3 Things You Should Know About Lecture Capture

Laure Perrier, Academic and Collaborative Technology Liaison, CTSI

Number 1
Lecture capture is an umbrella term describing any technology that lets instructors digitally record their classroom activity (using audio and/or video, screen capture, or PowerPoint slides) and make those recordings available to students. The University of Toronto has licensed two lecture capture products for use by faculty and staff. The two products are TechSmith Relay and Echo360. Wondering which product suits your needs? Read more here: portalinfo.utoronto.ca/lecturecapture

Number 2
Lecture capture systems include a suite of software applications that typically consist of items such as a camera and a microphone. Pushing a single button is enough to activate systems like TechSmith Relay or Echo360 Personal Capture. Both of these lecture capture products record audio and the screen on your computer using the webcam. Recordings can be viewed on the Web, or on MP3 players and portable video devices using compatible formats. Echo360 can also be found installed in classrooms on the University of Toronto campus (Echo360 on Teaching Stations) or purchased by individual Departments (Echo360 SafeCapture HD). Echo 360 on Teaching Stations provides the ability to pre-schedule automatic recording of lectures or presentations. Echo360 SafeCapture HD allows for in-class recording, as well as the ability to host live webcasts.

Number 3
Lecture capture systems offer important benefits including an alternative for when students miss class. It works well when demonstrating a difficult concept, explaining a complicated graph or chart, or providing a step-by-step guide of a complex procedure. How else can lecture capture benefit students? Students can re-examine materials at their own pace, review for exams, identify missed items in classroom notes, and learn at their own speed. By archiving course materials through lecture capture systems, it allows for repeated viewings, permits close examination of steps, and accommodates stopping and starting to ensure nothing is missed.

Preparing Graduate Students for a Changing World of Work

By Megan Burnett, Assistant Director, CTSI/TATP

If you are a graduate student, or know a graduate student, these questions may have come up in conversation:

  • Will I get an academic position once I finish my degree?
  • What kind of position will I be able to obtain?
  • What can I do now during my graduate program to be more successful on the job market?

In my role as Assistant Director with CTSI and TATP, I interact with graduate students every day who are seeking clarity around these questions. In fact, for the past few years these questions have been driving a broader conversation in Canada around the purpose and focus of graduate education, including graduate student professional development. (Boman, 2013; Bilodeau, 2007; Rose, 2012) What, exactly, are we preparing our graduate students to do? How are we enabling their success when they leave graduate school? What can they expect when they exit their degree?

With these questions in mind, CTSI hosted an international SSHRC-funded conference back in May 2011 on graduate student professional development. The conference addressed four possible pathways to personal development within a graduate student’s degree program: professional, academic, teaching, and holistic (or, PATH). The goal was to highlight programming, courses, learning supports and networks at institutions from across North America that seek to prepare graduate students for the changing labour landscape by providing a broader range of skill development – not just a focus on disciplinary research expertise.

The PATH conference demonstrated the need for a deeper discussion of the purpose of graduate education and a re-definition of what success both during and after graduate school might entail. Building on the conversations started at the PATH conference, I recently worked with colleagues here in CTSI to further this debate (Professor Carol Rolheiser, Bethany Osborne, Sara Carpenter). In collaboration with another colleague at the University of Victoria we co-edited a Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of Higher Education (Volume 44, No. 3, 2014). Drawing on studies or projects discussed at the PATH conference, and incorporating new research and new initiatives related to graduate student development, the issue highlights emerging trends in graduate student development and explores successful strategies that could point the way to a re-thinking of graduate education.

The issue includes:

  • a scan of graduate student teaching certificate programs across Canada,
  • a case study of a graduate student professional skills program at a major university in Quebec,
  • an examination of the impact of service learning in a graduate level course at a research-intensive university,
  • a discourse analysis of how Canadian institutions and media talk about teaching in higher education,
  • an examination of how a graduate student teaching development program can foster intercultural competence, and
  • a critique of the debate around graduate student competencies that focus on “transferable skills”.

