EdTech Tip Sheet: January 2023

Not subscribed to the EdTech Tip Sheet Newsletter? Sign up now and/or read all our past issues!


Welcome back! We hope that you had a wonderful break - now that we're back, we suspect that many of you are using the week before classes begin to prepare for your upcoming courses. For a few last-minute tips on how to effectively launch your Quercus course, try the ETO's Start-of-term Quercus checklist (don't forget to publish your Quercus course!).

ETO's January EdTech Resolution Suggestions

This month, instead of tips, we thought we'd offer a few EdTech micro-steps that you might implement in your course. These are "light" resolutions and we recommend starting with one; pick the one that resonates most with something you've been wanting to change about your course and give it a try! (Also fine is the resolution to not make any resolutions; we can get behind that, too.)

My 2023 EdTech Micro-resolution is to:
  1. Try something new: Implement a new (or additional) UDL principle into my teaching
  2. Learn a bit more about artificial intelligence (AI) in education: Watch Prof. McCahan's introduction to few common tools (including ChatGPT)
  3. Get organizedCommit to creating a weekly checklist
  4. Get inspired: Sign up for (and read!) a new EdTech or pedagogical newsletter
  5. Reflect: Use a previously recorded video of a class to self-analyze your teaching
Internally, we're not making any large resolutions, but we have a few small ones like getting a bit more methodical about using Instapaper (or maybe Evernote or Readwise, it's hard to decide!), going real deep with Articulate Storyline, and embracing Excel's shortcuts and tricks. If you have a resolution (or anything tech-related) that you could use another brain on, email us at fase.edtech@utoronto.ca to discuss.
Can't see your Winter 2023 Quercus course? Instructor enrollments are pulled directly from ROSI. If you are still not able to see you course, contact your departmental ROSI administrator.

1. Implement a new (or additional) universal design principle into my teaching

For ideas on strategies, check out the University of Waterloo's guide to Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which divides strategies into three categories:
  1. Accessibility (e.g., wear a microphone in rooms that seat more than 25 students)
  2. Variability (e.g., avoid overusing one type of activity; although that method might engage some, it could be a barrier for others)
  3. Supporting class climate (e.g. avoid materials and examples that foster stereotypes)
What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)? UDL is a broad term used to describe learning strategies that support the different needs of learners. UDL has a bit of a reputation for being a lot of work but there are many ways to implement small changes that still have a big effect on the learning environment. What we like about UDL is that it proactively supports students through strong course design versus putting the responsibility on learners to self-identify issues. By building in accessibility, incorporating a wide variety of activities and modalities, and providing multiple avenues of support, you help ensure that at least one of these mechanisms will connect with your students. To learn more, see CTSI's resource on Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

2. Learn a bit more about artificial intelligence (AI) in education

In this video, Prof. McCahan provides a brief demonstration of a few sample AI tools that are currently available (including ChatGPT). Note that this video is not intended to endorse any specific tool or suggest that the responses created by these tools are high quality or accurate. It is merely intended to demonstrate some of the capabilities of a few, typical AI tools. 
After watching, you might be interested in reading the articles mentioned in the video (compiled by Avi Hyman and Susan McCahan). 

3. Commit to creating a weekly task checklist for your students

Other than lecture capture, the thing we hear students asking for the most is for their instructors to create a weekly checklist of tasks (typically reinforcing information shared in class). A checklist can help students stay on top of to dos across courses, as well as modeling how to organize and self-direct learning. Keep it simple - we recommend a weekly Quercus announcement (versus adding a new tool; there's no checklist feature built into Quercus).

Tips to build a great checklist:

  1. Write clear and concise items. This isn't the place to include detailed instructions or long explanations.
  2. Link to course resources. Help learners navigate by linking to modules, quizzes, etc.
  3. Stick to achieveable, defined tasks. "Submit quiz 2" is a stronger item than "Study for your final exam." 
  4. Use a logical order. Sequence the tasks in the order that learners should complete them (e.g., Reading > Reflection > Quiz).

