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Teaching/Learning Center: HISTORY OF E-LEARNING

Otis College has a long history of supporting e-learning activities, including many that were experimental pilots designed for capacity building that later became programs. In 2000 we began with web-based resources. In 2004 we took a step forward with the adoption of a Learning Management System and ePortfolios in subsequent years. By 2011 we began experimenting with technology-enhanced and online courses. In 2013 we expanded our exploration by delving into MOOCs and launching a Blended Learning Initiative. Otis College in 2013 was positioned to launch systematic assessment activities with the formation of the eLearning Advisory Committee (eAC) and the college Instructional Designer (ID). The eAC was able to provide goals and planning while the ID could engage in year long eLearning data collection and review for assessment. Otis College continues its exploration in eLearning opportunities while maintaining a strong commitment to providing quality education. 

2000 - 2008


  • Creation of Otis College's first website
  • Library began to provide web support for learning through pathfinders and webpages. 


  • The Library customized and offered a self-paced open source course to teach Information Literacy call TILT (Texas Information Literacy Tutorial) that was required for all foundation students.


  • Otis College was the first of all the AICAD schools (and most of the colleges and universities) to move away from teaching with slides to the use of digital images. The Digital Image Database (DID) offered technology enhancements, such as student access to slide-shows online. The DID was particularly beneficial to the Art History faculty.AICAD schools (and most of the colleges and universities) to move away from teaching with slides to the use of digital images. The Digital Image Database (DID) offered technology enhancements, such as student access to slide-shows online. The DID was particularly beneficial to the Art History faculty.
  • Otis College continued investment in providing smart classroom technologies (digital projectors and computer classrooms). 


  • The Otis College Learning Management System (LMS powered by Digication) was purchased. 


  • By this time, the Library maintained approximately 670 web pages with 6,972 visits per month.
  • Receipt of a 3-year grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation. The purpose of the funding was to develop a dedicated space for faculty, the Teaching/Learning Center (TLC) and to provide direct support to faculty to learn technologies as well as financial incentives to create learning objects - all with the goal of improving student learning. Two months after the award letter was received, the Foundation awarded Otis College an additional unexpected $100,000 to support our projects. A new position was added and funding for the new TLC position continued after the grant.
  • Part-Time videographers were added and continued after the grant funding. 
  • The e-portfolio module was added a year later to the LMS.


  • Many faculty and students began experimenting with blogging and wiki creation in their courses. Implementing the software in courses demonstrated the pedagogical best practice that students often take more care in their writing when they know it will be viewed by others. Ultimately, the e-portfolios proved more popular.
  • E-portfolios were available as part of O-Space, and beta-tested with Artists, Community, and Teaching (A.C.T.) courses.


  • The TLC was recognized with a “Centers of Excellence Award” for its outstanding service to faculty from the NMC in 2007.
  • TLC began uploading videos to Youtube and audio podcasts to iTunesU. Most videos and podcasts were created by faculty with TLC support to enhance course instruction.


  • Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) began offering 3 fully online classes (Art History, English, Social Science) in the summer semester to allow students to make up required classes and graduate on time. 
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences beta tested the use of Learning ePortfolios in select courses: the first year Honors Art History course, and two senior Capstone beta courses.

2009 - 2013


  • Learning ePortfolios are a requirement in Liberal Arts and Sciences starting with the first year courses. Foundation and Product Design programs are beta-testing the use of a learning ePortfolios in select studio courses. 
  • In March, Admissions offered ePortfolios as an option for portfolio submissions to the college.


  • Learning ePortfolios are a required element in all Foundation and Sophomore Liberal Arts and Sciences courses. Students in their studio majors, use their Learning ePortfolio in an least one course.


  • In fall 2011, Debra Ballard piloted teaching a core LAS Foundation English course where all students received iPads provided by the Library. The success of the pilot allowed for the courses to be offered in subsequent semesters, taught by Jean-Marie Venturini (English) and Maggie Light (English).
  • Learning ePortfolios are a required element in all Foundation, Sophomore and Junior Liberal Arts and Sciences courses. Capstone courses are required for all Seniors in which the Learning ePortfolio platform is used.


  • An online course about e-learning pedagogy (Bricks + Clicks: The How-To's of eLearning) was developed and offered as a faculty development grant opportunity. Faculty received stipends for completion of the course and for development of their first blended and online course upon completion.
  • In the fall an Instructional Designer position was added, increasing college capacity to support faculty in technology-enhanced, blended, and online course development.
  • Jeanne Willette (Art History), developed over 30 podcasts for an art survey course in iTunesU.
  • Learning ePortfolios are a required element in all Liberal Arts and Sciences courses as well as the posting of Signature Assignments.


  • An an online Math 136 course was added to the LAS summer curriculum.
  • An extensive micro-site was developed for the Library and TLC to support technology-enhanced courses.
  • The TLC has supported faculty in the creation of MOOCs and other online self-paced courses. Dr. Parme Giuntini developed and taught a MOOC called “The Modern Genius” once in summer and again in fall 2013.
  • A “Blended-Learning Initiative” was begun under the Direction of Randy Lavender, Vice-Provost, to support faculty developing Blended courses.
  • The eLearning Advisory Committee was also established to plan college e-Learning initiatives, review and recommend course implementation and program proposals, and assesses e-Learning activities for the College.
  • The LAS iPad pilot course was linked with one section of a Foundation drawing course (taught by Bill Eckert) to allow students to also experiment with drawing apps.
  • In the fall, Otis College applied for two grants of $100,000 each-- one from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and another to the Keck Foundation. Both were written to fund 20 learning objects in foundational studio skills that would then be incorporated into a MOOC, offered for free and targeted towards high school students.

