Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Technology Day draws crowds to learn about social technologies



Technology
within education has been growing by leaps and bounds, and now educators and institutions are even using social media tools within online learning and teaching.

The latest and greatest of this innovative technology was showcased during the 10th annual Technology Day at UIS on Wednesday, February 10 in the Public Affairs Center. The theme for this year’s event was “What Are You Learning Now? Teaching with Social Technologies.”

"It's appropriate that our campus would have Technology Day," said Provost Harry Berman. "Technology has become such a big part of our instruction. About half of our students take at least one online course and about half of our faculty teach online."

The keynote speaker for the event was Kyle Bowen, who is the director of informatics at Purdue University. Bowen spoke primarily about his role in the development of Hotseat, a new social networking-powered tool that enables students to collaborate via Twitter or Facebook both inside and outside of the classroom.

"Students use these during classroom time and are usually disruptive, but what they're doing at Purdue is trying to use these tools to get students engaged in classroom," explained Tulio Llosa, director of educational technology in the office of Information Technology Services at UIS. "They're changing the mode from a disruptive thing to an engagement thing so that students are asking questions, interacting with class and not falling asleep in the back row."

There were also more than 20 workshops and presentations throughout the afternoon with topics such as using social technology for marketing and recruitment at UIS, Lecture Capture (which is available for faculty to record their own lectures for student use), and training sessions for faculty on BlackBoard 9, which is an update from Blackboard 7 currently used at UIS.

A former UIS instructor also gave a presentation on free online tools that he is currently using to teach with. His presentation was done via Skype, a free online video service.

"We are a state-of-the-art facility in terms of having different technology available to our faculty," Llosa said. "During Technology Day, we try to show the world that we have these tools at UIS, what we're using these tools for and how we're making our classes more engaging for our students. We want to show people the exciting things we're doing here."

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Social networking and online tools help UIS students connect with employers



The University of Illinois Springfield Career Development Center is helping students and employers connect in the virtual world through skills match and social networking sites.

“It allows you to connect with employers and recruiters that you wouldn’t be able to connect with. You can connect with people across the country to find different positions,” said Kristen Parsell, senior social work major.

Parsell only has a semester left before she graduates and has found job opportunities online through the center. She’s also considering getting her graduate degree and found an internship online.

The Career Development Center is using sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to help students find jobs and give them tips of internships and employment. The Twitter site was recently named one of the ‘Top 15 College Career Centers You Should Follow on Twitter’ in a national ranking.

“It is really all about networking, so the more you can get out and get involved in local organizations or to get out there in the social networking area to get your name out in that arena will help you,” said Tammy Craig, director of the Career Development Center.

The Development Center is trying out a new system called Pro Net, which allows employers to directly communicate with students. Professionals are invited to take time to answer student questions, allow job shadowing and mentor the students. The hope is the connections built through the program will lead to internships and employment opportunities.

“It’s just another way to educate the student about what the industry is all about and once again help them start networking,” said Craig.

For more information on the Career Development Center’s online tools visit http://www.uis.edu/careerservices/.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

iTunes U boosts UIS' visibility on the web



The University of Illinois Springfield’s listing in the iTunes Store, a popular software-based online digital media store, is paying off in boosting the campus’ presence on the web.

UIS was selected by Apple, Inc. to join the iTunes Store on August 18, 2009. UIS had been using an internal iTunes U account on campus since January 2007, with limited public access. The switch has made UIS content available to more than 200 million iTunes users worldwide.

“We are able to get our story out in a very inexpensive manner. iTunes provides a way to really have great social outreach and it’s a great recruiting tool,” said Munindra Khaund, multimedia education coordinator in the Department of Information Technology Services.

In the first three months UIS has been part of the iTunes store new downloads have increase by more than 75,000. Before the store the campus averaged only 3,000 downloads every three months.

“I think it’s a great market research story. It’s given us a really, really wide reach,” said Khaund.

One of the podcasts attracting the most attention is Professor Michael Cheney’s “The Beatles: Popular Music and Society”. Listens of Cheney’s series alone shot up by 60,000 downloads two months after membership in the iTunes Store began.

The “Revealing Voices” series produced by Khaund and other campus partners was chosen by Apple as a noteworthy podcast helping to boost downloads by 7,000 in two weeks.

The podcasts are also paying off for students, who can log on and listen to them for free. Students have lectures, seminars, and student assignments right at their fingertips through the service.

“We’ve been able to capture faculty content knowledge and deliver it to students. The benefit of that being that the students are able to review, pause, rewind, and take better notes and help in their different learning styles,” said Khaund.

