Academic Technology Design Team | Office of Information Technology

Academic Technology Design Team

Last Updated: 11/30/2015

What we do

We design experiences that solve high-impact learning problems. With the support of University of Colorado Boulder leadership, we collaborate with the campus community to develop scalable and sustainable innovations that realize the university’s strategic goals.


Our work is project-based. We design and deploy prototype solutions to wicked teaching and learning problems, assess their success, and transition them to our clients’ environments.

In progress


What can CU-Boulder do to increase access to our digital technologies? In Fall 2014 the ATDT initiated a pilot closed caption service to increase support for the captioning of campus materials. We are currently collaborating within OIT to transition this project from a pilot to a robust and sustainable enterprise service.

New Student Welcome Experience

How do you personalize content for 8,000 students? How do you motivate students to learn with no grade or teacher? In May of 2015, the ATDT launched CU-Boulder’s New Student Welcome Experience in Desire2Learn to all incoming students. We’re currently evaluating this project and will be sharing our successes soon!

Observation Protocol for Learning Environments

Technology-based teaching observation protocols allow to objectively capture observable teaching practices and student behaviors in a classroom environment. This fall, we are piloting the observation protocol with a small group of faculty to assess viability and possible applications of this technology.


As part of a National Science Foundation grant, we are investigating how screencasts (short, narrated videos that solve chemistry problems) are used by teachers and students to support their learning; and how we could make them more usable. LearnChemE screencasts have been downloaded more than 6.5 million times.



Introduction to Engineering

Introduction to Engineering was envisioned as an on-campus MOC (Massive Online Course), that integrated residential campus resources with MOOC teaching techniques in order to achieve learning objectives, scale future offerings, and provide students with a flexible and individualized experience.

Flipping International Student Orientation

In the Fall of 2014, we launched an online international student orientation environment in Desire2Learn in collaboration with ISSS. The Pre-Arrival Orientation is a learner-centered, user-driven space where students can explore CU-Boulder from anywhere in the world.

Gut Check: Exploring Your Microbiome

Members of the BioFrontiers Institute approached the ATDT to develop a massive open online course (MOOC) that would increase general interest in and understanding of the human microbiome (i.e., the collection of microbes in and on your body) and further public involvement in scientific endeavors.

Transforming Student Learning in EMEN 5005

How can students be successful in a large statistics course with a mix of on-campus and distance students, graduates and undergraduates, and students from different programs? In Fall 2014, the ATDT redesigned EMEN 5005 to make it an engaging learning experience and to better tailor it to the needs of its diverse population.

Legal Writing Diagnostic

The ATDT partnered with Colorado Law School on the redesign of a legal writing diagnostic focused on retention and helping students become more successful in their academic and professional careers. The project explored cost-effective, technology-driven approaches to improve students’ writing mechanics.

Calibrated Peer Assessment Pilot

In Spring of 2015, we piloted technological and curricular aspects of implementing calibrated peer assessment on campus. After an exhaustive technology search and thorough in-course pilots, we determined that there are no workable technology solutions available at this time, but we remain vigilant for new technologies that may meet this compelling learning need.

Comic Books and Graphic Novels MOOC

Comic Books and Graphic Novels is one of the first and most successful MOOCs at CU Boulder. This MOOC focused on fostering creative expression, building community, and experimenting with innovative assessments. It brought together 70,000+ participants, who posted rave course reviews all over the internet.

Water in the Western US

Why is water at the heart of so much conflict in the American West? For this MOOC, we interwove the perspective of water experts from all over the US with our team from CU-Boulder. Participants were led through a final project to track their water footprint.



When not working on projects, we provide consultations on the following topics:

Universal Design for Instruction

We provide support to faculty and staff in creating learning experiences, tools, and resources for a wide variety of learners. We provide consultations on universal design principles and best practices in learning and instructional design.

Media Design

We consult with faculty on using multimedia design best practices when developing content for their courses. We help faculty leverage multimedia in their courses and strengthen their instructional message.

Design Thinking

We consult with faculty on integrating design thinking principles and educational technology best practices into their curricula. We conduct an inquiry into the learning goals and methods and identify areas where changes to instruction, assessments, or course plans might yield better learning outcomes. We suggest changes and assist faculty in planning for, and assessing, those changes.

Learning Technology

We consult with faculty and teaching staff on how to best implement their courses using CU’s teaching technologies. This includes Desire2Learn,, Kaltura, Google Apps, and Qualtrics.



We also provide trainings and workshops on the following:

Universal Design for Instruction

We provide trainings for departments and campus organizations on universal design principles and best practices in learning and instructional design. Participants will understand Universal Design as a theoretical framework, where they can go for additional resources, and how to begin employing some easy, practical ideas to make their work accessibility-friendly for a maximum diversity of people.

Media Design

We provide in-class presentations on multimedia and visual design principles and best practices to support students in course projects. Examples of presentations include: storyboarding, introduction to graphic design, film language, and so on.

Learning Technology

We offer trainings each semester providing opportunities for instructors to explore D2L in more depth. We also provide ad-hoc trainings for smaller department groups on request. We often partner with the FTEP program to offer trainings on classroom technologies, assessments and web grading.