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[University of Washington]

Examining the Future of Public Higher Education: The Pros and Cons of Online, Hybrid, and Face-to-Face Class Formats

In a recent report written by the University of Washington’s Office of the Provost, President Michael Young expressed his vision for the University to become “Tomorrow’s University Today”, not only by adapting and responding to an ever-present change in education, but also by leading the change to explore new and exciting methods of teaching and learning that have yet to be discovered. This “change” has come in the form of online and hybrid class formats that have been adopted and utilized in an effort to provide a more digital, convenient, and innovative alternative for students to pursue their education at the University of Washington.

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Majority of Students and Instructors at the UW found Tegrity Lecture Capture to be Useful


It has been just over a year since Tegrity was rolled out across the three campuses of the University of Washington and the findings of a recently released report by UW-IT indicate that a majority of faculty and students found Tegrity to be helpful in enhancing student learning in the classroom. Tegrity is a lecture capture tool that gives instructors the ability to record classroom activity and upload these recordings on a student accessible site to review later on. These recordings consist of of a combination of on-screen recordings of the computer and live audio/video feed of the class via webcam. By using this technology, instructors were able to provide additional resources to students who wish to review course material and catch up on lectures without much additional effort.

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UW to begin Campus-Wide Rollout of Canvas LMS

Recently, faculty across all three campuses of the University of Washington piloted the new Canvas LMS as part of the Teaching & Learning in the 21st Century Initiative. Part of the desire to initiate this pilot involves addressing the myriad of different online tools used at the three campuses and individual departments. Currently, the tools in use at UW vary greatly from the Catalyst Web Tools that are available to all instructors to Blackboard on the Bothell and Tacoma campus and the Foster Business School as well as Moodle which is used by some departments on the Seattle campus. It is hoped that the introduction of the Canvas LMS will help simplify the number of tools in use while providing the same functionality and more advanced features.

Overall the responses to the Canvas pilot has been positive with 79% of faculty and students saying tat they would recommend Canvas to others and 73% of faculty agreeing that Canvas made teaching more efficient. Both faculty and students also indicated that they favored using Canvas over other LMS’s they had used before such as Blackboard and Moodle. More data is available on the announcement page.

While it is expected that some departments will be migrating to Canvas as soon as Autumn Quarter 2012, we will still offer Blackboard on the Bothell campus for a little while longer in addition to Canvas. Learning Technologies is also working on developing tutorials for faculty and students on using Canvas which will be available on our website once they are finished. To learn more about UW Canvas, see the UW Canvas Portal.


New UW WordPress Blogs for Faculty and Staff

UW IT will soon be releasing a new “UW Blogs” service that allows faculty and staff to easily create WordPress blogs under the UW network. This new feature will make blogging with WordPress on a UW web server much easier. Previously, one had to manually install WordPress on their department page which required some knowledge of MySQL and Unix. With this new blogging service, faculty and staff can easily create a blog on the UW network with WordPress by simply activating the service under MyUW and logging in with their UW NetID.

Currently, UW Blogs is beta testing and is not public yet. More information can be found at the UW Blogs Documentation site.

UW Blogs can be accessed at blogs.uw.edu.


UW Set Design Students Skype with a Playwright

Drama 210 students at the University of Washington finished their quarter projects last week. Students worked in teams to build set design models for the contemporary play Magnificent Waste by Caridad Svich. But instead of gathering inspiration from the script alone, students were able to Skype with Svich, to ask questions at the beginning of the quarter and show her the finished product at the end. For most students in the class, the interaction via Skype made a big difference in their project processes. Sarah Sutin, a pre-architecture student, had this to say about the experience:

When I first read the play I was taken aback at all the immorality and how toxic the characters seem. My picture of the story was bleak. But speaking to the playwright broke my own conceptions and let me see some soul to the story that I had been too shocked to accept. It brought the characters and their world into a more touchable reality.

Their professor, Robert Mark Morgan, has worked with numerous playwrights in the past–many of whom are always eager to be a part of the project. He makes a point to select contemporary writers who take on current issues, or what he calls “the theater of tomorrow”. Both Morgan and his students agree that there is value in this face-to-face communication, as well as extra incentive to do well on the project.

To read the full article from UW Today, click here.