National Science Foundation-Funded Workshop

Digital Science and Data Analytic Learning Environments at Small Liberal Arts Schools

How do smaller liberal arts institutions meet the growing need for professionals across all fields who are proficient in data science and analytics (DSA)? Teams from around the nation are developing models for next generation digital learning environments that meet individual needs and the needs of the workforce. 

The March, 2019, workshop brought representatives from small liberal arts institutions of higher education (IHE) together to begin the process of designing digital learning environments that will meet the substantial need for data science and analytics (DSA) educated professionals, while promoting equity in learning. Analytics, computer science, learning science, social science and team science experts are advising teams to design DSA curricula that will be incorporated in designs for next generation digital learning environments (NGDLEs), meeting the needs of learners and the workforce. The goal of the workshop is to develop blueprint designs of NGDLEs to answer the question, “How can science, technology, and mathematics digital learning environments be designed to enhance the digital science and data analytic skill competencies of learners at small liberal arts institutions of higher education?” To meet the goal of the workshop, the following questions will be addressed: 
•    How will the innovative digital learning environments prepare students for employment that requires DSA? 
•    How will the design of DSA digital learning environments account for the variability of learners? 
•    How will data be collected and learning environments assessed to measure students DSA competency? 
•    How will a national consortium for digital learning at small liberal arts institutions form and function to sustain and expand the workshop outcomes?

Workshop Objectives

innovative digital learning environments that prepare students for jobs that require DSA skills

DSA digital learning environments that adapt for the variability of learners

data to be collected and learning environment assessments to measure student DSA competencies

a national consortium for digital learning of small liberal arts institutions to sustain and expand the workshop outcomes



Intellectual Merit

The intellectual merit of this initiative includes an innovative team science approach, the creative methods for ensuring a well-resourced project, and the creation of a consortium. The complexity of the topic will require an assessment of the workshop participants' progress toward meeting the planned outcomes, and education on individual motivations, both which will be done through team science. Team science will also be innovatively incorporated into the DSA undergraduate curriculum design as teaching undergraduates team science educates students how their skills can contribute to a greater product that is the result of the collective contribution of the multidisciplinary team. The project is well-resourced, drawing expertise from national experts who will provide content knowledge not otherwise available to small liberal arts IHE. Finally, the forming of a national consortium for digital learning at small liberal arts IHE will sustain and expand the workshop outcomes.

Broader Impacts

The broader impacts of this workshop include universal design for learning (UDL) through technology for all learners in higher education, the use of the consortium model to enhance education for students at small liberal arts IHE, and the societal benefits of educating students for DSA skills in NGDLEs to meet workforce needs. Because small liberal arts IHE have a tradition of offering personalized learning, they are well suited for bringing UDL to the forefront of higher education. The emphasis of UDL in this project will serve as a model for other faculty and IHE, supporting more underrepresented students in STEM to persist to graduation. The work of the consortium will have broad, long-lasting effects for thousands of students who attend schools in the consortium. It will provide authentic hands-on digital learning research experience through curriculum innovations that introduce students to computational thinking, data science, and analytic skills. The result will be prepared students who fit the needs of the next generation workplace.

Workshop Leaders

The workshop will be led by a team of experts from the fields of learning science, team science, data science and next generation digital learning environments.


Karen Hung

Karen Hung
CEO and Founder | Silver Rock Consulting

Karen Hung is the CEO and founder of Silver Rock Consulting firm. Silver Rock focuses on transformation at the intersection of strategy, marketing and innovation across multiple industries. Clients include Ascension Health Care, MetLife, AbbVie, Johnson Controls, SubZero Wolf. Karen is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and of leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business and serves in a leadership capacity on a number of boards. She will lead the in-person workshop, facilitating the flow of events to assist the project team so that all appropriate milestones and outcomes are met.

Scott Hippensteel
Engagement Consultant | Silver Rock Consulting

Scott Hippensteel has 31 years’ experience in medical device, pharmaceuticals, and the medical disposable supply industry. His background includes 24 years in leadership marketing roles with the remaining years in sales and clinical management. Scott’s work experience includes both large and mid-cap corporations as well as private equity owned corporations that service both acute care and the alternate site spaces. His experience also extends into managing high performance integrated product teams in cross functional matrixed organizations.

