Recommendation 3: Scholarly Enablement

The University of Maryland should develop and enhance the information technology resources that, through effective, innovative, and extensive use by faculty in teaching, enable students' scholarly achievement.

Action Item 3.1

Online learning, whether in a blended learning environment or completely asynchronous online, allows university IT and UMD faculty to collaboratively explore the potentials of IT tools and to together understand the exciting new ways of teaching and learning the tools enable.

Formal programs that build upon these collaborations, developing IT skills and techniques, are a matter of strategic importance.

In 2012, the potentially disruptive force and movement toward some new online learning systems (Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, e.g., edX, Coursera, and Udacity) and new learning practices (flipping classes, pervasive uses of multimedia), provides motivation for UMD to explore their benefits and drawbacks and to prepare faculty and students for the most effective uses of online pedagogy. The evolution of online learning environments presents opportunities for the university to reach new learners and, beyond that, to reach all learners in numbers and ways never before possible. Academic faculty and IT should be partners, exchanging ideas and collaborating. Improvements in knowledge creation, dissemination, and preservation thus will build on this partnership, as well as on lessons already drawn from previous formal programs.

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Implementation Strategy

As the University of Maryland provost's office continues to explore and develop the blended and online education strategy, the Division of IT will partner to support the technical ecosystem necessary to support that strategy. In addition, the Division of IT will offer formal programs to encourage faculty to develop IT enabled teaching techniques and skills.

Update March 2014

The Division of IT continues to support multiple options for pedagogically based technology innovation for teaching and learning. During 2013, the division strengthened and modified a number of offerings:

  • Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference co-sponsored with CTE;
  • Learning Technologies Institute for face-to-face and online content for current, new, emerging, and cutting edge technologies;
  • Brown Bag discussions on best practices lead by faculty;
  • "How do I...?" Webinar series on discreet topics of new and emerging learning technologies;
  • SLOAN-C workshops online for blended and online learning; and
  • Online webinars and workshops sponsored by ELI, NMC, Campus Technology, and others that bring in faculty for topics in contemporary advances and challenges in higher education.

Additionally, division course development teams in collaboration with the University Libraries are providing assistance to faculty in the creation and delivery of their Coursera MOOCs, and Tea Time Tech Talks were introduced in Fall 2013 to provide a relaxed informal atmosphere to allow for faculty-focused conversations on relevant topics in teaching and learning in collaboration with University Libraries.

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Action Item 3.2 - Classroom Technology

All classrooms on campus should provide a standard common and advanced IT-enabled learning environment. All classrooms should be regularly maintained and refreshed on appropriate technology lifecycles. Classrooms should be constantly monitored to ensure that the technology is functional and stable. In support of traditional classroom instruction featuring global enrollments, technology resources, advanced network connectivity, and support resources will be available to enable faculty to deliver lectures world-wide via virtual classrooms.

In conjunction with Action Item 3.5, a robust suite of tools must exist that facilitate maintenance of existing and creation of new IT-enabled teaching methods. Support personnel must continue to perform preventative maintenance on classroom environments to ensure predictable, stable, and available in-class systems at all times. A clearly defined plan of training and outreach must accompany the roll-out of the standard learning environment. This plan will encompass in-classroom training, virtual training sessions, and a video library of best practices, and will be supported by a cadre of technical support personnel. A strategy will be in place to implement updates in response to problems.

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Implementation Strategy

A classroom technology lifecycle management program will be established to assure classroom technology is current and useable. This lifecycle management program must be inclusive of a technical infrastructure management model that allows for monitoring of equipment from remote locations in order to provide proactive support services to classrooms. Additionally, methods will be investigated to determine appropriate means to provide advanced technologies to facilitate innovation in the classroom.

Update March 2014

The Division of IT is operating at full capacity for current staffing levels to support the 254 general purpose classrooms outfitted with technology on campus. There has been an influx of STEM funding to support upgrading approximately 70 rooms to support the technology needs of STEM classes. Temporary funding has been secured to hire two additional AV technicians to support the installations in the STEM-funded rooms.

The Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center is on track to open in Fall 2016, and all of the classrooms in the building will provide opportunity for innovation and collaboration. Additionally, renovations of current classrooms and old spaces like the Tawes Theater are planned to help prepare faculty for the innovative classrooms designed for the new building. Funding has also been secured for upgrades in the Jimenez technology classrooms to support the CIC course share initiative.

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Action Item 3.3 - Next Gen ELMS Deployment

With the mid-2012 long-term procurement of a new Enterprise Learning Management System (ELMS), Instructure Canvas, the Division of IT will partner with all university academic departments to deploy the new LMS in the most efficient manner possible. In so doing, the university will recover expenses from the previous LMS contract to more effectively support of the overall learning environment.

The university will see cost avoidance with the newly purchased ELMS year-over-year, and these funds will be targeted for bringing on instructional designers and other learning environment specific support personnel to enable faculty to use technology for instruction that is as effective and high-quality as any university in the nation. The new ELMS allows for integration with social networking tools so that collaboration can happen inside and outside the classroom more efficiently, between instructors and students, among students in learning groups, and between instructors.

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Implementation Strategy

The new learning management system (LMS) was deployed in January 2013. This effort was done in collaboration with many instructional support staff in all the colleges on campus and the libraries. This approach has created a more robust support structure on campus and is building a community of trainers and support staff that can also support each other. As the LMS grows and changes to meet UMD needs, the campus support network will continue to be used to support faculty.

Update March 2014

  • Instructor support of ELMS: http://elms.umd.edu/page/instructor-support
  • Student support of ELMS: http://elms.umd.edu/page/student-support
  • The ELMS Management tool continues to be developed to provide better access for faculty and staff to support their own courses or the courses in their departments.
  • Work continues to create knowledge articles to provide easy access to support materials for campus constituents.
  • The Division of IT has engaged Instructure for Canvas Tier 1 support to provide a 24x7 access to phone and online support for Canvas in addition to the direct support offered to faculty and students.

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Action Item 3.4 - Develop Strategy for Defining and Implementing Campus Learning Environments

Even as the university moves to a new Electronic Learning Management System (ELMS) platform in 2013, a clearly articulated vision for the future for an overall campus learning environment including ELMS and the integration of associated applications and functions must be developed.

All classrooms will become learning environments with a standardized suite of applications that are easy to operate, reliable, and universally accessible. Learning, teaching, and research will not be bound by location, either on campus or around the world. The learning environment will guarantee secure, 24x7 supported, anytime, anyplace, any device access to students, faculty, and staff. This environment will include not only all classrooms, but all places learning takes place on campus. Within the broader context of the learning environment, UMD should expand support for video, slides, chat, and other tools meant to foster collaboration between faculty and students. The learning management system (ELMS) is the foundation for the learning environment and must be well supported with input sought as to potential enhancements by its user base several times annually.

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Implementation Strategy

Working with the provost's office and other campus governance structures, the Division of IT will engage in the development of strategy for defining and implementing campus learning environments. The Division of IT will partner to support the technical ecosystem necessary to support the learning environments.

Update March 2014

To support the concept of anywhere anytime learning with ELMS (UMD's Enterprise Learning Management System powered by Canvas) as the foundation, the Division of IT has engaged numerous vendors to provide integrations through Canvas to support a wide variety of learning experiences, including Learning Objects for collaborative and peer interactions, ShareStream and Panopto for multimedia sharing, and Turning Technologies for instructive student response. We will continue to create integrations that support the learning goals of our faculty, including Qualtrics, Adobe Connect, and Box. In the physical environments based on student surveys and focus groups, the division is collaborating with the libraries to create a seamless informal learning environment experience for students, as well as exploring innovative, flexible instructional computing spaces.

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Action Item 3.5 - Remote Tech Assistance for Classrooms (3.5a) and Streamlined Pre-Class PC Setup for Instructors (3.5b)

Recognizing the critical need for minimal class start-up time, staff support for instructors in classrooms should be available almost instantly, whether accomplished with in-person, on-site, or remote virtual presence or some combination. A goal should be that pre-class setup should occur in three minutes or less.

