Connected Small Group Active Learning Spaces

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Recognizing the importance of small group (4 to 8 people) active collaboration in learning as exemplified, for example, in SE 101, the UCI Libraries and OIT have jointly developed a proposal for changing existing group study spaces into connected small group active learning spaces by adding communications tools for remote collaboration and consultation as well as the types of technologies used in SE 101 to facilitate active, participatory learning within small groups.  The communications tools will allow both participation at a distance by additional students as well as instructor availability, when suitably scheduled, for “office hours” or class activities similar to those for which SE 101 is configured.

While a principal initial use of these spaces is an enhanced form of the study/learning activities small groups of students already engage in, the space’s communications capabilities open the possibility of connecting several of them, on a scheduled basis, into a combined classroom.  The Libraries will assume responsibility for scheduling and for monitoring and logging use. The Libraries and OIT will jointly conduct surveys and interviews of students using the facilities.

The pilot phase of this project has begun with locations currently active in Gateway Study Center 2108 and 2109, and Education 2008. Additional locations are being planned within Langson Library and the Ayala Science Library, and other options for expansion include the Anteater Learning Pavilion, Student Center, Campuswide Honors Program study spaces, and spaces in residential housing.

Classroom WiFi Wireless

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Wireless upgrades in classrooms are based upon systematic surveys of coverage and reports from faculty and individual students.

During Q1 of 2017, upgraded access points, new access points, and network switches were added to increase wifi coverage in more than 30 classrooms, including: Humanities Hall first floor, Social Science Lab first floor, MSTB, DBH, PCB, HSLH, and EH. These classrooms total 2,262 seats.

The next phase of enhancements has been approved and is due to be completed in 2017. This includes more than 30 additional rooms such as: AIRB 1030, BS3 2130, HG 2nd floor, ICS, MSTB computer labs, RH, SSL 2nd floor, SST, and SSTR. At the same time, a new wireless network feature is being looked at for deployment in active learning classrooms. This allows for the creation of local wireless networks within a classroom, enabling instructors and students to wirelessly present and collaborate.

Canvas Learning Management System

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After extensive “pilot” use, broad consultation with faculty and students, and careful consideration of alternatives, the campus is beginning full scale deployment of Instructure’s cloud-based Canvas Learning Management System (LMS).  This is a multi-year endeavor during which time the locally developed (since 1995) EEE Legacy course management system will continue to be fully supported. Throughout the transition, Academic Web Technologies will be transitioning to a dynamic ecosystem of instructional technology tools, with EEE+ Canvas at the center. Maintaining a high standard of support responsiveness and quality is a critical component of this endeavor, as is enhancing and expanding training and support options. The complexity of Canvas and integration services has significantly expanded the volume and complexity of support inquiries. “Ongoing support” (see above) includes  staff dedicated to helping faculty, teaching assistants, students, and staff through the transition process.

Detailed information on the process through which Canvas was selected, plans for full deployment, and the continuing availability of EEE may be found at http://sites.uci.edu/canvas/ .

Etech@uci.edu funds 80% of the annual costs of the Canvas system; the remainder by other OIT funds to cover use of the system beyond that by undergraduates.

Classroom Technology

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UCI’s 131 general assignment SmartClassrooms are equipped with an assortment of technology used in instruction: projectors, audio systems, computers, document cameras, and other devices. OIT staff monitor the state of equipment through regular reviews, consultations, help desk records, and surveys.

This summer, OIT will be upgrading equipment in some of the Humanties Quad classrooms that were identified as a priority by instructors and students.

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Instructional Computing Labs

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OIT maintains 12 Computer Labs with a total of 453 computers: 7 instructional labs (270 computers) and 5 “drop-in” labs (183 computers).  (Complete information about these facilities can be found at http://www.oit.uci.edu/labs/.) The 50 PCs in the Instructional Computer Labs in MSTB 210 will be replaced to meet the demands of current classroom use. The units replaced will be deployed into drop-in labs to take the place of even older systems. Additionally, the heavily used Student Center B109 and C138 drop-in labs will get a previously deferred refresh of 20 iMacs.

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