Together, the six papers reinforce the notion that the changing landscape within academia and for graduate student employment following graduation, necessitates a reform in the way that graduate students are prepared for the labour market and a shift in the perception both within and outside the academy, of what success after gradu­ate school would look like. (Osborne, Carpenter, Burnett, Rolheiser & Korpan, 2014)

This latest issue of the CJHE emphasizes that we are at a pivotal point in Canadian graduate education. The questions that graduate students ask themselves and that others are starting to raise about the graduate student experience should stimulate an examination of our own support of University of Toronto graduate students. Given the success of our Graduate Professional Skills program (coordinated by the School of Graduate Studies) and the development of the co-curricular record for graduate students, and in light of the expansion in graduate education currently being experienced across Ontario and in many U of T units…what do we want from our graduate education programs and from our graduates? What is the world we are preparing them for, and how can we give them the tools to make that world better? What is the role of teaching development programs, leadership programs, research skills programs, community-based or service learning curricula, writing programs, etc. in preparing graduate students for a changing world of work?


Austin, A. E. (2002). Preparing the next generation of faculty: Graduate school as socialization to the academic career. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(1), 94–122.

Boman, J. S. (2013). Graduate student teaching development: Evaluating the effectiveness of training in relation to graduate student characteristics. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 43(1), 100–114.

Bilodeau, P. (2007). Professional skills development: From ideas to action. Ottawa, ON: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Fullick, M. (2014, January 10). Thinking beyond ourselves: The ‘crisis’ in academic work. University Affairs. Retrieved from: http://www.universityaffairs.ca/speculative-diction/thinking-beyond-ourselves-the-crisis-in-academic-work/

Goldstene, C. (2014). The Politics of Contingent Academic Labor. National Education Association website. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/53403.htm

Marincovich, M., Prostko, J., & Stout, F. (Eds.) (1998). The professional development of graduate teaching assistants. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Nyquist, J. D., Manning, L., Wulff, D. H., Austin, A. E., Sprague, J., Fraser, P. K., Woodford, B. (1999). On the road to becoming a professor: The graduate student experience. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 31(3), 18–27.

Osborne, B., Carpenter, S., Burnett, M., Rolheiser, C., Korpan, C. (2014) Preparing graduate students for a changing world of work: Editors’ introduction. Canadian Journal of Higher Education. 44(3), i–ix.

Rose, M. (2012). Graduate student professional development: A survey with recommendations. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Association for Graduate Studies.

Schönwetter, D., & Ellis, D. (2011). Taking stock: Contemplating North American graduate student professional development programs and developers. In J. E. Miller & J. E. Groccia (Eds.), To improve the academy: Resources for faculty, instructional, and organizational development, Volume 29(pp. 3–17). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Online and On Target for Deeper Learning

By Will Heikoop, Online Learning Coordinator

Professor Bill Ju has taught HMB300 Neurobiology of Behaviour numerous times since joining the University of Toronto in 2009. It’s an intermediate course in neuroscience that focuses on higher brain functions and mechanisms underlying human and animal behaviours. The course was taught in a familiar fashion: two hours of lecture, one hour of tutorials and one hour dedicated to office hours – all face-to-face (F2F). For his latest offering he tried something radically new. He incorporated a number of innovative approaches that transformed his teaching and enhanced student learning. The course was thoughtfully redesigned to include:

  • Online activities that reduced the need for F2F time in the classroom (a hybrid model).
  • An online student cohort that attended the live lectures Bill delivered to his F2F students at a distance using the Blackboard Collaborate Webinar tool.
  • Collaborative peer work and assessment using peerScholar, an online pedagogical tool that helps develop students’ critical- and creative-thinking skills to manage the workflow.

Bill Ju, Human Biology Program, Senior Lecturer

Sound intriguing? Let’s break down what it all means and what innovative approaches he brought to his teaching.

The hybrid portion of the course involved moving tutorials and office hours online. Normally held in person on campus, the move online reduced the need for direct F2F time. To ensure a sense of community and a virtual presence, the Blackboard Collaborate Webinar tool was used to support interactive work and conversation.

Turning to the lectures, Professor Ju had an in-class section of 70 students as well as an online section of 40 registered students attend together. Lectures were delivered synchronously using Blackboard Collaborate to online students while simultaneously providing the same lecture material to the students in-class using a streaming model.  Active learning was emphasized in both sections and Bill was careful to incorporate opportunities for both the F2F section and the online students to interact using Collaborate to answer specific questions during class. Additionally, his course re-design involved the development of a strategy for effective engagement of students through peer-based activities – specifically problem sets to be discussed in lectures that required students in-class to interact with their online cohorts.

Finally, his capstone writing assignment utilized peerScholar to encourage active learning between both the F2F and online student groups.  Students designed and peer reviewed infographics/online posters related to specific aspects of neurobiology, which were then made available in an online environment.

