Instructional Tools

Dalhousie University has several instructional technologies available to faculty for teaching and learning purposes. Here is the list of what those technologies are, a definition of their purpose and some information on how to get started.

Learning Management System (Brightspace)

About

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a software application that offers a suite of functions to support teaching and learning.  Some of these functions are:

  • Administrative such as course enrollment
  • Record keeping such as grades
  • Collaboration through discussion boards, email or chat
  • Content delivery such as text, audio, video or hyperlinks
  • Evaluation with tests and rubrics

In general, an LMS can be looked at as the main learning platform for offering online or blended courses.

Uses

At Dalhousie University we use the LMS Brightspace.  It alone as a large set of functionalities that are quite diverse and useful.  Brightspace can be used to offer fully online courses and programs, or, simply a place to host one’s syllabus.  The spectrum of use at Dalhousie is quite wide, and most faculty are using Brightspace for blended learning purposes. 

Accessibility

Here is a link to important information about Brightspace accessibility: https://community.brightspace.com/s/article/Improve-Your-Course-with-Brightspace-Accessibility-Checker

More Info & Support

Here is the Brightspace community site link: https://community.brightspace.com/s/

Here is a Brightspace Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLSxTdOzKAFOCZjXav1aCRQ/feed  

 

Video Streaming and Lecture Capture (Panopto)

About

Panopto is a software for recording, editing, hosting, and sharing audio and/or video. Think of it like Dalhousie’s own secure version of YouTube.  You can record online or download Panopto software to your computer (or upload existing videos that you recorded on other devices), and then share with your students as a link in email, in Brightspace, or to show in class. 

Panopto can be used for lecture capture, screen recording, and voiceover slide presentations.  Other Panopto features include: multiple “streams” (e.g., PowerPoint slides + video of yourself shown in same recording), function to search videos for words spoken or shown on screen, automatic or custom captioning, and built-in quizzing.

Uses

  • Capture lectures delivered in certain tech-enabled classrooms on campus
  • Have students create videos for class activity or assignment
  • Create video tutorials walking through a process or procedure
  • Share existing video recordings (such as those recorded on other devices)
  • Record lectures, announcements, directions, etc. – for online courses or blended classes

Accessibility

Here is a link by Panopto on accessibility: https://support.panopto.com/s/article/accessibility-features

More Info & Support

Panopto Support (online guides, video tutorials, community forum): https://support.panopto.com

 

Plagiarism Detection Software (Urkund)

About

Plagiarism detection software is an application that will compare your students’ submitted work against a range of databased materials and other students’ submissions to look for instances of similarity. It can be helpful in identifying areas where students referenced (and should have cited) external sources.

It is important to know two things about using Urkund with your students:

  1. Urkund is limited in the databases it can compare submissions against.  Hence, it should be used with this in mind – as a tool, but not an absolute authority on if a submission contains or does not contain instances of similarity and/or plagiarism.
  2. Students have the right to an alternative plagiarism detection process if they are concerned about their academic work being added to the Urkund database.  This event is unlikely and rare; however, this is an important option to provide to students.

Uses

  • Highlight text similarities in students’ work to other materials to ensure students are paraphrasing and citing their sources properly
  • Allow students to submit an initial draft to Urkund to help them understand how to better paraphrase and cite material
  • Start a conversation with your students about academic integrity and acknowledgement of sources
  • Emphasize the idea that plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty have no place in your classroom or at Dalhousie

Accessibility

Currently, the Urkund interface is not 100% compatible with screen readers. However, a new interface (called View7) is under development and will be released to the Dalhousie community shortly. View7 will comply with the newest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and be accessible to users working with screen reading technologies.

More Info & Support

Urkund Support (for students or faculty) – https://www.urkund.com/support/ or email support@urkund.com

Interpreting Your Urkund Report – for Students: https://dal.brightspace.com/shared/Interpreting_Urkund_students.pdf

Virtual Classroom/Web Conferencing (Collaborate Ultra)

About

Collaborate Ultra is a video conferencing service for online classrooms.  It provides an opportunity for faculty to create synchronous online teaching events[LJ1]  that are hosted through a computer using a webcam and microphone.  It offers functionality that is designed for delivering online classes such as:

  • Screen or other application sharing
  • Live polling to learners
  • Guest links for speakers
  • Chat
  • Breakout rooms

Uses

  • Offer online synchronous classes via video conferencing
  • Bring guest speakers into face-to-face and/or online class sessions
  • Record online class sessions and make them available to learners afterwards through Brightspace and Panopto
  • Hold online office hours or tutoring sessions for students

Accessibility

Here is information on accessibility from the Collaborate Ultra site:  https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Participant/Accessibility

More Info & Support

Here is the Collaborate Ultra support site:  https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra

Student Response System (Top Hat)

About

Student response systems (SRS) have been used to engage large groups of learners in a face to face class.  Learners use devices to respond to questions, and results can be displayed for the class to view and discuss.  Top Hat is Dalhousie's preferred vendor for a student response system.  It has an integration with Brightspace and students receive a negotiated discount as a result.

Unlike other instructional technologies at Dalhousie University Top Hat is not a paid for by the institute, and the agreement is directly between the vendor and the student.  It is important to keep in mind the rational for using Top Hat, that is to eliminate the burden of students needing to pay for and learn several different SRSs.  Once a student has a subscription to Top Hat, they are free to use it in as many courses on campus as needed. 

Uses

The main use of Top Hat is to engage face to face learners in class, especially if the class is large and engagement is logically challenging.  Some faculty use it to take attendance, and others for surveying student comprehension on concepts to best understand the classes ongoing progress. 

Accessibility

Here is a link on accessibility information from Top Hat: https://tophat.com/company/legal/accessibility-top-hat/

More Info & Support

The Top Hat Support team's hours are 10 AM to 6 PM Eastern time, Monday to Friday, excepting holidays.