Monday, April 22, 2019

By James Hirsch

IOWA Award winners

Several professionals from the OneIT community won an Improving Our Workplace Award (IOWA), which recognizes innovative projects that have a lasting positive influence on the workplace and institution. The recipients will be honored at a reception in May.

A team award went to the ICON Direct Team, a group of 12 professionals from many departments across campus, for their collaboration in bringing new electronic course content opportunities to students and faculty, while also directly saving students millions of dollars over the coming years.

The ICON Direct Team recipients were:

  • Annette Beck, OTLT Enterprise Instructional Technology
  • Bradley Bridges, IMU Financial Management & Auxiliary Services
  • Michael Cook, Iowa Hawk Shop
  • Clark Cooper, IMU
  • Bill Evanson, Administrative Information Systems
  • Alexandra Geraets, Iowa Hawk Shop
  • Bill Hockensmith, Iowa Hawk Shop
  • Jane Malaby, Financial and Auxiliary Services/IMU
  • Vicki Maloy, OTLT Enterprise Instructional Technology
  • Marty Miller, VFPO – Treasury Operations
  • Ross Miller, Administrative Information Systems
  • Rachel Schneberger, Administrative Information Systems

A complete list of spring IOWA Award winners and more information on the award is available on the University Human Resources website.

More affordable, efficient textbooks

As part of the Affordable Content Initiative, the team designed ICON Direct to provide UI students with electronic course materials at discounted prices negotiated through the Unizin higher education consortium. UI students have saved more than $1 million to date, and the program has only just begun.

The ITS Administrative Information Systems (AIS), Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology (OTLT), Iowa Hawk Shop Book Store, Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) IT staff, and University Billing Office partnered with Unizin staff on the project. The team’s vision and the collaborative partnerships allowed them to provide immediate leadership, expertise, and application-development talent to create the order tool and billing processes.

When instructors decide to provide an online textbook or homework environment through ICON Direct, MyUI notifies students with a description of the content and its cost. Students can access the online content as early as a week before the semester, and the cost automatically appears on their U-Bill.

OTLT calculates savings estimates using a formula shared by peer institutions: the difference between list price and the Unizin-negotiated price—then cut in half to account for the fact that many students would not have paid the full list price because they bought a used book, rented or shared the book, or decided not to purchase it at all. Savings for online homework environments are calculated at 100 percent since they are required and can't be shared, resold, or reused.

The team hopes to decrease student costs even more dramatically by increasing faculty training and support for introducing more Open Educational Resources (OER) content. OER content is freely accessible and openly licensed text or multimedia.

New teaching and learning options

Use has grown steadily since the first pilot in fall 2017. Today over 9,200 students are harnessing the benefits of ICON Direct in their courses. This growth would not be possible without the ICON Direct team’s combined efforts in sharing ideas and expertise across departments.

In addition to saving students money, ICON Direct transforms teaching and learning with many online tools. Students can search, annotate, and mark digital course materials, or pose questions to their instructors within the text. Instructors can see which passages students highlight or find challenging.

OTLT plans to research how these new content opportunities impact student learning in positive ways.

If you are responsible for textbook selection and would like to know more about ICON Direct, please contact Annette Beck at or Vicky Maloy at