Larissa Saco is a graduate student researcher at Academic Technology Services. She has been working with our team since 2018. To learn more about Larissa, read on!
Describe your job in Academic Technology Services. What services do you provide UC Davis faculty?
I have worked as an instructional design graduate student researcher with Academic Technology Services for over a year. The instructional design team consults with UC Davis faculty about challenges with course design, implementation, and outcomes, and ways that evidence-based and pedagogically-sound integration of instructional technology could help address those challenges. I work on a variety of tasks and projects in service of this mission, including researching and writing literature reviews, developing teaching resources, helping to coordinate faculty events, and testing and writing documentation for emerging instructional technology tools.
What prior work and academic experiences best prepared you for this job?
My background in education research, technical assistance, and project coordination sparked my interest in this role. Prior to graduate school, I worked at MDRC, a social policy research organization, on implementation and impact evaluations of K-12 instructional interventions, teacher professional development models, and college and career readiness programs. I also found it rewarding to train staff on research and project management technologies in support of our large-scale studies. I learned to coordinate teams on multiple projects and committees at a time while remaining organized, detail-oriented, and communicative in a fast-paced, collaborative environment.
What are some favorite recent ATS projects?
My job has offered me an array of opportunities for gaining knowledge and professional development in teaching and technology. Our accessibility team has had a productive year in collaborating with the Student Disability Center and developing workshops and resources on technological processes that remove barriers to accessing online learning materials. Other topics that I have enjoyed researching include the integration of visuals in teaching, Universal Design for Learning, and various instructional design models. I appreciate seeing faculty share teaching experiences and build community at our flagship events, including the annual Summer Institute on Teaching and Technology (SITT) and the monthly meetings of Discussing Online Learning and Collaborative Education (DOLCE) and the Faculty Forums. I also play a role in collecting and analyzing faculty feedback and usage records for events and technologies in order to monitor and improve these services.
Name a challenge or opportunity that you think people in your position will face five years from now.
We have the important responsibility to serve an increasingly diverse student body in higher education. The challenge for instructional designers and other teaching and learning stakeholders is to do so thoughtfully and thoroughly, addressing important questions about the technologies we recommend and use. Under what circumstances does an instructional technology help or hinder students’ learning experiences and outcomes? What are ethical uses of technology with campus and community partners in mind? How might instructional technologies foster community and promote accessibility, inclusivity, and belonging inside and outside the classroom? How do we know not only which technology to use, if any, but how strategically to integrate it into a course to support desired learning objectives? How do we use empirical evidence and the experiences of UC Davis faculty and students to guide the strategies we adopt? What programmatic and institutional changes are needed to further support teaching, learning, and the overall higher education experience for students today and in the future?
What do you do for fun when not working at ATS?
I enjoy spending quality time with friends and family in Davis, Sacramento, and the San Francisco Bay Area (where I’m from). When they live farther away, I write letters. Around Davis, you can sometimes find me writing in a coffee shop, playing board games at a friend’s house, or exploring the Arboretum. I also listen to a lot of music when I’m walking or unwinding.
Under what circumstances should faculty at UC Davis reach out to you?
If you have feedback, suggestions, or questions about our services or events, please feel free to reach out. I would be happy to relay your message or connect you directly with ATS staff and resources. If you have thoughts in response to any of the (many) questions posed above, I would love to hear from you!
What is the best way for you to be contacted?
Email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org