2017-18 EI Small Grant Recipients

In 2017-18, the EI Small Grant Program offered grants of up to $15,000 each and sought proposals that focused on implementing blended or active learning strategies, developing Open Educational Resources (OER), and/or using digital tools (Canvas/AEFIS) to improve assessment and align with learning outcomes at the course level. The program funded 16 proposals from five schools and colleges, across 15 departments, at a total of more than $230,000.

New this year, the program allowed grant applicants to request funds for two fiscal years, FY18 and FY19. Also new this year, the EI Initiative offered another grant opportunity specifically focused on online course development. Learn more about EI’s commitment to online learning and development support opportunities.

Grant Recipients and Project Descriptions

1. Edward Frees, professor, Risk and Insurance, Wisconsin School of Business
Project description: The goal of the “Open Actuarial Textbook Project” is to facilitate collaborations among actuaries to produce texts on actuarial topics that are interactive, online, and freely available. Specifically, the online version will contain many interactive objects (quizzes, computer demonstrations, interactive graphs, video, and the like) to promote deeper learning and will eventually be available in multiple languages to promote access to a worldwide audience. A subset of the book will also be available for offline reading in pdf and EPUB formats.

2. Min Li, lecturer, Management and Human Resources, Wisconsin School of Business
Project description: This project aims to transform MHR403: Global Issues in Management into a blended format. This transformation will enable the course to: 1) significantly enhance students’ individual learning experience through student-directed activities on Canvas, 2) more actively engage students to ensure deeper learning via a diverse set of innovative online learning tools, 3) ensure more effective usage of face-to-face class meeting time, and 4) provide flexibility and access to a wider range of learning resources for students.

3. Phillip Townsend, professor, Forest and Wildlife Ecology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Project description: Enhance the current active-learning based class (Forest and Wildlife Ecology 550/551) by building a sustainable database for course materials that can accessed by students in successive semesters. The concept is that current students can benefit from efforts by students from previous years. The major objective is to draw together materials that form the foundation to underlay the case-based work students do in the class.

4. Kyle Stiegert, professor, Agronomy and Applied Economics, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Project description: Convert AAE319 to a flipped/blended format to provide an enhanced learning experience by developing and implementing a more modular course design that utilizes online training tools such as electronic blackboards, quizzes and short videos.

5. Nick Balster, associate professor, Soil Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Project description: Develop a blended/active learning course titled “Introduction to
Environmental Science” that will serve freshman and sophomores at UW-Madison broadly and Environmental Sciences majors specifically. Additionally, the project will focus on using digital tools to improve assessment and align course activities with identified learning outcomes. The format of the course will be designed around case studies of real-world environmental challenges of both local and global scale. The students will employ various quantitative and qualitative methods in an active learning format to address these prior designed case studies. This will be accomplished both outside of class time in an asynchronous format, leaving the synchronous face-to-face time for the classroom, which will include the introduction of topics, practice with problem solving and applying methods of inquiry, as well as question and answer interactions with learners, all with the goal of giving students the tools they need to both independently and collaboratively problem solve outside of class. Tools such as video interviews, games, quantitative models, virtual off-campus engagement with environmental science professionals, and platforms like the Critical Reader/Case Scenario Builder will be used to develop the active learning exercises that promote deeper learner and align with course learning outcomes.

6. Duncan Carlsmith, professor, Physics, College of Letters and Science
Project description: Develop and pilot several prototype phone labs which both introduce the principles and design of technologies in mobile phones and apply these technologies to scientific exploration of external physical phenomena, leveraging student owned devices and the MATLAB computational environment. The PhoneLabs project creates low-cost mobile laboratory learning experiences for introductory and intermediate-level physics classes using mobile phones and MATLAB. A variety of sophisticated mobile phone sensors are used for data collection. Data display, analysis, modeling, and simulation are undertaken in the MATLAB computation environment. Canvas learning group home pages organize project group discussions, file sharing, and self-and-peer performance evaluation. Canvas SpeedGrader and rubric-based peer and instructor evaluations of lab reports provide assessment. PhoneLabs learning objectives span the physics curriculum and address technology and computational literacy in a fashion appropriate for active learning, blended learning or fully online learning.

7. Etienne Garand, assistant professor, Chemistry, College of Letters and Science
Project description: Create an OER textbook tailored for Chemistry 109: Advanced General Chemistry that 1) is reflective of the distinctive course materials covered in the course and accounts for the students’ AP background and their specific interests in STEM majors, and 2) includes high-level integrative problem-solving activities that are representative of the learning outcome objectives of this class. Chemistry 109 is a one-semester accelerated general chemistry course that is the equivalent of the Chemistry103/104 sequence, designed for students who have AP chemistry credits and are pursuing a major in engineering, physical sciences or life sciences. The proposed OER textbook will be more economical and provide a better learning experience to the students.