What did Professor Ju think of having a F2F cohort, an online cohort and general class activities moved online?

He admits,  “Running a 3 in one classroom was definitely a lot of fun – in person, streaming live and off-line self-paced study.”

For more on Professor Ju’s approach to teaching and learning take a look at this recent CTSI interview.

New technologies on the horizon – an update from Academic & Collaborative Technologies

Ryan Green, Educational Technology Liaison, Academic & Collaborative Technologies

During the academic calendar year of 2014 Academic & Collaborative Technologies (ACT) and CTSI have been working with a number of development teams to bring some new technologies to our community through our Learning Portal.  A selection of some of our projects are below:

WeBWork is an open source online math homework solution, and currently being used successfully in a small number of courses as part of a closed pilot running both Fall and Winter terms. WeBWork users can author their own questions or choose from a large library with over 25,000 questions, developed by the community of over 800 schools and institutions.

WeBWork is integrated into our Learning Portal via a new (to U of T, at least) standard called Learning Tools Interoptibility (LTI), and is the first of a number of expected tools to use this method. The LTI standard provides for a much simpler process of integrating tools into any compliant Learning Management System (LMS).  Previous to the creation of LTI developers would need to create plugins or building blocks for each LMS, a considerable task especially considering the frequency of updates that LMSs are subject to.

The implementation of WeBWork provided our team with some interesting challenges, most notably, the LTI connection was not completely developed on the WeBWork side, an unfortunate outcome of being open source. Thankfully, the University of British Colombia was able to share a version with us that they had done a considerable amount of work on and thereby completing the LTI. Our amazing development team within ACT, aka Ahalya Rajkumar, was able to finalize the work and get everything up and running.

peerScholar is another tool that is currently being run in a closed pilot, through both Fall and Winter terms.  Developed by Professor Steve Joordens and his team at UTSC, peerScholar provides the ability to manage large scale peer and self assessment/feedback activities.

While peerScholar has been available to faculty at our institution for a short while now, our current pilot has peerScholar integrated into our Learning Portal via a building block. This block manages all enrollments and account management, allowing the instructor and students to focus on the activity. The peerScholar building block was developed through close collaboration between the ACT and peerScholar development teams.  The peerScholar team is also working on a media rich support site that will soon launch to provide all the instruction needed for both faculty and educational technology support staff.

Crowdmark is another tool that was initially developed by a University of Toronto faculty member, Professor James Colliander (now with the University of British Colombia).  Crowdmark was developed to help teaching teams mark tests and exams.  Exam booklets are created by the Crowdmark software with QR codes in the top right-hand corner of each page. Once scanned these exams can be graded online by any member of the teaching team, doing away with the hassle of managing paper exam booklets.

ACT is currently working with the Crowdmark development team to integrate their tool into our Learning Portal using the LTI standard.  Once integrated, instructors will be able to import their student lists from the Portal into Crowdmark, TAs and other marking staff will then be able to access the grading tools, and finally student marks can be exported back into the Portal Grade Center.

We are in place to have the integration ready for the Winter 2015 term. However, the license between Crowdmark and the University of Toronto is still underway. For updates, please visit: http://www.teaching.utoronto.ca/teaching/essentialinformation/educationaltechnology.htm

Researching the Inverted Classroom

Earlier this month, over 250 members of the University of Toronto teaching and learning community shared their commitment to developing and enhancing their knowledge of effective teaching practices. The 9th Annual Teaching & Learning Symposium at Hart House explored a wide range of ideas, issues and possibilities related to change.

I was fortunate to both participate and moderate presentations in the “Research on Teaching and Learning” sessions, a first for the Symposium, based in large part on the increased interest in scholarly analysis/enquiry into one’s own teaching. In one of these sessions, Micah Stickel (Electrical & Computer Engineering) and Qin Liu (OISE), disseminated results from their three-year study on students’ perceptions of the inverted classroom approach and the effects of this approach on student learning outcomes. The audience had opportunities to discuss the pros and cons of the inverted vs. the ‘traditional’ approach – our small group discussion, for example, highlighted concerns and questions about student buy-in and their commitment to a pre-lecture 30-minute task. But we also felt students benefitted in ‘learning how to learn’ and engaging in high levels of interactivity within class time. Among several lessons shared from this study, Stickel and Liu emphasized that the inverted classroom approach ultimately rests on strong fundamental educational principles and patience – this is a transition for both the instructor and the student.

