My notes from our college team site visit to UT on 29 April 2005. 

UT College of Education Site Visit
29 April 2005

Journey has been 6 semesters, 3 years here at UT
– jumped into the water 3 year ago
– lots of things to take care of in the beginning: infrastructure, support for faculty, support for students
– not about having the technology, it is about helping students to learn
– this semester it is happening for us: with students in university, at K-12 level

now it is so great to use digital video, and in 12 minutes convey everything we want to show
– we are now dispensing with PowerPoint, just showing the video and then going to the Q&A

Saw web video on LIFE program

Now: roundtable questions and answers

UNLV perspective: have several years of very successful faculty development projects, PT3 and other grant programs

Larry Abrams: started with a pilot program where college provided laptops to students in a particular program
– had reached a barrier when some students had laptops and some didn’t
– it made them have 2 preps for the same course
– also was bad to take laptops away from students when they graduated

Paul Resta: original model for providing laptops for faculty in a cohort was rotating the laptops
– after 1 semester: faculty said you can’t take this away from me, I have totally changed the way I was teaching

When you get to the point of requiring laptops for students, they can get financial aid support for that

Abrams: program oversight committees were the original source for this proposal
– honestly, this decison caught most students by surprise (only 10-15% saw it coming)
– 85% of the faculty (probably) saw it coming
– was phased in for those who entered the program
– a 3 semester phase in

UT graduates about 500 teachers per year
– get the word out as early as you can
– have about 60-80 faculty members across multiple colleges teaching courses where all students show up with laptops

Faculty perspective
– had people saying “about time,” others said “over my dead body”
– vast majority said “good,” help us do this
– where we have multiple people teaching the same course, we would get those people together
– goals for first semester: two things for beginning implementation
— 1. A project where students do work with the laptops
– it was encouraged and expected

metaphor: pushing faculty over the cliff, and then supporting them as they fly
– do look at what is happening in other courses so they are not duplicating experiences, but are scaffolding
– this mirrors what we try to encourage for K-12 teachers to talk together and work together
– lots more meetings about instructional plans and curriculum

– prior to this program: has a requirement that people had to take a computing course (Using computer tools in education)
– because of this we restructured our program, and eliminated that course
– part of decision was: by having people use technology in all courses, we removed prior expecation that was inherent in the model
— stopped the island view of technology use / dissconnected
– did not provide courses for faculty starting to learn to use

Resta: was a lot of anger and resistance initially from students
– by the end of the term that was gone
– saw within the one semester a major shift in perceptions
– Atomic Learning is great array of tutorials, good to supplement students because faculty could give assignments for students to utilize Atomic Learning
– students weren’t responsive to organized classes, they would learn from each other, from atomic learning

Ken: for classes where students have just got their laptops, do an overview of the operating system, and tour of iApps
– almost every course takes advantage of that, that is about all that is formal

Viral training developed, students training each other

Abrams: did buy 10 laptops (iBooks) for faculty
– bought about 40 iBooks for part-time faculty

TeachNet is Firstclass, have had that for 11 years

In the pilot there were about 10 faculty
– 2 fleets of about 25 laptops, cohorts of 25 students that go through all classes together

UT system in central IT, are buying student licenses that provide for upgrades like Tiger
– proves 3 years of Applecare

Software reinstalls: OS X, iLife, MS Office 2004, Firstclass, remote printing client

– license for Atomic Version, UnitedStreaming license also

Abrams: specifying a vendor
– when got stuck at wall in pilot project, decided the scale of the project would require it to be single platform
– estimated it would require a large amount of support and training
– idea that this could only work: instructors have to be in a position to help students if there is a glitch, whether the technology is a laptop, a microscope, textbook, etc
— if not, the whole learning process breaks down
— needed to get faculty members comfortable with
— like teaching bilingual: that would be very inefficient

After deciding it would need to be single operating system
– then started specifying functionality of the system
– then sent out an RFP, saw who was interested in bidding
– asked vendors to meet the minimum requirements and make it affordable
– was interest from 3 vendors
– price was much better and the value as well

mapped the standards into the different courses and programs
– in some certifications, people were already moving away from course requirments because they were working

UT is working at a graduate implementation, but just have limited this requirement to undergrads
– all students and faculty can buy at the negotiated price
– have about 3 grad programs that are doing this

Postbac program here is completely integrated with undergrad

wireless clouds and network security issues with local ISDs was a big issue


have almost NO part time students

now basically no students are going with the lease option
– if there is an option to lease, wouldn’t be considered a requirement for financial aid

Now we have hundreds of faculty using UT library eReserves
– now readings are on eReserve and students are not buying $70 or $80 textbooks

CMS system they primarily use is Blackboard

UT does not do NCATE, just responsible to SACS

– what are top tips for encouraging late adapters and fostering culture of willing risk-taking, continual learning, sharing
– how has role of EDIT faculty and students changed and evolved?

