(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 night begins with an astronomy themed lecture in lecture hall 2.02.02 of the Flawn Science Building on the UTSA Main Campus. The lecture is given at a middle-school student level and allows discussion of recent topics in astronomy and space. After the lecture, guests will climb to the roof for some stargazing at the Curtis Vaughan Jr. Observatory.
Flawn Science Building (FLN 2.02.02), Main Campus
UTSA Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and Houston's Russian Children's Theater presents "Wonderful Journey of Nils Holgerson"
Arts Building, Recital Hall (ART 2.03.02B), Main Campus
Take Back the Night is an international initiative to end violence. The event begins with banner making, followed by a march, presentations and poetry reading.
Sombrilla, Main Campus
Members of the UTSA community have published “Adapt and Overcome: Essays of the Student Veteran Experience,” an important book to help active duty military and veterans successfully transition to college life. The event includes a panel discussion with UTSA alumni student veterans who contributed chapters to the book. Guests can also purchase the book. All proceeds benefit the UTSA Student Veteran Association.
Business Building, University Room (BB 2.06.04), Main Campus
The Graduate School is hosting a panel discussion for all of our current students, alumni and members of the San Antonio community who are interested in learning more about graduate education.
Graduate School and Research Building (GSR 1.204), Main Campus
The annual UTSA Graduate fair gives students an opportunity to meet representatives who can provide the information on admission requirements, fellowship opportunities, and other key information.
University Center, Main Campus
A recruiter will speak to potential candidates for the Archer program. The Archer program has helped students land successful careers in public service.
Durango Building (DB 2.208), Downtown Campus
Canadian scholar Jasmin Hristov will present a lecture on paramilitarism, complex type of politically-motivated violence in different parts of Latin America. This presentation will explain paramilitary violence as a tool of economic globalization.
Buena Vista St. Bldg., Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BV 1.328), Downtown Campus
The UTSA College of Engineering Technology Symposium showcases innovative student projects and research performed across multiple disciplines including engineering, science and business. The public is invited.
H-E-B UC Ballroom (HUC 1.104), 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.
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