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Technology Can Help Expand Creativity

The next generation of college students, Generation Z, has had technology as part of their life since birth. It should come to no surprise that 93 percent of students in an Adobe Education survey said that technology in the classroom was essential for their career preparedness. Eighty-nine percent also believe that creativity will also be a big part of their success. Colleges are already preparing for the needs of Gen Z students with programs that combine creativity and technology. Technology in higher education can help expand creativity in higher education and one way is helping designers innovate through engineering.

Staff from Parsons School of Design has already started reaching out to show how technology can help with problem solving in art and design. Noelia Bautista made a music box that could communicate with a computer using the Arduino open-course computing platform, which in turn inspired her to study to be an interior designer. She said that by engaging in the iterative design process, as well as user testing, sketching, and prototyping, she was able to cultivate the skills needed to tackle a wide range of design challenges. Tech-filled spaces also encourage new ideas and collaboration. Clemson University works on a partnership with Adobe to open a digital studio in their library to create a teaching, training and collaborative environment. Adobe even gives access to students to the Adobe Digital Studio, which gives an open access earning space on the Creative Cloud to ensure that students get the best digital tools needed to succeed.

Technology creates an entirely new Artistic experience. Rochester Institute of Technology announced the launch of their MAGIC Spell Studios which is a new building dedicated to supporting game development, film and animation and other digital media. The ways that people engage with games and interactive content is rapidly changing and the industry is more multi-faceted than ever. The school of interactive games and media will challenge students to build into new horizons that expand into the ever changing industry.

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A Personal Assistant for Students

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“It’s not due yet. I still have time!” Says the majority of students on any college campus. That procrastination has really made students suffer by adding more stress to their lives as well as lower quality of work. Luckily there is a solution in the making. Avi Badwal and Chris Wessells have teamed up to help create “Insight” a mobile app. This app is a personal assistant app but with a twist. This app is targeted to help students succeed in the rigorous environment of college. The app claims to do this by tracking students personal schedules but also syncs to the school’s database and has a small artificial intelligence (A.I.) unit built in. Wessells states “Generic personal assistants aren’t very effective for our students, because they are not tied in with our Student Information System or our Constituent Relationship Management System. To do something more powerful, we connect Insight with those two systems.” The A.I. unit is used to give the student more targeted and personalized services based on their individual needs. The student would create a profile and set in what classes they are taking and what study habits they use. They can track class rosters, details, locations and instructors. The app can also show semester analytics such as how the student spends their time during the semester and gives feedback on academic performance based on the grade report.

With 100,000 completed tasks in the first year, the app is becoming the next best way for students to succeed in school. The app has features such as time tracker for personal and academic tasks, checking assignments, responses to notifications and an emotion tracker to help monitor stress levels throughout the quarter.

While the app is only for University of San Diego students using iOS, this app may be coming to all major campuses soon.

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Optimizing Students’ dependency on College Wi-Fi

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In today’s day and age, WI-FI is as much of a necessity as dining halls, health centers or laundry services. A report from EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research found that 61 percent of college students connect at least two devices to the college network. With this kind of logic, colleges will have to ensure that students are able to access the environment needed to succeed. Streaming sites like Netflix will take up a lot of the university’s bandwidth, costing a sizable amount. Houston Community College, with 75,000 students across 26 campuses, reported that 65 percent of their wireless traffic was video based.

Besides just the bandwidth draining from YouTube, Hulu or Netflix, there are also cloud applications that can take up a lot of the network. Cloud apps that automatically sync files like Box and Google Drive will use up a lot of the network to even slow it down. File syncing applications are designed to continually operate in the background to keep the system running. Like file syncing apps, OS updates also run in the background with new software releases can use a large amount of bandwidth. Dropbox has a policy of taking up to 75 percent of bandwidth available when it’s updating, unless turned off.

Every year more students will bring in more devices which can only mean there needs to be an increase in access points as well to accommodate this. University of California, Irvine got even more proactive by installing 1,315 Cisco Systems in its residence halls. With the Cisco technologies, UNCW network administrators were able to determine the number of users on any access point to adjust to achieve the best coverage possible. There are also limits that are placed on some Wi-Fi based performances like using Netflix. They could set policies that block the or prioritize certain apps over others to ensure that testing doesn’t crash while people try to stream the next episode.

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Unity Offers Gaming Software Licenses to Universities for Free

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How does working with real gaming engines in the classroom sound? Like every programmer’s dream, right? The gaming giant Unity Technologies is offering their software to selective colleges/universities around the U.S. for free. Students are able to work on the platform to create many great projects that include virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These two fields have become the new craze in the gaming world, medical field and the classrooms. This could be extremely helpful in reinforcing interdisciplinary subjects.

The programmers could work with current generation biology and art students to help design programs for the next generation of students using VR or AR. There could be a time where students could wear headsets to look at 3D images of the brain and dissect it into all the individual parts without even needing a scalpel. The possibilities of this software is limitless.

While many different students use base line programs nothing gives that true feeling of being a coder like working on a big-name’s software. While the program is currently only for a selective few it has put nearly 300,000 students in the hands of Unity’s software since 2015 and is growing every day. Which means only more to come and more students to create. Unity states that they hope to develop workforce skills and continue in the advancement of individual’s careers.

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Faculty Support

According to a recent Campus Technology 2016 Teaching with Technology survey, about a third of educators do not feel sufficiently supported in their use of technology on campus. The poll surveyed faculty members across the country about the technology used for their teaching and learning, what they wish for, and what they see in the future.

Although, it seems as if most faculty don’t need that much help. The majority of educators surveyed were confident in their ability to use technology with a solid 79 percent saying that their skills in tech are “maxed out” or they had the knowledge to “get the job done”. While on the other end, less than 3 percent acknowledged that they have tech skills that are “below average” or nonexistent. However, the faculty aren’t always confident in their students. More than half of the teachers, 52 percent, state that their students are only average in terms of technology; while 39 percent said that their students are either excellent or above average.

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A science faculty member at a community college in Nebraska emphasized that while students have skills in games and Facebook, they are almost clueless about school or office software that is used for work rather than entertainment. When help is needed, about 30 percent of the instructors go the help desk or IT department before using another source. That’s followed by a 29 percent that use online resources, peers, and instructional technologists. The instructor from Nebraska stated that the survey isn’t fully represented, with self-service training as his choice. At his institution, Lynda.com is made free to all faculty and is a video streaming course service that “helps when trying to learn new tech skills, which we can then share with our students.”

A faculty member from the library of an Indiana university advised there be integration of instructional designers into academic departments. She also suggested that we stop viewing online classes as something new because by now, they should be a “part of the regular teaching landscape.”

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