SDSU’s New Information Technology Division Teams Up at Cal State Tech Conference

Group of people in front of conference logo

CIO Jerry Sheehan (sixth from right) with members of the Information Technology Division: Services and Strategy Team.

What a difference a month makes! After his first 30 days as SDSU’s first campus-wide Chief Information Officer, Jerry Sheehan and 24 Information Technology Division team members presented at, and attended, the CSU’s Cal State Tech Conference in downtown San Diego (7/30-8/1). After years of working in parallel, the IT Division Team members had an opportunity to see the expertise and efforts made by partner units through a new, wider lens.

In addition to attending sessions addressing data lakes, security, and immersive reality technologies, the ITS Team caught a glimpse of the IT Division Team troubleshooting in force; laptops up and working as a unit to keep SDSU’s virtual environments running from an offsite location. Reciprocally, the IT Team learned how ITS is exploring student success initiatives by leveraging big data and machine learning tools. Representatives from SDSU shared resources and knowledge with the CSU community through four presentations, each demonstrating the University’s commitment to accessibility, student success, innovation, and leadership. 

The successful week of discovery and networking proved to be a great way to begin our new journey as a Division.

SDSU Presentations, with the abstract from the program:

From Small Bytes to Big Gains: Leveraging Big Data to Uncover Student Engagement Trends and Increase Success in a High-Challenge Gateway Course

Presentation Abstract: One of the key components of the California State University System’s Graduation Initiative 2025 (GI 2025) is, “supporting faculty innovation and course redesign efforts to improve student outcomes, especially in courses with historically high failure rates.” With approximately 1,000 students, SDSU’s Elementary Statistics for Business (STAT 119) has a persistent D/F grade rate of more than 20 percent each semester.

In response to the call for increased student success in challenging gateway courses, Instructional Technology Services at San Diego State, STAT 119 faculty, and Pearson, have partnered in a data-intensive pilot to identify the areas where students would benefit most from real-time, data-informed interventions and faculty support.

This panel presentation will give CSU faculty, staff, and administrators a look into the big data project, which includes item-level analyses of students’ engagement with MyStatLab homework and quiz courseware, paired with SDSU’s learning management and student information system data. Altogether, these data constitute hundreds of variables, and more than 100,000 engagement data points each week.

An overview of the project and project partners, description of the data, and an articulation of machine learning and statistical modeling methods used to analyze the data, will be shared with session attendees. We look forward to discussing project findings, implications for course design, and the ways leveraging big data to inform decision-making in high challenge courses will potentially benefit our students and the realization of GI 2025’s objectives. Click here to download the presentation slide deck.

VITaL and the SDSU VR Club: A Collaborative, Student-Centered Approach to Immersive Simulation Development

Presenters sitting on stools at the front of the room

Sean Hauze, Kain Shepard, Dwayne Wilkes, Vanessa Chammas, Mike Cuales, William Welsh and James Frazee (left to right) after their discussion on the Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning initiative at SDSU and how immersive technology is affecting higher education.

Presentation Abstract: The use of immersive technology enables high-fidelity simulation at a fraction of the cost of traditional educational simulation. The Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning (VITaL) initiative at San Diego State University provides access to virtual, augmented, and mixed reality simulation for students and faculty across the pedagogical spectrum. Simulation is a proven tool for transforming novice to expert, however traditional simulation modalities are prohibitively expensive for many educational institutions. Immersive simulation provides affordable alternatives for simulation applications ranging from clinical medical scenarios to visualization of astronomical phenomena. Early studies indicate the use of immersive simulation resulted in increased student skills, knowledge, and motivation to learn, however more research is needed to assess the rapidly evolving field of immersive technology. SDSU’s VITaL initiative is enabling student and faculty to contribute to this growing body of research through studies comparing traditional educational simulation modalities with immersive simulation alternatives delivered via newly available hardware.

VITaL promotes experimentation with curriculum design and the scholarship of teaching and learning in a flexible, collaboration-minded, and technology-rich environment. The 35 courses participating in the VITaL initiative range from 100-level undergraduate classes to 700-level doctoral research seminars and represent all colleges at SDSU. The use of VITaL in these areas of instruction and research range from studying the use of holographic nursing clinical simulation via the Microsoft HoloLens to teaching phases of the moon via a VR application titled Universe Sandbox. While some appropriate applications already exist, there is a growing demand for custom application development among faculty at SDSU—and across the CSU system. The SDSU VR Club student organization, founded in Fall 2017 in conjunction with the VITaL initiative, provides a solution to this need. Partnerships between faculty and the SDSU VR Club students enable interdisciplinary collaboration to create and test pedagogical simulation applications. This panel will include SDSU VR Club students and Mechanical Engineering, Astronomy, Journalism, Nursing, and Art + Design faculty to discuss simulation application design and development through interdisciplinary collaborations across the immersive technology spectrum.

Academic Technology Leadership – Changes in Organization and Roles

Presentation Abstract: As the growth of academic technology continues to grow both within and outside the enterprise LMS, the organizations and leadership also change on campuses. There continues to be many discussions regarding where in the institution does Academic Technology leadership belong. What resources, budgets and roles should be within an academic technology unit? Does the leadership include campus online education programs or what role is played? What governance structure should exist on campus? And many more questions.

This panel will discuss these questions and engage the audience to share the changes they’ve seen, what is working and not working on the other campuses.

Ally for Success of our Students – Delivering Instructional Materials in Multiple Formats

CSU leaders behind the presentation podium

Senior Academic Technology Officer, James Frazee with CSU leaders, presenting evidence and strategies from the early adoption of the Ally accessibility tool and Universal Design for Knowledge efforts campus and systemwide.

Presentation Abstract: The CSU implemented a system-wide implementation of Ally, giving students more options to engage with course materials in multiple formats. This gives students the ability to listen and read documents at the same time on their phone, increasing comprehension and the likelihood of students spending time studying those materials. Ally also provides faculty feedback on the accessibility areas of their documents that need remediation and step-by-step instructions on how to fix the issues.

This panel will include 3 campuses sharing the best practices and lessons learned from the CSU system-wide implementation of Ally. Who are the stakeholders on campus in a project like this? What are the majority of remediation issues? Did this project improve the processes of identifying accessibility issues and improve instructional materials remediation? How did campuses choose to move forward in improving the accessibility of instructional materials? What is the student and faculty feedback on using Ally?

Instructional Technology Services
Adams Humanities, 1st Floor
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.
San Diego, CA 92182-8114