Helping students succeed—in large part by supporting you in creating active, dynamic, and inclusive learning environments—is at the core of our work in Learning Technologies (LT) within UITS. As I assume the role of Associate Vice President, I see this area as even more critical to student success on the heels of some of the greatest change that we have ever seen in teaching and learning.
The cost of attending college is a tremendous burden on students. Students have a hard time being successful if they work 40 to 50 hours a week to pay for their education. Fortunately, IU has long been a leader in reducing textbook costs through the IU eTexts program. Last year alone, this program saved students $8.29M! This fall, 72% of the 100 highest enrolled courses across IU are using an eText. And we still have further opportunities around IU eTexts and Open Educational Resources (OERs), having just announced new flat rate pricing of $23.31 for standalone Pearson eTexts.
Learning environments and experiences make a big difference in a student's ability to succeed. In LT, we have amazing technological resources to support teaching and learning. But one of our larger challenges is helping faculty access resources that best fit their pedagogical needs. Innovative programs such as the Mosaic initiative have brought faculty together across disciplines to think about active learning using the space and technology available. And please don't forget that there are teaching and learning centers on each IU campus that can also help you further enhance your learning environment and network with other instructors trying to do the same.
Speaking from personal experience, faculty fellowships (like Mosaic) or communities of practice can be some of the most energizing work a faculty member can do. That is why we are launching a new initiative around digital literacy called the Digital Gardener program. This initiative aims to bring faculty together to infuse a focus on digital literacy and digital skills in curriculum across disciplines. This creative and student learning-oriented project will benefit students greatly and likely provide an advantage when entering the workforce.
The pandemic accelerated technology utilization and adoption. Given the proliferation of strategies used, this has greatly increased the scope of IU's work ensuring classes are accessible. While ATAC carefully assesses the accessibility of the tools and resources we provide, we're also trying to help you design your courses and select your course materials with accessibility in mind from the start. As we move forward, this partnership is imperative to ensuring all students have equal access and can fully participate regardless of disability.
In fact, I need to stress the incredibly important role that you play in shaping the future of LT. Already, faculty ideas influence our work by providing feedback on how to make available tools even more useful in the daily work of instructors (by the way, be sure to fill out the Canvas template survey). The Learning Technologies Steering Committee has a long history of helping shape technology decisions and improvements. Additionally, faculty have been central to innovation and the identification of new concepts that can help students succeed (for example, automated Boost notifications about upcoming due dates).
As we move forward, we will continue to focus on identifying solutions to issues you encounter, and to partner with you on ways to enhance student success using technology. A significant part of this is helping you realize just how many tools are available by developing creative ways to share those tools (like Speed Dating with Learning Technologies). Speaking of this, please check out the new version of Teaching.IU! We've curated the teaching resources, stories, and tools that you need in your everyday work. And we've put faculty voices front and center, so you are part of the ongoing growth and development of Teaching.IU.
That's all for now. I look forward to working with you and hearing your ideas and suggestions!
Thanks for reading,