ACT Major Projects

Welcome to the ACT Major Projects Update Wiki

For information on Academic Toolbox Integration Projects, please visit our dedicated website: https://act.utoronto.ca/toolbox/

To access our Academic Toolbox support documentation, please visit our Support Site: http://uoft.me/qresources

For information on Instructional Technology Innovation Projects, please visit our dedicated website: https://itif.utoronto.ca

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Upcoming Projects for 2022:

Work has begun on two new educational technology projects for  2022. This year, the University hopes to refresh its line-up of audience response solutions (something people used to call “clickers”). Additionally, the University hopes to add collaborative (social) annotation capabilities to our Academic Toolbox. The processes for both these projects have kicked off, and subject-matter experts have begun gathering functional requirements; community consultation on those requirements will follow shortly. Stay tuned here for more details.

Update (May 2022):

Collaborative Annotation solution and Audience Response solution RFSQs were submitted to Procurement Services.  Collaborative Annotation Solution posted to MERX by mid-May. Community presentations from vendors happening towards the end of June. Audience Response Solution will be posted to MERX by late May. 

Online Grading solution, feedback was collected from the U of T community regarding the requirements for the solution. SMEs have reviewed the feedback and have finalized the requirements. The RFSQ was submitted to Procurement Services and will be posted to MERX soon.

Update (March 2022): After receiving feedback from the community, SME working groups have finalized the requirements for Audience Response and Collaboration Annotation RFXs, and have now submitted those to Procurement Services, who will shortly post them to MERX for supplier responses. Please stay tuned for supplier presentations later in the Spring.

Update (March 2022): A working group of SMEs has completed the first draft of functional requirements for an Online Grading solution, and that draft has been shared with the community for feedback. Please contact your divisional edtech department for more information on how to read and respond to these draft requirements.

Update (February 2022): Working groups of Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs) have been working on a draft of the functional requirements for Audience Response and Collaborative (Social) Annotation solutions, and those drafts were shared with the community for feedback.

Another area we are exploring falls into the broad category of “computer-based exam delivery.” This will be an interesting challenge for us, as we are seeing quite a bit of convergence in the industry. Companies that used to make one type of software, are now bundling more than one type, which makes it potentially trickier to select “best of breed” solutions, where you get ‘more’ than what you were looking for. Why is this a challenge? Well, such convergence has the potential to either limit instructors to a ‘shrink-wrapped’ suite of tools, some of which may not be “best of breed,” or conversely, having too many overlapping solutions makes it harder to develop rich expertise and dilutes local support. Conversations about this have started and there will be opportunities for community engagement on this topic.

Update (March 2022): Given the complexity of computer-based (and online) exam delivery, the University has opted to extend our existing services until August 2023, for both exam delivery and online proctoring solutions. Please consult with your divisional educational technology office for more information on how to leverage these existing services.

Puzzel showing different exam delivery tools

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Discussion Boards:

Last year, as part of the regular process to review the Academic Toolbox, stabilizing our discussion board options was deemed to be a priority. This is especially important now, given the move to remote and online teaching, and the importance these tools play in asynchronous course delivery. A working group of faculty members and technical experts was struck and the group began by reviewing our current offerings and other potential options. Recommendations were been put forward to the Academic Toolbox Executive Steering Committee, and the following tools were approved for support at an enterprise level: Canvas Native Discussion Tool, PeppeR, and Piazza.

Update (February 2022): Members of the community had an opportunity to attend presentations from prospective suppliers in the Fall, and have been invited to attend additional presentations by other suppliers in February. Feedback from the community will be given to the evaluation committee as part of the ongoing RFP process.

Update (January 2022): The evaluation work continues, with a focus on accessibility considerations.

Update (November 2021): Work continues on the evaluation of options. In the meantime, instructors can continue to Canvas Discussions, PeppeR, Piazza and ED through the January to April 2022 semester.

Upcoming session: Overview of Discussion Tools in Quercus (Sept. 1, 11am-12pm)

Update (July 2021): An evaluation committee of subject-matter expert faculty members is currently reviewing proposals. Because it is unlikely they will finish their work before the start of the school year, we’ve gone ahead and extended the current agreements with Piazza and ED (ED-STEM). PeppeR and Canvas Discussion will also continue to be available. Instructors who are looking for assistance in selecting the right technology for teaching in September should contact their divisional edtech team now.

Update (February 2021): In December of 2020, Piazza announced changes to its licensing model, which required the University to re-examine current offerings. A temporary solution was put in place to allow instructors to continue using Piazza, along with another product called Ed (EdSTEM), in addition to PeppeR and the native Canvas tool over the course of the January 2021 semester. Moving forward, the University will be conducting another procurement process over the summer, and functional requirements are currently being gathered.