8. Clark Landis, professor, Chemistry, College of Letters and Science
Project description: Create a General Chemistry (CHEM 103-104) OER textbook to enhance the active learning approaches that have been initiated through the REACH Initiative. The OER text will allow the General Chemistry instruction team and Chemistry Department to better integrate the content, sequence and delivery style of the text with the revisions to courses involved in the REACH effort. In aggregate, the textbook, homework, and lab materials will bring improved cost effectiveness, pedagogical consistency across the entire student experience, and more effective use of instructor and TA time. The full OER project in General Chemistry creates a model for how other large-enrollment courses at UW-Madison might transform and sustain their course materials, and provide cost-effective and inclusive means for all students to access course materials.

9. Catalina Toma, associate professor, Communications Arts, College of Letters and Science
Project description: Convert Communication Arts 345: Online Communication and Personal Relationships into a blended course, and enhance the use of active learning strategies and assessments in Canvas. A blended format will allow for more opportunities to generate active learning strategies for the large lecture course and use face-to-face time more strategically in getting students directly engaged with the material. More specifically, students may be asked to participate in online communities such as “Reddit” and analyze their impressions of other community members; collaborate with one another using various combinations of online (texting, phone, videoconferencing) and face-to-face meetings; participate on a course blog and reflect on the experience of engaging with classmates purely online; play video games using different types of avatars; create and evaluate real online dating profiles.

10. Uri Andrews, assistant professor, Mathematics, College of Letters and Science
Project description: Further integrate both blended and active learning strategies into the department’s calculus courses by creating a more standardized curriculum, learning activities and outcomes, and course sites in Canvas across sections and semesters.

11. Allyson Bennett, associate professor, Psychology, College of Letters and Science
Project description: Significantly transform student-directed learning in two current psychology courses (Psychology 225: Research Methods and Psychology 501: What Animals Think: Comparative Psychology and Animal Cognition) by creating online resources to fully implement blended learning strategies and by using Canvas to improve learning assessment and accessibility. The improved courses will benefit students in ways that align with both the department and university-wide educational objectives. The improvements will facilitate student engagement, peer-peer and peer-instructor collaborative learning; enhance development of critical thinking and scientific literacy; and provide more diverse opportunities to refine communication skills in both oral and written form. The materials and active learning approaches will also expand opportunities for students to connect their learning and course content to broader societal and global issues. Implementing frequent and accessible assessment via Canvas will promote regular engagement with the course materials, increase student opportunities to receive rapid feedback on their mastery of learning objectives, and, by doing so, facilitate learning. Finally, increased online and free content will provide students with more flexibility and accessibility of course materials.

12. Joseph Dennis, associate professor, History, College of Letters and Science
Project description: Convert History 336: Chinese Economic and Business History from Silk to iPhones to a blended format that meets once per week in the evening to promote active learning and to make it easier for working people to enroll. The lectures and readings will be online, while class time will be used for active learning projects: small group analysis of case studies, documents, and historical objects in response to prompts, oral presentations to the class, informal writing combined with small group and full-class discussions, work in small groups on short research and writing projects, and summative “lessons learned” presentations by students.

13. Steel Wagstaff, instructional technology consultant, Learning Support Services, College of Letters and Science
Project description: Further support and complete the transfer/adaptation of course materials to an open resource format (primarily textbooks) using Pressbooks for a number of authors/faculty/staff at UW-Madison.

14. Heather Kirkorian, associate professor, Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Ecology
Project description: Incorporate new design elements in HDFS 362: Development of the Young Child, an online course, which will include redesigning Canvas course pages/modules, aligning each module with the course’s designated learning outcomes, and improving opportunities for individualized learning and assessment. New learning activities will be developed to complement existing opportunities for students to absorb
course content (readings, videos, etc.) and connect content to their own lives through small-group discussions. In particular, strategies that are consistent with science-of-learning principles will be used to maximize comprehension and long-term retention.

15. Angela Kita, associate faculty associate; and Matt Merrins, assistant professor, Biomolecular Chemistry, School of Medicine and Public Health
Project description: Significantly improve student learning outcomes in Biomolecular Chemistry 504: Human Biochemistry through the implementation of blended learning strategies and the development of low-cost microscopes for hands-on student use. Biomolecular Chemistry 504 is a capstone biochemistry and molecular biology lab course that enrolls primarily seniors from various biology majors. The aim of this project is to reduce the amount of class time spent on lectures and demonstrations, to provide more class time to develop skills in communication and data analysis, and to increase student engagement in research practices. These goals will be accomplished through the following means: creation of short narrated lectures and video demonstrations that prepare students for lab; integration of videos with pre-class activities and quizzes using Canvas; and, the collaborative development of low-cost microscopes for student use.

16. Tabassum Kennedy, associate professor, Radiology, School of Medicine and Public Health
Project description: Further transform the Radiology curriculum for medical students at UW-Madison from a traditional lecture based/observational experience into an active experience using blended learning strategies. Canvas will be used to assess the merits of this approach with the goal of improving learning outcomes for our students.