Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Professor Burks Oakley is named director of national learning consortium

Dr. Burks Oakley II, visiting research professor for the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been named director of the New Century Learning Consortium (NCLC).

The consortium, which was established in 2007 and is funded by grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, includes UIS, University of Southern Maine, Southern Oregon University, Cal State University at Eastbay, Oakland University, Louisiana Tech University and Chicago State University.

“I am looking forward to working with the outstanding and talented individuals at NCLC universities who are dedicated to improving the quality of online education throughout the United States,” Oakley noted.

The consortium is focused on promoting collaborations and synergies among member institutions. Among the key programs of the consortium is the faculty development inter-institutional Certificate in Emerging Technologies and Practices in Online Teaching.

In October 2009, the consortium received a grant from the Sloan Foundation to expand NCLC membership to a total of 14 universities. The grant also supports the delivery of regional workshops at member universities to promote best practices in online learning across the country.

“In these times of decreasing state support for higher education, those of us in public universities need to work together to develop cost-effective practices, such as the collaborations we envision for NCLC – including online course sharing and collaborative faculty and staff development,” Oakley said.

“The grant from the Sloan Foundation will enable us to advance online and blended learning throughout the NCLC using the ‘UIS model’ of integrating these programs into the mainstream of each institution’s course and program offerings,” he added.

Oakley is a professor emeritus in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was the founding director of the University of Illinois Online initiative, a program designed to facilitate the development and delivery of University of Illinois courses, degrees and public service resources over the Internet. From 1997 until 2007, he served as an associate vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois. His areas of interest include distance education and educational technologies, and he has earned a national reputation as a practitioner and promoter of Internet-based asynchronous learning environments.

Oakley received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan.

For more information, contact Burks Oakley at oakley@uis.edu or the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at 217/206-7317.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

UIS staff and faculty help to coordinate state-wide ILEAD U initiative

Staff and faculty members from the University of Illinois Springfield’s Brookens Library and the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) are teaming up with staff members from the Illinois State Library and other libraries throughout the state for a prestigious new institute that will be one of the most significant Illinois library initiatives of 2010. The institute, called ILEAD (Illinois Libraries Explore, Apply and Discover) U: the 21st Century Technology Tools Institute for Illinois Library Staff, will be comprised of three in-person sessions from February 23 to 25, June 15 to 17 and October 26 to 28 on the UIS campus. The sessions will be supplemented by online instruction between meeting dates.

ILEAD U, funded by a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant awarded to the Illinois State Library by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will encourage both the experimentation with and building of participatory Web services and programs. Library educator R. David Lankes of Syracuse University will lead the instructors for the project.

As part of the institute, the UIS participants and their colleagues from other Illinois libraries will implement web technologies that foster community participation and develop leadership, innovation and positive change.

The institute is the brainchild of Anne Craig, director of the Illinois State Library, who has “exceptional vision in seeing a need and conceiving of such an innovative way to meet it,” according to Dean Jane Treadwell, University Librarian at UIS. Treadwell is chairing the steering committee which selected the instructors, mentors and teams of participants and will guide the work of the project.

Other UIS participants include Natalie Tagge, visiting Instructional Services Librarian at Brookens Library, who will serve as a mentor in ILEAD U, and two other Brookens librarians, Pamela M. Salela and Amanda Binder, who will participate in cross-institutional teams that will learn to use participatory technology tools to understand and respond to patron needs.

“We hope to foster a philosophy that technology becomes powerful in libraries when people engage with it critically and thoughtfully,” said Tagge.

Additionally, Ray Schroeder and Shari Smith of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service are acting as consultants to the instructors for the project, and David Racine of the Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies will direct the evaluation of the ILEAD U grant.

“We in the Brookens Library and COLRS are very excited to collaborate with the Illinois State Library on this project that has the potential to transform the way that libraries interact with their patrons,” noted Treadwell.

Smith, associate director of COLRS, added, “The ILEAD U grant is an excellent example of why libraries and librarians are uniquely qualified to lead their communities forward to a new knowledge society. The grant has been carefully crafted to include cutting-edge technology, careful assessment and evaluation, location-specific consideration and stakeholders from around the state.”

