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UB receives four SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants

By MICHAEL ANDREI

Published July 9, 2015

“The integration of technology into teaching and learning is frequently most effective when tech tools are a seamless part of the process — in and out of the classroom.”
Brice Bible, vice president and chief information officer

UB has been awarded four SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants (IITG) to fund campus innovations and initiatives that have the potential to be replicated and scaled up throughout SUNY.

Since 2012, UB has received more than $415,000 in IITG seed grant funding to support faculty and staff at the forefront of leveraging technology in support of teaching and learning.  The program is open to SUNY faculty and support staff across all disciplines.

UB’s four new IITG awards will fund:

  • An initiative to create self-guided online career modules.
  • A project that aims to improve student learning and engagement in massive open online courses (MOOCs).
  • Development of an innovative instructional model that encourages collaboration between the humanities and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
  • An online faculty development course that focuses on quality course design and effective strategies for teaching.

In addition to the funding from SUNY, UB is contributing in-kind resources, such as technology support, to each project.

“Technology’s impact on higher education is continuously evolving,” says Brice Bible, UB vice president and chief information officer. “The integration of technology into teaching and learning is frequently most effective when tech tools are a seamless part of the process — in and out of the classroom. The Innovative Instruction Technology Grants awarded to UB faculty and staff focused on projects that will help to advance that goal.”

Lisa Stephens, IITG program manager and senior strategist for SUNY Academic Innovation, notes that IITG recipients “are helping UB and colleges and universities SUNY-wide — and often beyond — to transform higher education. It is a privilege to connect with such enthusiastic faculty and researchers here at UB and across SUNY."

This initiative will create self-guided online career modules designed to expand access for individualized career decision-making and job-search guidance. This collaborative effort also will have the potential — upon being taken to scale — to be accessible for all students and alumni who are part of the SUNY system.

“Not every student comes physically to campus,” says David Youhess, counselor for UB Career Services. “Online modules will allow us to deliver more interactive, personalized service to those who may be out of state or outside of the U.S.

“For those who do come to campus, having the opportunity to go online first to gather information — perhaps do a bit of research — will enable us to add greater value to in-person meetings,” he says.

A key goal of the project is to establish a process for using the data generated by students participating in a massive open online course (MOOC) to inform future course enhancements.  

“Looking at the number of clicks on a video is not necessarily useful; looking at the number of clicks, the length of time watched and the path the student took in the course before and after clicking on the video — that information could allow an instructor to change the pacing, placement or relevance of that video,” says Christine Kroll, assistant dean for the Graduate School of Education.

“We want to use the power of analytics, bringing many individual pieces of data together to create a clear picture of how students are engaging in the class, both positively or otherwise,” she says. “All of this will support faculty looking to create the most interactive and engaging learning experience for their students.”

This project will offer a reproducible and adoptable model for collaboration between arts, humanities and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. Faculty investigators are creating an instructional framework — called Vine — that will leverage the Digital Choreographic Lineage project (DCL), an ongoing, interdisciplinary project that seeks to build a digital, mineable network of data illustrating connections between dance artists and those whom they have studied, danced and collaborated with, and been influenced by.

A computer science and engineering graduate student currently is working on design and implementation of the DCL data tool, while a theatre and dance undergraduate is working on data collection.

Other students will have the chance to work on the project through “Great Ideas in Computer Science for non-Majors,” a course taught by Bina Ramamurthy, associate professor of computer science and engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In the class, a team led by Melanie Aceto, associate professor of theatre and dance, will introduce the DCL concept to students, who will develop user-level interfaces, data-driven computations and analytics for DCL through three lab projects.

“The immediate goal of VINE is to generalize this instructional model and adapt the data science process so that it can be widely used in many application areas and for applications with larger data,” Ramamurthy says.

This project is a faculty development course and open educational resource that will serve the vision of Open SUNY, including open content, cross-collaboration, asset-sharing and development of high-quality courses. Participants of “QbD” will learn about quality course design, strategies to increase student engagement, improved assessment techniques and how to provide students with the support they need to be successful learners.

“This asynchronous online course will be offered through Creative Commons and will be widely available for on-demand learning or re-purposing at individual SUNY campuses,” says Anne Reed, instructional design assistant in the Graduate School of Education.

Taking seed success to scale

SUNY-wide collaboration is a key goal of IITGs. “UB has been at the forefront of several highly successful projects” says Stephens. “One example, the Tools of Engagement Project, has been ‘scaled up’ to help faculty SUNY-wide learn about cloud-based teaching and learning tools. Another, the VIDIA project, which was initially a collaboration between UB’s Center for Computational Research and SUNY Oneonta, is helping undergraduate students understand ‘big data.’

“Finally,” she says, “the UB Libraries-led E-Textbook pilot is saving students money through access to online texts.”

For more information on IITG project outcomes, visit the SUNY IITG website.