More information on podcasting at UIS is available at www.uis.edu/sightsandsounds/podcasts/. To access UIS on iTunes U, go to http://itunes.uis.edu/. All of the content is available free of charge.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

UIS Career Development Center Twitter page honored

The University of Illinois Springfield Career Development Center’s Twitter page is attracting national attention. The Pongo Resume blog ranked the UIS page on the ‘Top 15 College Career Centers You Should Follow on Twitter’.

The Development Center has been using the Twitter page to post daily tips on everything from job interviews to upcoming career fairs.

“After attending conferences it is quite apparent a new recruitment source for employers is to connect with students through social networking venues. The department would like to encourage UIS students to establish Twitter and Linked In accounts to research companies and expand their professional network,” said Tammy Craig, Director of Career Services.

"A number of individuals have already landed jobs through Twitter, and the department would like to encourage more UIS students to try it out by establishing a professional account," added Craig.

Pongo Resume is a web site for the active job seeker that offers resume and cover letter building services. The company has been featured in national publications like the New York Times, Boston Herald and U.S. News and World Report.

If students need assistance either establishing a professional account or navigating social networking sites, please contact the Career Development Center.

Read the Pongo rankings:
http://www.pongoresume.com/blogPosts/393/college-career-centers-you-should-follow-on-twitter.cfm?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=twitter

Follow UIS Career Development Center on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/UISCareerCenter

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

UIS accepted by Apple for listing in iTunes Store

The University of Illinois Springfield has announced that it has been accepted by Apple for listing in the iTunes Store, effective Tuesday, August 18.

Content from UIS is now available without charge to more than 200 million iTunes users worldwide, noted Munindra Khaund, multimedia education coordinator in the department of Information Technology Services at UIS. Being a part of the iTunes stores allows UIS to create a presence in front of more potential students, alumni and donors.

“The iTunes Store is a great social outreach and recruiting tool. It enables UIS to create a stronger presence and get our story out in an inexpensive manner,” Khaund said. “Our university is now listed alongside universities like Berkeley, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford, Yale, as well as museums and public media organizations.”

UIS has been an internal iTunes U campus in January 2007. iTunes U is a free, cross-platform multimedia distribution and learning environment system that provides easy, online access to educational content such as lectures, seminars and student assignments. Public access recordings from campus activities such as sporting events, news broadcasts, and concerts can also be made available through iTunes U.

Apple has well-defined guidelines for educational institutions that want to be included in the iTunes Store. Quality and quantity of podcasts is one of many criteria to be listed on the iTunes Store.

“When we first launched our podcasts on iTunes in the fall of 2005, we had one course podcast and one publicly available podcast. Now we have more than 25 course podcasts and 22 publicly available podcasts,” Khaund said. “Additionally, the 'UIS Guidelines and Policies for Podcasting' was the first podcasting policy in higher education, and as a result, several universities have contacted us to help them create their own guidelines for educational podcasting.”

More information on podcasting at UIS is available at http://www.uis.edu/sightsandsounds/podcasts/. To access UIS on iTunes U, go to http://itunes.uis.edu/.

To access UIS in the iTunes Store, open iTunes, click on the iTunes Store, then click on “iTunes U” in the menu at left. In the box labeled “find educational providers,” click on “Universities and Colleges”. On the “Universities and Colleges” page, find "University of Illinois Springfield” alphabetically under “U”. The public is also able to search for any podcasts from UIS that are publicly available by using the “Search the iTunes Store” box.

For more information, contact Munindra Khaund, multimedia education coordinator in the department of Information Technology Services, at munindra.khaund@uis.edu or 217/206-6764.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

UIS launches new home page

A new and improved look has arrived on the UIS home page. Last spring and early summer, the UIS Office of Web Services received feedback on how to do just that. Many suggestions have been incorporated in the new page.

Some of the new features include a top row of useful links, a new web-based campus directory, a right-side menu for prospective and new students, hot topics, department highlights, and many more enhancements.

“It's been two years since we redesigned the UIS home page. Technology has changed and so have viewer preferences. We made changes based on our own research and incorporated features most requested by prospective and new students,” said Sherry Hutson, director of the office of web services.

There is an additional new feature - users can select from two color themes. One theme is darker and includes more color. For those who prefer it, there is also a theme with more subdued color and clear dark-on-light contrast for the text.

“Our staff works very hard on the design and programming of the page to make it attractive, functional, and accessible to a wide variety of users,” said Hutson.