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Enterprise Video/Webconferencing Tool:

The contract for the University’s current webinar/web conferencing solutions expires in the summer of 2021. The University will be required to return to the marketplace before that.

Update (January 2022): Over the past month or so, University staff have been working with Zoom Professional Services to implement what we will be calling the Zoom 2.0 Experience at UofT. For the vast majority of users, the experience will be the same as what they currently have, however, we are working on a variety of back-end configurations to make the administration and support of the service better going forward. For now, members of the community can continue to use the existing services from Microsoft Teams and Zoom without interruption, and further communications on the Zoom 2.0 Experience will be coming soon.

Update (December 2021): The University has entered into a new formal agreement with a providers of video and webinar services. The implementation team is hard at work getting things ready for formal roll-out in the new year. In the meantime, members of the community can continue to use the existing services from Microsoft Teams and Zoom without interruption.

Upcoming Session: Overview of Webinar and Webconferencing Tools for Teaching (Aug 26, 2-3pm)

Update (August 2021): To assist with transitioning, the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation is offering twelve days of webconferencing clinics for those making a transition to another solution, starting August 16: https://teaching.utoronto.ca/events in addition to any training being offered divisional teams.

Update (August 2021): For clarity, we can confirm that our current solutions, MS Teams Video, MS LiveEvents, and Zoom Education, will continue to be available for classes this Fall. As part of the RFP process, which we hope to complete soon, additional functionality and services may be added to the mix. Please stay tuned for further announcements.

Update (August 2021): Effective August 31, 2021, the Bb Collaborate service will no longer be available at U of T. This includes access to any previous recordings. For more information, including information on using other solutions, please read the Termination of Collaborate memo here.

Update (July 2021): The Procurement Services-led process continues apace. A major focus has been ensuring that divisions will have as much administrative control as possible. Instructors who are looking for assistance in selecting the right technology for teaching in September should contact their divisional edtech team now.

Update (May 2021): The University has received proposals and is currently evaluating those, with an aspiration to move forward to an implementation stage in June.

Update (March 2021): University has completed the process of gathering requirements through a community-wide consultation, and an RFP is expected to be posted on MERX in early March. As part of the process, community members will have an opportunity to attend proponent presentations in the Spring or Summer of 2021. Please stay tuned for more information.

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Lecture Recordings:

Update (July 2021): Many of divisions have asked instructors to consider giving students who cannot make it to campus an accommodation, especially during the first two weeks of the new semester. One particularly popular way to accommodate students is through recorded lectures. We’ve now published a new resource outlining various support options. Please visit https://act.utoronto.ca/recording-lectures/.

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Integrated Course Reserves:

Update (July 2021): We are working with the University of Toronto Libraries as they roll out a new course reserves system. That solution will include an integration inside Quercus for instructor and student convenience. Please contact your UTL Liaison Librarian for more information.

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Plagiarism Detection:

The contract University’s current plagiarism detection solution expires at the end of 2021. The University will be required to return to the marketplace before that.

Update (September 2021): The University has entered into an agreement with a new provider for the start of the academic year. The new provider is called Ouriginal, and it is integrated with Quercus. You can read more on our Plagiarism website, of the Quercus Support site for technical support.

Update (August 2021):  We have updated both our documentation and the notification that must be placed in a syllabus by any instructor who wishes to use the plagiarism detection tool. The slight revision to the notice makes it more generic and usable regardless of the outcome of the RFP process. For more information on plagiarism detection at U of T, including the updated text of the syllabus text, please visit https://uoft.me/pdt-faq

Update (July 2021): The Procurement Services-led process continues apace. The outcome of this RFP will not drastically change the student and instructor experience. For more about that experience, please speak with your divisional edtech team.

Update (May 2021): The University has received proposals and is currently evaluating those, with an aspiration to move forward to an implementation stage in June.

Update (March 2021): Despite OECM having completed a request for pre-approved vendors process in this solution category, the University’s Procurement Services has determined that the overall value of a potential contract was high enough to require a formal RFP process; we have initiated that process. An RFP is expected to be posted to MERX in early March.

Update (January 2021): Project temporarily halted pending a process review by the University’s Procurement Services.

Update (October 2020): Further meetings with suppliers through the The Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace (OECM) procurement process.

Update (September 2020): Community survey conducted and survey results given to PSWG for review and consideration.

Update (July 2020): Current users of plagiarism detection are notified about work being done, and are invited to initial supplier presentations.

