EDUCAUSE Learning Institute (ELI) Fall 2014 Focus Session

Re-Imagining Learning Spaces: Design, Technology, and Assessment

When: October 28 and 29, 11 AM – 2:30 PM (Central Time)
Where: 2405 Siebel Center
Please RSVP by visiting:

We plan to offer light refreshments.

Join us to exchange ideas and collaborate interactively with the teaching and learning community. Learning spaces remain foundational to successful learning, and their design and outfitting provide a mixture of affordances and constraints—the key is getting it right. Successful integration of Information technology and innovative designs have brought unique capabilities to learning spaces, which enable greater interaction through the use of collaborative and mobile tools, team-based course models, videoconferencing with remote experts, makerspaces, and new instructional designs like flipped learning, to name but a few. Join us as we discuss the landscape of today’s learning spaces on the following themes:

•    Determining the effectiveness and impact of new model learning spaces on student learning, engagement, and effective instruction
•    Exploring how innovative space designs can facilitate and support new learning approaches, like the flipped classroom
•    Reviewing faculty development programs that support optimal use of learning space through the application of active or collaborative pedagogies
•    Understanding classroom technologies that support or enhance teaching and learning in model learning spaces

Additional Details

Sponsored by
Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES)
Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL)
University Library

Posted in ATS News | Leave a comment

Using a Wiki to make Group Work Easier (New, Improved “No Markup” Edition)

I have some exceptionally good news: the CITES Wiki service received a major upgrade this semester (Fall 2014). One big change was that Wiki Markup has been done away with.

* This old posting has been updated, to show how to do things without markup. *

When you think “wiki” do you automatically think “Wikipedia”? It wouldn’t be surprising, but the wiki technology has many uses besides the free online encyclopedia. Wikis can assist with collaborative work in the classroom in a number of ways. This post describes one simple use of a wiki in the classroom.

A wiki (like the Wikipedia) is a Webpage that anyone can edit (at least anyone given access), right there, on the Web. U of I faculty can request spaces on the campus Wiki service and have their students given automatic access to the space, just as they can in Illinois Compass.

I’m teaching a course this semester and I’m committed to collaborative learning, so I’m relying heavily on group work, where students are divided into small groups, given a task to complete together, and asked to report their work to the whole class. The wiki is a great tool to take care of the mechanics of group work.

Formatting text is simple, and so is creating child pages. Just put the name of the new page in brackets.

* There are now three ways to create links in the new Wiki service:
Select text and hit the link button. This gives you a dialog box with five tabs:
The Web Link and Advanced tabs allow you to make a link to a page in your Wiki that doesn’t exist yet—and create the new page at the same time. This is the best way to create child pages in your wiki. This way, users will be able to find your content, without sifting through the pile of all the pages you’ve created.
You can also type a square bracket and you’ll get a dropdown menu. Choose Insert Link and you’ll get the same dialog box as above. Or you can also use Control-K or Apple-K. *

editing a page on the wiki, with dates in brackets: 29 August, 5 September, etc.


As you can see in this screenshot, all I had to do was create one page (I called it “dailies” in my wiki) for each class day we use have a group task. (Notice the cheat-sheet along the right, showing the most common tags.)

The hardest thing about working in a wiki is file management, finding the pages you create and making sure you’re not editing someone else’s page. So, the first thing I do after the groups have formed is ask each group to come up with a name. This tends to be more fun than you’d expect. But the basic idea is I don’t want the group pages to be called One, two, and three because it’s so easy to forget what page each group should editing.

editing a page on the wiki, with names of groups in brackets: sloth, group 43, low expectations, tom petty and the.

I’m fortunate to be teaching in a classroom with a computer and projector. Now all I need to do is go the wiki page for today’s date, have the students call out their group names, and type them inside square brackets to create links.

When they’re ready, the students click on the links to their respective groups. This takes them to their own page, and they can start typing.

When it’s time to hear the group’s reports, I open all the wiki pages for the groups, and put each up on the screen as they talk about their results. This way the record of their work is available during class, but also recorded for future uses (ideas for papers or projects, review for exams, etc.)