Visitors to the website will notice that the way the university’s name appears on the website has changed. Effective immediately, the university is dropping use of the word “at” and will be known as University of Illinois Springfield or, simply, Illinois Springfield. This is a decision by the Chancellor’s Cabinet.

The change modernizes the UIS graphic identity and better reflects it's status as a U of I campus. It also addresses a very real confusion between “at” and “@” when used on the website, our most important recruitment tool. The change does not alter our legal, statutory name, nor does it require purging signage or documents where it does appear. In fact, the original name remains on very permanent structures such as entrance signage, the colonnade, and the tile floors in UHB and PAC.

This new presentation does not contradict anything already in place on campus but will represent the graphic identity to the outside world going forward. There will be a period of transition and, at times, it may seem confusing. If you have questions or concerns, please direct them to Derek Schnapp at dschn3@uis.edu or Michelle Green at mgree1@uis.edu.

Related Links:
UIS Home Page: www.uis.edu/
Office of Web Services: www.uis.edu/webservices/

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

UIS takes lead role in international symposium on online teaching and learning

Representatives from the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service from UIS attended an international symposium for the Sloan-Consortium on online teaching and learning in San Francisco in June, and UIS was the only university at the symposium that presented a pre-conference session, plenary session and multiple regular sessions.

More than 600 attended the conference.

"We renewed relationships with our colleagues from California State Eastbay and Southern Oregon, while making many new contacts among other universities," said Ray Schroeder, director of COLRS at UIS. "And, there were many viewing live media streams across the country of nearly all of our sessions."

Schroeder said there was a "tremendous response" to the UIS pre-conference session Social Networking: Twelve Top Tools You Can Use in Class Tomorrow, which attracted a full house of participants from around the U.S. and a couple of foreign countries. The session can be found at http://socialnetworkinginclass.ning.com/.

Schroeder said he had an overflow group for a session he co-presented with Maureen Yoder of Lesley University called Beyond Google: Easy-to-Use Innovative Resources and Alternative Search Engines You Can Use Today. UIS Professor Burks Oakley also held a well-received interactive session on The Impact of Integrating a Web-Based Document Management System into the Educational Process at UIS.

All of the UIS staff and faculty also actively participated in many other sessions, and UIS was mentioned multiple times during the conference as an example of excellence or leadership by symposium executive director John Bourne and president Bruce Chaloux, Schroeder said.

“I had a great time moderating the ‘expert plenary’ session on Higher Education Meets the S Curve (found at http://www.emergingonlinelearningtechnology.org/expertplenary),” Schroeder said. “The representatives from Microsoft and Google were great, and Stewart Mader (author of Wikipatterns and Using Wiki in Education) spent the following hour chatting with Shari McCurdy (associate director of COLRS) about potential wiki applications. I also had a great conversation with all of the panelists."

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

UIS hosts Girl Tech technology camp for middle schoolers

By Courtney Westlake



UIS' Computer Science program is hosting Girl Tech 2009, a technology camp for middle-school girls entering 7th, 8th or 9th grade in the fall on Thursday, June 18 and Friday, June 19.

"We're hoping to get them excited about technology to the point that they want to know more, stay with it and develop a passion for what technology is all about and the many facets of it," said Mary Sheila Tracy, instructor in the computer science department.

Studies show that number of women in higher education in computer science is "falling drastically, and what we need to do is bring more women into field," Tracy said. Girl Tech is geared toward girls in middle school because interest seems to start decreasing around that age.

The camp offered sessions on programming, robotics, computer networking, iMovie, Photoshop and computer hardware. A partial list of sessions includes Cartoons Galore!, Persona Magazine, Wireless Treasure Hunt and Robotics at the Robot Zoo.

"There are six different workshops over the two days, and the girls visit each one," Tracy said. "We have a workshop on learning to program - the fundamentals of using a programming language in a way that is most fun. There is another session on programming using Legos Mindstorm robots to learn to program, as well as a workshop on what it is to use wireless technology on a treasure hunt throughout our building, finding access points."

"We have a session where we're giving the girls flip video cameras to shoot their own movies and then using iMovie to edit. And we're doing session called 'What's in the Box?' where the girls take a computer apart. What better way to find out what's actually in the box inside their computer than taking it apart and looking at each individual piece?," Tracy said.

Instructors of the sessions are female faculty members in the Computer Science Department and Visual Arts Department, as well as staff members in Information Technology Services.

About 36 girls participated in Girl Tech 2009, which is the first year the technology camp has been held.

"We've had just about everyone show up, so it's nice that the girls are that enthused," Tracy said. "We have an extraordinarily bright, enthusiastic group here, and it's just so much fun for all of the instructors and volunteers here today."

