March 2017 Newsletter: Room Updates Bring Campus into 21st-Century

Photo: James Tensuan Connie L. Lurie College of Education students gather in the Student Success Center for a career advice session.

Photo: James Tensuan
Connie L. Lurie College of Education students gather in the Student Success Center for a career advice session.

By Barry Zepel

Technology continues to enhance more and more of the classrooms of San Jose State University. Outdated classrooms have transitioned into 21st-century learning spaces, one of the goals of the Vision 2017 strategic plan.

More “smart” classroom are – or are scheduled to become – operational across campus during the spring semester. Modernization has been an ongoing project for several years within the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, according to Mary McVey, a former associate dean who directed the changes in classrooms and other facilities. She reports that with the installation of modern mobile furniture and “state-of-the-art” technology, 14 old-style classrooms have been converted into “smart” learning spaces. Added to those updates are a student collaboration lab, a faculty-staff meeting and professional development room, and a conference room.

“We were the first at SJSU to redesign our classrooms so that they were fully mobile and based on a 360-degree classroom concept,” said McVey, who recently returned to duties as a full-time professor of child and adolescent development. “The idea is there is no front, back, or sides of the room. All walls are used for active instruction and the instructor is able to move freely about the room rather than being restricted to the front or ‘sage on stage’ position. All of our furniture is mobile so that the rooms can be easily and quickly reconfigured to suit the mode of instruction.”

The newest of the facilities in Education, a Student Success Center (SSC), opened this spring. Whereas other colleges have utilized their centers for academic advising, Education will use its SSC for career counseling of its predominately-graduate level students.

“Unlike the other colleges, two-thirds of our students are at the graduate level,” said Michele Burns, who is coordinator of the SSC for Education. “Most of our students are working on their teaching credential or preparing to become school counselors, speech pathologists and education administrators.

In some cases, students will be able to check out equipment that includes a new supply of 75 iPads and five swivel cameras, mini robotic video devices that move to follow the instructor as he or she moves about the room. McVey indicated that the new technology will be used for communicating with student teachers who are working in the field as well as for professors to record lectures and provide students with supplemental information.

“We want to engage students with their individual learning styles,” said Burns, who has been a lecturer in counselor education at SJSU for six years. “Some students are more kinesthetic (wanting hands-on experience), others are more auditory (wanting classroom discussion to hear other people), while others are visual (seeing and reading the text) learners. By using the technology, we reach more students’ learning style. Students will more likely remember what they learn.”

Similar changes have been made in the College of Science, where “facilities, student seating and instructional technology renovations in classrooms include large lecture rooms in Duncan Hall 135, and Science 258 and 142,” according to Stan Vaughn, instructional and research facilities manager for the college.

“Of special note is the work completed in Science 142, the largest and most heavily used lecture hall by our college,” Vaughn said, noting that three new projectors, a document camera and demonstration camera can now be used for multiple projections on three screens. Those devices are complimented by a new audio system in that room.

Vaughn said that additional improvements for several other teaching labs in the Science Building are scheduled for use during the spring semester, with the Physics and Astronomy teaching lab in Science 319 being the first designated “active learning lab” in the College of Science.  When completed, the facility will have new furniture, digital projectors, wall-to-wall whiteboards, sound attenuation, and modern window treatments to better control room lighting conditions.

In addition to the technology upgrades, more than 150 classrooms were improved during 2014-16 with upgrades that included new blinds, whiteboards, projectors and other enhancements. Read more about classroom updates online.

March 2017 Newsletter: Wi-Fi Enhances Learning and Human Connection

Photo: James Tensuan Shai Silberman, center, a lecturer in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and the director of Network Services for the university, uses Wi-Fi in his class while students follow a lecture on their laptops.

Photo: James Tensuan
Shai Silberman, center, a lecturer in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and the director of Network Services for the university, uses Wi-Fi in his class while students follow a lecture on their laptops.

By David Goll

Expansion of access to wireless technology in all of the buildings and many outdoor spaces throughout the 154 acres of San Jose State University has been one of the most dramatic impacts of the Vision 2017 campus improvement program.

Started in 2012, the Agility Through Technology segment of Vision 2017 brought uniform Wi-Fi access to classrooms, offices, residence halls, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library and major campus gathering spots such as the Student Union. Work that led to the installation of hardware facilitating wireless access started during the 2013-14 academic year when wireless access points at the university grew from 500 to 1,600. The entire campus was surveyed in fall 2013 and three contracting firms were brought in to install cabling throughout much of the campus during the winter break in January 2014. According to Shai Silberman, a lecturer in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and director of Network Services for the university, subsequent expansion work has increased that number to 2,500 wireless access points today.

