By Victoria Mescall
SHUsquare, the university’s virtual teaching and learning commons, was updated in the spring of 2016 to include greater access for students and to promote further collaboration between academic departments at the university.
“SHUsquare is a forum for students and teachers to have a cross disciplinary [academic] conversation,” said graduate student Joe Aiuto, a former SHUsquare student design coordinator.
The site features posts, video discussion boards and projects for students created by students, coincided with faculty contributions to broaden the scope of outside learning.
The electronic platform was designed to allow the sharing of work between students and faulty in an attempt to promote collaboration and intellectual growth through a well rounded Sacred Heart community.
“With this update we are trying to replicate what happened in the original SHUsquare, where different classes with different professors can communicate in one space,” said Professor Pilar Munday, one of the SHUsquare faculty coordinators.
The new website is easier to navigate and features more colorful graphics and interactive links.
“It enables free interchange between faculty and students that go beyond the boundaries of the classroom. This allows for more interdisciplinary conversations and captures continuous learning,” said Jaya Kannan, Director of Digital Learning in a press release. “In addition, it showcases the digital pedagogy practices implemented by our faculty. To sustain the culture of innovation on campus, we need to draw attention to the constant experimentation with emerging digital approaches.”
The SHUsquare site is one way to show evidence of these innovative approaches and the impact it could have on student learning.
Unlike Blackboard, an online faculty instructor resource used here at Sacred Heart, SHUsquare invites students from all grades and majors, as well as faulty from differing departments, to view and discuss academic work that is being studied in classrooms.
The idea for the program that developed into SHUsquare came from Seamus Carey, the former Dean of the College of Arts and Science in the 2012-13 academic year. It was under the direction of Professor Marie Hulme, the Director of the Public Square Project.
“The first version [of SHUsquare] was more of a proof of concept to make sure it worked,” said Aiuto.
The student commons showcase features final projects from a handful of students reporting on a multitude of disciplines.
All Sacred Heart students and faculty can access these works for themselves though the hyperlink for SHUsquare in their Launch Pad.
The SHUsquare concept of a virtual teaching and learning commons is innovative in itself and it has brought academic reward to Sacred Heart.
The original director, Professor Marie Hulme, won the Effective Practice Award in national education from the Online Learning Consortium International Conference in 2014.
“Learning never stops with just a classroom, it’s what happens outside the classroom where you continue to learn,” said Dr. Jaya Kannan, the current Director of