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Friday, March 13, 2009

2009 Expanding Your Horizons conference helps girls explore careers in math, science and technology

By Courtney Westlake




Kelly Cochran, flight director for the Challenger Learning Center in Bloomington, was so thrilled with her experience while attending the Expanding Your Horizons conference when she was young that she decided to come back and teach a program during the 2009 conference.

"I love what I do, and I'm so pleased to be able to share it with other people," she said. "I've had a lot of people in my lifetime that have pushed me and helped me grow, and I like to share those tools and toys I've gained from other people. It's fun for me to be able to return and be one of those presenters who was so cool when I was a student."

Cochran was one of 45 professional women in fields of math, science or technology who led a program during the 22nd annual Expanding Your Horizons in Math, Science and Technology on Saturday, March 14, at UIS to give girls in 6th, 7th and 8th grades the opportunity to learn about various topics and careers within math, technology and science.

Participants chose to attend three interactive and hands-on workshops from more than 20 offered. The workshops focused on topics such as computer animation, bone engineering, photography, crime investigation, architecture, astronomy and much more.

Many cutting-edge careers of the future will involve science, math and technology and will be wide open to well-prepared young women. The workshops for the girls allowed participants to interact with successful local women who are scientists, physicians, engineers, architects and professionals in many other careers traditionally held by men.

Hundreds of local junior high school girls attended the conference, along with their parents who were able to attend workshops about planning for college and helping teens cope with stress.

"Twenty-two years ago, Expanding Your Horizons began on this campus with 50 girls participating; now we have 350 present today," said Sue Garland, co-president of the American Association of University Women- Springfield branch. The AAUW presents the conference each year, and it is co-sponsored by UIS and the Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois.

"This is an introduction to some of the many career possibilities that will be open to you," Garland told the participants. "There are 45 professional women here to share their knowledge and experience with you. Each has worked hard and overcome obstacles to get to their career of choice. They have helped open doors for you, the women of the future."

Carolyn Ringeisen, wife of UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen, reminded the attendees that the most important thing they can do in life is to get an education.

"Women are desperately needed in the sciences," she said. "I'm always impressed at this event by the areas of sciences represented, so I hope you will find something that sparks your interest."

Presenters used a variety of materials and projects to give attendees an idea about what they do on a day-to-day basis in their careers in math, science and technology. Dr. Rachel Boyce, an equine veterinarian with O'Keefe Equine Health Service, even brought a furry, four-legged friend to campus.

"Becoming a vet is certainly one choice in order to spend your career with horses if you have slant toward biology," Boyce told the young girls in her workshop. "There are about 7 million horses in the U.S., and they all need veterinary care. So if it's something you're interested in, it's extremely rewarding, and I enjoy it very much."

Participants in Boyce's program, called "Horsin' Around," were able to listen to a horse's heartbeat, which beats at about half the rate as a human heart, she said, as well as feed him treats and brush him.

During Cochran's workshop, called "Building Strong Structures for Space - And Earth Too!", participants learned how to create modular polyhedrons as if they were building a structure for the moon. She used paper, clay and popsicle sticks for her projects to create the moon structures.

"And then of course, one thing you have to contend with on the moon is moonquakes, so we actually shake their structures to see what would happen to the structure in that situation," she said with a smile.


To view video, photo and written coverage from the 2008 conference, go here.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Board of Trustees approves new MIS bachelor's degree at UIS

Establishment of a new bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) at the University of Illinois at Springfield was approved today by the U of I Board of Trustees. The degree, within the College of Business and Management, will now be reviewed for approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

The undergraduate major in MIS will provide students with a business and information systems background that can be used to analyze, design, manage and implement complex information and decision-support systems and communication networks.

“The MIS major will give students a foundation in business and skills in management information systems,” said MIS Professor Rassule Hadidi. “The degree will have a business focus with a systems application set of skills, thereby bridging the gap between technical and business specialists.”

Hadidi noted that the degree will foster a collaborative learning environment to prepare graduates for positions in the private and public sectors capable of successfully responding to the business and organizational environment in a knowledge-based economy. “The current global economy relies heavily on global network infrastructure and information processing. Therefore, the demand for graduates of the program exists at local, national and international levels,” he said.

Following approval by the IBHE, the degree will be offered beginning in the fall of 2010. However, certain courses within the degree will be offered as soon as this fall.

The degree will be offered in a blended format whereby the number of on-campus sessions is reduced by half over the completion of the degree. Half of the sessions among the courses required are held online, reducing the need to commute to campus.

