Posted: 10/01/20

TAMIU Office of Information Technology Names Arellano, 2020 Instructional Technology Excellence Award Recipient


Juan Jose Arellano Jr.

Texas A&M International University’s (TAMIU) Office of Instructional Technology and Distance Education Services recognized this year’s 2020 Instructional Technology Excellence Award recipient, Juan José Arellano, Jr.

Arellano, a Mathematics instructor at TAMIU’s College of Arts and Sciences, department of Mathematics and Physics, was lauded for his commitment to using emerging technologies while teaching, explained Miguel Munoa, associate vice president for Information Technology and chief information officer.

“Mr. Arellano has exemplified the use of technology tools in his College Algebra courses and has made use of TAMIU’s Academic Innovation Center’s active learning classrooms to deliver his lessons. Arellano also uses several tools while teaching, including interactive graphic calculators, iPads as whiteboards, interactive software for geometric constructions, Google Sheets, LaTeX and much more,” said Munoa.

Before and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Arellano continued to use tools and resources to facilitate classroom and virtual learning. Technologies, such as Desmos, a free advanced graphing calculator, offered students a better understanding of the mathematical concepts taught during class.

“I use Desmos.com to help students understand concepts by showing them the interactive graphing calculator, which is intuitive to use and can show captivating visual aids. I also use Desmos to have students work on fun activities that helps them learn through discovery learning, games, and analyzing stories, historical data, videos, or images overlaid over a coordinate system with interactive graphing tools,” said Arellano.

Other technologies used by Arellano include WebAssign for homework assignments, Notability on iPad for classroom notes, Prezi for lecture presentations and LaTeX for completing written assignments found in advanced mathematics courses. Arellano particularly emphasizes the importance of using LaTeX in creating mathematically-focused academic research papers. 

“It is common to write as you brainstorm ideas and edit on Microsoft Word. In mathematics, it is slow and difficult to type out ideas and develop them using these word processors. This is where LaTeX comes in. The program allows students to complete their work and edit it conveniently to have a finished, well-presented product that students can learn to use to assist them in their future careers,” said Arellano.

University mathematics student Ismael Arroyo knew that he was in for a challenge when taking Arellano’s course, but welcomed the opportunity.

“Mr. Arellano focused on student learning, not a student’s capacity to memorize, because if the student would learn, it meant they understood concepts. I had the privilege of learning under Mr. Arellano’s supervision and knowing that the class provides you with a challenge,” said Arroyo. 

For Fundamentals of Mathematics student Kathryn Andrews, the addition of real-life scenarios that tied to mathematics and problem-solving, brought mathematics to life.

“I feel like I’ve learned a new outlook and philosophy, not just about math, but people and problem- solving. This was a very good experience, and I am grateful to have taken the course,” said Andrews.

Technology continues to be a strong proponent in instruction. Whether a student is learning in the classroom or at home, emerging technologies can certainly facilitate an environment focused on student-centered learning, asserted Arellano.

“Mathematics is fun and exciting, but it may be difficult to showcase that with only paper and pencil. Innovative technology helps students experience authentic mathematics in captivating ways. I believe that these innovative tools of technology provide students with different avenues for learning and can help educators struggling to transition from the typical lecturing classes to a student-centered environment. Embracing technology is not just important to facilitate learning, but to transform learning,” said Arellano.

For more information, contact the Office of Information Technology at 956.326.2310, email hotline@tamiu.eduor visit https://www.tamiu.edu/oit/.

Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) is one of the 11 university members of The Texas A&M University System.  A primarily Hispanic-serving, State-assisted university founded in 1970, its 300-acre campus is located in northeast Laredo, Texas on former ranchland. 

Home to 8,500 students from around the world, TAMIU offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in the arts and sciences, business, education and nursing. As its name affirms, TAMIU maintains a special focus on developing an international academic agenda for the State of Texas.

U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 Edition of its popular Best Colleges guide ranks TAMIU as the second highest-ranked Texas public university in its Best Regional Universities West category and the highest-ranked regional campus of The Texas A&M University System.

TAMIU is also ranked second in the nation and first in Texas for having the lowest student debt, on average $3,477 in loans. TAMIU also ranks 5th in the nation among the 100 Most Affordable Public Schools with the Highest Return on Investment according to ranking authority Great Value Colleges. Additional information is available at http://www.tamiu.edu

OIT Instructional Excellence Award

TAMIU's 2020 Instructional Technology Excellence Award recipient, Juan José Arellano, Jr. (center), was presented with this year's award by University president Dr. Pablo Arenaz (left) and associate vice president for Information Technology and chief information officer Miguel Munoa (right).