on faculty development issues:
– personalities of the people who work in the support issue are key: can go with a stupid question and never be treated like it is stupid
– true of idea studio, lab scheduling, student application support
– need to hire people with that personality


– faculty teaching faculty has started to happen here, but nothing starts without faculty support
– Karen taught class on designing rubrics for digital documentaries


– encouraged students to think about this documentary project as a piece of inquiry (was focused on politics during the election)
– the project ended up being a transformative event for students

very different uses of iMovie: media production / documentary versus using it as a tool to analyze and reflect on their own teaching
– early on now, teachers are required to capture themselves teaching

– Faculty adoption largely came about because of group effort
– #1 goal for faculty is optimal learning for students
– faculty saw a train wreck coming if

Different types of assignments
– social studies assignment: send out to do an international news search with a world map like “Jay Walking” on TV

Math: Geometer sketchpad, digital microscopes, probeware (Fathom software is windows only)

Idea Studio does research for faculty on how they can do something: what tool, what software
– all driven by faculty instructional desires
– favorite thing is to catch people in the hall, and work from their needs

AISD has Inspiration and UnitedStreaming, as a result UT obtained licenses as well

– 10-15 years ago, if you talked about teaching with technology, you were talking more about “canned packages”
– that is now like 1%, instead we are seeing people use this as a tool set
– need to gather data, compile data, etc.

Pat’s question: sounds like this is more than just laptops, need peripherals, the idea center, etc
– numbers of digital cameras and camcorders, now have over 100 digital video cameras that are out and people are fighting for them now

Learning Technology Center has existed for a long time, provided training and central resources, checkout materials

– needed laptop help desk (hardware)
— UT COE now functions just like Apple support center
— loaner computer is provided, swapped out data, etc.
– also needed Student Application Support Center
– these were new things that had to be created
— demands greatly increased for service and different types of service
– support has to also extend out to the schools
– even do training for cooperating teachers

Initially said they would let the campus computer store handle the service
– UT model is a great model: don’t worry about what you need, just call them at UT to see how they handle it
– recommendation: just duplicate the model

UT now has open source license they have developed for laptop repair tracking

when repair: always try to copy user folder with firewire target mode
– have apple restore image they use, try that first, then merge over user data

currently are providing a CD-RW to students to back up their data
– because of teachnet system, faculty often have copies of student work
– promoting good backup strategies is something good to encourage

DO WITH or DO FOR model
– this is always a struggle with both faculty and students

Old required instructional tech
– model of the standalone course is really not “the new model” around the country
– EDIT faculty have pretty much stayed with their graduate focus, not K-12 or teacher education oriented

– Texas now has standard expectations for technology use for all teachers
– then at COE, they build a matrix for where those content pieces could fit in
– “mapped these” into courses
– recently have started to collect syllabi for all faculty
– now can look at those and see opportunities that the faculty may not have seen or mentioned before
– Karen’s rubric workshop has been great to show faculty how technology can be used

One of biggest pushbacks from faculty has been their concern about losing instructional time
– also their concerns about helping students with basic computing skills
– are developing a skills competency test that students will have to pass to get into the professional development sequence
– they will have links to be tutored, it will be modular and pass/fail
– this should remove the expectation that faculty have to teach students basic skills

– when they started, hardware was the focus
– as progressed, have come up with a list of software the Student Applications Support area supports
– now these have been integrated to be together
– most questions are about iMovie and making webpages
– Ken and Karen will go into the classrooms and actually help faculty and students with particular technology skills

KEY: We do not expect the faculty to teach the technology, Atomic Learning module assignments can really help with that


Student support: Open 8:30 – 6 Mon – Thurs, till 5 on Fri

Karen: have learned from these experiences, the closer they can get to “just in time learning” the more effective / good it is
– coming in at the end of the project, looking at the problems / issues, one person’s answer will answer another person’s question

This support does not separate the content from the technology
– do provide email, and phone, but most of it face to face
– software support is more immediate need

Have made a concerted effort to always have 2 people on duty at the same time

Getting faculty syllabi at start of term has been very helpful
– can put projects on the calendar

Student help desk will image laptops if they request
– with Panther 10.3 in Sept03 upgrades were stretched out
– have another group that handles technical support for faculty


First 2-3 semesters, you will focus on infrastructure questions a lot
– then that becomes invisible, and you get to focus on curriculum integration much more (that will be our focus for the rest of the day)


It is so important to have a good laptop helpdesk: that hiring process is so key
– must be friendly, efficient
– need 1% of your population in loaners
– got to have a student leader like Aaron!
– this is almost as important as “where will they plug in?”
– educate about maximizing battery life
– simple solution: invested in about 50 power strips, that is not high tech but it works and we are not rewiring the building

