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Initial cohort of Replicable Instructional Technology Infusion grants announced

December 17, 2014
by Todd Finkelmeyer

In an effort to help faculty and students implement innovative projects designed to bolster teaching and learning, UW-Madison’s School of Education recently awarded a dozen Replicable Instructional Technology Infusion (RITI) grants.

“The ways in which people thought about infusing technology were really interesting, often innovative and sometimes crossed departmental boundaries,” says Dan Jacobsohn, the chief information officer for the School of Education and the person who launched the RITI grant program this fall. “We received a broad range of ideas, from ‘flipping’ a classroom to a proposal that could completely alter how students learn to create glass art. I think they’re all very exciting.”

Dan Jacobsohn at the podium
Dan Jacobsohn, the School of
Education's chief information
officer, says his vision behind
launching the RITI grant project
was to help "improve the quality
of each instructional moment."
Grants of up to $2,000 per student or $5,000 per faculty member were available, while total project funding could top those figures if applicants teamed up with others. One project, in which four faculty members from the Department of Kinesiology pooled their proposals with the hopes of creating a searchable video and image database to better teach students about movement, received a grant worth $20,000.

Funding for the RITI grants was made possible courtesy of philanthropists John and Tashia Morgridge, who is an alumna of the School of Education. The Morgridges funded the $32 million renovation and addition to the Education Building, which was completed in 2010. That project came in under budget, with School of Education Dean Julie Underwood determining that the remaining gift funding would be used to support the integration of technology into instruction. John Morgridge, a 1955 graduate of the Wisconsin School of Business, has served as president, CEO and chairman of the board of Cisco Systems, Inc., and is credited with building the San Jose, Calif., company into the leading global supplier of computer networking products.

Jacobsohn says his vision behind launching the project was to help “improve the quality of each instructional moment,” a phrase he credits to Purdue CIO Gerry McCartney.  Jacobsohn notes there is no shortage of people from across the School of Education who have expressed interests in better utilizing technology to improve their classrooms, but adds that for faculty and students whose days are already filled with commitments, it can be difficult to find the time and space to take on a new project.

“New technologies cost money and there isn’t always an obvious avenue to track down funding for such projects,” says Jacobsohn. “So the idea was to find some grants that could provide the push to people to try something new."

For example, Helen Lee of the School of Education’s Art Department received funding for a project that she hopes can significantly alter how the art of glass blowing can be taught to students. Lee, an assistant professor who directs UW-Madison’s Glass Lab, notes that this movement-based discipline has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. She says that the live glassblowing demonstration is still the primary means for educating students, but that such practices are time consuming and limited.

Glass Lab
A piece of molten glass is pulled from a 2,100-
degree furnace as a mix of tools, blown air and
strenuous effort is used to shape the piece into
a gourd-shaped vase at the UW Glass Lab.
So in her grant proposal, Lee pitched building a glass-blowing bench with four built-in video cameras that will capture multiple key perspectives of the body and glass in motion. These multiple camera angles would then be compiled into a time-synced view –- with four images up on a monitor at the same time -– so students can view close-up footage of the complex process and its overall choreography.

Lee says this would allow her to conduct live glass blowing demonstrations without commentary, followed by re-playing the footage with commentary, where she can slow the footage down and explain details of the process at length.

“There are so many intricate nuances to this craft that are virtually invisible to the beginner student as they witness the embodied knowledge of a skilled glassblower at work,” says Lee. “These details are often happening concurrently in different parts of the body and the shop. It can be difficult to articulate all of this information at the pace at which one must work in glass. Implementing fairly simple video technology will enable much more efficient technical instruction. This funding will make significant difference in the tools students have to learn this age-old discipline.”

The RITI grants can be used to pay for items such as software, hardware, design consulting or software development for the innovation. The School of Education’s Media, Education Resources, and Information Technology (MERIT) unit will provide limited support for specialized services free of charge, although restrictions may apply to video production and software coding. In addition to utilizing MERIT resources, some projects will be utilizing other resources on campus such as DoIT Academic Technology and Instructional Communications Systems at the Pyle Center.

In addition to finding quality grant proposals, Jacobsohn notes there also was a strong emphasis on backing projects that could be replicated for use by other instructors moving forward. He plans for this original cohort of grant awardees to eventually get together to speak to others across the School of Education about their projects and to serve as sounding boards for others within the School and across UW-Madison who try similar initiatives in the future.

“What we didn’t want to have happen was to give money to folks and to have them try something and then be done,” says Jacobsohn. “The idea of these grants being replicable and incorporating ideas that can be spread to others is very important.”

Jacobsohn plans to put out a call for another round of RITI grants this fall.

Following is a list of the initial RITI award grant winners, with a brief summary of each project:

• First Person Video — Kristen Pickett, assistant professor, Occupational Therapy: In an effort to enhance field work and clinician/patient interactions, occupational therapy students will use the GoPro digital camera system and Ubersense application. These cameras are compact, lightweight and wearable. Use of a GoPro will permit a first-person perspective, capturing nuances of communication, technique and style of each user. This technology could also be adaptable for use in the Athletic Training and Physical Education Programs.

