Office of Information Technology

Student panel focuses on technology

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The Office of Information Technology hosted a Connected Learner Panel on Wednesday in celebration of Connected Educator Month.

Five Delta State students participated in the discussion moderated by Dr. Carolyn Casale, assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Sciences. The topic was “Connected Learners: Perspectives in Learning with Technology from Millennials and Gen Z.”

The discussion explored how students representing these generations respond to technologies used in online and face-to-face class environments. Panelists shared their motivations in learning with technology, expectations for using technologies in class, and gave insight as to what the future of technology should look like to prepare them for the future.

“It was very interesting to learn how students see things,” said Casale. “Sometimes, as instructors, we aren’t aware of the positive impact we are having. This was very useful information.”

Casale posed several questions to uncover ways instructors are using technology to improve student participation and performance. Students mirrored recent research by indicating that they would benefit from more technology training tutorials, intermittent social media activity, and tools to develop their online research skills. Panelists agreed that campus instructors were moving in the right direction for engaging learners, technology diversity and interaction.

“I am shy and sometimes afraid to speak in class,” said social work major Garyanna Simmons, “But working online in discussions improved my confidence to speak up and participate.”

“Blended formats work best for me because we like the convenience of online, but we need that occasional face-to-face,”said MBA and accounting graduate student Hafsa Alharoon. “Interaction with the professor is very important.”

Dr. Nicole House, director of instructional technology, said understanding the current technological needs is imperative.

“Gen Z consists of digital natives born between the mid-1990s and 2010, and they are becoming the majority in our college classrooms,” said House. “So if we understand their needs and expectations, we can develop new teaching strategies to challenge them as well as prepare them to work in a world that requires technical proficiency.”

Learn more about Connected Educator Month at

Connected Educator awards announced

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The Office of Information Technology hosted the third annual Connected Educator Luncheon on Oct. 18. The annual event is sponsored by Delta State University and Ellucian.

The event is held in celebration of Connected Educator month each October. The lunch also served to acknowledge the 39 Delta State instructors who students nominated for the annual Connected Educator Awards. Instructors were nominated based on specific criteria for efficiency, support and engagement.

“In line with Connected Educator Month, we wanted to identify actions and strategies that have measurable impact derived from using technology to teach, as well as support students,” said Dr. Nicole House, director of instructional technology. “We can harness that information from the nominations to collaborate resources and promote instructional innovation that facilitates holistic student success.”

Recipients of the 2016 Connected Educator Awards were Dr. Donna Koestler, assistant professor of nursing, and Todd Davis, instructor in health, physical education and recreation. In addition, Dr. Catherine Putnam, instructor and director of instructional support for the College of Education & Human Sciences, was recognized with a Canvas Choice Award for instructional innovation in Canvas LMS.

“The Connected Educator lunch is also an avenue for us to recognize all of the honorees and acknowledge their many contributions to academic excellence and student success at Delta State,” said Edwin Craft, CIO of Information Technology. “We have some very accomplished instructors and we aim to provide ongoing support to enhance and strengthen their instruction with technology in the traditional classroom, as well as online.”

This year’s honorees included: Amber Hendricks, Betty Sylvest, Bret Pimentel, Bryon Pickens, Carolyn Casale, Catherine Putnam, Chelsea Pugh, Corlis Snow, David Baylis, David Hebert, Dianne Thomas, Donna Koestler, Emily Newman, Glendscene Williams, Gwen Meador, Jacinda Roach, Jacqueline Craven, Janet Parker, Kevin Tharp, Kirk Mansell, Lee Virden, Leslie Green-Pimentel, Liza Cope, Mary Bess Pannel, Matt Jones, Merideth Van Namen, Michael McNeece, Michaela Merryday, Miller Maddox-Mandolini, Neil Conner, Randy Grierson, Sally Paulson, Sharon Hamilton, Stephanie Bell, Tanya McKinney, Thomas Laub, Todd Davis, Tomeka Harbin and Vicki Jean Hartley.

Luncheon special guests included Ellucian general manager Beverly Fratesi and college deans Dr. Billy Moore, Dr. David Breaux, Dr. Leslie Griffin and Dr. Vicki Bingham. Dr. Charles McAdams, provost of Delta State, provided opening remarks and received special recognition for his support of instructional innovation.

Honorees were presented with a certificate or recognition at the lunch and will receive a commendation letter for his/her tenure portfolios.


Staff members complete P.A.T.H.S.

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Five Delta State staff members recently completed the P.A.T.H.S. (Partnership for Applying Technology to Help Students) Program sponsored by the Office of Information Technology.

The first cohort of the 2016 academic year graduated Thursday after participating in the professional development program over a three-day period.

“As a new employee at DSU, this training introduced me to the OIT staff, their responsibilities and an overview of the resources available to make my job a little easier,” said Shander Gund, senior secretary in the Department of Social Work. “These tools will also allow me to be more resourceful to my team.”

Over the course of three days, participants had hands-on experiences and workshops on OIT supported technologies including Canvas LMS, Banner XE, DSU network services, cybersecurity and Sway.

