Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UTSA Academic Innovation recognized for commitment to excellence in digital learning

UTSA Academic Innovation recognized for commitment to excellence in digital learning

MARCH 22, 2022 — The UTSA Academic Innovation team has received the Award for Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Digital Learning from the Texas Digital Learning Association (TxDLA) in recognition of the office’s comprehensive approach to advancing digital learning and responding to the needs of faculty and students during the pandemic.

TxDLA is a nonprofit organization that promotes virtual learning and innovative educational practices. It honors Texas’ top leaders in digital learning each spring. TxDLA presented the award, which acknowledges achievements in online education, at its annual conference on March 21.

“UTSA’s Academic Innovation team has redefined how to deliver a high-quality education to students across modalities,” said Marcela Ramirez, associate vice provost for teaching, learning and digital transformation. “Whether it’s classroom renovations, dynamic instructional design or faculty development, Academic Innovation has worked hard to help our partners transform the UTSA academic experience so Roadrunners receive first-rate instruction online, in-person or via a hybrid model.”

Formed in 2018 as an academic support unit within the UTSA Division of Academic Affairs, Academic Innovation brings together experts in teaching, technology and virtual learning to develop educational practices that enrich the academic experience of students and faculty.


“UTSA’s Academic Innovation team has redefined how to deliver a high-quality education to students across modalities.”



Jonathan Gutierrez (second from left), Mayra Collins (third), and Joe Tobares (fourth) of the UTSA Academic Innovation team accepted the Award for Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Digital Learning from the Texas Digital Learning Association.



The Academic Innovation team includes multiple units, including Teaching, Learning & Digital Transformation; Learning Technologies; Video Production and Technology; UTSA Online; and Continuing and Professional Education (PaCE). These units share the same goal of helping faculty effectively tailor their teaching strategies and course design for different modalities by offering a multitude of resources, training and support.

Academic Innovation continues to experiment with new digital tools and learning environments for UTSA students through its many initiatives, including:

  • investing $200,000 in the Teaching and Learning Reimagined grant program, which funded 26 projects that helped faculty experiment with technology and pioneer new teaching methods that increase student engagement in online and hybrid courses

  • supporting faculty with the development of more than 8,000 courses through pedagogical consultations, design practices, professional development and technical support

  • developing the online B.A. in Communication, the Data Science Graduate Certificate, the Graduate Certificate in Facility Management and an M.S. in Facility Management

  • offering mentorship, teaching enrichment opportunities and intensive digital learning boot camps to help over 650 faculty members and graduate assistants modify and develop their classroom experiences across modalities

  • expanding the availability of online tools—including Adobe Creative Cloud and Panopto—to promote digital literacy and ease the transition between in-person and virtual learning

  • increasing course accessibility for all students by piloting Ally during course design and development, and professionally captioning over 600 course content videos

  • designing and upgrading classrooms with collaborative technology that promotes a HyFlex learning environment and providing technical training and support for faculty

EXPLORE FURTHER
Learn how the Academic Success District furthers UTSA’s goal to be a model for student success.

“We are always mindful of UTSA’s foundational mission of access and excellence, and we help support this by designing adaptive and accessible learning environments for all modes of course delivery,” said Melissa Vito, vice provost for academic innovation. "As the demand for flexible educational opportunities continues to grow, we will keep working alongside our faculty to produce engaging digital learning experiences for our students.”

The TxDLA award comes on the heels of UTSA Online being ranked in the top 38% for best online programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for 2022, as well as ranking in the top 10 institutions for best online degree programs in Texas this year. In 2021, Academic Innovation’s online teaching faculty champions were recognized by the WICHE Cooperative for Education Technologies (WCET) with the Outstanding Work (WOW) Award for offering creative solutions and academic support during the transition to online learning at the start of the pandemic.  

The Academic Innovation team works with colleges and departments on campus to implement new solutions and processes that drive student engagement, promote innovative and inclusive pedagogy and support faculty development.

Chloe Johnson



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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UTSA’s Mission

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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UTSA’s Core Values

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UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

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 promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.