2018 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 2017/18 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.

An instructional technology specialist helping instructors select and effectively use both campus resources and third-party offerings. A position supporting new types and levels of technology in classrooms which facilitate active learning. Lastly, one additional support staff to meet the increased number of active learning and smartclassrooms on campus.

Classroom Technology

UCI’s 130 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 2017, OIT-CTS completed the 6th year of classroom technology enhancements, including upgrades in all general assignment SmartClassrooms and most OIT instructional computer labs, bringing them all up to a new A/V baseline and strategically expanding features and functionality. eTech@UCI has also supported new SmartClassroom conversions in 7 spaces to date as a result of campus space reallocation. This includes upgrades of SST 220 A&B and AIRB 1030 during Summer 2017.

Summer 2018 will see OIT-CTS focusing on the opening of the Anteater Learning Pavilion (ALP) in support of active learning technologies. Additionally, technology improvements will be made guided by faculty feedback in lecture halls and classrooms. Older projection technology will be replaced in favor of new laser based projectors in all major lecture halls and 30 smaller classrooms which will improve image and text quality while also saving cost on replacement bulbs over time.

SE 101 ClassroomOIT-CTS has also shortened its classroom computer refresh cycle from 5 to 4 years. This was in response to faculty feedback of slower machines in some classrooms. By replacing older computers and adding touch enabled displays, faculty will experience a teaching environment more closely resembling the campus’ active learning spaces in SE 101 and the ALP.

In consultation with Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL), additional rooms will be enhanced to allow for active learning, including wireless presentation, and collaboration from mobile devices. Up to 45 new classrooms will receive the ability for instructors and students to wirelessly project their personal mobile devices onto a screen. This will be useful for collaborative and group work.

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 12 Computer Labs with a total of 478 computers: 7 instructional labs (270 computers) and 5 “drop-in” labs (208 computers).  (Complete information about these facilities can be found at http://www.oit.uci.edu/labs/.) The 100 PCs in the Instructional Computer Labs in SBSG 240 and 241 will be replaced and along with a purchase of an additional 30 computers be moved to the new Instructional Computer Labs and common areas in the ALP. Two new printers will also be installed in the two large computer labs within the ALP. The older units replaced will be deployed into drop-in labs to take the place of even older systems.

Canvas Learning Management System

The multi-year endeavor to transition the campus’ learning management system from EEE to Canvas continues. This is a multi-year endeavor during which time the locally developed (since 1995) EEE Legacy course management system will continue to be 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 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; the remainder by other OIT funds 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.

During Q1 of 2018, upgraded access points, new access points, and network switches were added to increase wifi coverage in 25 classrooms, including: Donald Bren Hall, Humanities Gateway, Physical Sciences Classroom Building, Parkview Classroom Building, and Humanities Interim Classroom Facility. These classrooms total 1,875 seats.

New wireless networking was deployed in Social Ecology 101. This allowed for the creation of local wireless networks within a classroom, enabling instructors and students to wirelessly present and collaborate more reliably.

The next phase of enhancements has been approved and is due to be completed during the 2018 – 2019 academic year. This includes many student congregation locations such as the Science Library 3rd floor, outdoor spaces between Engineering Tower and ICS, SSPA and SSPB, and Humanities Hall and Krieger Hall. Additional networking has also been approved for the ICS’ general use lab in ICS 364 and in Steinhaus Hall.

Virtual Computing Lab

Availability and use of Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) services continues to grow. 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.  Almost 1,100 unique users totaling over 7,200 hours used the VCL in Fall 2017 and Winter 2018.

Yuja Pilot Continuation

Last year, after much research, OIT launched a pilot program to evaluate Yuja, a media   management and lecture capture solution which seamlessly integrates with Canvas to provide a rapid capture, upload, and distribution of video content by instructors and students.

Response to the pilot by faculty has been overwhelmingly positive. Furthermore, our vendor relationship with Yuja has been very productive resulting in the addition of multiple custom feature requests on behalf of the University.

YuJa offers an add-on hardware hub which directly connects to the classroom podium to automatically capture video, audio, and document cameras without any teaching interruption. OIT has partnered with Samueli School of Engineering and Paul Merage School of Business to pilot three of these devices with the eventual goal of installing one in each of the twelve large lecture halls. Media capture boxes will also be installed into the ALP prior to its opening.

Moreover, with the recent announcement by Techsmith to retire support for the encoder currently used by UCI Replay, our plan is to acquire a campus license for YuJa by the start of the 2018/2019 academic year.

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 November, Assistant Deans were offered the opportunity to provide input to the pool of proposals being considered for eTech@UCI funding. Twenty-one responses were received from nine units including the Libraries and one proposal jointly submitted by Engineering and ICS.  Units submitting multiple proposals indicated their relative priorities.

This year, seven 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 other requests remain pending identification of appropriate levels of undergraduate use for their given asks.

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.

eTech@UCI will also support network upgrade proposals in several units including Biological Sciences, ICS and the Libraries. These upgrades will provide students a more reliable and higher quality network experience in these areas. Final costs will be determined in cooperation with OIT Network Operations.

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

The School of Engineering is using eTech@UCI funding to equip McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium with improved A/V equipment in support of instruction and supportability of the space. As with other proposals, matching funds from the School of Engineering complement eTech@UCI support of the proportion of resource use related to the basis for eTech fees.

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

OVPTL-OIT collaboration is receiving funding for continuing the eTech mini-grant program. The program is designed to support faculty proposals for modest funding up to $500, to acquire some service, software or equipment that the faculty will use as part of one or more specified undergraduate lecture courses. Submission requests include Catchbox, USB Microscope (to display live slides in class), PollEverywhere (for real-time polling and analytics), Oculus Rift (to visualize how gates & circuits interact with each other), portable recorder field kit (for clean audio during outdoor filming), and Powtoons subscription (for animating segments of an online class).