June 2020: Given the upcoming need to go out to market for our next plagiarism detection tool contract, the University has created a Plagiarism Solution Working Group consisting of subject-matter experts and end-users. The writ of the PSWG is to advise on process and requirements, and ultimately make a recommendation to our Academic Toolbox executive steering committee. Committee members include:

Subject Matter Experts:
Dr. Pamela Gravestock (WG Chair), Director, Teaching Support & Faculty Development
Dr. Andrea Russell, Director, Academic Affairs, Office of the Vice-President & Provost
Lucy Gaspini, Director, Academic Success & Integrity, UTM
Nisha Panchal, Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Officer, UTSC
Laura Ferlito, Associate Director, Academic Integrity & Petitions, FAS

Faculty:
Prof. Steve Szigeti, UTM (CCIT)
Prof. David Goldreich, Rotman (Commerce)
Prof. Raviraj Adve, Engineering (ECE)

Prof. Renan Levine, UTSC (Political Science)

Technical Experts:
Simone Laughton, Head, Library & Instructional Technologies, UTM
Saira Mall, Associate Director, Education Commons, OISE
Ryan Green, Application Administration, ACT, Information Technology Services

Rapporteurs:
Avi Hyman, Director, ACT – CTSI
Rutu Patel, Project Control Analyst, ACT – ITS
Will Wong, Supply Chain Specialist, ITS

For more information, please contact Quercus Help

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WordPress Service Providers:

Given the increase in the number of internal University departments seeking WordPress design, development and hosting solutions, university is currently working towards issuing a request for pre-approved suppliers for WordPress services. This will be similar to the current list of pre-approved Drupal service providers already available to departments at the University (see https://www.procurement.utoronto.ca/supplier-directory/drupal-website for more on pre-approved Drupal suppliers).

Update (May 2021): The University has received proposals and is near completion on the review of those proposals, with the goal of releasing a list of pre-approved suppliers over the summer.

Update (January 2021): After gathering its requirements, the University issued a RFSQ.

For more information, please contact Enterprise Web Services

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REDCap:

Update (July 2021): The data collection and survey service, REDCap, is now deployed throughout the University. Our next step is to upgrade the version to access new features. Please keep an eye open for an announcement about that in August.

To read more about the REDCap service, please visit the University’s REDCap website. We also recommend researchers reach out to the University’s Centre for Research & Innovation Support, who curate training and development information.

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Jupyter:

The University is currently investigating solutions to deploy an enterprise instance of Jupiter Electronic Lab Notebooks for use in courses across the University.

Update (June 2021): The Jupyter for Teaching pilot was a success last year, with a number of courses using the service, which also includes access to R Studio. We’ve now moved into more of a production mode, and over the summer, we are working with instructors to identify and implement enhancements. Visit https://jupyter.utoronto.ca for more information. Note: Instructors at UTM should contact UTM IITS for more information about the local UTM Jupyter service.

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EVE Event Registration and Management System:

EVE is an online application specialized in managing events and event registration at the University of Toronto.  It is designed to facilitate the interaction between event registrants and organizers, allowing users to track their events through their EVE accounts, and organizers can keep registrants up to date with event listings and notifications.

Update (July 2020): EVE is now generally available to all divisions and departments at the University of Toronto for $1200/year.  This includes unlimited number of users and events. For more information, please contact Enterprise Web Services webservices@utoronto.ca or visit https://help.eve.utoronto.ca

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GITHUB for Education Campus Program:

Update (June 2021): We have a signed agreement with Microsoft for the GITHUB for Education Campus Program. Our internal Microsoft team is putting the final touches on SSO, and we’ll be piloting access with downtown Computer Science in August, and if all goes well, we can extend further access to those who’d like it. As a reminder, while this service is primarily of interest to those teaching computer-related courses, the program is open to anyone, including professional technical staff. In addition to basic GITHUB access, through the Campus Program, members of UofT will have access to a rich library of additional software development resources. Read more here: https://education.github.com/schools

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Peer Collaboration Tool

The contract for the University’s current peer collaboration tool expired in the spring of 2020. The University will be required to return to the marketplace before that.

Update (June 2021): We are pleased to inform you that peerScholar has been selected as the supported peer collaboration tool. Instructors who are interested in using this technology in their teaching should reach out to their divisional edtech team to discuss best practices. For more information about peerScholar, please visit our support website.

Update (September 2020): For several years we have provided instructors with access to an integrated peer collaboration tool. The agreement for that solution expired at the end of April. We issued an RFP through Procurement Services. A proposal evaluation group reviewed submitted solutions and they have made a recommendation to the Academic Toolbox Executive Steering Committee, which has been tentatively accepted, pending the completion of contract negotiations. Pending completion, an announcement will be posted here.

For more information, please contact Quercus Help