ETUG: visionaries, innovators, community of practice


This post is contributed by Leva Lee, ETUG steward since 2006 and current SCETUG member and Cathy van Soest, past SCETUG Chair and Member Emeritus. Watch for the upcoming celebrations for ETUG’s 20th  and contribute your memories of ETUG!

Some of you may be surprised to know that ETUG dates back to the early 90’s. Back when connecting to the internet via modem technology was the norm. Back when people were beginning to use early versions of videoconferencing and talking about the “live” classroom. Back when technology convergence and the ubiquitous access to technology were major preoccupations.

This is where the story of Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG) began. Originally, there were three users groups: Interactive Educational Video Conferencing, Computer-Mediated Communications, and Multimedia. Eventually, the three groups merged into one and this became known as ETUG. ETUG, then as now, was comprised of passionate, like-minded educators and education technology professionals who were the bright and shiny innovators doing cool stuff in their classrooms, off the sides of their desks, as well as providing support to interested colleagues. These were the pioneering visionaries of ETUG and founders of what is now our lively growing community. The technologies had not yet converged but the “meeting of minds” had and it is to the credit of the collaborative spirit of the original user group members we look back and say “Bravo”!

Led by a volunteer, grassroots-based Steering Committee, ETUG has delivered a number of projects to support educational technology initiatives each year since the 1990s including workshops and online forums and listservs for networking and sharing best practices, tips and stories.

Topics highlighted at our past workshops focused on the following, many of which still are relevant to today!

  • teaching online and how best to help and support the faculty
  • introducing members to new technologies and guest speakers
  • gaming and simulated virtual environments
  • mobile learning
  • e-portfolios
  • meta data standards and SGML technology

Over the years,  ETUG has toured the province by hosting workshops at various post-secondary institutions: Kwantlen, SFU, Justice Institute, NVIT, BCIT, University Fraser Valley, North Island College, Thompson Rivers University, Emily Carr, UBC (Vancouver), Vancouver Island University, University of Victoria, and Selkirk College. As well, ETUG has co-hosted events with partnering groups, the most recent example being a joint conference with the Canadian E-learning Conference (CeLC) at UBC-Vancouver in 2009.

As we look back over the past 20 years of ETUG and we take a snapshot of the way things looked then and how they look now here’s some observations:

  • Ed technology has changed enormously in 20 years! Technology is simpler so we can concentrate more on the use of tools to support our educational goals and less on getting the technology to work for learning.
  • ETUG activities and workshop programs reflect the changing level of complexity and our efforts to respond to rapid change in the technology but now more importantly to teaching and learning and how this is both benefited and impacted.
  • Teaching and learning is still paramount and timeless e.g. it’s why we are all involved in ETUG – using technology to support learners and their learning!
  • We’re still working on making things more seamless to connect and engage learners – technology has changed but it is constantly transforming and we need to grow with these changes and transformations too.

ETUG has survived and thrived through the years. The original support of the Standing Committee on Educational Technology (SCOET) and the Centre of Curriculum, Transfer and Technology (C2T2) were instrumental in providing the early support for ETUG and the continuing support of BCcampus and Ministry of Advanced Education has helped our community to continue to do good work.

Thank you to all of our wonderful past and present SCETUG members and community volunteers from all corners of the province for making ETUG a bona fide community of practice. The ETUG community has benefited from generosity of your time, dedication and innovative ideas. It is the strength of the community involvement which allows us to continue to grow and remain relevant.


As a member of our growing team, the Learning Systems Support Specialist will provide application administration, training, and technical support for KPU’s learning management system and other tools to enhance learning, as well as assisting the Learning Technology team in exploring emerging technologies and system integrations.:

LEARNING SYSTEMS SUPPORT SPECIALIST – Institute for Innovation & Scholarship in Teaching & Learning – Competition Number 14-29R

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) new Institute for Innovation and Scholarship in Teaching and Learning is accepting applications for a regular full-time Learning Systems Support Specialist at our Surrey Campus to commence as soon as possible.

The successful candidate will be a self-motivated, enthusiastic learner and facilitator with excellent communication and teamwork skills, who is knowledgeable and excited about the potential of learning technologies to foster and support innovation in teaching and learning.

