The Educational Technology Initiative Advisory Committee (ETIAC) provides feedback and guidance to UCI’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) regarding eTech@UCI decision-making. ETIAC comprises 4 student, 4 faculty, 3 staff, and 2 OIT representatives and is chaired by the CIO. The ETIAC met three times during the 2015/16 school year. Additional meetings of OIT staff and ETIAC members inform and contribute to plenary meetings of the committee. Further campus communications and consultation is provided as needed through one-on-one consultations with student representatives, student and faculty online surveys, focus groups, the eTech@UCI feedback page, and email to eTech@uci.edu.
Ongoing Operations includes staff costs and immediately supporting operational expenses for the Electronic Educational Environment (EEE) course management system, used in virtually every UCI undergraduate course, classroom technology and instructional labs. In addition to preserving the hard-pressed base that existed prior to the eTech@UCI initiative, these fundamental resources have been enhanced over the past few years with staff working to maintain and to extend existing functionalities in an environment that now includes both home grown and third party systems. Ongoing operations also includes instructional-design and help for selecting and using both campus resources and third-party offerings.
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. Detailed information about the classrooms may be found at http://www.classrooms.uci.edu/GAC/.
In addition to addressing “hot spot” issues, OIT has maintained a five year cycle keeping these rooms as close to “current” as budgetary constraints allow, roughly following the original renovation/construction schedule, refreshing oldest rooms first. We are in the last year of this cycle and next year, in consultation with students and faculty, plan to reassess what the goals and expectations should be for the next cycle.
Over the first four years of the current cycle, 111 rooms were refreshed. This year’s plans include 20 rooms broadly distributed across campus (Arts, Education, Humanities, Physical Sciences, Social Ecology, Social Sciences, …). In addition to work in existing classrooms, adjustments in campus space allocation have required conversion of some areas from and to classroom space. eTech@UCI has supported the latter activity
Instructional Computing Labs
OIT maintains 12 Computer Labs with a total of 441 computers: 6 instructional labs (251 computers) and 6 “drop-in” labs (190 computers). (Complete information about these facilities can be found at http://www.oit.uci.edu/labs/.) The 88 PCs in the Instructional Computer Labs in MSTB 226 and NS1 2144 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, we will replace 20 iMacs in the heavily used Student Center B109 and C138 drop-in labs.
Campus WiFi Wireless
Based upon systematic surveys of coverage and reports from faculty and individual students, 32 classrooms have been identified where WiFi wireless coverage required improvement. These classrooms range in size from 24 to 344 seats, with a total of 2,362 seats.
Canvas Learning Management System
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 course management system will continue to be fully supported. As a temporary increase in ongoing operations, with very strong support from ETIAC, OIT will be adding staff focused on helping faculty and teaching assistants with using the basic and more extensive capabilities of Canvas.
A complete discussion of the process by which Canvas was selected, plans for its full deployment, and the continuing availability of EEE may be found at http://sites.uci.edu/canvas/.
Virtual Computing Lab
Availability and use of Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) services has grown from a limited “pilot” phase into a larger, but still relatively modest, stage. The VCL provides concurrent user “seats,” each of which allows UCI student access from any network-connected computer to the licensed software available in UCI’s “real” computer labs. Software available (weighted to interest and use in the social sciences) includes Eviews, SAS, SPSS, Stata, MATLAB, and ArcView/GIS. Comparing Fall and Winter quarters this academic year with the previous one, total hours used grew by 77% and the number of distinct
Captioning videos and related capabilities involving textual representation of audio content (e.g., transcripts and subtitled translations) are important ways of extending the value of instructional materials to multiple audiences including those with hearing disabilities and those those with limited facility in the speaker’s language. The ability to see (and search) textual representation of spoken words can also be a valuable aid to learning students for whom neither hearing disability nor language is an issue This funding will support initial exploration of cost-effective avenues for providing these capabilities for students funding the eTech@UCI initiative.
Innovative Classrooms/Learning Spaces
This year sees the completion and initial use of Social Ecology I 101 (SE 101) as a 56 seat (in seven 8-student units) “flipped/hybrid/alternate” designed classroom using new furniture, distributed displays, audiovisual (AV) and computer control, AV devices, movable whiteboards, and other collaboration tools. A full description of the room may be found at http://www.classrooms.uci.edu/GAC/SE101.html.
Funding from eTech@UCI provided for the AV and IT equipment in the room. “Small Cap” funding covered renovation and specialized furniture costs that are outside the scope of eTech@UCI support.
Connected Small Group Active Learning Spaces
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 will be an enhanced form of the study/learning activities small groups of students already engage in, the spaces’ 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, 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 will involve five study rooms in the Gateway Study Center and Langson Library. Other obvious locations on campus include the Ayala Science Library, the Student Center, Campuswide Honors Program study spaces, and spaces in residential housing.
Academic Unit Proposals
In November 2015, Assistant Deans were offered the opportunity to provide input to the pool of proposals being considered for eTech@UCI funding. Nineteen responses were received from nine units including the Libraries and two proposals jointly submitted by Engineering and ICS.
This year as last year, four of the proposals were deemed “outside of the scope” of what the eTech@UCI initiative can appropriately fund based upon the information supplied in the proposal. Two more represented computer lab related requests that fall within the scope of the normal computer lab refresh and support cycle covered above. One final request was of a magnitude and concentrated impact that consideration of it led to the conclusion that the academic unit involved would seek matching funds for a substantial portion of the cost rather than rely exclusively on eTech@UCI funding.
Funding is recommended for all the remaining, revised proposals based upon their merit, relevance to the eTech@UCI initiative’s charter, and indication of unit commitment, including (in some cases) matching funds. The following synopsis provides an indication of the considerations behind the recommendations.
This year units have requested and are receiving eTech@UCI support for technology in specialized facilities such as the a Music Collaboration Lab in the Arts, McCormick Theater and Media Editing Lab in Humanities, and Clinical Exam Room computers in Nursing Science.
The School of Education is using eTech@UCI funding to equip a room in its space as a “Smart Classroom,” in line with those on campus and to provide a limited number of laptops for students to borrow.
To evaluate the effectiveness of incorporating iPads into Biological Sciences anatomy and physiology courses, eTech@UCI is supporting the acquisition of iPads and suitable software, with over 1,000 students expected to use these units as part of coursework over the academic year.
eTech@UCI funding also supports critical cloud software for student use in the Arts and, in response to a joint request from Engineering and ICS, campus licensing of MATLAB software installed on student owned systems. In the first two quarters of the 2015-16 academic year, over 4,700 student MATLAB licenses have been distributed with almost one-quarter of the licenses going to students outside of Engineering and ICS.
At the request of Engineering and ICS, eTech@UCI is funding a power outlet upgrade for PCB 1200 for completion of longer term initiative (DBH 1200 and DBH 1300 were done in previous years) which integrates student-owned computers in the curricula in a manner keeping with post-graduation professional practices.
eTech@UCI support for the UCI Libraries’ critical contribution to undergraduate student access to technology continues by supporting computer refresh (Mac and PC) in the Multimedia Resources Center. As with other proposals, matching funds from other sources complement eTech@UCI support of the proportion of resource use related to the basis for eTech fees.