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: Ally | Badgr | CATME | Course Spaces | Gradescope


New Plugin

Ally is an accessibility tool in Canvas, UBC’s primary Learning Management System (LMS). The use of Ally throughout the LMS could significantly improve UBC’s ability to offer inclusive learning experiences to all students.

How does it work?

Ally provides instructors with detailed feedback on: 1) to what extent their course materials are accessible to all, regardless of ability, using ratings based on the WCAG 2.0 standard, and 2) what steps can be taken to improve those materials in terms of accessibility.

What’s next?

Students and instructors interested in assisting LT Hub by exploring Ally will be enrolled in a sample Canvas course with Ally enabled. Time allowing, we can also copy a specific course for instructors and enable Ally in that copy. To participate, just fill in our brief signup form, and we will get back to you shortly. Our access to Ally ends after Friday, February 1, 2019, so if you’re interested, please fill out the signup form before Friday, January 25, 2019.

Once we have you enrolled in the Ally course and had a chance to explore its features, all we’d ask of you is to complete a brief online 5-minute survey.

If you have any questions regarding Ally and the pilot, please feel free to contact Kalev Hunt at


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, UBC’s primary Learning Management System, 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 badges.

What’s next?

A handful of instructors at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan will be teaching in Badgr-enabled Canvas courses. Once this pilot and its evaluation completes (in April 2019), central support for Badgr will be decided.


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 working group has been formed to consider the results and how this tool fits into the wider UBC ecosystem. A decision about support will follow the larger assessment.

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 Environment.

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?

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. If you are interested in trying Spaces in your course, please contact the LT Hub.


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. UBC is looking into a potential institutional licence and if integration with Canvas is feasible. A decision is expected shortly.