Read More

[T.e.l.l. March Summary] Designing a Multi-device Moodle Course site: A Case Study

This post contributed by Amanda Coolidge.

The March T.E.L.L. session featured Paul Hibbitts of Hibbitts Design. He gave an engaging talk on “Designing a Moodle Multi-device course: Case Study” and shared a wealth of ideas and practical tips.

Paul explained that with version 2.5, Moodle has incorporated some exciting functionality. One piece includes the Bootstrap framework which is now integrated to the core of Moodle 2.5.

Key takeaways from Paul’s session included best practices for designing for a mobile friendly environment. He started by stating that it is important to create a strategy when looking at the overall design of your desired outcomes. For example, respond to the following questions to help create your strategy:

  • Why- what sort of problem or opportunity are you trying to solve?
  • Who are you designing the environment for?
  • What are you creating?
  • Where will your learners or the learning be?
  • When is the user using this?
  • How will the user use your tool/site/desired outcome?

It’s also important to redefine the term “mobile learning”. According to Paul, mobile learning is really about designing for the multi-device learner experience as it encompasses all of the following. It is:

  • ubiquitous
  • situational
  • connected
  • personal.

Paul continued to describe the goals or desired outcomes of what a good multi-device experience includes:

  • visual consistency – things should look the same whatever your device;
  • content parity- regardless of where students are accessing- they should have access to ALL of the content;
  • task transferability;
  • think ecosystem, not isolated devices (syncing or complementing of devices);
  • optimizing physical interactions.

Ultimately we want our learners to experience these sites as being:

  1. Engaging
  2. Organized
  3. Relevant
  4. Appealing



[Institutional Report] UBC-Okanagan and UBC-Vancouver

UBC logoSubmitted by Janine Hirtz & kele fleming

 Blackboard Connect – moving from transition to focus on the Best of Blackboard

Over the past 3 years, staff and faculty at both UBC-V and UBC-O have led a Learning Management System (LMS)  transition project.  Both campuses have successfully transitioned from WebCT Vista to Blackboard Learn, branded Connect at UBC.  A key achievement of the transition project has been bringing the faculty voice into the LMS governance structure via a Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) that straddles both campuses.  The committee has undertaken a series of in-depth explorations of various tools, their functionality and workflows in Connect with a view to helping to improve both the use and functionality of the tools from a teaching perspective.

At UBC-O, enthusiastic members of our FAC have proposed a 1/2 day pre-conference workshop where they and invited colleagues will present some of their best tips and tricks in using Blackboard to help student learning and increase teaching efficiency.  The focus will be on ‘cool tools’ and ‘outside the box’ strategies that support sound pedagogical practices.

Flexible Learning Initiative – Undergraduate course transformations well underway

In Spring 2013, the UBC Board of Governors and Executive identified Flexible Learning as a key strategic priority for the university over the next five years.  UBC defines flexible learning as an approach (sometimes referred to as blended) that combines the expertise of the instructor, the nature and requirements of the discipline, and the way the material is taught, with appropriate technology in order to improve student learning outcomes.  (source: ).

At UBC-O, many faculty have implemented flexible and flipped teaching strategies using learning technologies in innovative ways to engage students in their own learning.  This has been fun and rewarding for faculty and students.  Faculty members are learning how to use new tools and teach in new ways using technologies that promote student-centred learning opportunities and student-created content and knowledge.

At UBC-V, a short course for faculty called T-BLE (Teaching in a Blended Learning Environment) is currently in development.  The T-BLE is a short, immersive blended course aimed at mid-career instructors who are interested in exploring new teaching approaches and learning technologies that support flexible teaching and learning environments. It will be offered as a pilot in the summer 2014 and delivered in a blended format of online and face-to-face sessions.

Read more about Flexible Learning projects at UBC-O:

Read more about Flexible Learning projects at UBC-V:

Flexible Learning Open House – UBC-V

June 10, 2014

UBC-V will host a Flexible Learning Open House to showcase the first round of course transformations over the 2013-14 academic year.  The showcase will also highlight the FL evaluation initiative and report out on the impact of these course transformations to date.

