2019 Initiative Summary

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 students, 5 faculty, 4 staff, and 3 OIT representatives and is chaired by the CIO. The ETIAC met three times during the 2018/19 school year. Additional meetings of OIT staff and ETIAC members inform and contribute to plenary meetings of the committee. Further campus communications and consultation are provided as needed through one-on-one consultations with student representatives, student and faculty online surveys, and emails sent via the eTech@UCI feedback page (https://etech.uci.edu/share-idea/) or directly to eTech@uci.edu. A complete archive of ETIAC materials and meetings is available at https://wiki.oit.uci.edu/display/ETIAC/

Ongoing Operations

Ongoing Operations includes staff costs and operational expenses related to transition work from the Electronic Educational Environment (EEE) to the Canvas course management system, 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 who have joined this effort. At the same time, roles have been adjusted in keeping with changing needs.

These staff include developers working to maintain and to extend existing functionalities in an environment that now includes both homegrown and third-party systems, with increasing reliance on the latter and focus on integrating the various systems. Also, support staff has been added to respond to increasing requests for support. developing self-service materials, and review third party Canvas integrations.

Classroom Technology

UCI’s 142 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.

In 2018, OIT-CTS focused on the installation, configuration, and set up of the state of the art technology for the grand opening of the Anteater Learning Pavilion (ALP) in support of active learning pedagogy. The ALP introduced 12 new general-assignment active-learning classrooms, 4 new reservable group study spaces, and 6 new LARC tutorial rooms. ALP classrooms are equipped with laser projectors, laptops, and wireless screen sharing technology.

OIT-CTS also completed classroom technology enhancements to other spaces on campus. In response to faculty feedback regarding poor classroom projector performance, a new laser projector standard was established to provide clearer image and text quality, be more responsive, and provide cost savings over time when compared to traditional bulb projectors. The group upgraded 11 large lecture halls and 30 classrooms from traditional projectors to laser projectors. 

In support of the 4-year classroom refresh cycle, 30 classrooms received computer and touch panel monitor upgrades. Wireless projection technology software was also deployed in 25 standard classrooms in response to faculty feedback.  

SE 101 Classroom

In consultation with Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL), Summer 2019 will see OIT-CTS continue to focus on extending technologies in support of active learning that will provide students a superior in-class experience. Upgrades to audio/video infrastructure will allow wireless projection technology to be made available in 35 more classrooms. In response to faculty feedback requesting improved personal device integration, Apple TVs and Google Chromecasts will be piloted in several spaces. Laser projectors will replace traditional projectors in 30 classrooms.

OIT-CTS will continue its classroom computer refresh cycle by replacing the next 30 classroom computers and adding touch panel monitors. By replacing older computers and adding touch enabled displays, faculty will experience a teaching environment more closely resembling the campus’s active learning spaces in the ALP and SE 101.  

These renovations and technology upgrades will help meet the need for “pedagogical renewal” of classrooms as proposed by the Learning Space Advisory Report to the OVPTL and support the campus’s strategic goals.

Instructional Computing Labs

OIT maintains 15 Computer Labs with a total of 601 computers: 10 instructional labs (393 computers) and 5 “drop-in” labs (208 computers). Three new instructional computer labs were added within ALP. (Complete information about these facilities can be found at http://www.oit.uci.edu/labs/.) Seventy PCs located in the Gateway Student Commons drop in lab will be replaced as well as 22 Apple iMacs in the Student Center Lab. 

Adobe Creative Cloud will be licensed and installed on 50 Apple iMacs in ILS supported spaces within the Student Center and Gateway Study Commons labs in response to undergraduate student feedback requesting the software.

Canvas Learning Management System

The multi-year endeavor to transition the campus’s learning management system from EEE to Canvas will continue through Fall 2020, when the last remaining EEE Legacy tools will be retired. Throughout the transition, Academic Web Technologies has leveraged eTech funding to create a dynamic ecosystem that combines a vendor product (Canvas) with a suite of homegrown tools built specifically in response to campus needs. These include EEE+ tools like Scout, GrandCentral, and student success-focused tools like ScoreShare.

Maintaining a high standard of support responsiveness and quality is a critical component of this endeavor, as is enhancing support options. The increased complexity of the Canvas system relative to EEE has significantly increased the volume of support inquiries and the work required to resolve them. This volume continues to increase, and OIT relies on eTech funding to meet this still-growing need.

Detailed information on transition from EEE to EEE+Canvas, 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; OIT funds the remainder to cover use of the system beyond that by undergraduates.

Classroom Wireless (WiFi)

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

The 2019 wireless enhancements were directly guided by undergraduate feedback from the 2018 eTech student survey which called for improved wireless service across both campus libraries. In response, OIT will complete wireless upgrades on all floors of both the Langson and Science Libraries. 

In addition, upgrades to the wireless network will be performed in undergraduate instructional spaces with impacted network reliability and speed. Identified spaces include Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences Lecture Halls, Humanities Hall, Donald Bren Hall and more. 

Work for those wireless networking upgrades is scheduled to be complete by Fall 2019. 

