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On the Horizon (Updated April 2007)

Computing and Communications continually evaluates, tests, and pilots new technologies that hold promise for improving UCR's instructional environment. Associate Vice Chancellor Chuck Rowley, C&C's Instructional Technologists, the Academic Senate, and faculty at large provide input on the systems and tools that are evaluated and ultimately deployed.

Below, please find a partial list of some of the projects that C&C is currently supporting. Please e-mail Chuck Rowley with your thoughts, ideas, and feedback.

iCommunicate
Flex Classrooms
Classroom Sandbox/Incubator
Podcasting @ UCR
Video Capture @ UCR
iGrade
Physics 2000
Anti-Plagiarism Tools
Photo Roster @ UCR
Student Portal – A “One Stop” Gateway to Student Systems and Communications
Collaboration Tools – iLearn Blogs, Wiki, and More


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iCommunicate

C&C is currently developing and deploying a number of instructional technologies under the iCommunicate initiative. This initiative is aimed at increasing student success by improving active engagement of students with course materials, their peers, and faculty. The technologies include some mentioned previously here, such as podcasting and iLearn Blogs and Wikis, and others that are currently under development. iConnect is an integrated instant messaging client for iLearn that enables students to easily connect with classmates and instructors in a familiar fashion. iLearn Text Messaging allows instructors to send SMS-based text messages to students through iLearn, allowing instructors one more point of contact with students for important class information.

C&C has created a brief whitepaper describing the iCommunicate initiative, which interested faculty and administrators can access here.


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Flex Classrooms

C&C recently complete outfitting three new Flex Classrooms located in the Surge Building.  These classrooms have been designed to support innovative pedagogy and improved student learning by combining flexible physical appointments (conference type tables, non-fixed chairs etc.) with best-of-breed technology.

During the upcoming quarter and beyond, C&C will partner with the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Programs to facilitate faculty use of this innovative space.  One objective of this effort will be to create a campus “road map” as UCR considers how to best enhance teaching and learning in the years ahead.  For additional information about the technology and physical appointments found in the rooms, please contact Larry Mcgrath (larry.mcgrath@ucr.edu).  For information about programs to support faculty use of the rooms, please contact Gladis Herrera-Berkowitz (gladis.herrera-berkowitz@ucr.edu).


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Classroom Sandbox/Incubator

UCR has provided funding to develop a Classroom Sandbox/Incubator.  This new facility will allow UCR instructors to explore a variety of pedagogies via the utilization of adaptable, flexible furniture and various technologies designed to facilitate collaboration and interaction.

From the Classroom Sandbox/Incubator Proposal:

“The Classroom Sandbox/Incubator will allow instructors to explore a variety of pedagogies via the utilization of adaptable, flexible furniture and various technologies designed to facilitate collaboration and interaction.  It is hoped these innovative approaches will engage students and allow them to acquire knowledge and skills beyond their particular academic discipline, leading ultimately to improved student success.  These transferable skills / core competencies might include enhanced collaboration, communications, writing, and problem solving abilities.”

It is hoped the Classroom Sandbox/Incubator will come on-line during Winter 2007.  For more information about the Classroom Sandbox/Incubator, please contact Chuck Rowley (charles.rowley@ucr.edu).


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Podcasting @ UCR

UCR’s General Assignment Classrooms are now equipped for self-service audio capture.  C&C has acquired and installed servers to host this audio content and make it available via Podcasting.  C&C will be piloting this capability during the Fall 2006 quarter with wider use of the system planned for Winter 2007.

For more information about Podcasting @ UCR, please contact Israel Fletes (israel@ucr.edu).


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Video Capture @ UCR

C&C has acquired Macromedia Breeze servers and licenses to provide enhanced video conferencing / video archiving capabilities.  C&C will also use this software as the foundation for its video archiving program.  C&C hopes to pilot use of this system in campus General Assignment classrooms during later Winter quarter 2007.

For more information about video capture, archiving, streaming video, etc. please contact Larry McGrath (larry@ucr.edu).


