Our Year in Review

It certainly has been a busy year for the Learning Technology Services team (now part of the Center for Academic Excellence).  Just over a year ago I took over for Dr. Steve Breiner when he retired.  My focus for the team, and really all of the teams I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, is on Customer Service, Teamwork, Communication and building strong Campus Partnerships. One of the first major changes I made with the team was for the instructional technology consultants to have a college assignment.  This has been well received by the campus and really gives us an opportunity to build strong relationships, helps us focus our support efforts, and gives our college constituents a main point of contact.

Within the first month of being on board with the new team we did a major AsULearn upgrade  to Moodle 3.0.  While it was a lot of work to test and then implement, the migration went extremely smooth, and we had very few problems.  During this upgrade process, we also made the important decision to move away from our legacy web conferencing product (Collaborate), and adopted Zoom for our campus.  57 faculty participated in pilots of Zoom and WebEx last spring, and with their help, we made the decision to go with Zoom. We went from about 25 active users with BB Collaborate to 1,746 users of Zoom over the past year!  The past month alone had 249 users with 776 meetings, 4,676 meetings scheduled and 189,370 meeting minutes.   The Zoom service is available through the LMS, the Appstate web landing page, or the mobile apps, and available for all faculty, staff, and students to use.  The faculty tell us that this is much easier to use.  Another huge benefit is that it is less than ½ the cost of Collaborate.  It also integrates with our Collaborative Network Services infrastructure.

During the summer we started building a new, integrated structure - the Center for Academic Excellence - which combines the Learning Technology Services team with Faculty Development.  Most of the team moved to new offices in Anne Belk (Suite 218), which gives us a much better team space, is located in the middle of campus, and co-located next to our colleagues in ITS.  We also worked hard on our new website.  

Over the summer, two of our LTS team members finished QM certification, bringing our team up to all 5 instructional technology consultants with QM certification.  The team also led the annual Free Learning Conference, which brings together faculty and instructional technologists to explore and exchange ideas related to recommended practices for teaching and learning with technology, and e-learning in higher education.  We also hired Josh Bailey as our Closed Captioning specialist for campus, a service which helps faculty create accessible content for students.  We also met with Steve Schmidt of the RCOE's Adult Basic Skills Development Project to discuss leveraging the affiliate account process to move basic skills courses for adult learner outside the university to AsULearn in order to boost both their design and effectiveness.  

The fall semester started with the usual busyness of the start of the semester.  Additionally, we helped lead the New Faculty Orientation, welcoming over 90 new faculty to our campus.  We also provided ten Google Apps for Education, Moodle, and Collaboration sessions for the TEA/IREX program of International Scholars, working with John Spagnolo in the RCOE.  In October of 2016 we created an AsULearn Feature Requests forum for faculty and staff to give our team input as to what people desire to have within our Learning Management System.  I led the UNC Cause annual conference in October, which brings almost 500 technology personnel from across the UNC system together to learn from each other.  Two of our staff members presented on teaching and learning with technology at this annual conference.  We rounded out the semester with implementation of Zend server for our AsULearn environment, which better equips our team to monitor and analyze performance of the AsULearn application.

The spring semester continued to be busy for us.  The CoursEval product was chosen for electronic course evaluations for the campus after two different pilots and many years of committee work.  We implemented this software for the spring of 2017.  We also offered Quality Matters workshops for faculty.  Both face-to-face and online formats were offered and received by 23 faculty members.  There definitely seems to be a strong interest in Quality Matters, and providing excellent online education opportunities for our students.  In February, Darrell Laws and I were asked to co-chair the Global Education - Technology subcommittee.  We are charged with developing a plan for the future of supporting Global Education.  Also in February, we teamed up with our colleagues in Belk Library to provide technical support and Zoom hosting for Belk Library’s North Carolina Library Association’s Virtual Conference.

We are winding the semester down by planning and testing of Moodle 3.2, with the intent of a major upgrade in May 2017.  We were also able to hire a new FAD director - Susan Colby - to lead faculty and chair development for the campus.  Susan’s knowledge, experience and leadership is a much-welcomed addition to the team.  We look forward to having her join us.

As you can see, it has been a busy year for our team.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.  We love doing what we do, and enjoy supporting the faculty, staff and students of this great institution.  I am fortunate to have a strong team to work with me, and look forward to the many great things ahead of us.  Please let us know how we may help you.


Tom Van Gilder (vangildertm@appstate.edu or 6731)
Director of Learning Technology Services for the Center of Academic Excellence

Published: Apr 28, 2017 1:42pm