Friday, December 11, 2015

UIS part of national grant aimed at sparking expansion of online liberal arts classes

The Andrew Mellon Foundation has awarded a $540,000 grant to the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), a consortium of 29 public liberal arts institutions that includes the University of Illinois Springfield, to expand its multicampus, distance and team-taught online liberal arts research classes.

“We are excited to be engaged in this ground-breaking inter-institutional grant to advance collaboration in online learning,” said Ray Schroeder, UIS Vice Chancellor for Online Learning.

The three-year project, named Digital Liberal Arts at a Distance, is part of an ongoing effort by COPLAC to share faculty expertise while enriching students’ interdisciplinary learning experiences, digital skills and collaborative work habits.

UIS will be providing faculty development support in online learning for the project and leadership in the development of assessment protocols and instruments for online materials developed through the grant.

“We are pleased to share our expertise with institutions across the country who are participating in this innovative approach to teaching and learning online,” said Vickie Cook, director of the UIS Center for Online, Learning, Research and Support.

Under the grant, faculty members, special collections librarians and instructional technologists from 24 COPLAC campuses will develop and launch up to 16 new digital liberal arts research seminars on topics in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

Using distance and online technologies, student researchers will collaborate across campuses to build major digital projects available to the public on the web, and to develop research, production and communications skills applicable to a wide variety of 21st-century professions. The new seminars will involve upward of 150 undergraduate researchers over the period of the grant, 2016-2018.

According to COPLAC Director Bill Spellman, the project will “foster interdisciplinary initiatives, expand undergraduate research options on each campus, afford students the opportunity to study under digital scholars from a range of humanities and social science disciplines, and prepare them for careers where liberal arts thinking is essential.”

Seventy-five participants will be selected for the project, including faculty members, special collections librarians and instructional technologists. All will attend an opening three-day meeting in early June 2016 at COPLAC headquarters on the campus of UNC Asheville.

Friday, December 04, 2015

UIS Computer Science Department receives nearly $20,000 from State Farm

As part of the company’s Community Reinvestment Act, State Farm Insurance presented the University of Illinois Springfield Department of Computer Science with a check for $19,995 during a presentation on December 4, 2015.

The grant will be used to upgrade the university’s Netlabs enhancing current remote on and off campus access for undergraduate and graduate students within the Department of Computer Science.

The Computer Science Department, with 460 undergraduate students and 726 master’s students in fall 2015, has the largest enrollment of any department at UIS. The technology upgrades will be able to accommodate the increased enrollments in the Computer Science and Information Systems Security degree programs.

The improvements will also provide greater efficiency and effectiveness for students when the department moves core courses to a virtual environment with remote access, expands and streamlines online learning, and will enhance remote access for programs offered by the Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance, including UIS’ annual Cyber Defense Conference and Cyber Defense and Digital Forensics Conference.