With a campus of classrooms as distributed as UMD's and even as use of the learning environment moves into virtual space, a support model that is versatile and comprehensive enough to accommodate any situation must be developed. The current model of central and distributed support will be further solidified, whereby a clear process exists covering the time a problem is identified to the time of a resolution. Part of this enhanced support model for the learning environment must include additional training and development. Frequently occurring issues will be identified and documented and notification of resolution steps will be sent out to faculty, and, if necessary, enhancements will be made to the system to avoid common recurring issues. Learning environment help options will be multi-faceted to help achieve faculty ready time of three minutes or less prior to class.

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Implementation Strategy

As mentioned in Action Item 3.2, a classroom technology lifecycle program must be developed for technologically enhanced rooms. A classroom management infrastructure that allows for remote/proactive monitoring and remote assistance must be made available in classrooms with installed technology. Additionally, PC support infrastructure must be streamlined to improve the ability for instructors to conduct pre-class technical setups quickly.

Update March 2014

The teams responsible for implementation and support of classroom technology are reviewing their processes and associated support technologies.

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Action Item 3.6 - Professional Networking (3.6a) and Conference Presentations (3.6b)

Initiatives that promote peer-to-peer collaborations among faculty to encourage and promote the adoption and enhancement of IT-enabled teaching techniques should be continued where they exist and further developed, not only across this campus, but in partnership with other institutions globally.

New ideas for use of technology are constantly emerging through faculty interaction on campus and with peers abroad. Thought leaders at UMD exist and are consistently early adopters and pilot testers for new initiatives. Leading institutions of higher ed are also consistently being written about for their innovation in using technology to better enable effective learning. As technology better enables collaboration and sharing of knowledge among faculty on campus and their partners outside UMD, incubation of cutting edge development of such tools must begin to emerge here in order to achieve stature as a leading innovator in higher ed. Technologies such as a mature unified communications and collaboration platform and organizational development programs, such as those hosted by the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Division of IT to enhance knowledge creation and dissemination, must flourish and specifically target development of new ways to make instruction more effective and to help measure these improvements in absolute terms in achieving the overall business goals of the university.

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Implementation Strategy

It is important to make professional contacts, engage in higher education communities, and join professional affiliations to establish relationships that lead to peer-to-peer and institutional collaborations. In addition, staff should take advantage of the opportunity to present at conferences and meetings in order to foster communication and collaboration with faculty and other institutions.

Update March 2014

  • The Division of IT recently became an affiliate of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland.
  • The Assistant Director of Learning Technologies and Environments is now the President-elect of the Consortium of College and University Media Centers.
  • The Deputy CIO of Support and Enablement has been named as an Ex-Officio from the Division of IT to the Educational Affairs Committee of the faculty senate.
  • The Director of Learning Technologies and Environments is a member of the General Education Implementation Committee and represents the university to the New Media Consortium. He has also served on the program committee for the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative annual conference and their Focus Session on MOOCs.
  • Some Division of IT staff members regularly participate in numerous conferences and meetings including presenting on topics from mobile learning, to blended course development, to using lecture capture, to learning in the cloud, and more.
  • Under Division of IT leadership, the University of Maryland has joined the HDI Higher Education Forum.
  • The Division of IT actively participates with EDUCAUSE, which is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.
  • The Division of IT is an active member of Internet2 and the Committee on Institutional Collaboration.
  • The Division of IT actively participates in the Learning Technology Consortium, a group of nine schools that focus on the use of technology for teaching and learning.

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Action Item 3.7 - Experimental Classroom

UMD should create and support facilities for testing and prototyping new technologies that would be used in instruction by faculty.

Such facilities, also known as "sandboxes," will include hardware, software, staff support, technology, and other resources in an incubator-like environment and will encourage the development of emerging techniques and the sharing of best practices. Such sandboxes will emerge from a coalescence of current separate (though cooperating) entities, including but not limited to the Division of IT, the Center for Teaching Excellence/Office of Undergraduate Studies, University Libraries, Graduate School, iSchool, College of Education, and others.

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Implementation Strategy

The Division of IT and the Center for Teaching Excellence will develop and support an experimental classroom to give faculty an opportunity to explore new techniques for teaching, new learning space designs, and cutting edge technologies in a classroom setting. The location of the facility must be determined during the project with the St John's Center being a potential candidate for this facility.

Update March 2014

No progress to report.

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