EdTech Tip Sheet: August 2022

Related people and/or projects: Make your own Meet the Instructor Video

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ETO EdTech Trends: You want more...but also less!

Each August, we (lightly) analyze emails and tickets sent into the FASE ETO for trends and challenges for the upcoming academic terms. We get a small glimpse into what is on your mind and we use this to inform the development of sessions, services, and documentation creation. This year, we're seeing two interestingly opposite EdTech trends - for each request about adding a new EdTech tool, we're seeing another from someone who wants to scale back.

Give me more! - With the return to on campus teaching, EdTech thoughts are turning from online teaching to how you can enhance in-person course activities with digital experiences and resources. The motivation leans towards keeping the elements that worked well while teaching online but translating these to work in a physical classroom. For those in this camp, you might be interested in our tip on how to provide a backchannel chat option or the new Meet your Instructor video template.

Give me less! - We're also seeing more reflection on what worked and what did not, leading to how to strategically reduce the amount of EdTech used in a course (and not just compared to teaching entirely online, perhaps even less than they would have used B.C. (Before COVID)). There's also an acknowledgement that many are still recovering and that while tools can offer new and engaging ways to participate, implementing tech tools also increases workload for the teaching team. This might be surprising, being an Education Technology Office, but we're not technology pushers - we're equally happy to help you streamline your EdTech use in your course (see our calendar to book a consultation)!

What should I do? Wherever you fall on this spectrum, we encourage you to consider your personal motivations (does the technology align with your course outcomes?) and energy levels (do you have time to fully implement these tools?). And of course - we're always here to help you work through it.

This August, what were FASE faculty asking about?

You're not the only one with big questions as we head into September! See the ETO's responses and recommendations to these faculty questions (jump to the specific topic, or keep reading to review them all): 
  1. I want to improve the learner experience of my Quercus course. What should I do (knowing that I don't have a lot of time)?
  2. I'm back in the lab - how do I start introducing the idea of safety training to my students? 
  3. I used [insert tool here] last year. Is it available for me to use this year? 
  4. I'm hoping for in-classroom technical support. Where can I get some help?
  5. I loved the chatting feature during webinars. How can I do that in a physical class?

1. Focus on your Quercus course

I want to improve the learner experience of my Quercus course. What should I do (knowing that I don't have a lot of time)? This is our number one question right now! People are looking for ways to increase usability, improve organization, and add some visual design polish to their existing Quercus courses. As always, we recommend completing our Quercus Start-of-Term checklist, but if you have time, you might:

Make your own "Meet your Instructor" video

Choose one of three (brand new, hot off the presses) video templates (there are versions with and without an on-camera presence) to self-record a video that introduces you to your class! You can download the PowerPoint slide deck to edit and customize according to your preferences. Read more to find out why you might want to create a video like this (it can help make students comfortable asking questions and showing up to office hours), what should be included in this video, and how to use the template (including hardware and software you'll need). Have questions? Email us at fase.edtech@utoronto.ca and we'd be happy to help.

Learn more about new Quercus Updates

In this summer 2022 Quercus update, learn more about updates to the Quercus Rich Content Editor & Gradebook and the new Crowdmark feature Randomized Questions. See also the August 25, 2022 Faculty question on how to improve the organization of your modules using direct links.

2. Supplement in-person training with digital safety modules

I'm back in the lab - how do I start introducing the idea of safety training to my students? One way to start is to share the Minerva Online Health and Safety modules in your Quercus course. The Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering has licensed a series of four online Online Health and Safety courses from Minerva Canada Safety Management Education. Each of the four courses includes 6 to 8 modules that can be completed in any order. Each course also comes with optional testing materials (i.e., multiple-choice quizzes). See how to access the modules.
Access the Minerva Safety Modules

3. Review the 2022/2023 Academic Toolbox

I used [insert tool here] last year. Is it available for me to use this year? Each year, Academic and Collaborative Technologies (ACT) announces the Academic Toolbox, working hard to continue offering great tools and adding new ones based on community feedback. Good news! Zoom and Piazza will continue to be available. If you're looking for a particular tool, check out the one-pager with the full list of tools on the 2022/2023 Academic Toolbox.
Review the ACT 2022/2023 Academic Toolbox
If you're curious about the status of current requests for proposals and procurement processes for new Toolbox tools, ACT publishes updates to their major projects on their wiki page (you can also see what ideas have been submitted).

Considering a tool outside of the U of T Academic Toolbox?

Read the 2nd Edition of Tips to safely implement un-vetted tools in your course to ensure you are implementing these tools according to U of T's guidelines for third party tools and implementing the ETO's practical risk-mitigation suggestions. We want you to use great tools in your course - but safely, securely, and thoughtfully. For Fall 2022, we've updated our safety and security recommendations (this blog was originally published in August 2020), including new tips like encouraging your teaching assistants and students to set up multi-factor authentication and to consider using a password manager (to ensure easy generation of unique passwords).  

4. Get in-classroom support via Tech2U

I'm hoping for in-classroom technical support. Where can I get some help? The Tech2U initiative will be continuing for 2022-23 academic year! Tech2U provides in-room technology support (hardware and presentation software) from a team of Technical Co-pilots and Student Classroom Ambassadors. If requested, the Tech2U team will be there with you from Day 01, supporting technical setup and troubleshooting any challenges that arise.