* You can still create a bunch of links at once with Wiki markup. (But wait! There is no more wiki markup in Confluence 5! Well, sort of.) Click on the Plus-sign button the ruler, and choose Wiki Markup from the menu. In this window you can enter all the old wiki markup, and to make a link, all you need to do is put the name of each new page in square brackets.
So to create a page for each of five student groups, all you’d need to do is type the names, and put brackets around them. *The Plus menu, showing Other Macros is the last item.

As I said, wikis are really simple to learn and to use. The first day we did a group project, I took around five minutes to walk students through entering, editing and formatting on the wiki, and they were off and running. By the second time we used the wiki, after I displayed the first group’s page and took their report, the second group asked me to “refresh.” There was some laughter in the room. Why? Because the students realized that the second group had been rewriting their page as they listened to the first group. I took this as very positive, as it meant that the technology was already transparent, and the students were looking past it at the content.

A variation some of my students discovered: each group member can type individual text in comments at the bottom of their wiki page (there’s a link to “Add Comment” on every page), and then one member can combine these together.

Group tasks in the classroom are a long-standing component of active learning, with plenty of research to support their instructional value. Wikis can help solve some practical difficulties that can potentially limit the power of this technique. It’s win-win for technology and teaching.

You can request a wiki space today!

-Alan Bilansky

Posted in ATS News | Comments Off

Blackboard Mobile App for Illinois Compass 2g

ScreenshotMobileAppCITES would like to take the opportunity to remind you of the availability of the Blackboard Mobile Learn app. This app is a free download for faculty, students, and staff for use with Illinois Compass 2g.  All users of the Illinois Compass 2g service can download the app at the following locations by searching for “Blackboard Mobile Learn”:

After you’ve downloaded and launched the app, search for “University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign” and log in using your NetID and Active Directory.


The Blackboard Mobile Learn app can be used to engage and interact with your students in discussion boards, blogs, and journals. It allows your students to check their grades, take mobile-specific assessments, and read announcements. The Blackboard Mobile Learn app allows for the classroom interactivity and engagement you expect from Illinois Compass 2g in a mobile accessible format.

More Information

For more information on the Blackboard Mobile Learn app, please visit Blackboard’s Mobile Learn page.

Please contact us if you have any questions about using the new mobile app.

Posted in App Reviews, ATS News, Compass 2g, Cool Tools | Comments Off

Controlling the layout of pages on the new, improved CITES Wiki

Big news! In August, CITES rolled out a new version of our campus wiki service. Some things have changed, some things are easier.

This is a quick (surprisingly simple) primer on how to take charge of the layout of your Wiki pages in the new system.

Click on the “Layout” button to expand the ruler.
The formatting ruler of a wiki page, with formating ruler expanded.

Click one of the diagrams of columns to format it. Sections and Columns work like table rows and cells the way the used to be used to lay out Web pages. You can add multiple sections this way to arrange content just the way you want it.

If you want more control, you can use three macros: Section, Column, and Panel.

Macros are little add-ons that add functionality to wiki pages. You can insert a macro by clicking on the plus-sign in the ruler and choosing Other Macros from the menu.The Plus menu, showing Other Macros is the last item.  Adding a column this way allows you to precisely control the width.

This will give you a pop-up window with a list of all the macros available. There’s a bunch of them, so generally you’ll want to use Control-F or Apple-F to search the list. Repeating this for every section and column will get old fast, but there’s an easier way.

In previous versions, you added a macro by typing its name in curly brackets. Now if you start to type a macro, the editor will auto-complete, to insert the macro for you.

So, if you type “{section. . .” that’s what you’ll get, and the same with “{column}.”

The advantage to adding them with this method is that it gives you more control of the attributes, like the width of the columns.

One macro you might find useful is “{panel}” This puts a box around text and images with a border and a background color. Here’s an example using all three:
Screenshot of a wiki page, with text and image in two columns, with a title and box drawn around the image

You can request a wiki space and get started today!

