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Learning Ventures to offer course on Americans with Disabilities Act compliance

This summer, Learning Ventures at The University of Toledo will begin offering a course for faculty looking to make their online courses more accessible.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, colleges and universities must ensure equal access to all electronic communication — including online courses.

The ADA Compliance and Online Courses certification course offered by Learning Ventures will make it easier for faculty to provide equal access to all of their students.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act provides a wealth of guidance to institutions of higher education to ensure a satisfying learning environment for students with disabilities,” said David Cutri, director of internal audit and chief compliance officer.

The six-week, self-paced course will cover topics like accessibility law and formatting course content and other documents for accessibility. It will begin Monday, May 18, and goes until Sunday, June 28, and is offered entirely online.

“The course is self-paced and flexible in its execution, which will allow you to learn in your own way and in your own time,” Cutri said. “You will learn that not only is the ADA the law of the land, it also provides a blueprint for maximizing student success — which is good business.”

The course is designed to prepare faculty for addressing accessibility when designing and developing their online courses. The course covers topics that range from discussing accessibility law to identifying course design considerations for inclusivity and learning how to format course content and other documents for accessibility.

For questions regarding the course, contact Peter You, director for instructional design and development, at 419.530.4016 or at peter.you@utoledo.edu.

Learning Ventures recognizes individuals who impact distance learning

Learning Ventures recently celebrated three individuals at the University who have made a big impact in distance learning at The University of Toledo.

Dr. David Meabon, associate professor of higher education in the College of Social Justice and Human Service, and director of the John H. Russel Center for Educational Leadership, received the DiAnne M. Masztak Award.

The award is presented annually to an individual in the greater University community who has supported online learning and educational technology in a distinguished fashion. Meabon has been teaching online at UT since 2001.

“DiAnne is a very special individual who provided incredible service to the University,” Meabon said. “The award I received could only be achieved by the service I got through Learning Ventures, so it is quite an honor to have that connection with her.”

Kevin Gibbs, associate lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, received the Ella Fridman Award for exhibiting pedagogically sound and student-centered instruction in an online course.

Fridman was a faculty member in the Engineering Technology Department and a pioneer in online learning. She was one of the first faculty members to start converting courses to online versions.

“She was always optimistically energetic and had a work ethic that did not quit,” said Susan Shelangoskie, former instructional designer for Learning Ventures who is now an associate professor of English at Lourdes University.

“It is nice to be recognized for your work, and I am extremely humbled and honored to have received this award,” Gibbs said.

Justin Ballard, director of learning and academic technology for Learning Ventures, received the Mark A. Yeary Award. The honor is presented annually to an employee of Learning Ventures for exhibiting exemplary dedication to his or her work and for serving members of the UT community.

“I am very humbled having worked with Mark for a number of years. He was an amazing individual, a very hard-working person who was passionate about helping others,” Ballard said. “To be nominated for an award in his name is a great honor.”

Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, associate provost for online education, said the awards are a way to acknowledge the hard work of individuals and the impact they have made with online learning at UT.

UT launches One World Schoolhouse inspired by Khan Academy

The appearance of Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, will prove significant well beyond the opportunity to hear from a man who Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates described as “a true pioneer in integrating technology and learning.” It represents the launch of a new initiative designed to bring Khan’s ideas to bear on the delivery of education to University of Toledo students.

In conjunction with the first installment of the Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series, Dr. Scott Scarborough, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, announced the creation of the UT One World Schoolhouse, inspired by Khan Academy and Khan’s book, The One World Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse will serve as a worldwide association of educators working to explore and test new educational paradigms, models and tools.

Through a triad of divisions, the UT One World Schoolhouse will deliver technological advancements in education, an educational lab, and a cohesive approach to international education.

“We’re thrilled that The University of Toledo wants to explore Khan Academy concepts in the UT One World Schoolhouse,” Khan said. “We are looking forward to being a part of this effort and the educational benefits that it can bring about for learners everywhere.”

The divisions of the schoolhouse include:

• Educational Games and Simulation Division to develop advanced educational games for all levels of learning. This division will connect Main Campus simulation to the new advanced simulation center on Health Science Campus.

• Learning Innovation Laboratories that will be located in renovated space on the second floor of Carlson Library on UT’s Main Campus. This division will partner with numerous educational providers to test and then demonstrate new technological and experiential models of education.

• International Connections through which UT global educational endeavors will be managed. This division will work to facilitate and expand international connections to give students of all types and backgrounds a global education.

“We believe, as Salman Khan does, that the ideal model of education, both today and in the future, is a balanced combination of personalized education that is facilitated and enhanced by technology and experiential learning that takes many forms, including advanced simulation and educational games,” Scarborough said. “Other forms of experiential learning include internships, co-ops, service learning, clinical rotations, field experiences, creative works, study abroad, international conversations and undergraduate research.

“Our goal is to position The University of Toledo as the university of experiential learning. The use of the term, ‘One World Schoolhouse,’ signals our University’s intent to test and then apply Khan’s model of education where it applies best.”

The initiative will be led by Bill McCreary, a senior leader with years of high-level managerial and technical expertise.

