JULY 19, 2021 — UTSA’s key investments in digital learning initiatives, established prior to 2020, helped students and faculty succeed while off-campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these collaborative learning practices and innovative incorporations of technology won’t end now that UTSA students are returning to campus. They’ll continue to shape and strengthen the learning experience of students for the fall 2021 semester and beyond.
Prior to the pandemic, the division of Academic Innovation had actively searched for effective tools to allow faculty to create the best learning environments for their students and to support academic integrity.
“One transformative commitment UTSA made to fostering digital literacy among our students was becoming the first, public, four-year Adobe Creative Campus in Texas,” said Melissa Vito, vice provost of academic innovation at UTSA. “Our faculty are committed to delivering high-quality education to students no matter how they’re enrolled at UTSA. Academic Innovation is ready help ensure faculty has the tools, resources, and strategies required to provide engaging courses regardless of modality.”
Improving the Virtual Classroom
When the pandemic began, Academic Innovation prioritized video learning content to bolster students’ online learning experience. The division signed agreements with Panopto, a platform that helps faculty create interactive videos with embedded quizzes and closed captioning capability, and also invested in PlayPosit, which allows faculty to further edit videos with embedded opportunities for students to interact with the content, the instructor and their classmates. This easy production and delivery of content ensured that students watched the videos and eased faculty’s concerns about accessibility.
“The pandemic accelerated a technology transformation that was already planned, but would require more time to be implemented,” said Claudia Arcolin, director of digital learning at the university. “UTSA’s nationally-recognized faculty champions and points of contact embraced these new technologies to enhance their teaching and leveraged them to create a more inclusive learning experience for our students.”
Faculty champions and points of contact supported instructors who had no prior digital teaching experience, assisted with integration of new technologies in their own courses, and guide other faculty within their departments who want to adopt these new technologies to create quality online courses.
Within the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, faculty champions created the “One Thing That Works” video series and “Lunch and Learn” series, helping to disseminate best practices for effective teaching. The Lunch & Learn series allowed faculty to meet regularly and learn about different technologies and online teaching strategies.
“It has been a wonderful support network for our department—bringing us together during a time when we were very isolated. It gave us a community and we all looked forward to meeting together,” said Jodi Peterson, assistant professor of instruction in the Department of History. “With all of the pedagogical changes due to the transition to online teaching, I think it also gave our faculty direction and confidence.”
Integrating New Technologies
Academic Innovation continued to invest in optimizing the use of Proctorio, promoting academic integrity and helping faculty redesign their assessment strategy using different tools such as Unicheck. The faculty champions in the College of Engineering and Integrated Design and in the College forHealth, Community and Policy started a partnership with Academic Innovation to identify alternative assessment tools and strategies and provide guidance for assessments.
Academic Innovation also partnered with the College of Sciences faculty champions to implement Labster, an online lab simulation tool to help create quality and interactive learning opportunities for STEM courses. Lorenzo Brancaleon, faculty champion and associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, piloted the first gamified course to teach physics. This course not only increased student engagement but also provided a more inclusive learning experience, as students could research the biographies of a diverse group of scholars within their discipline.
“Though I introduced gamification as an online tool in response to the loss of student engagement prompted by the transition online, I intend to maintain the component even in hybrid or traditional in-person courses,” Brancaleon said. “From the students’ responses, most stated that gamification was key to keeping them engaged with the course. Gamification also adds a level of creativity that helps faculty to better engage with the course, especially if, as I plan to do, we can change the game structure from one semester to another.”
The increase in technology within the classroom will continue to transform the UTSA student experience, creating instructionally sound experiences that value student engagement. One such integration of technology and experiential learning is the Defining Moments project, an interdisciplinary and intercollege project that not only promoted deep thinking and student engagement within a virtual environment, but promoted a sense of community for UTSA students and faculty.
The UTSA University Career Center invites you to attend the STEM Career Expo from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feburary 8. Meet, connect and recruit UTSA students and alumni.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, HSU 1.104-1.106
The UTSA University Career Center invites you to attend the All Majors Career Expo from 2 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feburary 8. Meet, connect and recruit UTSA students.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, HSU 1.104-1.106
This competition is for students who are working on a project and prototype and want to assess the market opportunity and commercial potential of their technology in a risk-free environment.Science and Engineering Building, SEB 1.150G
Citation managers such as Zotero® can help you store and organize the citations you find during your research. Zotero can also generate bibliographies in various styles, insert in-text citations and allow you to share sources with collaborators.Virtual event
Chiquita Collins, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at UT Health San Antonio, will virtually engage in conversation regarding the 2023 Black History Month theme, “Resistance. Persistence. Excellence.”Virtual event
The Carlos Alvarez College of Business and the Alvarez Student Success Center will host their Second Annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium. The theme for this year is inclusive leadership. The featured keynote speaker will be Melissa Majors, author of “The 7 Simple Habits of Inclusive Leaders.”H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, HSU 1.106
Join your fellow Roadrunners for the annual Heart Health Walk. If you can’t meet up on campus, get outside and walk for at least 10 minutes at 9 a.m. Walkers are encouraged to wear red and post their pictures to Instagram using the hashtag #28DaysOfHeartAtUTSA.Rowdy Statue, Sombrilla Plaza
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.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.