(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.
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
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