UT has 50,000 students and 3000 faculty
– learned a lot from the business school’s experiences with student laptops

Things UT Central IT has done to facilitate the program
– providing co-equal support for Mac OS and Windows OS
– didn’t want units to feel they were disadvantaged in some way by choosing one platform or another
– supportive generally of idea of mobile wireless computing environment
– Have around 805 wireless access points now, don’t yet have ubiquitous wireless access yet
– may have around 1200 APs by the end of the year

notion of infusing technology into teaching and learning is still a worldwide work in progress
– need to take with a grain of salt what the zealots say
– they way people teach and learn are highly synchatic processes that we didn’t know a lot about when they were doing it traditionally
– need to be committed to systematic assessment when you are doing broad interventions here
— Noble Prize laureate advocated spending $1 for assessment for every $100 spent on IT support (Herb Simon)

3 years ago proposed 1% for assessment of teaching and learning
– didn’t quite get that

Every unit at UT writes a vision statement and proposed budget
– that is usually twice as much

What is the best choice when it comes to allocating scarce resources to improve teaching and learning?
– we don’t know a lot about this answer

UT COE did want to do vastly more than providing anytime, anywhere access to information with their laptop initiative
– the iLife suite was the compelling reason to go to Mac

for us, RFP meant “request for partnership” rather than just “request for proposal”
– success had to be more than the excitement of a press release

3 years ago it may have been a little more “risky” to go with Apple than it does today, becuase of the great roll Apple is on, the synergy between their music products and desktop / laptop products, etc

What made the UT initiative successful was the vision of the UT College of Education
– their desire to go in a certain direction, able to explain to the rest of the university and the community
– leadership and vision was what made the initiative successful

If they were issuing a new RFP today, they would
– incorporate Inspiration, Atomic Learning, and UnitedStreaming

This has been a lot more than extracting a good price from Apple for a commodity laptop
– Apple has delivered much more than that over the years

One of the strongest parts of Apple’s response to the RFP was their willingness to provide support and training as part of the package, which wasn’t required but become a very compelling piece
– if we were redoing the RFP today, we could include that in it

If you cast the RFP as a “request for partnership” you can have a place to ask what other creative resources they can bring to the table to help our organization meet our teaching and learning goals
– it is more than asking “how cheaply can you deliver these boxes to our loading dock”

Canopus or Miglia converter for DV

Advice from student
– need to get the word out to students as soon as possible
– help desk is always there, it is very important to know that resource is there for assistance
– very important to let students know why we are doing this project
– don’t give false promises about no textbooks if that is not going to happen (online curriculum)
– in our program, same 25 students go through last 3 semesters of classes and field experiences together
– lots of computer use didn’t get incorporated into the class


her student suggestion: more training about the computers, rather than having to figure things out on thier own

Demo of using LectComm Client
– natural sciences was first one to jump on board with this
– they have system with $15 remote control
– wanted to find a system to do this using the laptop environment, that would give even more capabilities than
– Karen has RSS feeds on various edtech issues, found this, it works on windows, mac and linux, not require any additioinal software

instructor can come into class with a set of questions already prepared

Great presentation on using iChat videoconferencing with camcorders to do remote 1st year teacher observations and support, very creative use of technology

in initial years there was a lot of talk about the technology, the applications
– now faculty are talking much more about the curriculum

story of planting Jasmine:
– sleep, creep, and leap in years 1, 2 and 3
– as synergy builds, confidence grows, this becomes part of the culture
– suspects 2 years from now we won’t be calling this the laptop initiative, it will become transparent / invisible

– when asked about “educational product” we can respond that education is not just factory production
– the value of what we are doing now and the people we are producing now cannot be judged today, we have to look down the long road, 10-20 years down the road
– our grads have to be adaptible and flexible
– we know this unknown future will involve technology, and those who can use technology most effectively wil be the most successful

Role of the Learning Technology Center has changed and evolved, personnel structure has not necessarily changed
– laptop program has been the catalyst for a lot of discussion across programs and colleges/depts, that go beyond the technology, but these have not necessarily resulted in a structural / organizational change

We know it would be better to have more money available to expand this program and better support it, but due to political factors we have not been able to add any new fees

tech integration prior to the laptop initiative was “sporatic”
– didn’t have programmatic and systemic
– was centered around computer labs
– access was an issue
– focus was on using presentation software to lecture to students, focus was not on putting technology in the hands of students

Wouldn’t go so far as to say that 1:1 laptops have unprecedented potential to serve as a lever of pedagogic change– the real bottom line is still in the mind of the teacher!
– constructivist teaching can be done with wooden blocks or just dialog!

Website resources:


Laptop initiative

Learning Technology Center

Laptop Initiative for Future Educators Video

Atomic Learning

United Streaming  

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