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