University of Iowa students and instructors can look forward to a significant upgrade to Iowa Courses Online (ICON) this spring. The latest version of the course-management system will include a more modern interface, along with new conveniences and features.
ICON, powered by the vendor Desire2Learn, is used by more than 4,000 courses each semester at the UI. Use of the system has grown tremendously, from 7,515 courses in 2010 to 9,087 of courses in 2013. In 2013 alone, ICON was visited roughly 12 million times by nearly 2.2 million visitors.
This will be the biggest upgrade of the system since its implementation in 2005, and ITS will provide plenty of training and support to guide the campus through the transition.
It’s very important to note that ICON will be unavailable on May 27-28 for this transition, and that instructors and students enrolled in the summer session will need to plan accordingly. Information Technology Services (ITS) will reach out to these populations directly to ensure that those affected are aware well in advance.
Then, starting May 29, users will see some exciting changes to the learning environment.
ICON will continue to serve as the online hub for course content, discussion boards, assignment submissions and feedback, grading, quizzes, and more. But it will look different, with a sleeker interface and a new black and gold logo.
Most importantly, the new version means fewer clicks, less complexity, more consistency, and more notifications about activity in your ICON courses.
Time savers for instructors
Adding content to a course site will be a quicker and easier process. To upload files, instructors can simply drag and drop them into the content area. They can rearrange content by simply clicking and dragging files.
Instructors will have easy access to completion summaries for all learning activities, and a user progress tool will provide a quick glance and comparison of how students are doing.
Deadline and grade alerts for students
Students will be able to sign up for text or email alerts when a deadline is approaching, a discussion is updated, or a grade is posted. In a survey of ICON users, notifications were the most requested feature by students.
Better organization and navigation
The new ICON Dashboard will feature a cleaner interface. Content, discussion forums, and the drop box will be easier to navigate thanks to a new table of contents. Buttons, icons, and links will be more consistent, and tools will be grouped in menus at the top of the page.
Discussion forums will be fully threaded, making it easier to see unread messages in each forum rather than sorting through a combined thread for all discussions.
Training and support available
Beginning in late February, ITS-Instructional Services will host “ICON Faculty Road Shows” in every college to highlight changes and give instructors a chance to ask questions.
Consulting and point-and-click training sessions are available upon request, and a new online training video library will be available. Instructors can sign up for a test course to get used to the new look and try out the tools. The test site, along with more information about the new-and-improved ICON, is available at http://icon.uiowa.edu/upgrade.
To reach a member of the ICON Support Team, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 319-384-HELP (4357), or swing by 2800 University Capitol Centre (2nd floor of Old Capitol Mall).