Posted in ATS News | 2 Comments

Flipping the Classroom with Roger Freedman

Join us for a presentation on “Flipping the Classroom” with Roger Freedman!


What: “Flipping the Classroom (and what to do in the classroom once you’ve flipped)”

Who: Roger A. Freedman, Lecturer in Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Date: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Time: 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (Lunch included!)

Location: Digital Computer Laboratory L410

Please join us for Dr. Freedman’s interactive, 50-minute presentation on i>clickers and “Flipping the Classroom.” Dr. Freedman will describe his experience with the flipped class model and his methods for optimizing short video lectures and student response systems to help enhance class discussion. Campus i>clicker and educational technology experts will be on hand to answer your questions after the presentation.

Sponsors: CITES Academic Technology Services, Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, i>clicker/Macmillan

About the Presenter: Dr. Freedman was an undergraduate at the University of California campuses in San Diego and Los Angeles, and did his doctoral research in theoretical nuclear physics at Stanford University under the direction of Professor J. Dirk Walecka. He came to UCSB in 1981 after three years teaching and doing research at the University of Washington.

At UCSB, Dr. Freedman has taught in both the Department of Physics and the College of Creative Studies, a branch of the university intended for highly gifted and motivated undergraduates. He has published research in nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, and laser physics. In recent years, he has helped to develop computer-based tools for learning introductory physics and astronomy and helped pioneer the use of classroom response systems and the “flipped” classroom model at UCSB. He is co-author of four introductory textbooks: University Physics (Pearson), College Physics (Freeman), Universe (Freeman), and Investigating Astronomy (Freeman).

Dr. Freedman holds a commercial pilot’s license. He was one of the early organizers of the San Diego Comic-Con, now the world’s largest popular culture convention. His likeness has appeared as a supervillain and mad scientist in both DC and Marvel Comics.

Posted in Announcements, ATS News, Collaborative Learning, intreractive tools, Teaching with technology | Comments Off

Learning Spaces Collaboratory Webinar


Transforming, Sandboxing, Repurposing Learning Spaces for Nurturing Creative Learning, Creative Learners: Lessons Learned from the LSC Experience

When: Tuesday, September 16 2014, 2:30 PM – 4 PM (Central Time)
Where: 2240 Digital Computer Lab (DCL)
We plan to provide light refreshments

This webinar will be an opportunity to:

  • gain insights and practical advice about how to transform and repurpose spaces to nurture the capacity of learners to become agents of their own learning, creative thinkers and problem-solvers, striving explorers, informed trailblazers, risk-takers engaged in out-of-the-box thinking.
  • learn about a team-based approach to imagining such spaces, capturing the experience of participants in a March workshop (LSC/Epicenter/NCIIA) at the at Stanford.
  • be introduced to new vocabulary and lenses for exploring how different kinds of on-campus learning spaces can be construed as a “space for creativity,” capturing provocative ideas from the LSC project on creativity funded by the Sloan Foundation.
  • be inspired by photos and stories from the field to reimagine how planning happens when there is a shared vision about how learning happens and about the nature and affordances of spaces that serve societal and institutional goals for what students should become

Additional Details

Webinar Hosted by
Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES)
Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL)
University Library

Posted in Announcements, Presentations & Lectures | Comments Off

Teaching with Technology Brown Bag Series begins September 10

Sponsored by The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) and CITES Academic Technology Services, the “Teaching with Technology” Brown Bag Series focuses on the intersection between new and emerging technologies and best practices in teaching and learning. This free and lively forum features award-winning faculty from across the disciplines sharing teaching strategies and effective uses of technology in the classroom. The Brown Bag series runs through the Fall and Spring semesters on the second Wednesday of the month.

NEW LOCATION: All events are held in 428 Armory from 12 until 1pm. Refreshments served. (Use southwest Armory entrance then take the turquoise elevator to 4th floor.)

September 10 – Best Practices for “Back Pocket” Video

Rick Langlois and Susan Muirhead (CITES Academic Technology Services)

Video pros and experienced faculty share their tips and tricks for producing video content for course enhancement and student assignments using only their phones and other “back pocket” devices.

