Discipline Focused Support at Carleton College: Let the Pedagogy Find the Tool


In 1993, Carleton College, a small liberal arts college, revolutionized its support model for computing. In its first four years, Academic Computing and Networking Services (ACNS), a radically new, discipline-focused computing support structure for Carleton, engendered a rise in curricular use of computers from 6% to 24% in the Humanities and Social Sciences. To date 38% of all faculty have participated in the Curricular Computing Grant program.This paper describes the ACNS organization and its outcomes compared to the previous "help desk" based model of technical support. In this discipline focused support model, technical support staff work to identify, facilitate and tailor technical tools and methods to the pedagogical needs of individual faculty. This model is dependent on a strong institutional commitment to academic computing, discipline-trained computing staff, low technical support staff to faculty ratio, and a high level of communication and cooperation among all participants.

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