To join the Tech2U program, login to the LSM Instructor PortalVia this Portal, instructors can also view which classrooms they are scheduled in, book classroom technology equipment, and request site visits. For further assistance, email lsm.tech2U@utoronto.ca.

What are instructors saying about the Tech2U Program?

To request support, login to the LSM Instructor Portal. You can also email lsm.tech2U@utoronto.ca for help (or if you have further questions).

5. Continue offering a chat option, in-person

I loved the chatting feature during webinars. How can I do that in a physical class? On August 17, 2022, Anna facilitated the ETO's first in-person ETO session in...well, a while! The session focused on bringing a popular feature of online synchronous sessions into the physical classroom: the backchannel chat. See the blog post for why you might use a backchannel chat in class, some advantages and disadvantages, selecting (and supporting) the tool, a tool comparison overview table, and a quick review of the ETO's recommendations while using a backchannel chat.

Feature comparison table for chat tools

*Although currently available with a U of T Zoom license, Zoom’s channel chat feature has not been approved for inclusion in the Academic Toolbox

Looking for an accessible version of the above table? See the text version of the Let's Chat about Chatting Tool Comparison Table.


Use Quercus' versioning tool on your Pages

We've all been here: we delete something unintentionally (or perhaps are playing with some HTML and make a seemingly fatal mistake that skews the beautiful buttons we just spent an hour on - not speaking from personal experience, of course!). Fortunately, disaster is averted using Quercus' built-in Page revision history. See How do I view the history of a page in a course? to learn how to restore your page. Not only can you see previous edits (and who made them; helpful across a large teaching team), you can also restore previous versions!

August's Faculty Question(s)

Each week we answer a real question that we've received about Quercus and other Academic Toolbox tools, keeping the questions timely and relevant to you. You can select on the question to read the full inquiry and response or see the previous Faculty Questions of the Week.

Read the Faculty Question of the Week

Can I insert a direct link to a module text header on a page or announcement? (August 25, 2022) |  This instructor likes to use text headers to differentiate content and organize the modules. Read how to use your browser's developer tools to add a direct link to a module text header in the Quercus Rich Content Editor
How can I bulk update the assignment due dates for the assignments I copied over from last year's course? (August 11, 2022) | This instructor wants to re-use assignments (highly recommend!). Read how to use the Bulk Due Date and Time Editor to update your assignment due dates and times for the current term.
See all of the Faculty Questions of the Week posts

Worthwhile clicks from the Web

  1. 8 Ways to Use QR Codes in Higher Education Classroom | EducauseTolulope (Tolu) Noah - QR codes can complement the design of more interactive and engaging learning experiences in higher education.
  2. 10 Ways to Reuse Your Pre-Recorded Videos | Your Teaching Coach | Barbi Honeycutt, PhD - Do you have a collection of pre-recorded videos left over from 2020 (or 2021!)? As educators everywhere switched to virtual teaching, you most likely adapted your in-person lectures and activities to online and that means you probably recorded lots of videos (LOTS of videos!). They certainly don't need to go to waste or get lost in an archive on your computer. Let's figure out how to reuse them!
  3. Stephen Colbert was Supposed to Star in "Severance" | Stephen loves everything about the hit AppleTV+ show, 'Severance,' except for the fact that he didn't get to star in the show. Luckily we found all of his scenes that were left on the cutting room floor, so you can enjoy his performance alongside the show's real stars, John Turturro, Tramell Tillman, and Adam Scott.

How can the EdTech Office help?

Check out our service catalogue to get started:
  1. Book a consultation - We're happy to meet with you to discuss any element of your course (related to technology, of course!). We can help with your Quercus course, planning your online assessments, setting up your home recording station and more!
  2. Request a new Quercus course - We can create courses for both academic and administrative purposes (though for the latter you might also consider a Microsoft Team). If you're running a program, committee, group (especially one that has students), this might be a great hub for your work.
  3. Request guest Quercus Accounts - These temporary accounts (up to 300 days) can be used to provide access to external guests or be used in testing (for more complex course configurations and features).
  4. Participate in the Remote Editing Process - We've designed a remote editing process that begins with support as you to record your own content (from wherever) and ends with the Education Technology Office to provide editing services and posting to your Quercus course. This is ideal for trimming and cutting webinar recordings. Due to demand, we've decided to continue this service as a regular offering from the ETO.
Looking for 1-1 support? We're happy to schedule individual (or teaching team) consultation(s) to review your course and current stage of design. You can also email us to get started!

Wondering about those photos in the banner? 

Each month, we feature photos from the ETO's outside-of-work adventures as part of the newsletter banner.
Photos by Irina Belaya

Photo by Anna Limanni


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What is the FASE Education Technology Office? The Education Technology Office (ETO) supports academic teaching activities in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering by providing leadership, consultation, development, and support of academic technology solutions. If you’re using a technology tool in the classroom (or thinking about using a technology tool in the classroom), we are here to help you it at every stage of planning, implementation, and assessment.


Article Category: EdTech Newsletter