“As a result, we have seen an exponential rise in the number of (wireless technology) users on campus,” Silberman said. “Today, there are more users than ever on the network. We have had up to 18,000 users at a single time.”

The campus has 50 major buildings, including 23 devoted to academics and seven student residence halls. Silberman said the Wi-Fi expansion has cost the university about $2 million to date.

In his computer engineering classes, Silberman said the expanded use of wireless technology has helped him achieve a paperless classroom.

“I have found it to be a real asset to teaching and it enhances the ability of my students to collaborate with one another,” he said. “Students who might have problems asking questions of a professor feel much more comfortable asking another student. I feel it has encouraged greater participation in my classes.”

Using the wireless network, students can access the university’s learning management system (LMS), Canvas. The LMS system is used by students like Helena Xin every day.

“Most of my professors use it, but not all,” said Xin, a junior majoring in health science. “I use it all the time. We take tests on it, do homework and research on it, and can see our grades. It’s really vital for students.”

Xin and her fellow students will use Wi-Fi access during class for both academic — and, at times — non-academic reasons.

“There are times people will use it for shopping and looking at puppies,” she said.

Kimberly Cheng, a junior majoring in computer engineering, said she can communicate more easily with fellow students and faculty. She also frequently uses it to gain access to social media.

“I find using it during class is not always a distraction,” Cheng said. “It can actually help you stay alert and more engaged during a lecture, for example.”

Karthick Sadanap, a graduate student in computer engineering who arrived at SJSU from his home in Bangalore, India in 2015, has found Wi-Fi useful when recruiting other students to his Spartan Toastmasters club, a university chapter of the international organization dedicated to improving public speaking skills.

“Most people on campus have never heard of Toastmasters,” Sadanap said. “When we have outdoor recruiting fairs, we have tables with computers access to the network, allowing us to share information with potential members.”

Silberman noted SJSU, a major generator of employees for Silicon Valley, is inthe forefront of universities providing universal access to wireless devices.

Since the network has been so successful, it is “taken for granted that it will work, be fast and not deny access no matter how many devices you have connected or people standing around you have connected,” said Mike Wardley, SJSU’s director of Project Management and User Experience.

“The network access at SJSU, particularly wireless access, was designed to be lightning fast and ubiquitous across the campus,” Wardley stated. “Having a wireless network that supports more than 18,000 concurrent devices on a daily basis means that students, staff and faculty can wander around campus, focusing on their particular task or objective without worrying whether they will lose their wireless connection or be hit by the infamous ‘can you connect now’ mantra.”

March 2017 Newsletter: Provost Update – Reflecting on Vision 2017

As our university prepares to close out our Vision 2017 strategic plan, it is important to acknowledge the accomplishments related to the five goals that have guided our campus since 2012. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee began work last fall to gather information about the process behind Vision 2017, its implementation and the progress our university made in: Helping and Caring, Agility Through Technology, Spartan Pride, Unbounded Learning and 21st-Century Learning Spaces.

 College of Education students learn about career options in their Student Success Center. Photo: James Tensuan

College of Education students learn about career options in their Student Success Center. Photo: James Tensuan

As co-chair of the steering committee with Academic Senate Chair Michael Kimbarow, this closing process has been very informative to me as someone who joined SJSU after Vision 2017 had been initiated. Members of the Steering Committee have been working hard to provide a look back at where our campus was five years ago and how the goals set out in the plan have moved us forward. I am pleased to share some of the successful initiatives that arose from Vision 2017 that relate to our overarching mission of providing a world-class education to students.

In the last five years, we have enhanced teaching and learning spaces in ways that promote student success, including improvements to more than 100 of our most used classrooms. We have launched an “Ask Me” campaign that helps students transition to college life during orientation week. We have expanded our outreach to alumni, and they now serve as a resource for mentoring current students. We have also increased innovative learning opportunities through a variety of new resources from additional internship options to expanded support resources for underrepresented minority students to expansion of faculty-led programs overseas.

The Steering Committee is producing a report to close out Vision 2017 that will highlight the initiatives related to each of our five university-wide goals. The report will also share reflections from campus constituents on what worked during the Vision 2017 planning and implementation process as well as areas of improvement.

I appreciate all the feedback you have shared with our committee along with your work supporting our students over the last five years. We still have more progress to make, and I look forward to having you as partners in our efforts.