4. Sign up for (and read!) a new EdTech or pedagogical newsletter

Spoiler: we read a lot of newsletters! Here are five that the ETO recommends. These are external-to-U of T newsletters that you might choose to sign up for to learn more about Engineering Education and/or Educational Technology. 
  1. The Educationalist | Subscribe | A European perspective on education and technology, with a pedagogical lens. 
  2. Experiencing eLearning | Subscribe | Posts break down how to use technology and storytelling to create learning experiences, written by a rockstar instructional designer. 
  3. Contact North | Subscribe | Stay current on the latest trends, best practices, emerging technologies and training opportunities for online learning in Ontario. This newsletter is full of no charge virtual sessions on topics we wish we'd thought of!
  4. Faculty Focus | Subscribe | Featuring links to timely articles on complex topics written by academics. If you only subscribe to one...
  5. Learning Science Weekly | Subscribe | Well-researched, heavily cited articles about designing learning environments and educational experiences...with memes? Yes, please!
Have a good one that you read that isn't in the list above? Tweet @fase_eto and share your recommendation!

5. Use a previously recorded video of a class to self-analyze your teaching

Chances are you have a lot - a lot a lot - of video recordings of your lectures and/or other class activities. Hopefully you're already re-purposing those (see Dr. Honeycutt's tips for re-using recorded content) but have you considered using the recordings for self-reflection and self-assessment? It can be helpful to review a class and note when students ask questions, when you pause, when you explain a concept more than once, etc. You can use this feedback to re-work how you teach a concept or cut the longer video into smaller segments and release them to your learners as "chunks." 

Interested in a more formal teaching observation? CTSI’s Teaching Observations service is intended to provide instructors with formative feedback on their instructional practices in a class session (in-person or online synchronous). At an instructor’s request, a Faculty Liaison from CTSI attends a class session for one hour and provides constructive feedback.

New MS Teams feature: Time-delayed chat messages

You can already delay email messages sent from Outlook (see instructions for desktop or web), now you can do the same with chat messages in MS Teams! You can draft your chats and send them at a later time. Particularly helpful for reminders; your future self (and your colleagues) will thank you!

How to schedule your chat messages to be sent later

Open MS Teams and select a chat. Then:
  1. Type your message (but don't hit enter)
  2. Right-click (select) on the Send button (arrow icon)
  3. Select your delivery date and time to send at your preferred time.
See the full Microsoft guide for more details, including how to edit your scheduled chat message (desktop and mobile instructions included).

January's Faculty Questions of the Week

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 all previous faculty questions of the week.

More generally, there's also a Quercus Update focusing on:
  1. Rich Content Editor: Word Count Details
  2. Rich Content Editor: Icon Marker
  3. Student Grade Feedback Visibility Update 

Read the Faculty Questions of the Week

Where can I find grade distribution data for Quercus Assignments? (December 15, 2022) |  I can see Grade Distribution Information for Quizzes but can't find anything similar for Assignments. Is that information available in Quercus or do I have to calculate it myself?
Does Crowdmark support rubrics for grading? (December 08, 2022) | My students are writing an exam in Crowdmark and one of the questions requires a longer essay-type response. I'd like to use a rubric to grade this question. Does Crowdmark support rubrics?
See all of the Faculty Questions of the Week posts

January's "just trust us" Clicks

Our recommendations this month are focused on ChatGPT and AI because that's what is filling up our newsfeeds right now:
  1. ChatGPT Can't Kill Anything Worth Preserving (The Biblioracle Recommends) | From John Warner: "The release of OpenAI’s, ChatGPT interface generated a sudden flurry of discussion about how we teach students to write in school, which is something I know a lot about."
  2. ChatGPT and the rise of AI writers: how should higher education respond? (Times Higher Education) | The proliferation of AI text generators such as ChatGPT has major implications for higher education. Nancy Gleason explores how educators should respond to these tools which can write essays in seconds.
  3. ChatGPT and Good Intentions in Higher Ed (Is a Liminal Space) | From Autumn Caines: "I’m frustrated by the conversation around ChatGPT in higher education."
  4. Five Remarkable Chats That Will Help You Understand ChatGPT (The Atlantic) | From Jacob Stern: "The powerful new chatbot could make all sorts of trouble. But for now, it’s mostly a meme machine."

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, in the Tip Sheet Banner, we feature photos from the ETO's outside-of-work adventures.

Photo by Inga Breede (left; Squirrel eating berries) and right; Hurley the cat under tree)

Photo by Anna Limanni (left; Rocky and Mia in gift bag) and Irina Belaya (Right; Miami's palm trees)
Follow us on Twitter (@fase_eto) for ETO news and updates and subscribe to the ETO YouTube channel for our latest videos and projects.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

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 plan and support it at every stage.


Article Category: EdTech Newsletter