - institutional support
digital humanities - pedagogy and curriculum

This poster will present an analysis of relationships and knowledge-sharing in the first Futures Initiative course, Mapping the Futures of Higher Education: Teaching, Learning, and Research in the Age of Google, offered at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) in spring 2015. Graduate students enrolled in this course are from widely different backgrounds and teach courses throughout New York City across levels and disciplines. In order to facilitate a collaborative, peer-driven learning environment among this diverse group, the Futures Initiative has deployed a sophisticated web-based technology.
The Mapping the Futures website ( utilizes a specialized version of Commons In A Box (CBOX), a software project based on WordPress and developed by CUNY and the Graduate Center. As an open-source platform, CBOX offers community and collaboration tools in a single installation package, with low barriers to entry for students, who have various levels of technical proficiency. The site is equipped with multi-site functionality in addition to groups and forums to allow each student to engage online with his or her own course, as well as the larger network of collaborators across campuses. Within the first few weeks, the site’s network includes over 200 users, 20 sites, and 15 groups, many of which are highly active.
This poster will be exploring and evaluating this online cross-campus community through data visualizations and analysis. As a Futures Initiative fellow with a background in both the humanities and the computer sciences, as well as an educational background both at CUNY and abroad, I will be exploring the efficacy of the course through its online community network and suggest ways in which aspects of its collaborative and digital pedagogy model may be expanded upon by the global higher education community. I will also consider how the Mapping the Futures site may be a scalable and adaptable digital model, working without geospatial limitations, to facilitate peer-driven and collaborative learning.
The classroom sessions, led by Futures Initiative director and pioneering digital humanist Cathy N. Davidson and former Graduate Center president William Kelly, are designed to support graduate student-instructors to innovate in their own classrooms. As an interdisciplinary course, with students from humanities as well as STEM fields, it employs a number of digital and collaborative pedagogic approaches to re-envision the methodologies and structure of higher education in the 21st century, many of which are being housed on the Mapping the Futures site. In an effort to harness CUNY’s unique networked structure, in which graduate students teach at a wide array of colleges throughout the city, the course and its site leverage a multiplier effect through an intrinsic embedded flow that can disperse throughout the system. Two professors working with a dozen graduate students and 368 undergraduate students can create profound effects toward refactoring pedagogical assumptions and innovating both in the classroom and online. This first course will proliferate by fivefold through subsequent iterations in the coming semester, thus expanding the student outreach and prompting profound reverberations throughout the system.
The physical network of CUNY, the largest urban university in the United States, is echoed in the course’s site, with its linked network of course websites, discussions, documents, and reflections. Students are developing geographic information systems as part of their coursework, approaching it from various skill levels and through diverse methods. This visualization work, which joins identity with a map, is an important means of cultivating the community across campuses. This provides several instantiations of the students’ interconnectedness across disciplines and campuses, through virtual, physical, networked, and temporal mapping. The virtual map is symbolic of the online site that hosts this GIS work, providing a platform to connect students across geospatial realities.
As a public-facing course intending to encourage iterations and cross-institutional collaboration, all meeting sessions are also posted on the Mapping the Futures website as blogs, videos, and publicly editable online documents. This transparency encourages evaluation, research, and community engagement. The inaugural Futures Initiative course will be completed along with its final public presentation in May 2015. CUNY and the Futures Initiative will be creating additional instances of this course over time, beginning with five more courses in 2015–2016, to foster a wider spread of innovative pedagogies within higher education that develops from the bottom up and offers support from the top down.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2015
"Global Digital Humanities"

Hosted at Western Sydney University

Sydney, Australia

June 29, 2015 - July 3, 2015

280 works by 609 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (10)

Organizers: ADHO