Program Description

The Engage program seeks to transform teaching and learning through the use of technology. The program is sponsored by Transforming Teaching Through Technology (T4), a part of the Madison Initiative.  It is administered by the Division of Information Technology’s (DoIT) Academic Technology (AT) group.

History of T4 and Engage - A story of transformation
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an institution of highly respected faculty, instructional staff, and students. One of the nation’s premiere research institutions, it is also deeply committed to teaching and learning. This commitment is evidenced by the numerous initiatives that seek to improve teaching and learning on the UW-Madison campus.  One of the largest of these is the Madison Initiative, a highly leveraged public-private partnership designed to strengthen UW-Madison as it provides students an outstanding education and helps Wisconsin expand its competitiveness in the global economy.

Transforming Teaching Through Technology (T4) began as a pilot program in 1999 with $1 million in private funding, and received ongoing funding through the Madison Initiative in 2001. The main focus of the T4 segment of the Madison Initiative was to improve academics by enhancing teaching and learning with technology. Thus, T4 was started as a means of leveraging the transformative potential of new and emerging information technologies in the areas of learning and teaching. It seeks to provide a technological and organizational infrastructure that encourages and supports the development and broad deployment of new and effective learning technologies – the ultimate goal being to foster transformative change in the way learning and teaching occur on and off campus.

The initiative approaches transformative change in several phases. The first phase of the initiative, fiscal years 1999 through 2003, focused on developing the staff and technology infrastructures necessary to support significant and transformative changes. It also involved visioning and exploring best practices in achieving change given the local environmental conditions in operation at UW-Madison. Madison Initiative funds continue the program into its second phase, called Engage.

History of Engage Awards

(under development - in process of converting files to digital records)

  • Innovation Awards (2006 - present)
  • Adaptation Awards (2004 - present)
  • T4 grants (2003 - 2007)
  • TLT grants (1993 - 2003)
  • WebGrants (1997 - 2003)

Technology holds the potential to revolutionize teaching and learning. In DoIT's Department of Academic Technology, we're continuing the University of Wisconsin - Madison's proud, forward-thinking tradition. Through the Engage program, we're partnering with innovative instructors to test and assess learning technologies that can transform higher education, through award programs selected by the Engage Faculty Advisory Group.

2006 & 2007 Adaptation Awards: 'Podcasting'

Our award program to support the use of podcasting to meet teaching and learning needs has received high-profile attention from national and international media, Big Ten schools and Apple computers. We are one of the initial U.S. campuses to pilot the use of Apple's iTunes U to deliver instructional podcasts to students, and to incorporate the use of Learn@UW, our campus's course management system, for user authentication. Instructors and students report improved learning with the option for "learning anytime, anywhere".

2006 & 2007 Innovation Awards: 'Engaging to Learn: Simulations & Games'

We are now exploring the potential of simulations and games as serious tools for teaching and learning because they provide rich, complex environments in which to practice case- or problem-based learning using higher-level critical thinking skills, and to provide immediate feedback on a student's choice of solutions.

2006 & 2007 Impact Awards: 'Student Response Systems: "Clickers" in the Classroom'

Campus faculty and support staff spent the summer of 2006 evaluating a variety of student response systems. In August, the group choose eInstruction ( to be the recommend response system for UW-Madison. While instructors are still free to choose other systems, standardization on eInstruction will mean there will be a clearer path for instructors and students who want to take advantage of the technology.

Transformation by the numbers

Since 1999, Engage and T4 have brought together over 250 faculty and instructional staff from all schools and colleges at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, creating a new and significant organizational infrastructure in support of ongoing and transformative change. Engage and T4 have impacted 687 courses and almost 45,500 students between 2000-2007.

How are decisions for T4 Funding Made

The T4 program is advised by an interdisciplinary Faculty Advisory Group that reviews and approves all proposed award projects. This group meets 9-12 times per year to review project proposals, explore campus teaching and learning needs, and evaluate program progress.

See the Projects section for all projects. 

TLT 2003

Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) grants sponsored 4 projects using T4 funds. The projects were:

Led by Dr. John Dunne and Scott Roberts, Department of Classics

Abstract: Borrowing a tool from Buddhist pedagogy, the project team will employ a low cost 3D game engine to create and deploy a multi-user cosmological and mandalic space for the interactive study of Buddhism. Intended for a large lecture course on Buddhism, the space will enable students to explore the imagined universe inhabited by traditional Buddhists, especially through encountering the ethical narratives that unfold within the Buddhist cosmos. And by interacting with a mandala palace within that cosmos, students will simulate the traditional technique of "familiarization" as a means to better understand and manipulate the central theoretical principles of Buddhism.

Weed Management Simulator
Led by Dr. Ed Luschei, Department of Agronomy

Abstract: Despite our increasing understanding of the importance of teaching agronomic science from an integrated or systems perspective, instructors of Agronomy 100 (Principles and Practices of Crop Production), Agronomy 300 (Cropping Systems), and Agronomy 328 (Integrated Weed Management) are faced with the difficult task of teaching students how management tactics may act in concert or be cleverly chosen to match specific situations. To address this pedagogical need, we propose to develop an online environment in which students can improve their systems-based understanding by experimenting with different management actions and visualizing the results of their experiments.

Led by Dr. William Aylward, Department of Classics

Abstract: Providing teachers and students with a dynamic, customizable tool for electronic peer review of writing is the goal of this project. Building on a 2001-2002 IN-TIME Grant from Learning Support Services (LSS), I will oversee the development of an existing prototype for electronic student peer review. This involves substantial modification to the prototype in order to enhance the interface between teachers, students, and technicians, and to make the prototype available to a wider audience. Modifications to the prototype react to summative data collected from successful testing of the prototype in a Comm-B course (Classics 322: Civilization of Ancient Rome).

Team Collaboration
Led by Brian Husk

Abstract: Using affordable Internet technologies that support video conferencing and shared text work space, the M.S. in Biotechnology program will develop an online learning tool to support team project collaboration and communication. Starting with the second-year course PHYS 675, we will employ this tool to aid in team projects that require group planning and communication, collaborative writing and presentation building. Students using this tool will develop needed professional communication skills with the additional benefit of making it easier and more convenient to work together. After successful implementation, we will offer this collaborative tool to additional audiences across campus.