Virtual Computing Lab

After thorough research and heavy evaluation, we transitioned our Virtual Computer Lab to Apporto, a more innovative and technologically advanced approach to this service for nearly half the cost. Streamlining the process and reducing user errors, this new service allows students easily to access a wide variety of intensive specialized software such as SPSS, ArcGIS, Matlab, and Stata directly through a web browser. Enjoying personalized persistent desktops, the students have recorded close to 1000 unique users and over 5,800 session hours since January. In the future, we plan to expand the software selection and explore other ways Apporto can enhance the faculty’s academic curriculum.

Yuja

After a one-year pilot concluding in 2018, UCI officially added YuJa as an enterprise media management and lecture capture solution, which seamlessly integrates with Canvas to facilitate rapid capture, upload, and distribution of video content by instructors and students. 
 
Faculty response to YuJa has been overwhelmingly positive. Furthermore, our vendor relationship with YuJa has been exceptionally productive, resulting in the addition of multiple custom feature requests on behalf of the University. 
 
YuJa offers an add-on hardware hub that directly connects to the classroom lectern to automatically capture screen, audio, and document cameras without any instructor effort or class time interruption. OIT has partnered with the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Paul Merage School of Business to install 16 of these devices with the goal of installing one in each of the large lecture halls (those with more than 190 seats) by the end of Summer 2019.
 
Techsmith recently announced the end of support for the encoder currently used by UCI Replay; OIT has negotiated the best possible pricing with YuJa and signed a 3-year contract.

Captioning

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 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 continue support for the initial exploration of cost-effective avenues for providing these capabilities.

Accounts and workflows have been set up with multiple vendors to evaluate different ways of providing easy captioning solutions for the campus. Select existing UCI Replay hosted videos with ongoing significant numbers of views have been completed. OIT and DTEI (Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation) are involved with captioning some active Spring Quarter courses. Future courses with captioning needs are being identified in consultation with the Disability Services Center and/or DTEI.

Connected Small Group Active Learning Spaces

Recognizing the importance of small group (4 to 8 people) active collaboration in learning, the UCI Libraries and OIT jointly worked on a pilot converting two Libraries study rooms previously without any technology – Gateway Study Center 2108 and 2109 – to Connected Small Group Active Learning Spaces (CSGALS). These rooms had technology installed in them that would allow students and faculty to leverage technology on learning, group work, and course work collaborations.

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 assumed responsibility for scheduling and for monitoring and logging use on these rooms.

Student use of these initial two rooms has been extensive. The UCI Libraries recorded over 3,000 reservations a quarter for these rooms by undergraduate students with many leveraging the technology in the room to work on group course work.

This proposal approves expanding the conversion of group study spaces into CSGALs. Immediate candidates for expansion have been identified within Langson Library and the Science Library. Similar rooms will also be available inside the ALP upon its opening.

Academic Unit Proposals

Last October, Assistant Deans were offered the opportunity to provide input to the pool of proposals being considered for eTech@UCI funding. Sixteen responses were received from eight units.  Units submitting multiple proposals indicated their relative priorities. 

This 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. 

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.  While the full text of each proposal is available at the ETIAC site given above, the following synopsis provides an indication of the considerations behind the recommendations.

This year units have requested and are receiving eTech@UCI support for online services such as Adobe Creative Cloud in Arts and Humanities. The School of Humanities received funds to upgrade old hardware in its Humanities Hall 269 computing lab. 

eTech@UCI will also support network upgrade proposals in several units including the Libraries and Claire Trevor School of the Arts. These upgrades will provide students a more reliable and higher quality network experience in these areas. 

The School of Biological Sciences is also receiving funds for computer and A/V equipment in Steinhaus Hall teaching labs to assist students with practical laboratory experience and statistical data analysis. 

In response to a request from Engineering, eTech@UCI funding supports campus licensing of MATLAB software installed on student owned systems.  Physical Science’s request for  eTech funds for undergraduate student licensing of ChemDraw was granted based upon the school providing the matching funds that made this licensing possible.

The Office of Information Technology, in collaboration with Office of Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning, receives funding for the eTech Mini Grant program to support modest faculty proposals (up to $500 each) for specialized services, software or equipment the faculty commit to using as part of one or more specified undergraduate lecture courses. Requests have included funding for Catchbox (durable, shareable microphones to facilitate in-class discussions), USB Microscope (to display live slides in class), Poll Everywhere (real-time polling and analytics), Oculus Rift (to visualize how gates & circuits interact), portable recorder field kit (for clean audio during outdoor filming), and a Powtoons subscription (for animating segments of an online class). In addition to directly facilitating faculty’s innovative teaching, this program validates the efficacy of various instructional technologies, and identifies emerging needs/trends for consideration as broader campus projects/services. One such emerging trend was identified in the volume of requests for Poll Everywhere and as described above, OIT partnered with the Paul Merage School of Business and Medical Education to initiate a 1-year pilot project providing and evaluating Poll Everywhere service campus-wide.

The second initiative is a partnership between the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation and OIT in funding support for Student Technology Consultants (STC) to meet the increased need for faculty support owing to the EEE-Canvas transition. The STC team will benefit students by providing pedagogical suggestions to help faculty explore new Canvas tools to enhance students’ learning experiences.