Jacob Hamalian
Engagement Associate | Silver Rock Consulting

Jacob Hamalian is a big picture thinker with an appetite for little picture doing. His experience comprises numerous projects and program management work in social services, community organizing, global church thinking and leadership. Most recently he has focused applying his energies in the areas of economic development and international program collaboration for social and faith-based organizations. 


Michael O'Rourke, Ph.D. (team scientist and philosopher of interdisciplinarity) Dr. Michael O’Rourke is professor of philosophy and faculty in AgBioResearch and Environmental Science & Policy at Michigan State University. His research interests include epistemology, communication and epistemic integration in collaborative, cross-disciplinary research, and linguistic communication between intelligent agents. He is interim director of the MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity and director of the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, an NSF-sponsored research initiative that investigates philosophical approaches to facilitating interdisciplinary research. O’Rourke is a philosopher of interdisciplinarity, a theorist of team science, and a facilitator of collaborative, interdisciplinary research and practice. Download presentation slides


Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano, Ph.D. (team scientist) Dr. Lotrecchiano is presently associate professor of clinical research and leadership at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. As a member of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at GWU/Children’s National Health System, he is the lead for collaborative and multidisciplinary team science. He serves as the president elect of the International Science of Team Science (INSCiTS). Lotrecchiano will lend his expertise to the process of evaluating the team collaborations, not just the final outcomes, but also the effectiveness of the process. He will also guide teams on how to educate undergraduates about team science as part of the DSA digital curriculum.

Dave L. Edyburn, Ph.D. (learning scientist) Dr. Dave L. Edyburn is professor and associate dean for research and faculty development at the College of Community Innovation and Education, University of Central Florida. His research and teaching interests focus on the use of technology to enhance teaching, learning, and performance. As co-lead of the UCF Learning Sciences cluster, his current research and development agenda focuses on personalized learning and learning analytics. Edyburn will participate in the project as a member of the organizing committee. Given his background in cyberlearning, STEM, technology-based research methods, personalized learning, and learning analytics, he will assist the project in identify relevant experts to provide content knowledge and technical assistance to the project. His background and experience in learning disabilities and universal design for learning will facilitate instructional design efforts to create digital learning materials that will be accessible to under-represented students.

Justin Jacobs, Ph.D. Justin Jacobs is a principal research statistician at Sandia National Laboratories, in Livermore, Calif. Justin’s major efforts focus on research and development in streaming, network and sensor analytics within the cybersecurity and nuclear nonproliferation realms. Justin concurrently is a remote researcher for the Houston Rockets, in Houston, Texas, with primary duties involving tracking-based solutions for player performance, player valuation and coaching strategy. Justin served as a research consultant for seven other NBA teams since 2012. Prior to that, he served as a research mathematician at the Department of Defense from 2007 through 2016. He earned his Ph.D. in statistics in 2014 from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County, his M.S. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2005, and his B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Carroll University in 2003. Justin can be found on Twitter @Squared2020, or through his basketball analytics website, Download presentation slides
Michael Greene II Michael leads the Learning Technology Services and Strategy team at Duke Learning Innovation which focuses on building and supporting the ecosystem of education technology tools that support learning, and working with schools, departments, and faculty to curate tools for the needs and learning goals of programs and disciplines. The team leads Duke's learning management system (Sakai) and NGDLE efforts ( Download presentation slides

Valinda Scarbro Kennedy Valinda is the IBM Midwest university programs manager with IBM. She has expertise in open-source and inexpensive NGDLE technologies. Valinda’s blog. IBM Academic Initiative. IBM Skills Academy.



Project Staff

John Symms
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor, Mathematics

Jane Hopp
Co-Principal Investigator
Associate Vice President of Partnerships and Innovation

Katy Coutley
Project Coordinator
Staff, Partnerships and Innovation

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1824727. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Panoramic View of campus