UCF's 'Obojobo' Instructional Network Wins National Innovation Recognition

UCF’s ‘Obojobo’ Instructional  Network Wins National Innovation Recognition

An online UCF platform for designing, sharing and distributing instructional materials is one of three 2013 national award winners for educational innovation announced today by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies .

The homegrown e-learning system, called Obojobo, was created by UCF’s Center for Distributed Learning as a platform for the widespread sharing of online instructional components across the university. The system offers design support, templates, and other features to make creation and distribution of high-quality, reusable digital learning tutorials convenient for faculty and staff.

Obojobo was recognized with the annual WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award, which is presented to colleges, universities and other organizations for exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to a significant problem or need in higher education.

“Obojobo’s core design focuses on assessable content that is targeted, succinct, and, as a result, highly reusable,” said Ian Turgeon, a web application developer in the center. “Our vision comes from the simple idea that thousands of instructors are teaching the same subject with the same content, and reinventing it every semester. By establishing a community of educators and giving them a platform to interact with this content, they could collaborate to build some truly fantastic things.”

Obojobo has allowed departments such as the John C. Hitt Library and Student Development and Enrollment Services to create and share learning resources that faculty anywhere on campus can incorporate into their courses.

The system also collects student performance data for detailed feedback on their learning and is the foundation of several self-paced, faculty-development programs.

“Innovation is in Obojobo’s DNA. The system’s collaborative nature allows all corners of the university to benefit from a good idea, allowing it to be shared instantly with everyone,” said Thomas Cavanagh, associate vice president in charge of UCF’s Center for Distributed Learning.

Data show that since the implementation of the system in 2008, the number of users has increased to more than 64,500. The number of times that the UCF faculty members have shared online modules has increased by 60 percent each of the past two years, and the number of assessments completed by students has reached 300,000.

The Center for Distributed Learning has been approached by several higher-education institutions and associations wanting to adopt Obojobo and its modules.

“We are exploring venues and licensing options to be able to share and collaborate with other institutions who might be interested in co-developing additional Obojobo features,” said Francisca Yonekura, associate department head.

To check out a video about Obojobo and its capabilities, click here. UCF faculty members can access the network website at http://obojobo.ucf.edu by using their Network Identification number and password.

And just where did the name Obojobo come from? The palindrome speaks to the aesthetic qualities that the center was looking for when it created the name.  

“We struggled to come up with a name that captured our intentions. When we decided to abandon real words, we needed something that was identifiable in both auditory and visual formats,” said Turgeon.

The other winners for this year’s WOW Award are:

  • University of North Carolina’s Online Proctoring Network, which standardizes and streamlines proctoring for instructors, students and proctors.
  • Lane Community College’s OER Faculty Fellowship in Eugene, Ore., which provides support and opportunities for faculty to create and use open educational resources in their courses and save students money by reducing textbook requirements and increasing the number of textbook-free courses.

“There’s a robust level of innovation and creativity that schools are applying towards the overarching goals of quality and student success,” said Ben Zastrocky, chair of the WOW Award committee and director of the Educational Technology Center at Metropolitan State University of Denver.  “While the three 2013 WOW projects are so diverse…they have one interesting common theme: utilizing technologies to increase efficiencies in the teaching and learning process so that faculty can focus on their job No. 1 – teaching, assessing student progress, engaging with students.”

The awardees will be recognized during WCET’s annual meeting of higher-education educators Nov. 13-15 in Denver.