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 Outdated classrooms have transitioned into 21st-century learning spaces, one of the goals of the Vision 2017 strategic plan.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.

SJSU Students Illustrate Their Perceptions of ‘Fake News’ During Adobe Creative Jam

 

By Barry Zepel

San Jose State University students used their creative wits, quick thinking and ability to collaborate using Adobe Creative Cloud Applications when challenged to design graphics in a tournament sponsored by the university’s eCampus Department and Silicon Valley-based Adobe Systems, Inc. Students applied to participate and nine pairs were selected to compete.

It was all part of the Feb. 24 “Adobe Creative Jam,” where the competing teams had three hours to produce computer-generated graphics that represent — to their imaginations — the theme “Fake News.” They were only informed of the topic, a phrase coined following the 2016 presidential election, by the event host at the start of the evening competition held in the Student Union.

Following the contest, each team’s design was projected on a screen while the competitors explained what the “fake news” catchphrase, used regularly by President Donald Trump, meant to them. Listening was an audience of more than 100 fellow students and six design and creative professionals. The creative professionals judged the submissions while the audience members also had a chance to cast a vote for the “People’s Choice Award.”

The artwork produced by the team of Mariella Perez and Miles Vallejos, both senior graphic design majors, was judged best by both voting bodies. Their design depicted many current national issues, including “Immigration,” being swept under a rug portrayed by the American flag.

“It was a fun challenge,” according to Vallejos. “It definitely took me out of my comfort zone.”

Perez explained how they approached the Creative Jam challenge. “We devoted the first hour to ideation and the final two hours to execution,” she said.

While the general audience honored just one team, the panel of judges recognized an additional twosome. Earning that second place nod, for their entry “News is Defined by Truth,” was the team of Vasudha Varma, a graduate student working on her master’s degree in human factors, and Ashley Chung, a freshman majoring in animation. Varma and Chung became acquainted online and only met in person for the first time just before the Creative Jam began.

In addition to getting a trophy, each winning competitor received a year of creative cloud membership from Adobe that allows them to use the software package for free after they complete their studies. As current SJSU students, they already have complimentary access to Adobe products.

Additional students who attended, while not selected for the design competition, still benefitted from the event. They were able to have their personal design portfolios reviewed and evaluated by creative directors and design professionals from organizations such as Facebook, Yahoo and other Silicon Valley-based agencies and technology companies.

Jennifer Redd, director of SJSU’s eCampus, noted that the Creative Jam is an example of the university’s partnership with Adobe.

“Tonight’s event was an opportunity for our students to showcase their skills as it relates to the Adobe Creative Cloud,” Redd said. “We work closely with Adobe and offer their software applications for the benefit of our students, faculty and staff.”

The company also hosts an annual Adobe Day in which SJSU faculty and staff visit the downtown San Jose headquarters to learn more about new products or features of existing products that can be used to enhance teaching and learning.

Adobe, which sponsors similar events for other universities around the country, is able to promote its software products on campus to discover how the students use them.

“Our goal tonight was to show what is available to San Jose State students and faculty, in terms of our mobile applications and desktop applications, while extending that into other disciplines outside of just the creative ones,” said Liz Arias, Adobe’s customer success manager whose clients include SJSU and other CSU campuses.

The graphic designs of each of the teams that competed in the Creative Jam, can be viewed online via Adobe’s Behance Portfolio Review website.

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.

College of Science Releases “The Scientist” Newsletter

Biological sciences majors Bianca Opara, left, and Dania Abid share their findings at the College of Science Student Research Day.

Biological sciences majors Bianca Opara, left, and Dania Abid share their findings at the College of Science Student Research Day.

The College of Science released the 2016 edition of its “The Scientist – Science in Our World and Beyond” newsletter. The newsletter includes articles on student, faculty and staff activities in each of its departments as well as news about research grants, faculty awards and progress on a new interdisciplinary science building.

Read the full newsletter online: The Scientist 2016 (PDF)

SJSU Professor Adds to Understanding of Massive Star Eta Carinae

San Jose State University’s Thomas Madura, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, helped to develop wind collision models to understand activity in Eta Carinae, a massive, bright stellar binary system. Madura worked with an international research team led by Gerd Weigelt from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, Germany. The team studied Eta Carinae for the first time using near-infrared interferometric imaging techniques.

In the central region of the binary, the powerful stellar winds from both stars collide at speeds up to 10 million km per hour. The team obtained unique images of the wind collision regions between the two stars. These discoveries improve our understanding of this enigmatic stellar monster. The observations were carried out with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Read the full press release and see images online.