OIT presenters included Kelly Kirkland, senior instructional designer; Dr. Nicole House, director of instructional technology; Chris Giger, director of enterprise services; and Murat Gur, manager of network services.

“All the information was so useful and the instructors were great,” said Phyllis Thornton, senior secretary in Health Services. “I look forward to using what we learned in my department this year.”

P.A.T.H.S. was designed to empower staff with resources to contribute to student success with campus technologies and services. At the conclusion of the program, participants received a certificate of completion with recognition as OIT Certified Strategic Partners in promoting student success with technology on campus.

Along with Gund and Thorton, fellow graduates included: Judy Haney, senior secretary for RESSON; Elizabeth Ogle, senior secretary in Language & Literature; and Amanda Robinson, senior secretary in Family & Consumer Sciences.

New Canvas User Interface coming soon

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Delta State’s current Canvas User Interface (UI) will be upgraded May 8, just in time for summer intersession.

Canvas is the campus learning management system used to deliver online course content. The new UI is an enhanced layout that supports a more responsive user experience for faculty and students to access their courses inside Canvas.

“The most noticeable change is that when users hit the landing page, the Global Navigation menu will appear on the left side of the screen,” said Dr. Nicole House, director of Instructional Technology. “This shift certainly feels more natural and supports easier navigation once users enter their courses.”

The release is meant to provide the least amount of disruption to user access. In the new UI, users can customize the appearance of the Global Dashboard by selecting course card colors, nicknaming courses and toggling detail views. The update will not affect mobile view or course content.

“As an added bonus, we’ll also launch Canvas Commons with the new UI as a learning repository for faculty to retrieve additional resources to bolster their teaching effectiveness,” added House. “Some of our faculty here got their first look at the Commons update this week and they’re excited about the possibilities of this platform.”

Faculty can find additional information about the update by visiting the Canvas Instructional Support page. Students can watch the intro video DSU New Canvas UI and retrieve the student guide currently in Canvas Announcements.

Instructional Technology staff will provide ongoing training in the new UI for users through the online student orientation and faculty workshops.

Connected Educator award recipients honored

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In conjunction with its activities for Connected Educator Month, the Office of Information Technology hosted the second annual Connected Educator luncheon Wednesday at Delta State University.

Sponsored by Ellucian and Delta State, the luncheon served to acknowledge honorees and announce the two recipients of the 2015 Connected Educator Awards.

One hundred Delta State students nominated 36 faculty members who used technology to positively contribute to their learning experience for the awards. Students were given specific guidelines for their submissions and provided a detailed narrative explaining how the nominees used technology in traditional, blended and online courses to positively influence their academic and personal success.

“We learned that students highly value the use of technology in traditional classrooms as well as access to additional resources for those classes in Canvas,” said Dr. Nicole House, director of instructional technology at Delta State. “Their participation also speaks volumes to how well our faculty are doing to not only strengthen instruction, but also to support student success with the use of instructional technologies.”

Winners were selected based on the number of nominations as well as the clarity of the narrative in addressing the faculty member’s use of technology. The winners of the 2015 awards were Dr. Temika Simmons, assistant professor of psychology, and Dr. Michael McNeece, instructor in teacher education. Both are members of the College of Education and Human Sciences.

Luncheon guests included Ellucian general manager Beverly Fratesi and college deans Dr. Lizbeth Carlson, Dr. Leslie Griffin and Dr. David Breaux. Dr. Charles McAdams, provost of Delta State, provided special remarks. Each honoree was presented with a certificate or recognition and will receive a commendation letter for his/her tenure portfolios.

Other honorees included: Charly Abraham, Jerome Billingsley, Lynn Byrd, Talbot Brooks, Jill Cabrera, Carolyn Casale, Liza Cope, Jacqueline Craven, Todd Davis, Karen Fosheim, Miles Fulwider, Tomeka Harbin, Vicki Hartley, David Hebert, Cora Jackson, Monica Jones, Donghyun Kim, Ronald Koehler, Donna Koestler, Michelle Matthews, Gwen Meador, Paulette-Meikle-Yaw, Terry Parrish, Chad Payton, Bryon Pickens, Duane Shuttlesworth, Mack Smith, Ashley Soliz, Leslie Fadiga-Stewart, Merideth Van Namen, Amit Verma, Vicki Webster, Jonathan Westfall and Clint Wood.

Connected Educator Month is a worldwide initiative led by the American Institutes for Research, Powerful Learning Practice, and Grunwald Associates LLC, and seeks to create a globally-connected, evidence-based movement that fosters collaboration and innovation to transform professional learning and affect educational change.

House explained that the awards are in line with CEM’s goal to document and communicate the measurable impact that faculty members make in connecting with their students.

“It’s our privilege to work with faculty to enable student success,” said Dr. Edwin Craft, CIO of information technology. “And we will use the information shared with us by students to expand on best practices indicated by the nominations and further extend outreach in support of faculty teaching innovation inside the traditional classroom as well as online.”