• Music Technology Workstations — Terl L. Dobbs, associate professor, Music Education, and Robert Schoville, doctoral candidate, Mutlicultural Education and Education Policy Studies: These 15 workstations will be set up in both MERIT library computer labs and will serve as model classrooms for the music education course, Popular Music Education for Music Educators (272-375), which will become a mandatory course in 2015 for all incoming music education majors, and an elective for other interested School of Education students. Students in this course will learn about how to use technology in the teaching of music as well as how to use music as a means to teach technology.

• Peer to Peer Mentorship — Lindsay Stoetzel, doctoral student, Department of Curriculum and Instruction: The goal of this project is to develop a framework to model how pre-service teachers can serve as mentors in helping their peers to think critically and creatively about how they design curriculum with technology. They will implement the model at a workshop where graduate students will serve as mentors to fellow pre-service teachers. The framework and other supporting research-based documents would be new resources for faculty, TA’s, and School of Education students.

• Smart Bench — Helen Lee, assistant professor, Art Department:In an effort to better teach students the art of glassblowing, this project will develop a bench with four built-in cameras capturing a person glassblowing from different vantage points. To help students more closely examine nuanced details of glass blowing, they can view the footage — which can be time synced and appear on a screen with all four vantage points displaying at the same time.

• Teaching and Open Access Computer Lab — Stephen Hilyard, Aris Georgiades, Douglas Rosenberg, and Paul Sacaridiz, professors, Art Department: Providing the digital infrastructure to support the undergraduate teaching mission of the Art Department, the proposed digital facility will be suitable for all of the software that is currently being used. The number of specialized digital media classes being taught is rapidly increasing. Therefore, the space — including 12 to 18 PCs with monitors — will be accessible to any Art Department course and be open for students to work on digital projects.

• Searchable Database of Pedagogical Exemplars — Kreg Gruben, Cindy Kuhrasch, Andrea Mason and Andrew Winterstein, faculty members, Department of Kinesiology: Quality digital media is a key tool in measuring and assessing movement. This database will provide a rich and replicable resource for instructors within and outside the Department of Kinesiology, resulting in efficiencies and sharing of concepts and scenarios across the curriculum. Each collaborator will independently develop digitized artifacts to be annotated and uploaded to the Kinesiology Kaltura MediaSpace.

• Substance Abuse Instructional Toolkit — Brian Phillips and Timothy Tansey, assistant professors, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education: This toolkit will contain 14 modules for instructors seeking to integrate information on addiction into their courses. Three aims of this project include developing technology-enhanced curriculum focused on substance abuse, supporting the training needs of multiples courses and departments, and incorporating learner-centered features while maximizing utility across multiple levels of learner pre-existing knowledge and outcome expectations.

• Smartpens — Susan Miller Smedema, assistant professor, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education, and graduate student Rana A. Yaghmaian, RPSE: The primary purpose of implementing smartpens into the classroom setting is to encourage and facilitate student participation. Livescribe Smartpens will allow students to take notes while simultaneously recording and syncing everything they write and hear, placing less cognitive demand on students with various learning styles and fostering an equal-opportunity learning environment.

• Learning Modules — Steve Quintana, professor, Department of Counseling Psychology, and Fong Chan, professor, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education: Changes to the content and delivery of curricula improve the training of mental health counselors and rehabilitation counselors. To achieve this, both programs seek to provide new formats of clinical training; provide opportunities to students for interprofessional interactions; and use technology to meet the demands of increased class sizes. Innovative technologies will include “flipped classrooms,” online interactive modules, Google Docs and Audience Response System clickers.

• Micro Controller Experiment Kits and Workbook — Claude Heintz, lighting designer, theatre director, Dance Department: Micro controller experiment kits would allow students to get hands-on experience building the circuits and software covered in the scope of the proposed experimental course on contemporary digital lighting control technology. The overall project would result in a lighting control workbook that could assist others in replicating the course.

• Video Archive — Qualitative Research Methods Committee, School of Education: The goal of this project is to use video technology to capture the expertise of faculty members in the School of Education and record the methodological insights of visiting scholars. Beyond the use of archived video in courses and via “flipped classrooms”, graduate students enrolled in the qualitative methods minor will also have access to archived video for research purposes. 

• Qualitative Data Analysis Software & Qualitative Question Generation — Christian Schmieder, doctoral student, Digital Media/Department of Curriculum & Instruction; qualitative research Specialist, Games+Learning+Society Research Group; Qualitative Research Data consultant, MERIT Library; independent research consultant, This project includes developing a modularized curriculum for up to 15 participants that unites using a professional tool with a specific methodological aspect of qualitative research – namely, the generation of interview questions. Further, this curriculum could be used as a short-time workshop and/or incorporated into qualitative methods classes and other research-based courses.
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