Improvement of the virtual classroom
As the pandemic began, Academic Innovation prioritized video learning content to improve the students’ online learning experience. The division signed agreements with Panopto, a platform that has been invested in to help educators create interactive videos with embedded quizzes and subtitling capabilities PlayPositthat allows teachers to further edit videos with embedded opportunities for students to interact with the content, the teacher, and their classmates. This ease of production and delivery of content ensured that students watched the videos and reduced faculty concerns about accessibility.
“The pandemic has accelerated a technology transformation that has already been planned, but it would take more time to implement,” said Claudia Arcolin, Director of Digital Learning at the University. “UTSAs nationally recognized faculty masters and contacts took advantage of these new technologies to improve their teaching and used them to create a more inclusive learning experience for our students. “
Faculty champions and contacts supported lecturers who were new to digital teaching, helped integrate new technologies into their own courses, and guided other faculties in their departments who wanted to apply these new technologies to deliver high quality online courses to create.
Within the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, faculty masters have developed the One Thing That Works and Lunch and Learn video series, which help disseminate best practices for effective teaching. The Lunch & Learn series enabled lecturers to meet regularly and learn about various technologies and online teaching strategies.
“It was a wonderful support network for our department – it brought us together at a time when we were very isolated. It gave us a community and we were all looking forward to meeting, ”said Jodi Peterson, Lecturer at the Institute for History. “With all the pedagogical changes brought about by the transition to online teaching, I believe that this has also given our faculty direction and confidence.”
Integration of new technologies
Academic Innovation continued to invest in optimizing the use of Proctorio, Promoting academic integrity and assisting the faculty in redesigning their assessment strategy using various tools such as: Unicheck. Faculty representatives from the College of Engineering and Integrated Design and the College for Health, Community and Policy have partnered with Academic Innovation to identify alternative assessment tools and strategies and provide guidance for assessments.
Academic Innovation has also partnered with the Masters of the Faculty of the College of Sciences to bring the Labster, an online laboratory simulation tool that helps create high quality and interactive learning opportunities for STEM courses. Lorenzo Brancaleon, Faculty Master and Associate Professor at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy, piloted the first gamified course Teaching Physics. This course not only increased student engagement, but also provided a more inclusive learning experience as it allowed students to research the biographies of a diverse group of scholars within their discipline.
“Although I introduced gamification as an online tool in response to the loss of student engagement caused by switching online, I intend to keep the component in hybrid or traditional classroom courses,” said Brancaleon. “Most of the students’ responses indicated that gamification was key to keeping them engaged with the course. Gamification also adds a level of creativity that helps teachers engage with the course better, especially when, as I intend to do, we can change the game structure from one semester to another. “