UIS already offers a Master of Science degree in MIS and graduate certificates in IT Project Management, Business Process Management, and Digital Organizations. Other degrees offered in the College of Business and Management are Accountancy (B.A., M.A.), Business Administration (B.B.A., M.B.A.), Economics (B.A.), and Management (B.A.)

At the UIS Peoria Center, the B.A. in Accountancy and in Management are offered as well as academic minors in Accountancy and Management Information Systems. Also, the Master of Business Administration is offered by cohort in an accelerated weekend format. The degree, designed to be completed in two years, is geared toward students who are working fulltime.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

UIS receives grant for Elluminate Vclass project

Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Services at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is the recipient of a grant in the form of a 50-seat Elluminate VClass for 2009. The grant, in the amount of $6,740 for the year, was awarded by Elluminate and the Sloan-C Consortium, a national organization comprised of more than 1,200 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning.

Elluminate is popular software used in higher education for live web conferencing and to conduct online classes. Vclass is a product of Elluminate and is a virtual classroom for between 25 and 200 students. It is customizable for the instructor, and it offers full audio recording capability.

UIS has utilized Elluminate for five years. In Schroeder’s grant application, he proposed research on the use of synchronous and recorded online learning sessions to deliver inter-institutional workshops to academic librarians located at seven universities spanning the country. Through the awarded grant, a series of in-service workshops will be offered collaboratively through Elluminate by the academic libraries at the seven member institutions of the New Century Learning Consortium, which was created and is led by UIS through a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Each institution will originate an ‘innovation’ or ‘best-practices’ session to be delivered through Elluminate interactively to librarians, faculty and students at the other six institutions. All sessions will be recorded and archived for further use and study, and topics will include areas such as library wikis and blogs, alternative search engines and more.

“By conducting this project across academic libraries at seven institutions, it is hoped that we will maximize the quality, breadth of topics, exposure, impact and future use of Elluminate at these universities located across the U.S.,” Schroeder said.

These sessions will be made available as Elluminate learning objects for classes in library and information science, information literacy, Internet in society and related topics. All content, outcomes and conclusions will then be documented and examined.

For more information, contact Ray Schroeder at 217/206-7531 or rschr1@uis.edu.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Technology Day focuses on sustainability

By Courtney Westlake



The 9th annual Technology Day was held at UIS on Wednesday, February 18 with the focus of "EnviroTech: Educational Technologies that Advance Sustainability."

Dr. Donald Spicer, associate vice chancellor for Information Technology and CIO at the University of Maryland, delivered the keynote address to start off the day's events. Spicer spoke on "IT’s Role in Campus Sustainability Efforts."

"Sustainability is an effort to leave the earth as we found it," Spicer said. "If anyone can provide leadership in sustainability, it's probably higher education's job to do so; it's the place that society looks to for research. Campuses look to building construction and waste management for sustainability efforts, but they don't look at IT often. IT is part of the problem, but it's definitely part of the solution too."

Small demonstrations and presentations followed the keynote speech until 4:30 and included topics such as teaching and learning techniques, resources, services and other creative uses of technology.

Several UIS students prepared demonstrations about the ways they have used technology as individuals or through the organizations that they help to run or work for. Evelyn Ivy's topic was on "Social Network: Trend or Fad, and Marianne Downey spoke on "The Use of WIKI to Organize Professional Development Training."

Debra Tudor gave a presentation on the "Showcase of Technologies Used by UIS Student Organizations," and Shana Stine spoke about "UIS, Orphans and the Internet."

Like many UIS student organizations and student-run groups today, Stine takes full advantage of all that the Internet has to offer, including social media resources, for her organization Jump for Joel. Jump for Joel was started in response to Stine's volunteer trip to an orphanage in Kenya in 2007.

Several other UIS students have gotten involved in the organization, and thanks largely in part to increasing awareness through technology, the group has raised more than $30,000 to help the orphanage. The Jump for Joel crew utilizes tools like Facebook, Twitter (which is a microblogging site), YouTube and more.

"We use the Interney to raise awareness and money, and we do that a lot through our web site, www.jumpforjoel.org," Stine said. "We also use the Internet to collaborate with others in the area and across the world on our projects. And we use it to save money and waste because we don't use paper and postage."

Instead of newsletters and phone calls, Jump for Joel disseminates information about its activities and about the orphanage online through podcasts, blogs and Facebook applications.

"It's truly amazing what the Internet has allowed us to do: feed children from halfway across the world, raise money to send one of those kids to college and make a huge difference to the whole orphanage," Stine said.

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