October 8 – Using Google Glass for Teaching

Nancy Benson (Journalism) and Mike Bohlman (College of Media)

Try it on! See how Google Glass is being used as a tool to enhance storytelling and provide first person viewpoints for coursework, research, and reporting inside and outside of the classroom.

November 12 – Immersive and Embodied Technologies

Robb Lindgren (Education)

Explore new research on the effects of immersing students in virtual environments that completely involve them in the learning process. Cutting edge work on emerging technologies.

December 10 – Digital Badges for Teaching and Learning

Panel Presentation

Are digital badges changing the face of teaching and learning? Join the conversation as panel presenters describe the ups, downs, and inside-outs of using badges for coursework and micro- credentials.

Posted in Announcements, Digital Media, Presentations & Lectures | Comments Off

Faculty Technology Open House on Friday September 5

On Friday, September 5 the 1st Faculty Technology Open House takes place at the Illini Union. Representatives from CITES, AITS, CITL and several departmental IT offices will explain and demonstrate their services to faculty attendees. Faculty will learn how to best use the technology for their research and instruction..

The event will be held on Friday, September 5 from 9 am to 5 pm in Illini Rooms A, B and C in the Illini Union.

More information about the event itself and the services represented at the event can be found at:

Posted in ATS News | Comments Off

Using Select All in Discussion Boards

One of the known issues in the upgrade to the April 2014 release of Illinois Compass 2g is the Select All checkbox not functioning in the Tree View for Discussion Boards. We are working on a solution that defaults all users to List View, but for the time being users will need to toggle the list view if they find they want to perform bulk actions on threads. For example, a typical use case while reading discussion threads would be to select all the threads of a discussion and click Collect to read all of the threads posted to a discussion forum. See the screen capture below for an example of the Select All button not functioning in Tree View.


In order to Select All the threads, you need to toggle the List View tab in the upper right corner of the screen. Also be aware that some users may have difficulty finding the List View and Tree View tabs depending on the theme that was selected by the instructor.


From this screen you can click the Select All checkbox and Collect the threads in the discussion board so you can read all the threads in a discussion.

Posted in Announcements, Compass 2g, discussions | Comments Off

Adding Images to Discussion Boards in Illinois Compass 2g

Our installation of April 2014 Release has a known issue with embedding images in Discussion Boards. We are working with the vendor to receive a technical solution, but we want to provide the following two workarounds to help you use images in your Discussions.

If you do not need an image to appear directly within a thread, you can attach the image file to the thread, and it will open in a new window when clicked.

  1. To attach a file to a thread, click on the title of the Forum into which you want to post an image.
  2. Click on the Create Thread button.
  3. Give the thread a Subject.
  4. Enter any Message you wish to include.
  5. Under the Message box, go to the Attachments area. Choose to Attach File either by clicking “Browse my Computer” or “Browse Content Collection.”AttachFileDiscussions
  6. Select the file, and then click “Submit.” The image will now appear as a link in the Discussion Thread. When readers of the thread click on the link, the image will open in a new window.

If you would like to have the image embedded within the Discussion Thread, we recommend that you upload the image file to (

  1. Once you have uploaded the file to Box, click on the More Options arrow and select “Share.”
  2. Choose “Get Link.”
  3. In the pop-up window, click the “Open Access” link to ensure that it is set to Open.
  4. Click on the pop-up window to return to it and click on “Direct link.”BoxDirectLink
  5. Copy the Direct link URL.
  6. Return to your Discussion Board in Illinois Compass 2g.
  7. Create a new thread or reply to an existing thread.
  8. Enter a Subject.
  9. In the Message text box, click on the Insert/Edit Image icon (Bottom row, second from the left).
  10. In the “Image URL” field, paste the Direct link URL from
  11. Provide an Image Description and Title.
  12. Click Insert.
  13. Click Submit. The image will now be embedded in the Discussion thread.

If you have any questions about the suggested workarounds above, please contact CITES Academic Technology Services at 244-7000 or

Posted in ATS News | Comments Off