Monday, August 03, 2015

UTSA online information systems graduate course recognized for innovation

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(July 17, 2014) -- Kenneth Pierce, UTSA chief information officer and vice provost for information technology, and instructional developer Josef Varga have been selected as recipients of a 2014 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Innovation. The award honors those in education who challenge conventional thinking to improve education in areas such as teaching and learning practices, software development, mobile innovation, cloud innovation and online program management.

The pair are being recognized for their work in redesigning Introduction to Information Systems (IS 5003), an MBA course that Pierce has taught at UTSA for five years. Because students enrolled in the online course have varying academic backgrounds, he decided to employ game design techniques to help motivate them to spend more time with the course material.

The course now is organized into a series of mandatory and optional modules, which students complete to earn points; students must complete all mandatory modules to earn a C in the course but have to complete additional ones to improve their grade. Students receive badges for specific accomplishments; for instance, students who score 80 percent or better on a quiz on binary numbers will get a Math Geek badge.

To further appeal to their competitive natures, the course features an anonymous leaderboard where students can check their progress relative to their classmates. Of the leaderboard, one IS 5003 student wrote, "That sense of accomplishment and advancement is awesome, and I have never felt that in any class I have ever taken."

Pierce, who presented a seminar on Gamification in Course Design in the UTSA Faculty Center this spring, says using game elements as part of a course design can be a great way to motivate millenials.

"For them, it's all about the experience. It's about enjoyment and self-direction," he says. "It's a lot of work to convert a course from a traditional structure to a game-based structure, and not all courses will lend themselves to this methodology.

But these students will spend hours playing a video game just to earn an in-game reward. Wouldn't it be great if we could generate that level of devotion and enthusiasm about our courses?

Blackboard Catalyst Award recipients were honored July 17 at the annual Blackboard World users conference in Las Vegas.

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Did You Know?

For acclaimed UTSA writer, poetry rhymes with life

Robert Penn Warren said: “How do poems grow? They grow out of your life.” That is certainly true for Carmen Tafolla. An associate professor of practice with the UTSA College of Education and Human Development, Tafolla has authored more than 20 acclaimed books of poetry and prose, including "The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans." It won the Tom´s Rivera Children’s Book Award in 2009.

Tafolla is a San Antonio native who grew up on the West Side. Attending a private high school, she realized that the literature did not positively portray her community or the people who lived there. She determined to change that in her writing. In published works for both adults and children — more than 200 anthologies, magazines, journals, textbooks and readers in four languages — Tafolla reflects on the rich Mexican-American culture of San Antonio in which she grew up.

Did you know? Tafolla was San Antonio's first Poet Laureate, from 2012 to 2014, and currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Texas.

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Aug. 4, 6 - 8 p.m.

Free Teacher Tuesday: Los Tejanos Workshop

Discover resources and strategies for teaching Tejano history and culture and get a special educator's tour of the new long-term exhibit, Los Tejanos.
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Aug. 6, 5 - 7 p.m.; 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

6th Annual Texas Higher Education Symposium

This annual symposium is an opportunity to discuss Texas higher education issues and trends with Texas higher education scholars, state and local government officials, students, and campus and local community members.
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Aug. 9, 12 - 5 p.m.

Vaquerocation 2015

This cowboy-themed programming, offered in conjunction with Our Kids Magazine's Kidcation Week, gives families the opportunity to visit with cowboy docents, enjoy readings and visit activity tables.
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Aug. 17, 11:30 p.m.

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Aug. 18, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

President's BBQ on the Plaza

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Aug. 18, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

President's BBQ on the Lawn

Join university President Ricardo Romo on the Convocation Center lawn for his annual free BBQ lunch.
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Aug. 22, 6 p.m.

UTSA Alumni Gala

The UTSA Alumni Association hosts this annual gala honoring the Alumna of the Year, Alumnus of the Year and the Alumnus of the Year Lifetime Achievement award winners.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr.


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UTSA student contemplates life, love in new book

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