(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.
Successful first-year students at UTSA are those who learn how to utilize resources, recognize and resolve problems, and prepare themselves to take advantage of their time on campus. The Student Success Series promotes this achievement by offering workshops on the common concerns and questions first-year students have during their transition to university life.
University Center Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
Come show your Roadrunner Spirit by joining our very own Rowdy, The Spirit of San Antonio Marching Band (SOSA), your fellow students, faculty and staff as we light the Monument at our Main Campus entrance at the stroke of midnight to mark the start of a new academic year.
John Peace Blvd. entrance, Main Campus
Join President Eighmy for this celebration to kick off the new school year. The event will feature live musical performances and a free BBQ dinner.
Convocation Center Lawn, Main Campus
Join fellow Roadrunners on the Downtown Campus for this free BBQ dinner.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus
New and returning graduate students are encouraged to stop by before going to class to learn more about what UTSA has to offer, participate in fun activities, listen to music, connect with peers and enjoy refreshments.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus
Students are invited to attend the Fraternity|Sorority Life Informational Sessions and Mix & Mingle. This is an opportunity for students to meet-and-greet members of the Fraternity/Sorority Life community, and get together with your new Roadrunner friends.
UC Travis and Harris Rooms (HUC 2.202 and HUC 2.212) then UC Lawn, Main Campus
Find out what the Downtown Library has to offer. Stop by to enjoy refreshments and learn more about your library. It’s a great place to study, use computers, work on group projects, or to get help finding material on your research topic. Welcoming staff and a pleasant setting make the library a terrific resource for students.
Buena Vista Street Building, 2nd floor, Downtown Campus
Get to know your UTSA student athletes for football, volleyball, soccer, and cross country. Howdy Rowdy Bash is when we get excited for upcoming athletic events with games, cheers and giveaways. The event ends with a live music performance. Join UTSA Athletics, Rowdy Crew and Roadrunner Productions for night of fun in the Convo.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.