CIC Faculty Guide: Program History

Background and History

The Computer-Integrated Courses Program (CIC) was created in 1990, when the Department of English successfully argued that students in 100-level writing courses would benefit from classrooms that were capable of taking full advantage of new learning technologies. Through years of curricular experimentation, CIC has expanded. The program currently houses undergraduate courses in expository, interdisciplinary, and creative writing; senior seminars in literary, cultural, and cinema studies; and graduate courses on topics ranging from medieval drama to hypertext poetry. Committed to the idea that the computer has become a "natural" part of the reading, writing, research, and critical thinking processes, CIC is dedicated to developing innovative computer-integrated approaches to teaching and learning. Since CIC doubled in size with its move to Mary Gates Hall in 2000, the program has enrolled approximately 15,000 students in 750 courses.

From the inception of the Computer-Integrated Courses (CIC) program in 1990, our philosophy has emphasized technology as a complimentary tool to the traditional classroom, not a replacement for it. Our goal has always been to integrate technology into pedagogy in ways that combine the the best of traditional and online instruction. Our primary focus, traditionally, has been the teaching of college writing, and our facilities were designed with the writing classroom in mind. Until recently, the writing classes offered in our classroom spaces were all 100- and 200- level expository writing classes, and the pedagogies, training methodologies, and program resources were all based on the model of composition advocated by that program.

Integration and Classroom Design

CIC courses move back and forth between two different kinds of classroom space. Each course spends half of its time each week in a 24-station, networked computerized classroom. The rest of its time is spent in a more conventional classroom. All classrooms have been designed around the program's central goal--to provide a student-centered, collaborative approach to teaching writing and critical thinking skills. This is particularly true of our computerized classrooms. In contrast to the design of most computer facilities, the CIC computer-integrated classroom is arranged primarily in three person user-groups. Students interact as a community with one another while working at their individual writing stations. The special design of our clusters gives students access both to their own computer terminals and to a shared desk space, facilitating the integration of private reading and writing practices with face-to-face group work. Allowing students to talk and to work in groups in the computer classrooms encourages the development of collaborative skills and community, reducing the anxiety that students might be feeling about using computers or about writing.

Our more traditional classrooms are supplemented by access to a laptop computer and video player, each which connects to a projector. This projector allows students and instructors to collectively view and discuss a wide range of materials -- from documents and web pages to DVDs to songs stored on an MP3 player. This design also provides our instructors with access to the materials students generate in their time in the computer classrooms, and opportunities for viewing and discussing that material as a class. Dialogues that begin in the computer classrooms can be continued in the other classrooms through the use of the projector. A student paper may be projected and edited by the whole class, or students' electronic postings may be projected to begin a focused class discussion. While students move back and forth between two different classroom spaces, the available technology helps connect these two spaces into one integrated classroom experience.