In line with the views of several faculty presenters and participants I had discussions with during the Symposium, Stickel noted that “as in previous years, this event provided me with an excellent opportunity to gain valuable perspective on my research through formal and informal discussions with colleagues representing a wide array of programs and educational domains.  One of U of T’s great strengths is our breadth and quality of faculty, and this symposium has always been a wonderful way to connect with both.”

(You can view other presenters discussing the benefits of attending the Symposium.)

In the event you missed Micah and Qin’s presentation, their work will also be shared at the December 10th SoTL Network meeting.

These monthly SoTL events and other SoTL activities offered through CTSI (e.g., the SoTL Journal Club) offer a space for peer to peer discussions on myriad teaching and learning topics and issues similar to the research presented at the Symposium. To subscribe to our SoTL list-serv and learn about upcoming events please email Kathleen: k.olmstead@utoronto.ca. If you would like to present your research ideas, ‘work in progress’ or findings to gain feedback from SoTL Network members, please contact me: cora.mccloy@utoronto.ca.

by Cora McCloy, Research Officer & Faculty Liaison, CTSI


Learn more about U of T’s Centre for Community Partnerships

Did you know that…

  • 94% of student respondents who have taken a community-engaged learning course at the University of Toronto want to take another community-engaged learning course?
  • Community-engaged learning courses have been offered in over 25 disciplines across all three campuses of the University of Toronto including political science, human biology, astronomy, sociology and women and gender studies?
  • University of Toronto faculty who teach community-engaged courses report that, because of their community-engaged approach, their students are more engaged in their learning, better able to understand someone else’s views and are demonstrating enhanced learning through integrating their community experiences with the course material

An Introduction to the Centre for Community Partnerships

If you are an instructor interested in community-engaged teaching and learning, the Centre for Community Partnerships at the University of Toronto can provide you with a wide variety of resources and support. From offering workshops on the fundamental pedagogies and practices of community-engaged learning, to one-on-one meetings focused on course, syllabus and assignment design, to facilitating gatherings of like-minded faculty members, to connecting you with community organizations that may partner with your course, the Centre for Community Partnerships can assist you with developing and running community-engaged courses.

You can read more about our services for instructors on the Centre for Community Partnerships website.

What is community-engaged learning?

The Centre for Community Partnerships understands course-based community-engaged learning as a credit-bearing form of experiential learning where, as part of their enrollment in a course, students are placed in community organizations to undertake work that meets community-identified needs. One goal of community-engaged learning experiences is to allow students to apply the content they are learning in their course, and their discipline-based skills, to practical community-defined projects and to make meaning of these learning experiences through reflective assignments and practices. The approach outlined here is rooted in the pedagogy of academic service-learning, which George Kuh (2008) has identified as a high-impact educational practice [link: http://www.aacu.org/leap/hips]. You can read more about the service-learning approach and how it differs from other forms of experiential learning on the Centre for Community Partnerships’ website.

How can I learn more about community-engaged teaching and learning at the University of Toronto?

  1. Contact us at the Centre for Community Partnerships. We can meet with you to discuss your ideas and questions related to community-engaged learning and connect you with the resources you need to run a successful community-engaged learning course. See the full list of ways that the Centre can support your work on the website.
  2. Join the Centre for Community Partnerships’ newsletter list. The Centre sends out two newsletters each month featuring news and events related to community-engaged teaching and learning.
  3. Attend a faculty workshop or gathering to learn more about community-engaged learning and to meet colleagues interested in community-engaged teaching and learning. This year’s faculty events are available on the Centre for Community Partnerships’ website.

by Jennifer Esmail, Coordinator of Academic Service-Learning and Faculty Development, Centre for Community Partnerships

A few reasons to attend the 2014 Teaching & Learning Symposium

We’ll let your U of T colleagues tell you the benefits of attending the Teaching & Learning Symposium:

This all day event, featuring Teaching Strategies Workshops, Research on Teaching and Learning, Teaching Dilemma Sessions, and Nifty Assignments, is open to all U of T instructors, staff and librarians.

University of Toronto’s 9th Annual Teaching and Learning Symposium
Planning for Change – Responding to Change
November 3, 2014
Hart House

Keynote Address by President Meric Gertler

Lunch is provided.

Register today: http://www.uoft.me/tls

If you have any questions regarding this year’s Symposium, please contact alli.diskin@utoronto.ca.