Selecting technologies to support course activities
How do we select technology to support course activities? How do we maintain the teaching and learning community with the use of technology? People recommend so many different learning technologies that it can be hard to know what will be helpful, easy to use, clear for students to understand and safe.
You have a limited amount of time available to adapt a course. Focus on tools you already are familiar with and tools that match your style of teaching and learning activities. When working under time constraints, try to make the smallest changes possible that will still allow your students to learn in the new situation.
As you get more comfortable with the tools you like and how your students use them, add new tools to expand how your students can learn. Different learning tools can inspire different ways to teach things even in contexts you’re used to.
The University of Calgary supports four core learning technologies, which provide the core tools needed to offer a class in an online or in a blended configuration.
D2L is our Learning Management System (LMS). This provides a way to present material to students, give and receive assignments, run quizzes and connects all of the other core learning technologies. Most students are familiar with D2L/Brightspace and are comfortable using its tools.
Every course, in-person or on-line, has a site (or shell) created before the beginning of the semester. You have to add your material and learning activities and make it active it for your students so they can access it.
Centralizing your material in D2L can make it easier for students to find everything over the course of the semester. Additionally, having material available through D2L can help students to understand the overall structure and flow of your course. D2L is easily accessible for most students and is the first learning technology we recommend focusing on when thinking about how to adapt your course to change.
Zoom is our video conference provider and allows for real-time/synchronous meetings with your students. It can be incorporated with D2L to allow for regular meetings.
Zoom provides a way to run meetings with several people (up to 300) at the same time, hold small group discussions using breakout rooms, use a whiteboard with annotations and launch polls in meetings.
Even if your class is primarily in-person, you may have students who are unable to attend class in-person, you should consider how you might incorporate Zoom into the in-person classroom. Alternatively, if your class is primarily online, you may want to think about which parts of your course are best offered with a synchronous session and which parts are best offered in another way.
YuJa is our video hosting platform. It allows you to upload videos which students can stream or download and can be used as a stand-alone tool for sharing videos or integrated with your D2L course. You can also create, edit, caption and annotate videos as well as add questions to the videos to help students engage with the material and increase interactivity in an asynchronous class.
Recording mini-lectures or other types of videos can help students to access material from the class at their own pace and review the course more thoroughly.
Top Hat is our active learning platform. It allows you to engage students with in-person activities. It can be used in-person but can also be helpful in an on-line class.
This platform lets instructors ask questions during class and can track the responses of students who participate. It also allows students to connect using their own laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
Third-party communication tools are those that are not fully integrated with our IT systems and may not have been vetted for privacy or security concerns at the University of Calgary.
If you do choose to use third-party sites as part of your learning experience, please consider the following:
We have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for all of our students, faculty and staff. This includes when people use an unauthorized third-party site.
Communicate the ground rules for expectations of student and employee behaviour on these third-party websites. For instance, please remind everyone that all existing University of Calgary policies and procedures such as the Code of Conduct apply to activity in the third-party sites (including social media platforms)
Before considering an unauthorized third-party site, investigate if an existing and authorized digital tool can be adapted to meet your teaching and learning needs. Please consider approved tools as a viable option, even if they are not perfect.
Consider if there are any privacy implications to the use of this third-party tool. Will the tool be collecting private information of our students, faculty and staff? How would this information be stored or used?
Ensure there are no negative impacts for students who may face barriers accessing unauthorized third-party tools.
What do I need to transition my course online?
When thinking about adapting courses for on-line delivery or handling students with different situations, one of the primary factors to consider is how much time you have to plan and prepare your material and learning activities for students:
- Focus on D2L to share your material with students and to allow them to submit assignments and write quizzes.
- Use Zoom to hold your lectures.
- Focus on D2L as the core place students access your course.
- Consider Yuja to host mini-lectures and other types of videos to give students more flexibility.
- Consider Zoom to provide more interactive sessions.
- Focus on D2L as the core place your students access your course and find community.
- Consider TopHat, and other third-party tools, to allow students to engage with material in different, authentic ways.
- Use Yuja to supplement their learning with various types of video and Zoom to provide synchronous times for students to interact.