Award Program Description

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Program Overview | Program Timeline | Technology

Program Overview

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The 2008 Engage Technology Enhanced Collaborative Group Work (TECGW) Adaptation Award provided 40 instructors with technical and pedagogical support to implement technology enhanced group projects in their courses. The Engage TECGW Award was selected to address a teaching and learning challenge that was identified by UW-Madison faculty and staff in the 2007 campus Aligning Collaboration Tools With Academic Needs (ACTWAN) survey. As compared to the previous Engage Adaptation Award for Podcasting, the objective shifted from positioning tools for adoption by campus to developing methods of good practice and solutions for addressing the teaching and learning challenges presented by group work. The choice of technology tools to be utilized in courses as part of the award program was seen as a means to an end, not the end itself.

Top 5 Teaching Challenges

Research indicates the manner in which instructors facilitate group projects has a significant impact on the success of the group project (See Appendix 6). Therefore, the TECGW Award combined collaborative technologies and research-based facilitation strategies with the goal of improving the group project experience for students and instructors. To accomplish this objective, Engage provided support to instructors to implement technology enhanced group work. The support included a literature review of the research related to group work (Appendix 6), pedagogical and instructional technology consultation, evaluation consultation, support for technology tools and services, and hosting community events to share challenges and solutions in facilitating group projects. Engage administered student and instructor surveys (Appendices 1-4) to gather evidence of methods of good practice in facilitating technology enhanced group projects. The surveys gathered data on attitudes, project details (i.e. type of project, facilitation strategies, assessment methods), student workflow, and perceived benefit of technology tools for group work. In addition, Engage administered consultant reflection surveys at the end of each semester to gather information on the consulting process and capture methods of good practice that may not have surfaced in the student and instructor surveys. (Appendix 7)

Program Timeline

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The award program was divided into 5 phases over the course of approximately three and a half years.

Phase One: Topic Selection (January 2007 - August 2007)
In Spring 2007, the Engage Group implemented a new method for selecting the Adaptation award topic. The process allowed for greater participation by campus groups. The process used was adapted from the New Media Consortium's Horizon Report process. The steps included:

  • STEP ONE: Review of the literature
  • STEP TWO: Reflection Questions
  • STEP THREE: Round One Voting
  • STEP FOUR: Round Two Voting
  • STEP FIVE: Campus Conversation on Selected Topics
  • STEP SIX: Synthesis and Scoping
  • STEP SEVEN: Selection by Engage Faculty Advisory Group

Phase Two: Planning (September 2007 - February 2008)
After the topic was finalized, the planning phase began. Cross-campus teams were formed to address a number of identified tasks. Teams included:

  • Pedagogy Team
  • Technology Team
  • Training/Support Team
  • Evaluation Team
  • Sustainability Team

Team Leads met regularly to coordinate efforts and keep the award program moving forward. Engage began initiating the campus conversation around ‘Technology Enhanced Group Projects’ through ComETS and Teaching Academy events. The Project Manager also developed the project charter for the award in this phase.

Phase Three: Call for Proposal (March 2008 - June 2008)
The Pedagogy team developed award objectives, teaching stories, selection criteria and the call for applications. All these were shared with the Faculty Advisory Group. Engage continued the campus conversation around the award topic through the Teaching and Learning Symposium and the Teaching Academy Summer Institute. Award applications were submitted between March and June. Awardees were selected by the Pedagogy Team and notified by the Engage Faculty Advisory Board in June. Also, non-awardees were invited to participate in the final phase by testing the methods of good practice in their courses with support of a small stipend and the support of an evaluation consultant.

Recipe for Effective Student Grooups

*Results from the 2007 campus ACTWAN survey

Phase Four: Implementation (July 2008 - June 2009)
Consultant teams were formed around each accepted proposal. Each team included a Lead Consultant, a Support Consultant, an Evaluation Consultant, and the award recipient(s). Consultants met regularly to share strategies and brainstorm solutions and consultative approaches.

Community events took place during the implementation phase. Award recipients and mentors shared their progress and experiences with the community of instructors and support staff over lunch.

Phase Five: Dissemination Planning and Implementation (July 2009 - June 2010)
Dissemination events took place in Phases 1-4, including publicity about instructors using collaborative group work in their classes and presentations with partners such as the Teaching Academy, DELTA, and ComETS. Following implementation, a year of dissemination took place to analyze the data and share the evaluative results and methods of good practice developed during the implementation phase. Dissemination events include articles, videos, conference presentations, and campus events.


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The technologies supported in the Adaptation Award were drawn from the teaching stories developed by the Pedagogy Team.  The Technology Team looked at each teaching story and identified a number of technologies that would support instructional goals in those teaching stories.  Both campus supported and third-party technologies were evaluated, including:  Learn@UW, MediaWiki, TWiki, Confluence Wiki, Drupal, Moodle, Xythos Wiki, MyWebSpace, Google Docs, WordPress and Blogger.  Technologies were evaluated and selected using the following criteria:  feature set, group functionality, secure environment, workflow, access controls, file storage, instructor assessment, exporting/archiving, media accommodation, and support for localization. Three technologies were selected: Drupal (the Drupal instances created were called Collaborative Sites), TWiki, and Google Docs. Learn@UW and MyWebspace, centrally hosted services, were also used in the Award. In the event none of the supported technologies matched the pedagogy for a project, Engage staff worked with the instructor to find a solution. Training for consultants was developed around the selected technologies and research on the pedagogy of group work.

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