Innovating with Instructors

In my first blog post, I shared the LTC’s mission with you, and in my last blog post I talked about how the LTC supports instructors through cutting edge programming with partners (like the LEARN Center). Today, I want to talk about the next hexagon–how we innovate. LTC-mission-statement-v5

According to our mission, “we innovate with instructors by initiative emerging technology exploration projects that investigate learning technology trends in higher education and how they may be used here at UWW.” Every year instructors receive a survey from the LTC asking about satisfaction with our services, and challenges they may be having in the classroom. We analyze this data to understand the key challenges instructors are having and merge that with other data from the literature (e.g., key new pieces of research, the ELI Key Issues for Teaching and Learning, the NMC Horizon Report, etc.). Together, these data points drive the tool we investigate. From there, the LTC recruits instructors who would like to use the tool in their classes through an open call and then works with them to learn the tool, implement it into their course, and evaluate its ability to solve the pedagogical challenge that it was selected to solve.

From our last instructor support survey we knew that instructors were concerned with student engagement. This semester (Fall 2017), as part of an emerging technology exploration project, we have ten instructors who are busy at work using Cisco Spark in their classes to engage students in different ways. Cisco Spark is a two-part system that features an interactive board and virtual space to increase student engagement through collaboration, communication, and interaction inside and outside of class.

sparkboardThe Interactive Spark Board simplifies collaboration, sharing, and bringing in guest speakers by combining three common teaching tools in one:

  • Wireless Presentation that enables instructors and students to share content and collaborative work.
  • Electronic Whiteboard that allows instructors and students to illustrate course concepts and return to them later for review, editing, and further conversation.
  • Web Conferencing that creates a 4K video calling experience with intelligent tracking. Perfect for bringing in guest speakers!

Interaction does not stop with the Interactive Spark Board. Instructors and students can leverage the virtual Spark Space to interact and continue class activities. Access to the Spark Space can be gained from mobile devices (such as tablets), laptop or desktop computers, and through web browsers. Instructors can create a class space for course questions and further divide their  space for specific discussion, group project work, or activities started on the Spark Board.


Look for findings related to this project in Spring 2018! If you have any questions, please contact the UW-W Learning Technology Center.