Participatory technology tools will include:
Blogging tools
Digital audio/podcasting, photography and video
RSS feeds
Social networking and photo-sharing sites
Videoconferencing and web conferencing
Virtual reference and virtual worlds (ie. Second Life)
Instant messaging
And more

“The Illinois State Library is proud of its strong commitment to continuing education and providing librarians with the tools and resources necessary to address the ever-changing needs of their patrons,” said Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White. “Nowhere is the need for continuing education more important than in the area of technology. Librarians need to constantly enhance their skills to keep up to date with the latest technology, and ILEAD U represents an exciting, innovative new program to build technology and leadership skills among Illinois librarians.”

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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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Thursday, December 10, 2009

UIS utilizes Google Wave for online learning and teaching

The University of Illinois Springfield is one of the first universities in the nation to use Google Wave for online learning and teaching.

Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. According to Google, a wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly-formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more. Google released a preview version of Google Wave on September 30, and a limited number of invitations were sent out to test Wave as both Wave and third-party add-ons are being developed.

UIS’ Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) began to test Google Wave in October.

“We are doing a number of collaborations with other universities. We’re sharing ideas about online learning and identifying ways in which this new technology can be used for online teaching and learning,” noted Ray Schroeder, director of COLRS.

One of these efforts includes a collaboration outside of the classroom between students at UIS in the “Internet in American Life” course taught by Schroeder and Burks Oakley and students in energy studies at the Institute of Technology in Sligo, Ireland. The students are discussing the impact of the Internet on the perception of energy sustainability in Europe and the United States. This activity is voluntary for the students and not for credit in the course.

“This is an opportunity for faculty and students to experiment with the new technology to better understand how it might be used for more formal inter-institutional online exchanges in the spring,” Schroeder said.

Additionally, staff and faculty members from the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at UIS have been conducting workshops for UIS faculty members as well as faculty and staff at Clemson University, the University of Missouri at St. Louis and other faculty and administrators across the country as part of a Sloan Consortium online Web 2.0 workshop. The Sloan Consortium is a national organization dedicated to quality online teaching and is comprised of more than 1,200 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning.

“This new technology will have an important impact on the future of collaboration in education,” Schroeder said. “It has the potential to enable sharing across campuses and across institutions.”

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

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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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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Online graduates experience UIS campus during online brunch

By Courtney Westlake

Joy McCulloch moved from Springfield to Anchorage, Alaska in 2002, and wasn't able to complete the master's degree she had begun at UIS. So she was thrilled when she found out in 2007 that UIS was offering a master's degree in legal studies online.

"For me, it worked out really well," she said. "I work fulltime so I was able to be at home and do my studying at home. Lots of times, that was early in the morning or late at night, and with the three-hour time difference, it worked out great."

Dozens of students and their families traveled from across the country, like McCulloch, to participate in UIS' commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16. Before the ceremony, however, graduating online students, many of whom had never stepped foot on campus before, were able to see the UIS campus in the morning during a celebratory online brunch in the Public Affairs Center.

Students ventured to UIS from all over Illinois and as far away as Florida and Pennsylvania over to California, down to Texas and up to Minnesota. The graduates and their families, online coordinators and program faculty were all recognized during the brunch. The group was the largest in attendance in the years that the university has hosted the brunch.

"Congratulations to both the graduates and to the families who have persevered through this - we all applaud you," said Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service. "Those of us here are not alone. There are more than 1,200 online degree and certificate majors at UIS."

UIS has been the recipient of multiple awards for online learning in the past few years and has emerged as a leader in online learning and teaching, Schroeder said.

"Many other universities look to UIS for leadership and more particularly, quality, in online learning, so be proud of your degree," Schroeder told graduates. "Our online program is strong and growing, and we look forward to following your successes as you move forward in your careers."

Graduates were thrilled to meet many campus community members, especially online coordinators and faculty, for the first time and celebrate their achievements at UIS.

"The same faculty who taught you those online courses are teaching our on-campus courses," said Chancellor Richard Ringeisen. "That's our way of ensuring that high-quality degree offered on campus is the same high-quality degree you earn online. You should be proud to be a part of the great University of Illinois system."

Traveling to be a part of the Commencement celebrations was exciting for the graduates and their families who attended the brunch.

"I was actually notified by the department head that I was asked to be the Legal Studies graduate marshal, so knowing that I was getting that honor and would get to see my family, I wanted to be here and walk for Commencement," McCulloch said.

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