Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First apartments finished in major UIS Housing renovation

The University of Illinois Springfield is launching a $6.95 million housing makeover, which will renovate many of the older apartments on the east side of campus. The project will be paid for using auxiliary finance system funds and spread out over four semesters.

“This is our oldest area on campus, ranging in age from 1980 to 1992 and they’ve been heavily lived in, heavily utilized, very student friendly environments that have shown the wear and tear,” said John Ringle, UIS director of Housing and Residential Life.

The first phase of construction, the renovation of 8 apartments (32 beds) in Larkspur Court just finished and already students are starting to move in.

“We have completely gutted all of the cabinetry in the kitchen and added new appliances, new counter tops, and a new vinyl composite floor that look very residential,” said Ringle.

During the renovation, several amenities were added to the apartments, such as dish washers, to more closely match the townhouses of west campus. New doors were added to utility closets; closet bi-fold doors, which students often did not use, were removed; carpet was replaced in living rooms and bedrooms; and an accent color wall was added, which is different in every apartment. Additionally, bathroom cabinetry was replaced, new tub surrounds and shower stalls installed, and new bathroom fans added.

“We think the students are going to like it,” said Ringle.

All of the bedroom and living room furniture was refurbished by Illinois Correctional Industries as part of UIS’ sustainability initiative. Next summer the siding on Larkspur units will be replaced along with updated decking.

Each of the Larkspur apartments features 4 private bedrooms and 2 baths. Current housing residences were given the preference for signing up for the remodeled units in April. For others applications are accepted on a first come, first serve basis.

Future renovation timetable:
  • Fall 2011: Renovation set to begin on two buildings in Clover Court, which were not renovated in 2004. They will be turned into townhouse units without decks and stairs.
  • Spring 2012: Bluebell Court apartment renovation set to begin.
  • Summer 2012: Remaining Larkspur Court apartment schedule to be renovated.
  • Fall 2012: Construction scheduled to finish with renovations of family housing and Sunflower Court.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Enrollment for UIS' first free Massive Open Online Course tops 2,000 from around the world

The University of Illinois Springfield Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) is launching a revolutionary and free online course, which is open to anyone who wants to learn.

The course is known as a “MOOC” (pronounced MOO-k) or Massive Open Online Course and will focus on the topic of “Online Learning Today...and Tomorrow”. The class is scheduled to begin on June 27 and runs through August 19. All of the content can be found online at The “MOOC” will have some scheduled events, such as live Webinars, but those will be recorded for later viewing.

“One can start anywhere in the course, take only some sections that are of interest and skip others. It is not graded,” said Ray Schroeder, director of COLRS.

No academic or continuing education credit will be awarded as part of the course, but faculty members at any level may choose to use the free, online materials as part of their coursework. Materials will remain online for use after the class.

“As a national leader in the field, UIS is invested in the development of online resources to advance the quality of online teaching and learning in higher education as a whole,” said Schroeder. “The open online learning resources movement is gaining traction around the world. In order to contribute to that cause and to examine the viability of the emerging ‘MOOC’ approach to learning, we are launching this experiment.”

UIS has invited a “who’s who” of experts from the online learning world to take part in the online discussion and lead sessions. Many of the speakers taking part in the “MOOC” are common keynoter speakers at national and regional conferences. COLRS will document the development and deployment of the “MOOC” and will conduct an assessment later this year. The instructors hope to learn more about Massive Open Online Courses through the experiment.

The first “MOOC” was developed by George Siemens of Athabasca University (who is joining one of the panels in the UIS “MOOC”) and Stephen Downes of the National Research Council of Canada in 2008. A number of other “MOOCs” have taken place since that time. This is the first attempt Schroeder is aware of that addresses a broad range of aspects of online learning and the future of online learning in higher education.

Schroeder said over 2,000 students have already signed up for the “MOOC” with participants from almost 50 countries, including The Philippines, Wales, The Netherlands, and Ireland. Students from Illinois and all over the United States have also registered for the class.

For more information and to sign-up, visit You may also contact the UIS Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service by email at or call 217/206- 7317.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New students welcomed to campus during Freshman Orientation

The University of Illinois Springfield is welcoming more than 300 new students to campus during Freshman Orientation 2011. A total of four different orientation sessions are being held during the months of June and July.

“We have a variety of sessions for both our parents and students that are really going to welcome and acclimate them to the institution,” said Edward Bempong, director of the UIS Center for First Year Students.

For freshman Katie Reynolds of Kewanee, Ill., UIS was her first school of choice. It only took her two visits to campus to realize she had found the perfect fit.

“It’s easier to stand out and be involved and still be part of the community and be a person, instead of a number,” said Katie on UIS’ small campus feel.

She plans to major in Legal Studies and also has an interest in politics. For Katie’s mother, Kim, the choice seemed right.

“I’m excited, thrilled to death,” said Kim. “She’s interested in government and politics, where better (to study) than the state capitol.”

For father Isaac Gary of Chicago it is going to be hard to leave his daughter Lisa behind, but he’s excited about her future.

“I’m proud of her,” said Issac. “She’s excelling very well academically.”

Lisa chose UIS, because it is the smallest of the three University of Illinois campuses and she felt she could get more one-on-one attention.

All new first-year students are required to participate in an orientation session. Students meet with their advisers, take placement exams and make sure their immunization records are in order. They also have the opportunity to spend the night in Lincoln Residence Hall, to get a feel for college life.

For a full list of upcoming Freshmen Orientations, requirements, and more visit the Student Affairs website.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Girl Tech 2011 teaches hands-on lessons about technology

The University of Illinois Springfield Computer Science Department hosted two days of fun exploring technology during Girl Tech 2011, a camp for middle school girls. The third annual camp, which was held June 16-17, brought dozens of young ladies to campus to learn about technology.

“It was a lot of hands-on stuff and playing with the iPad was fun and I met a lot of new people,” said Amethyst Sidener, a camp participant.

Highlights included activities involving robotics, geo-caching, graphic design, Japanese anime, programming and more.

Studies show the number of women in higher education in computer science is falling drastically. Girl Tech is geared toward girls in middle school because interest seems to start decreasing around that age.

“If they are excited, if they like it, if we get the right software and show them how to use it they’ll go home and say look what I learned, I bet I can do it here,” said Mary Sheila Tracy, Girl Tech camp director and UIS Computer Science Instructor.

Participant Chloe Bellot has always had an interest in technology and now feels confident pursuing a career in the field.

“Most people think it’s more of a man’s job, but I think women can do things just as well as men do,” said Bellot.

For more information on future Girl Tech camps, contact Mary Sheila Tracy at or 217/206-7328