Instructional Technology Innovation
The Instructional Technology Innovation (ITI) subcommittee from the ITLC Educational Technology Committee, helps manage the process whereby members of the university community can request university support for software licensing and other IT innovations.
The Forest software platform is used to solicit ideas from the UIC community. Community members can submit ideas on the Forest software at any time. Other community members can upvote suggestions. New ideas are periodically reviewed by the ITI subcommittee.
See ideas or submit an idea here: uic.forestsoftware.com (login required - UIC NetID and Password)
Pilot Programs quote Heading link
Pilot programs are an effective, low-cost way to test new ideas and move instructional technology forward.
See ideas or submit an idea Heading link
CATE Innovation Process: From Ideas to Pilot Heading link
The ITI Subcommittee facilitates EdTech innovation for UIC by identifying ideas that should be converted into a campaign. Campaigns are created within the Forest software system. The subcommittee reviews all current ideas in the general channel at its monthly meeting and decide which ones to promote to campaigns. The criteria for promotion can be flexible, and may include community interest through upvotes, relevance to prior discussions at the full committee, and current capacity in the campaign system.
Campaigns are used to explore more in-depth ideas that can potentially solve the challenge at hand. The campaign seeks input from appropriately knowledgeable people to answer questions such as:
- What software is available that delivers this functionality?
- Of these, which are in use at UIC, by how many people, and at what cost?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each tool?
- What are the license terms?
The ITI subcommittee will evaluate software options using a rubric which the subcommittee will create and make recommendations for university support.
Once a campaign is closed, the implementation process may include a pilot program. Current pilot programs are reported on this page. If you are interested in joining a pilot program, contact the CATE Instructional Design Team at LTS@uic.edu
Re-imagining Online Discussion Heading link
Re-imagining Online Discussion
The Need for the Pilot
Online discussions are an essential component of a well designed online or hybrid course. While Blackboard Learn, UIC’s learning management system, contains all the basic needs for online and hybrid learning, LMS discussion boards in general have significant limitations. Online students struggle to engage with the typical “Post a comment, and then reply to 2 peers’ comments” discussion board formula, and instructors find themselves backlogged with increased grading loads of rushed student responses.
UIC centrally offers the following tools for discussion:
- Blackboard Discussion Board, the default discussion tool that allows threading for students and groups of students.
- VoiceThread, a multimedia collaborative tool that can be used to discuss via text, image or video.
In an effort to support and boost student success, the Instructional Technology Innovation subcommittee (from the ITLC Educational Technology Committee) is looking to find a campus solution that would complement Blackboard’s basic discussion board features.
Questions to Consider
- How might we re-imagine the basic discussion board?
- How can we engage our students so that they don’t see discussion as busy work but as meaningful learning
- What would facilitate this engagement?
During the ideation phase, a campaign to re-imagining online discussion drove over 100 instructors to the website; they engaged by submitting an idea, voting on a suggested idea, or just browsing ideas in the campaign. The top tools identified were Ment.io and Piazza.
During the evaluation of ideas, instructors responded to a survey that helped define the features needed in a solution identifying the most important characteristics that would improve the way they use online discussions:
- Integration with Blackboard
- Easy grading
- Ability to manage group discussions
- Ability to integrate media in the conversation, specifically from students
The ITI suggested Ment.io as the tool to evaluate. Ment.io is an AI-based discussion software that allows instructors to facilitate discussion with ease, assess performance with accuracy –and save time– while encouraging students to improve their dialectical skills and rediscover the excitement of active learning.
Ment.io presented their solution at the Educational Technology Committee in the January, 2022 meeting. The UIC community can access the deck provided by Ment.io.
Ment.io is designed for teaching to:
- Emphasize qualitative assessment.
- Improve student analytical skills.
- Maximize student-to-student interactions.
- Reward properly articulated ideas.
Re-imagining Online Discussion
The Ment.io pilot program will start in the summer of 2022 with up to 1,000 students enrolled in summer courses. A second cohort of the pilot will be conducted in the fall semester with up to 2,000 students.
Call for Participation in the Pilot (Coming soon for Spring participation)
CATE invites UIC instructors to submit a request to participate in the pilot. Instructors can address one or several of the following approaches:
- Develop skills and competencies as an instructor in introducing asynchronous discussion in their courses.
- Develop the technological, cognitive, professional and social competencies in students that include deep discussions.
- Increase student engagement and participation through online discussion.
- Evaluate the functionality of Ment.io to help the university decide its adoption and to influence further improvement and development of the tool.
What will instructors do?
Instructors will participate in this pilot in the summer 2022 or fall 2022 semesters. They will work with an instructional designer at CATE to integrate Ment.io into their course prior to the start of the semester. During the term, they will be asked to observe and reflect on how Ment.io has impacted online discussion and students’ learning experiences. At the end of the semester, instructors will also collaborate with CATE on creating an innovation vignette or video sharing their experiences using the tool in their course. A survey will be conducted at the end of the semester to gather feedback regarding Ment.io functionality.
How will CATE support instructors?
- License to use Ment.io.
- Training in the use of Ment.io.
- Consultation with an instructional designer to guide your efforts on integrating Ment.io into your course (e.g., creating discussion questions, facilitating discussions, etc.).
- Support to create an innovation vignette or video featuring how you have used Ment.io in your course and its outcomes to share with the UIC teaching community.
- Instructors will receive a one-time $500 payment as part of their time commitment to the pilot, including the evaluation of the tool and the development of an innovation vignette or video.
Who is eligible for participation?
- Instructors already familiar with Blackboard’s discussion board who are teaching courses in any discipline during the summer or fall term are eligible to apply for participation in this pilot program.
When is the pilot happening?
- The Ment.io pilot program will take place over the summer of 2022 with up to 1,000 students enrolled in summer courses, and in fall 2022 with up to 2,000 students.
Application Process and Deadlines
The application for the fall term has passed. If you want to be considered for the spring term, please email us at LTS@uic.edu.
Recently Completed Pilot Programs Heading link
UIC has added an iClicker site license to its EdTech resources. Students will be able to participate in any iClicker courses without needing to purchase a subscription because of this partnership. As long as instructors create their iClicker courses with “University of Illinois at Chicago” as the institution, there will be no charge.
This site license provides UIC the complete functionality and the best value of iClicker. With the enterprise version, instructors can take attendance, poll and quiz students face-to-face, remotely, or hybrid —either synchronously or asynchronously— grade and push grades to Blackboard seamlessly, and see retention analytics and reports to help students achieve more.
iClicker Cloud allows for students to participate using mobile devices and laptops by default. If you are using iClicker Classic, you must enable the use of mobile devices and laptops in your course settings. We encourage instructors to use iClicker Cloud to take advantage of all the features.
As part of the site license, instructors have access to training, and both instructors and students have direct technical support from iClicker at no charge.
Learn more about iClicker at the EdTech iClicker page.
UIC instructors can now use all the features of Acadly — notably its integration with Blackboard and Zoom.
Acadly is a student engagement and attendance automation platform for synchronous classes of any kind – online, blended, or in-person. Many UIC instructors have used the basic version of Acadly, which is free, to take attendance in the classroom. About 30 instructors pilot-tested Acadly Enterprise during the spring 2021 semester and provided feedback that Acadly used to improve their solution in the summer.
Since spring 2022, anyone teaching at UIC can use Acadly, including the Attendance Taking feature to help with contact tracing.
Learn more about Acadly at the EdTech Acadly page.