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iGrade

iGrade is a new system for faculty that allows grades to uploaded directly to the campus Student Information System from a web browser.  During the Spring ’06 quarter, 163 faculty submitted 14,057 grades via this system.  iGrade provides the following functionality:

  • Prompts faculty for a username and password (the same username and password as the campus e-mail system).
  • Based upon the log-in, presents faculty with their current courses.
  • Allows faculty to assign grades via a web interface.
  • Allows downloading of a course roster to Microsoft Excel.
  • Allows uploading of grades from Microsoft Excel.
  • "Audits" grades per Student Information System rules.
  • Posts the grades.

For additional information on iGrade please email Mark Nicolay at mark.nicolay@ucr.edu or visit cnc.ucr.edu/igrade.


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Physics 2000

Physics 2000 is a 288 seat general assignment classroom and is UCR's only demonstration facility. The large classroom is an important instructional resource for the campus in general and for Physics, Chemistry, and other CNAS departments in particular.  With various faculty providing background, oversight, and guidance, UCR approved a comprehensive technology upgrade during the Summer 2006.  This upgrade was recently completed and instruction utilizing the rooms new functionality is currently underway.

The technology upgrade plan for Physics 2000 was designed to improve the room's audio systems, lighting systems, digital projection capabilities, and to allow faculty to control / access all the room's technology in a facile manner without leaving the stage.  The specific upgrades include the following:

  • Three high resolution/high brightness digital projection systems, with 3 matching monitors to allow faculty to see what is being projected.
  • Enhanced audio system, including replacement of all speakers in existing locations and adding new bank of speakers in front of the classroom.
  • Creation of a display/playback equipment rack (e.g. DVD, VHS, etc.).
  • Three points of control, with stations located on both sides of the rotating stage and in the front of the classroom.
  • Electronic writing tablets located on both sides of the stage.
  • Electronic white board providing faculty a large writing surface.
  • Document cameras on both sides of the stage.
  • Lighting Improvement and Controls.

For additional information about the Physics 2000 upgrade, please contact Larry Mcgrath (larry.mcgrath@ucr.edu).


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Anti-Plagiarism Tools

An evaluation of anti-plagiarism software effort was conducted during the Fall 2004 quarter utilizing two products that integrate with the present campus learning management systems, iLearn.

Instructors from the English Department (as a primary user of such software) were pilot users, as were faculty from Biology and Religious Studies.  Based on this pilot, UCR deployed Safe Assignment during the Fall quarter 2005.  Safe Assignment is tightly integrated with iLearn and has proven efficacious for many campus instructors.

For more information about this tool, its functionality, etc. please contact Leo Schouest (leo.schouest@ucr.edu).


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Photo Roster @ UCR

C&C has worked closely with UCR faculty to develop to develop a system that will provide UCR instructors (faculty only) the option to view photos of their students within an iLearn roster.

Why a photo roster?  As the ways of learning and teaching change to reflect new instructional paradigms and incorporate new and innovative technology in the classroom, instructors have come to realize that it has become increasingly important that technology be used to create a sense of community. Recognition in the classroom as well as outside the teaching environment helps to foster fundamental community concepts. Technology and society need to interact cohesively.

After appropriate dialog with various campus constituent occurs, the new system will be deployed within iLearn.  It is hoped this important new functionality will be available during the Winter quarter 2007.

For additional information about Photo Roster @ UCR, please contact Larry Mcgrath (larry.mcgrath@ucr.edu).


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Student Portal – A “One Stop” Gateway to Student Systems and Communications.

UCR continues its efforts to develop and deploy a student portal.  As ever increasing amounts of digital material become available to students (relating not only to instruction but to student life and research as well), a single, student-centric interface to this virtual environment has become increasingly important.  It is hoped a Phase I portal will be tested during the Fall 2006 quarter. 

For additional information about the development of a UCR student portal, please contact Larry Mcgrath (larry.mcgrath@ucr.edu).


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Collaboration Tools – iLearn Blogs, Wiki, and More

UCR is investigating acquiring and deploying tools allowing for enhanced collaboration with the campus iLearn learning management system.  C&C hopes to conclude planning for this effort (including faculty review of next steps) during the Winter quarter 2006. 

 For additional information about collaboration tools within the iLearn environment, please contact Larry Mcgrath (larry.mcgrath@ucr.edu).



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