Technology Pilots

New learning technologies at UBC undergo a rigorous process of evaluation and preparation before rolling out to the wider community as an officially supported technology. These are a few of the innovative projects currently being developed and/or assessed. You can also read about how pilots work and the outcomes of past pilots.

Jump to pilot: Badgr | CATME | Course Spaces | Gradescope | Mattermost | peerScholar


Badgr

New Plugin

Badgr is an open-source achievement recognition and tracking system that allows for the creation, storage, and management of Open Badges. Badges are verifiable digital records of achievement, affiliation, or trust that can be used for, among other things, gamification of courses and micro-credentials.

A look at the Badgr interface

How does it work?

Badgr integrates with Canvas and allows instructors to define badges which are related to the completion of a variety of in-course activities. These badges are then published to Badgr’s Canadian-hosted server and can be shared by recipients over social media, embedded in digital portfolios, and combined to demonstrate various competencies. Ultimately, badges could be issued at a program, faculty, or institutional level.

Instructors in Badgr-enabled Canvas courses can define and issue badges to students based on module completion. In addition, they can also enable a Badgr course leaderboard that students can join if they want to see their and other students’ progress in acquiring courses badges.

What’s next?

A handful of instructors at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan are or will be teaching in Badgr-enabled Canvas courses. Once this pilot and its evaluation completes (in December 2018), central support for Badgr going forward will be decided.


CATME

New Application

CATME (Comprehensive Assessment of Team Member Effectiveness) is a peer evaluation platform for group work that “prepares students to function effectively in teams and supports faculty as they manage their students’ team experiences” in courses.

CATME includes a suite of tools that can: assign students to teams (Team-Maker), enable student self and peer evaluations (Peer Evaluation), train students to rate teamwork (Rater Practice), train students to work in teams (Teamwork Training), and make team meetings more effective (Meeting Support).

How does it work?

The CATME support website explains in-depth how the application works as well as how it was developed based on research. In short, CATME assists students in evaluating themselves and their peers by asking well-researched questions about each team member and providing a detailed behaviour-based rating scale to guide student responses to these questions. Potentially dysfunctional groups are clearly flagged so instructors can easily see where (and with whom) problems are happening.

What’s next?

Several instructors piloted CATME in the 2017/18 academic year. An evaluation coincided with the pilot to help determine central support going forward. The evaluation is now complete, and a decision is expected shortly.


Course Spaces

New Platform

CTLT is working on a new WordPress-based learning platform to provide a course delivery option between the functionality of a full LMS (Learning Management System) and a course blog/website. Spaces will provide a good alternative to other tools in the learning technology ecosystem.

The primary goals with this new platform are:

  • Simplify the online learning experience without losing the requisite functionality
  • Make a consistent, fast, mobile-first interface that displays content in a highly accessible way
  • Fix many of the common problems experienced by students and instructors with existing tools
  • Make open content easy to manage and access

How does it work?

Similar to UBC Blogs, instructors will set up a course website (a “space”) and manage it from an administrator interface, publishing content for students to interact with and viewing student work and interactions.

What’s next?

The development team has sought lots of input from faculty, staff, and students through informal conversations and presentations of the current design and concept. A beta prototype will be used to run a pilot with a handful of upcoming courses in the 2018/19 academic year, and an evaluation will coincide with this to determine future development direction as well as wider support for this platform.


Gradescope

New Application

Gradescope is an application intended for speeding up the grading process for on-paper tests and exams by allowing for online, distributed grading by TAs and instructors, once submissions are scanned and uploaded. By eliminating many of the tedious aspects of grading, Gradescope aims to help educators to focus on providing meaningful feedback to students.

Gradescope also allows graded tests and exams to be distributed back to students online.

Of particular interest, Gradescope has AI (artificial intelligence) features, which group similar responses into three questions types (multiple choice, formula, and fill-in-the-blank) automatically. This allows graders to quickly assess groups of answers in one click, while still providing detailed feedback.

Example grading interface for a multiple-choice question

How does it work?

Instructors scan their assessments and upload them into Gradescope and then indicate question type through a click-and-drag interface. Later, completed student submissions are scanned and uploaded, associated with the appropriate students in a course, and then graders can get to work.

Rubrics can be created in advance, but Gradescope also records all grader feedback and assessment on-the-fly. As grading proceeds, specific grades and feedback can be reused by the entire grading team, which theoretically leads to increased grading consistency. Responses to each question are grouped together so all responses to that question can be graded in sequence.

Gradescope has an introductory video, which succinctly details the product’s use while running viewers through the steps of grading an assignment. The AI features are detailed in another video.

What’s next?

A small number of instructors explored the use of Gradescope in a full-featured pilot of the standalone version for the 2017/18 academic year, and a coinciding evaluation of their usage is now complete. The results will be examined to determine if a potential institutional licence is appropriate and if integration with Canvas is feasible. A decision is expected shortly.


Mattermost

New Application

The Faculty of Education, in collaboration with the Learning Technology Hub, is currently piloting Mattermost, an open-source chat tool that facilitates communication and collaboration.

Mattermost, a chat and communications tool

A look at the Mattermost interface

Mattermost allows for the creation of course “teams”, making online spaces where classmates can share messages and files. Public channels, private groups, and 1-1 direct messages can be used to keep conversations relevant.

Real-time and asynchronous communication are combined, meaning quick flurries of messages and threaded discussions can coexist in an “anytime” communication environment. All messages are persistent and can be searched, so nobody misses out.

How does it work?

Mattermost can be accessed via the web, and there are desktop and mobile apps for most platforms. Email, desktop, and push notifications can be set up to personalize the experience.

The tool is open source and hosted at UBC. Access to a Mattermost team can be granted through the use of email invitations or an invitation URL.

What’s next?

Mattermost was selected as a chat tool after an environmental scan and evaluation that considered pedagogical, technological, usability, and accessibility requirements. It was piloted in a limited number of courses, with a subset of these courses participating in an official pilot and evaluation throughout the 2017/18 academic year. A decision on the future of Mattermost at UBC is expected shortly.


peerScholar

New Application

Pearson’s peerScholar application is a peer review and self-assessment tool for developing students’ critical- and creative-thinking skills. The tool’s review process has three phases:

One view of the peerScholar interface

  1. Creating: Students submit a written or multimedia response to an assignment and receive a grading rubric for the peer review.
  2. Assessing: Students see their submission alongside a set number of their peers’ (anonymous) submissions. In this context, students review their peers’ work as well as their own and give feedback based on the rubric provided.
  3. Reflecting: Students receive their peers’ feedback for their own submission and may revise and resubmit and/or submit a brief reflection statement, depending on instructor preferences.

How does it work?

The peerScholar website has more detailed information on the workflow, including demonstrations of both the instructor and student experiences.

What’s next?

A handful of interested instructors piloted peerScholar throughout the 2017/18 academic year free of charge. An evaluation coincided with the pilot to help determine if an institutional license should be purchased going forward. A final decision is still pending.