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Digital and Tech Projects

Academic Innovation Initiatives

Dr. Chiquita Howard-Bostic, Director of Academic Initiatives, has a plan to use new information, data and best practices that can lead to new modes of learning and instruction. The goal is to strengthen the quality of a Shepherd University education and to enhance our impact on society. These innovations will be both inside and outside the classroom and in the community, from hands-on learning experiences, to social events, and the use of new technologies. This page highlights forthcoming and current digital and technical projects that align with the mission of Shepherd Digital.

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Digital Ethnography

Digital Ethnology is a new featured project for Shepherd Digital. The project aligns ethnomusicology and ethnography with skill sets in phenomenology, hermeneutics and semiotics. COMM 399/SOCI 399/SOCI 599 will host a digital history pilot project to garner interest in the development of regional projects focusing on local histories in the lower Shenandoah Valley. Students will use results from ancestery.com genealogy to showcase examples of cultural origins, geographic locations, values, and belief-systems. They will participate in Digital Storytelling using Creative Cloud to design a storyboard to visualize aspects of their narrative including images, titles, narration, music, and sounds. Exhibitions of the digital storytelling projects include webcasting and theatrical presentation.
Partners: Dr. Kevin Williams, Department of Mass Communications; Dr. James Broomall, Director, George Tyler Moor Center for the Study of the Civil War; Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst, Department of History

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Digital Community Ed E-Leaning Portal

The Digital Community Ed E-learning is a new program idea in the works coming Fall 2020-Spring 2021. The digital community e-learning portal project is a plan to present a series social work-related continuing education learning modules and courses. The content can span timely and relevant content for social work professionals and caregivers working with individuals with mental illness, substance use, and other addictions. The curriculum, developed by the Department of Social Work and partners. The curriculum is comprised of standalone topic areas which collectively present trainings for building baseline knowledge and essential skills they need in behavioral health. These services require social workers continue to have an understanding of social science skill-sets in various settings.
Planning partner: Craig Cline, BSW Program Director, Department of Social Work

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Digital Silver Course Modules

Digital Silver is a new program idea in the works coming Fall 2020-Spring 2021!  The goal is to design online and digitized course modules that close the gap between digital technology skills and the skill levels of those in the lifelong learning audience age. Beyond basic digital technology skills, the objective is for modules to entail core dimensions of wellness such as social connection, intellectual stimulation, physical engagement, spiritual nourishment, emotional support and vocational interests. A series of modules will provide basic knowledge for communicating and expressing oneself online, including areas of blogging, social media, video, podcasting, and some basic core issues such as privacy. A team of faculty, staff, and student interns in various partnering departments will create content (e.g., write, shoot, edit, and produce videos) and offer participant support. Silver digital users will pay a fee for a la carte or module bundles.
Planning team: Andrew Ford, Support, IT Services and Karen Rice, Director, Lifelong Learning Program


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Seeding Your Future

The annual Seeding Your Future Conference (SYFC) is a one-day, hands-on event that inspires young middle school-aged girls’ interests in careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Each participant completes three to four hands-on workshops. The activities involve an innovation interchange that applies brainstorming, ideation, and creative thinking in ways that expose youth to modern and futuristic technology and scientific exploration. The conference is funded by grants from Women Investing in Shepherd and the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium Extension and Public Outreach Program.
Contact: Dr. Sytil Murphy, Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences
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Smart City Concepts

The Department of Environmental and Physical Sciences has partnered with the Town of Shepherdstown to build and install a real-time water quality monitoring system in a stream that runs through the middle of town called Town Run. ​This is the first of hopefully several projects with the town that will collectively be referred to as “Smart City Concepts.” The ​water-quality-monitoring system will use sensors that measure a host of physical characteristics including temperature, turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity. Data will be relayed to the Cloud every few minutes ​and will be accessible via a webapp. The town leadership could use this technology and data to enable smarter town management and to better inform citizens about water quality. For example, data showing a spike in conductivity following a late winter rain storm could be connected with a recent application of road salt.
Contacts: Dr. Jeffrey Groff and Dr. Peter Vila, Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences
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Solar Energy Production

A total of 66 kW of solar energy production ​was installed on campus ​during Summer ​2019 on the roof of the library and at Shepherd’s University Agricultural Innovation Center, which is located on a 158-acre University-owned farm. ​This work was completely funded by grants award to faculty of the Department of Environmental and Physical Sciences and the Scarborough Library. The system ​at the farm uses electronics to track real-time and cumulative energy production and provides locally produced, clean, renewable energy. Monitoring energy production will allow the agricultural systems at the farm to be designed to more closely match electricity consumption with production. This is essential for the development of agricultural systems that are more sustainable and ecologically sound.
Contact: Dr. Jeffrey Groff, Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences


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Unmanned Aerial and Satellite Imagery

The Department of Environmental and Physical Sciences no longer relies on satellite imagery alone. They offer courses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and a course on unmanned aerial systems (drones) for data collection and teaching students how to fly and obtain a commercial drone pilot’s license. The advent of low-cost drones yields multispectral high-resolution aerial imagery for use with geographic information systems (GIS, digital maps) and a host of applications from agriculture and resource management to criminal justice. Faculty and students from Shepherd University will are projected to travel to Randolph County over the next five years using the drone fleet to help U.S. Forest Services reclaim strip-mined land in the Monongahela National Forest.
Contacts: Dr. Sytil Murphy and Dr. Steve Shaffer, Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences


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The Academic Innovation Initiatives page links are listed below: (1) new Social Media Promotion (SMP) committee to enhance university branding and new Greek Leadership Committee to enhance student success, (2) digital and technology learning projects, (3) Shepherd Digital coursework and resources, and (4) a host of academic innovation initiatives partners:

Innovation Committees

Digital/Tech Projects

Shepherd Digital Coursework and Resources

Academic Innovation Partners

Dr. Chiquita D. Howard-Bostic
Director of Academic Innovation Initiatives
Academic Affairs Leadership Team