6 Ways DoIT Academic Technology Helps Instructors

Fri September 8, 2017

DoIT Academic Technology (DoIT AT) advances the University’s mission, strategic priorities and the Wisconsin Idea by wisely applying technology to the ever evolving academic environment. Many of our services are tailored to help instructors strategize, design, develop and integrate technologies to improve learning outcomes. This video provides an overview of DoIT AT and the below article explains six key ways we support instructors.

1. Manage the learning technologies

The Learn@UW-Madison service oversees the Learn@UW suite of learning technologies that help instructors manage course materials and grades, engage with students in and outside the classroom, author learning materials, and distribute videos and audio files. That includes the following tools:

  • Canvas: The learning management system (LMS) that campus is transitioning to as the single, centrally supported LMS. The other tools listed all integrate with Canvas to provide a streamlined user experience for instructors and students. Support for the other two LMSs – D2L and Moodle – continues to be provided until June 2018.
  • Top Hat: The mobile device-based student response system (SRS) can help instructors engage students in the classroom with polls, quizzes, bias assessments and more.
  • Kaltura MediaSpace: The easy-to-use platform allows instructors and other users to upload and share audio and video materials.
  • Piazza: Focused on student-to-student interaction, Piazza is a modern discussion platform. Students post their questions, other students respond and instructors endorse answers to keep the class on track.
  • Blackboard Collaborate: The web conferencing tool can be used for off-campus guest speakers, virtual office hours, group collaboration and online lectures.

2. Help conceptualize ways technology can improve student success

Due largely to the ever-increasing amount and complexity of technology, teaching and learning is changing at a rapid rate. Instructors are often left wondering which tool to use and how best to use it to ensure they get results equal to or greater than the effort required to incorporate it into instruction.

The Learn@UW-Madison team provides guides to explain the pedagogical uses of student response systems like Top Hat and web conferencing tools like Blackboard Collaborate.  Guides on the DoIT AT website help instructors discover the resources, services and terms needed to navigate the robust UW‑Madison learning technology ecosystem. Two other online resources managed by DoIT AT are the Blended Learning Toolkit, which provides tutorials, resources and use cases about blended learning and how to apply it to a course, and the Active Teaching Lab recaps, which include videos and activity worksheets.

Our Faculty Engagement programs are ideal for instructors and instructional staff looking for in-person opportunities to explore smarter, better ways to engage students in an active, forward-thinking Wisconsin Experience. All programs focus on evidence-based approaches to learning in higher education, but range from single workshops to year-long fellowships. Current programs include:

  • Active Teaching Exchange: Feature an instructor’s experience and indepth discussion on complex challenges.
  • Active Teaching Lab: Focused on a specific tool, each lab includes an instructor’s experience and guided experimentation.
  • Blend@UW: One-week sessions help faculty and staff redesign courses to be more active and engaging by using blended-learning approaches.
  • Blended Learning Fellowship Program: Semester- or year-long fellowship to develop campus leadership around blended-learning issues such as learning spaces and active learning.
  • Teaching Effectively in Canvas: A series of workshops that focus on different aspects of teaching and learning, and ways to apply them in Canvas.

3. Strategize and develop online and blended courses

Whether a course is fully online or blends online and in-person components, our Online Course Production service helps instructors plan, design and develop high-quality, effective courses that engage and challenge students. In addition to focusing on learning outcomes and user experience, the team also ensures that an instructor’s personality and teaching philosophy shines.

One way an instructor can shine is through an introductory video like the one our Video Production team did for Miguel Garcia-Gosalvez from the School of Business that can be viewed here. Videos can also be used to bring case studies to life, incorporate expert interviews, create micro-lectures that emphasize a key point, or to create an interactive case-based module.

For instance, students from across the UW-Madison health sciences are immersed in a life-like hospital setting through an interactive teaching module developed in part by Video Production and Online Course Production. Read more about that project here.

Contact either service via email to discuss services, timelines and estimates.

4. Develop or adapt tools when no current ones fit the needs

Even with a full suite of learning technologies, sometimes instructors need a modified or custom tool. The Teaching & Research Application Development (TRAD) team are experts at developing software solutions that integrate within the complex ecosystem of academic systems and applications.

With the team’s deep understanding of the concerns and considerations specific to developing tools that support instruction, the TRAD team partners with instructors to find technical solutions that make the instructor’s vision a reality. That can result in a mobile app for location-aware learning, games for teaching complex concepts, interactive educational websites using WordPress or assessment tools for learning analytics.

Another possibility is an interactive tool like the Brain Atlas App that TRAD worked with Gary Weismer on for Communication Sciences & Disorders courses. The tool allows users to navigate through different cross-sections of the human brain in addition to highlighting and identifying various regions. The tool is unique, but since TRAD built it to integrate with a variety of learning management systems, it can seamlessly fit into our ecosystem.

Contact TRAD via email to discuss your vision, timelines and estimates.

5. Teach students software skills so they can excel in courses

In addition to offering in-person technology workshops, one-on-one consultations and online tutorials directly to students, the Software Training for Students (STS) team also works with instructors to create Custom Technology Workshops.

Whether students need to know a specific software for an assignment or a variety of programs for a semester-long project like a website, STS can customize a training and deliver it during one of the regularly scheduled classes or at a different time.

This allows instructors to focus on being content experts instead also needing to be software trainers. And it helps students succeed in the particular courses, other courses and future endeavors.

Instructors can request a Custom Technology Workshop using this online form.

6. Work with campus leaders on strategic curricular initiatives

Many of our services and programs are designed to support an individual instructor, but we also offer services like Strategic Learning Technology Consulting (SLTC) and partner on major projects like REACH that focus on school-, college- and campus-wide efforts.

The SLTC’s consultants cultivate long-term relationships with partnering schools and colleges to provide technical and pedagogical design acumen as well as the group facilitation and communication skills required for large-scale curricular change. The embedded role of our consultants positions them to help identify and address the social, political, technical, and cultural adjustments required for major curricular transformations. Our consultants currently partner with administrative and faculty leaders within the Wisconsin School of Business, the School of Medicine and Public Health and the School of Human Ecology on high-level curricular initiatives.

The REACH initiative aims to improve student learning by increasing students’ engagement in large introductory courses. Two and a half years in, REACH has already benefited tens of thousands of undergraduate students, and will continue to do so into the future. In partnership with schools and colleges, and the Office of the Provost, the REACH project is co-sponsored by the Educational Innovation (EI) Initiative and DoIT Academic Technology. The departments of Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Kinesiology, Materials Science & Engineering and Communication Arts are participating and others are moving to join. Our team members contribute through a variety of roles including project co-lead, strategic learning technology consultant, instructional designer and videographer.

These are only some of the ways we support instructors on campus. Contact our learning technology consultants via email to discuss ways we can help you. Or check out the video below for an overview of how we support teaching and learning with technology.