2014 - 2015


  • With assistance from the Ahmanson Grant for Academic Computing, new iPad Airs were purchased for the ipad course.
  • Jean-Marie Venturini (Instructional Designer) organized a Faculty iPad learning community with 19 faculty to experiment with iPads for teaching using the iPad2 originally purchased for the iPad pilot course in 2011. 47 faculty participated.
  • By this time, TLC support increased, this year there were over 581 individual assists to faculty + 145 individual assists to staff in addition to 110 workshops offered for faculty. Drop-in support was the most popular method of support sought by faculty.
  • By this time, 9 smart classrooms were in use. These classrooms included projectors and instructor stations with dual-boot computers, document cameras, and dvd/bluray players. These classrooms were updated in the summer though the Ahmanson Grant for Academic Computing.
  • Gary Geraths, a Foundation and Digital Media faculty, began collaborating with the Provost office in experimenting with teaching drawing online to High School students. 
  • June of this year, Otis College was awarded the Keck Grant. The NEA grant was turned down, but praised for its innovative approaches.
  • Academic Departments begin using Learning ePortfolios as part of assessment.


  • A collaborative effort between the TLC and Foundation developed and launched an art and design fundamentals MOOC targeted toward High School students, supported by a KECK Grant. 30 learning objects were filmed to showcase Otis College faculty expertise for use in the MOOC as well as to support Otis College coursework. The MOOC was facilitated by Roni Feldman, housed on the Canvas MOOC platform, and started March 2015. It lasted 12 weeks with over 2,000 students enrolled. In the summer we launched a 5 week version of the MOOC and saw roughly 1,000 students enroll.
  • By this time, the Library provided 24/7 access to 100,000 e-books and millions of articles in subscription databases to support learning. Peak times of access are between 10 pm to 1 am.
  • A photographic technician was subsequently hired to help create the image bank, which is currently at 45,000 images.
  • To date, in addition to supporting all kinds of e-learning developments, the TLC uploaded 556 videos + 84 audio podcasts to YouTube with 2,643,512 views since fall 2007. Similarly, the TLC maintained an iTunesU site with videos organized into “courses.” Otis College was among the first colleges to participate in those web spaces.
  • The blog software was no longer a popular choice in courses instruction and shifted to Academic Department use to feed announcements into the redesigned Otis College website.
  • Otis College launched "The Modern Genius" MOOC taught by Dr. Parme Giuntini (Liberal arts and Sciences) on a new platform, Kadenze, in the summer with around 526 students enrolling.
  • Two summer online courses were also offered through Kadenze to pilot Kannu, a brand new Course Management System. The two courses were: Digital Photography taught by Eugene Ahn (Continuing Education) and Time Travel Narratives taught by Jean-Marie Venturini (Liberal Arts and Sciences).
  • Amy Bond (Fashion Design) developed a fashion-focused MOOC launched through Kadenze in the fall.
  • Gary Geraths (Foundation and Digital Media) taught a synchronous, online drawing classes, Portraiture, as part of a unique partnership between Standford Online High School and Otis College of Art and Design. A production classroom was created to support this type of instruction with three camera feeds into the synchronous virtuial classroom. 
  • Otis College entered the realm of Digital Badges to highlight student achievement and participation in various Academic and Co-Curricular activities.
  • The first e-Portfolio Excellence Awards were developed to showcase and recognize quality work among student Learning e-Portfolios. 
  • The annual eLearning Showcase was established to provide an opportunity for the Otis College Community to learn about the amazing projects in blended and online learning development. 
  • The MOOC developed from the KECK Grant was adapted into an online course offered in Otis College's Continuing Education program.

2016 - present


  • The first set of ePortfolio Excellence Awards were given to seven students in spring.
  • Gary Geraths (Foundation and Digital Media) continued the collaboration with Standford Online High School and taught online Landscape drawing.
  • In the fall, the Otis Community was surveyed to collect feedback on the college's current Learning Management System (LMS), O-Space. This was the first step in preparing for updates to the O-Space ePortfolio system.
  • The Library and Teaching/Learning Center moved to the New Academic Buildings.
  • Student and Faculty Learning Centers use ePortfolios for onboarding/training programs for tutors and new faculty.


  • The college prepared for the launch of a new campus-wide Portal system.
  • A new version of Bricks + Clicks was developed in the Kannu LMS to promote the development of eLearning courses in Continuing Education. The Instructional Designer presented at Continuing Education open houses to encourage instructor enrollment in Bricks + Clicks.
  • Presentations for the eLearning Showcase were integrated back into Academic Assembly to ensure a greater faculty audience.
  • The Teaching/Learning Center and Library developed LibGuides, shifting relevant content from the college website to this dedicated space.
  • The Teaching/Learning Center in collaboration with the Video Lab outfitted a dedicated Production Studio for faculty to use to develop their own instructional objects. A part-time staff position was added to the TLC to support training in O-Space and faculty video creation.
  • The TLC assistant was hired in the fall to support faculty/instructors producing video content for courses and assist with Teaching/Learning Center training/workshops. 


  • The College convenes a task force to investigate alternative Learning Management Systems.

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