“Bill’s past experience and ability to lead the development of advanced simulation education games and his connections to key outside stakeholders make him the perfect choice for this new initiative,” Scarborough said.

The University will enter the tactical phase for creation of the UT One World Schoolhouse, with the entity expected to be operational in fall 2014.

Art faculty members win Blackboard Catalyst Award for innovative online class

Seder Burns and Phoebe Ballard, faculty members in the UT Department of Art, won a Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Course Program, which honors the design and development of innovative classes that represent the best in technology and learning.

Seder Burns and Phoebe Ballard, who received a Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Course Program for their digital media class, stand outside the Center for the Visual Arts.

Seder Burns and Phoebe Ballard, who received a Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Course Program for their digital media class, stand outside the Center for the Visual Arts.

Their online course, Fundamentals of Digital Media, also was one of 10 exemplary course winners recognized as Directors’ Choice for Courses With Distinction.

Part of the annual Blackboard Catalyst Awards Program since 2000, the Exemplary Course Program Award highlights technologically rich, engaging, well-designed and pedagogically sound courses that showcase best practices for the user community. More than 160 entries were evaluated in a peer-review process by more than 300 faculty and instructional designers. Submissions were judged on course design, interaction, collaboration, assessment and learner support.

“The Exemplary Course Program gives faculty of online and blended courses the opportunity to reflect on their own course design and to gain new insights about best practices in online instruction,” said Ballard, UT instructor of art, senior instructional designer in UT Learning Ventures, and University alumna. “Using the Exemplary Course Rubric, we were able to identify unique and exemplary design elements that make Fundamentals of Digital Media a high-quality, interactive and engaging learning experience for our online students.”

The Blackboard Catalyst Awards annually recognizes innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where teachers and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology.

“Catalyst Award winners represent some of today’s finest examples of leveraging technology to improve the education experience,” said Ray Henderson, chief technology officer and president of academic platforms at Blackboard. “Each winner has established best-in-field approaches in critical areas, including online learning, course development, school communication and mobile education. We congratulate the winners on their vision and their excellent work.” 

Burns, lecturer in the Art Department, and Ballard will be honored alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during BbWorld, Blackboard’s annual user conference, in July in Las Vegas. Additionally, their course will be highlighted on the Blackboard Catalyst Award website at blackboard.com/catalyst.

To learn more about UT’s online degree and certificate programs, visit utoledo.edu/dl, email UTDL@utoledo.edu or call 419.530.8835.

President’s recommended 2014 budget focuses on student-centeredness

Every decision in the proposed 2014 budget for The University of Toledo was focused first on the needs and desires of students.

“A lot of institutions talk about putting students first, and we are taking the lead by putting our money where our mouth is,” UT President Lloyd Jacobs said. “We have created a student-centered budget that started first with their needs, and all subsequent decisions were made around that framework.”

The UT Board of Trustees will consider the president’s recommended 2014 budget that includes no increases in undergraduate tuition at its meeting Monday, June 17.

The $775.2 million budget also includes no increases in room and board or general fees, something UT committed to in November very early in the budget process as part of a commitment to keep higher education affordable.

The only personnel cost increases in the proposed budget are for additional academic advisers and new success coaches who will be the go-to people for students to have all of their questions answered about the college experience. The academic advisers and success coaches will work together to assist students.

In recent years, UT has moved $12 million from backroom functions to the classroom, and the 2014 budget continues such adjustments by deferring funding for some facilities and equipment upkeep so that money can be used for academic operations.

The University had projected a $30 million shortfall for the upcoming budget year based in part by elimination of stimulus funding and reduced state support. Deferring maintenance is one of the strategies used to address the gap. While there is some measure of risk in deferring those investments, Jacobs said the University has made an increased effort to upgrade classroom facilities in recent years and that investments in areas such as the Jesup W. Scott Honors College and the online offerings through UTXnet World Campus would help the institution recruit more, better-prepared students in the coming years.

UT students also will benefit from more experienced professors in the classroom with new faculty workload requirements that adjust the hours they spend teaching along with research and service activities. The new requirements also contributed to more than $5 million in salaries and benefits savings.

The recommended budget was presented June 3 to the Finance and Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees and was forwarded on to the full board for action at the June 17 meeting.

The combined $775.2 million budget consists of a $498.8 million, break-even budget for academic operations and $276.4 million for the clinical enterprise that includes a 6.5 percent operating margin.

The academic budget anticipates a small decline in undergraduate enrollment. Additional revenue will be generated from a recommended 3.5 percent tuition increase for graduate and professional programs.

The clinical budget includes a 5 percent price increase for inpatient and outpatient procedures and projects a 4.3 percent addition in revenue based on growth in the surgery and acute rehab areas. The UT Medical Center also is transferring $2.4 million to the academic budget to support academic programs.

Jacobs and Chief Financial Officer David Dabney both thanked the UT community for a highly participatory budget process that included input from the new University Council’s Finance and Strategy Subcommittee with representation from Faculty Senate, Student Government, Professional Staff Association, the deans and senior administrators.

This story that appears in the June 10 print edition of UT News incorrectly used 2013 budget data. The story here has 2014 budget figures.