Highlights from ICON Day 2023
Friday, February 16, 2024

Tom Tobin’s keynote, "31 Days of Universal Design for Learning” examined how the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework can make learning accessible for all students by providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression. Key takeaways from his talk include:

  • UDL is about intentional, incremental steps to improve accessibility, not a quick fix.
  • UDL needs thoughtful application based on learners' needs, not all checkpoints fit every course.
  • Incremental changes can make a big difference to your students. Start with 10 minutes a day, and you can incorporate any of the 31 suggestions into your teaching practice.
  • Assessing UDL's effectiveness can be done by tracking measures like student persistence, retention, and satisfaction rather than direct ties to specific interventions.

You can watch the keynote on UICapture any time!

A New Pilot from OTLT Research and Analytics

The next speaker was Salim George, learning analytics specialist in OTLT Research and Analytics. He introduced the new Course Activity Insights dashboard that brings actionable information to instructors from data generated by student activity in ICON course sites. You are invited to engage with the OTLT Research and Analytics group by completing their intake survey.

Instructional Technology Presentations

After lunch, we heard from representatives from Panopto and Gradescope, with ideas to incorporate these instructional technologies into teaching practices at Iowa. These tools can help you develop courses that are engaging and effective in enhancing your students’ learning.

We also heard from representatives from Instructure, which powers ICON. They introduced a redesigned Discussion platform that has features like @mentions, anonymous discussions, and multiple due dates. Then they discussed the transformative power of AI in their platform.

If you interested in using any of these tools, email the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology at its-otlt@uiowa.edu.

ICON All Stars

The day ended with the recognition of the first ICON All Star awards. These student-nominated course sites were reviewed by a diverse panel of experts from Student Disability Services; Distance and Online Education; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology, and students from the Student Instructional Technology Assistants (SITA) program. Criteria focused on accessibility, interactivity/engagement, and positive contributions to student learning. Out of 63 nominations, three course sites emerged.

The first ICON All Star winners are Cynthia Farthing for MATH:1550, Kashelle Lockman for PHAR:8502, and Greg Hall for MBA:8140. These ICON All Star winners are true educational rock stars, and their exemplary use of technology will be featured in a future article.

Congratulations to everyone who was nominated and thank you for your work to make course sites that improve the student experience.