Our Academic Toolbox has grown in an organic and ad hoc way. To move forward, we need to take a holistic approach. The major milestones are to develop Common Criteria (standards), conduct a process for a core LMS (or similar engine), and initiate a Tool Intake process. The Executive Sponsors for this initiative are the Vice-President, University Operations, and the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education. Please visit the project website for more information: http://toolboxrenewal.act.utoronto.ca
We are currently working on several projects to integrate third-party learning tools with the U of T Learning Portal. These integrations will allow for seamless single sign-on, automatic user and course provisioning, grade synchronization. Projects may include development of building block or LTI code extension, information risk and risk management assessment, user acceptance testing and review/creation of support resources. As each project is completed, we will be updating documentation and training sessions to reflect the new opportunities.
For more about Toolbox Integrations please visit: http://integrate.act.utoronto.ca/
In May of this year (2015), we will be conducting our annual upgrade of the Portal (Blackboard Learn) software. In advance of the upgrade, we will be reviewing and testing new tools and features available. In collaboration with our colleagues around the University we are coordinating and developing documentation and updating training sessions to reflect changes. A sub-project includes revising UT-developed building blocks to allow for the creation of custom database objects via schema definition files included in the installer packages. Major deliverables include updates to UT Manage Groups, UT Manager Users and UT Course Grafter extensions; functional testing; and coordination of production deployments. For more information, please contact your divisional Educational Technology lead.
SCS Data Feed
Creation of School of Continuing Studies courses and enrolments in the Portal is currently managed as a manual process. Our team is working with SCS technical staff to automate the process and ensuring records are updated in a timely and automated fashion.
The Academic & Collaborative Technologies Group continues to serve as a primary staffing resource to Online Learning Strategies (OLS) initiatives. For more information about OLS and related Open projects, please visit the OLS Blog <http://onlinelearning.utoronto.ca/> and the Open U Toronto website <http://open.utoronto.ca/>.
Departmental Email Integration
Many departments and individual faculty and staff continue to reply on a heterogeneous mix of locally-supported and centrally-supported email systems. We continue to work collegially with departments to migrate their users to a single centrally supported system.
Our group continues to support multiple legacy website and web application hosting services, some of which are well beyond their “best-before” date. Our Projects & Development team is exploring possible alternative approaches for a web-based service management and delivery platform – focusing on UTORid compatibility and service scalability. Services might include personal blogs, portfolios for learners, websites for research projects, robust survey tools, etc.
Webmaster Training and Support
The ACT Support team continues to receive requests for webmaster (CMS management) training sessions and consultations. We currently require clients to come in person for training, but a review of CMS training resources and session outlines reveals that information can be provided to users through alternative means including instructional videos and online guides, so our team is embarking on developing these alternative support solutions.
Video Mediated Communications System Migration
ACT staff are currently working with colleagues in EIS to migrate responsibility for systems administration for a number of virtual machines on which various enterprise video-mediated communication tools (including our video-conferencing bridge) run. This change will allow us to redeploy staff resources to focus on applications administration, and allow us to increasing and improving uptake of these services throughout the University.
MADLab / Model Classroom (“petting zoo”)
ACT is working with partners to build two pre-incubator spaces, the Mobile Applications Development Lab (MADLab), and a model technology-enhanced “petting zoo” where instructors and other interested students and staff can come and see and try new classroom technologies that haven’t yet made it into our production classrooms. Both projects are in partnership with the University of Toronto Libraries, and the model classroom project is also in partnership with Academic + Campus Events. For more on the MADLab, please visit <http://mobile.utoronto.ca>.
Blue / Course Evaluations Framework
ACT staff continues to work with the CTSI Course Evaluations team, providing ongoing technical support, liaising with the vendor, and documenting technical issues and functional requirements, while the CE team looks to broaden the Course Evaluations programme
Syllabus Systems/Curriculum Mapping
Under direction of the Vice-Provost Innovation in Undergraduate Education, and the Chief Librarian, we are currently working with our Library colleagues to collect an inventory of currently used syllabus and curriculum-mapping systems at UofT. For the purposes of this project, a syllabus system may be any kind of tool or application that collects and/or distributes syllabi in a division/department/program. This can also include syllabus authoring tools and/or syllabus searching tools. A curriculum mapping or tracking tool may be used to track specific pieces of curriculum, and/or tag pieces of curriculum with metadata, or tie pieces of curriculum to external accreditation standards or quality assurance processes, for example. Such tools may or may not allow for searching of curricular materials.
The University of Toronto is a member of the Liberate Learning Consortium, which gives us access to transcription and captioning applications. Our team, working with some divisional colleagues, is evaluating transcription systems made available through the Liberated Learning Consortium., with the goal of making it available to members of the community to try.
Web Help Desk
The ACT team, as well as the Course Evaluations team, currently uses a product called Fogbugz as a support ticketing system. Meanwhile, other units with ITS, as well as several divisions, are either using, or transitioning to another system called WebHelpDesk (WHD). The ACT Support team is doing an internal comparison to see when or if a transition may make sense. The driver is the need to facilitate the transfer of tickets and knowledge between groups.
The goal of the AODA Website Toolkit is to create a self-directed resource for web content editors and designers that would introduce them to Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act policies, and clarify web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) using clear, straightforward language. The toolkit would then refer web content editors to online tools where they can assess their website for AODA compliancy and choose to update webpages based on their analysis.
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