November 2016 Newsletter: SJSU Faculty Eligible for Grant to Redesign Courses

Course RedesignThe California State University Chancellor’s Office will be offering grants to faculty members who are interested in redesigning bottleneck courses with proposals due Feb. 15. Formerly known as the Proven Course Redesign and Promising Practices Grant, the grant has been renamed to Course Redesign 2025.

CSU Chancellor’s Office team members Kathy Fernandes, director for Learning Design and Technologies in Academic Technology Services, and Jean-Pierre Bayard, director of Systemwide Learning Technologies and Services, hosted an informational session at SJSU on Nov. 3 for faculty members interested in applying for a grant.

“We are focused on student success and graduation, and we are teaching 21st-century learners,” Fernandes said. “Student surveys say the option to have a learning community is important, but the pedagogy needs to drive the curriculum redesign.”

The grant is open to lecturers, tenure-track or tenured faculty who can apply for up to $15,000. Those who receive awards will participate in a summer institute that brings together faculty from throughout the CSU system and will participate in regular online meetings with their discipline cohort throughout the year. At the end of the grant year, professors have the option to create an e-portfolio to showcase their practices so that other faculty can adopt proven techniques.

“We are hiring a lot of new faculty so it’s a perfect time to transform teaching and learning,” Bayard noted.

Katherine Chilton, a lecturer in the College of Social Sciences Department of History, worked with colleagues Laura Guardino and Rob Cirivillieri in her department to redesign a general education course, “Essentials of U.S. History.” During the informational session, she shared their experience and e-portfolio with colleagues.

“We realized we were not just part of a department, but part of a campus,” she said. “We came together to learn – to see what works and what doesn’t.”

The professors focused on incorporating active learning while emphasizing skills such as reading, writing and analysis in teaching content to students. The courses incorporated active learning, online textbooks, iPads and in-class polling.

“It’s not just a matter of memorizing facts, but the curriculum is more relevant to student’s personal identity,” Chilton said. “We used the same techniques as we would in an upper division seminar, but found ways to do it in lower division (courses.)”

In spring 2016, the team saw an increase in the number of students with passing grades between the redesigned and non-redesigned courses, with 77 percent of students receiving an A or B grade in the redesigned course, compared to 64 percent in the non-redesigned course.

November 2016 Newsletter: SJSU Honored for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching

Photo: Yingjie Liu Jennifer Redd, the director of eCampus, center, receives the OLC Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching.

Photo: Yingjie Liu
Jennifer Redd, the director of eCampus, center, receives the OLC Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching.

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC), a professional organization devoted to advancing the quality of online learning worldwide, selected San Jose State University to receive the 2016 OLC Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching. Director of SJSU’s eCampus Jennifer Redd accepted the award for SJSU at the OLC Accelerate 2016 Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Nov. 19. Faculty development for online teaching is supported across the university by the eCampus Department. eCampus serves the entire SJSU community to advance the effective use of current and emerging technologies, to cultivate excellence in teaching, and to foster significant student learning.

“We want faculty and staff to know we are looking ahead and keeping up on research so we can include that in our workshops,” Redd said. “We are here to help faculty. If they are thinking about redesigning a course, it’s not just about technical tools but changing the pedagogy and trying something new.”

The implementation of a successful faculty development program involves collaboration among departments on campus to address the needs and goals of their online courses and programs. During 2015-16, Director of eCampus Jennifer Redd said she and her staff members offered more than 100 workshops with 500 faculty and staff registered to participate in person or online.

“We can reach out to departments, and we can do specialized workshops for them or custom instructional design,” Redd said. “eCampus offers support across campus. The courses don’t need to be fully online.”

In addition to helping with the development of online courses, eCampus provides training on a variety of software tools available to the campus.  A full list of upcoming workshops is available online.

The university was selected for the OLC Award based on the following criteria: effectiveness in helping faculty develop and teach a large number of high-quality online courses; scope of impact within the institution; maintaining a high level of faculty satisfaction as judged by surveys and participation rates; and letters of support from faculty who participated in the workshops.

In 2014, OLC recognized SJSU’s School of Information, in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, for its fully online graduate programs. The faculty in the School of Information provide the T3 Series (Teaching Tips and Techniques) to provide support to faculty in other disciplines who are interested in engaging with online tools.

Also at the conference, SJSU eCampus Instructional Designer Yingjie Liu presented at the conference. Her presentation was about the use of templates to scaffold the course design process for instructors.