UBC-O’s 10th Annual Learning Conference – May 7-8 2014

Reflecting on Scholarly Approaches - Keynote: Dr Marsha Lovett

This is a well attended conference with great presenters, good food and a beautiful setting in the Okanagan – wouldn’t be complete without our wine tasting event!  Sign up early to avoid disappointment!  Registration Link


Meet Heidi Mede at Langara

Submitted by Sarah Bowers, Langara

Heidi Mede

Tell us a bit about where you work and what you do.

I work in the Educational Technology department at Langara College as an Instructional Assistant where I support the faculty who use technology in the classroom. We switched our learning management system in 2012 from Blackboard CE to D2L and that has been our primary focus since then. I am looking forward to shifting the focus to the other educational technologies out there these days.

How long have you been involved in teaching and learning and educational technology?

In my careers, my involvement in education came first. I worked in elementary schools for 5 years, then took some time out to raise a family. In the 90’s, when the tech world was flourishing, I went back to school to take advantage of that market and was lucky enough to land a job with Oracle Corporation before the boom fell flat.  Although working at Oracle for five years was a great opportunity, I always felt like a square peg in a round hole and didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I came to Langara in 2006, that I realized it was the public sector where I belong;blending technology and education is where I am thriving. Read More

Career Opportunity: Instructional Designer, Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies

If you would like to apply for the position of Instructional Designer, Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies (temporary full-time), a cover letter, resume and Internal Job Posting Application Form should be forwarded to:  rru-career-opportunities@royalroads.caby March 26th, 2014.

[T.E.L.L February Summary] The BCcampus story, TELLing it like it is.

Was it a coincidence that February’s T.E.L.L. session, “Spreading Stories with Social Media” was so aptly named? I think not! We had the pleasure last week of participating in Tori Klassens webinar which covered the revised strategy and design of the BCcampus website.

Tori explained that she had inherited an over built website with many
content areas (12) that needed to be updated regularly, a group of stakeholders that could not easily identify what the institution did, and many of the users (mostly students) that were actually looki ng for the Apply BC website, however unsuccessful those attempts may have been. Of course at the time she was given this task she was expected to do address these challenges with a team of one!

“Talk to the users”

BC Campus site - May 2013Her first step was to put together a team and begin gathering data and talking to the users. She ran them through some basic ‘usability tests’ which mostly involves giving users a task, in this case, to find the Open Educational Resources on the site and then observing their experience. Tori remarked how illuminating this was in terms of identifying problems which I can certainly attest to. From this came the basis for the new design.

“The story of BCcampus”

Next was the content strategy. The BCcampus team decided to “tell the stories of the stakeholders”. Rather than brag about their own successes, why not share some of the success stories that others in their network were having? As Tori put it,

“If you want to be interesting, be interested in others.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 12.09.01 PMWhich drove the overall style of the posts and allowed for a model to choose stories from a wide a pool of stakeholders as possible. The schedule for the newsletter publication worked out to every 3 weeks from which they would draw on the best blog posts to include. The posts themselves were budgeted up to 4 hours per post including research to ensure each story was rich in detail and appropriate media.

Today, BCcampus is delivering a responsive, story driven website. There is continued dialogue with users keeping potential problems at bay, and renewed input from stakeholders so all can see themselves as part of the BCcampus community.

 Webinar Recording:


[T.E.L.L March] Designing a Multi-device Moodle Course Site: A Case Study


Title: Designing a Multi-device Moodle Course Site: A Case Study
When: 12 Noon (PST) Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Where: T.E.L.L. sessions are held in the ETUG Blackboard Collaborate Room
Who: Paul Hibbitts


[Institutional Report] Thompson Rivers University


Hello, I’m Melissa Jakubec and I’m an instructional designer for Thompson Rivers University’s Open Learning Division. I’m also the Provost’s Fellow for Blended and Innovative Learning at TRU. In these roles, I work with subject matter experts to create blended and fully online courses. TRU is a dual-more institution with 13,170 on campus students and 11,794 enrolled in Open Learning. Distance education plays an important role at TRU. In addition to our Kamloops campus, we also have a satellite campus in Williams Lake. Both Blackboard and Moodle are used on campus, with Open Learning relying on Blackboard while offering some courses through WordPress.

We have our own installation of WordPress, as well as a new TRU wiki. Brian Lamb, Director of Innovation, is working to expand the use of both on campus amongst our faculty. Brian is also looking to identify other institutions in BC that are interested in using open platforms such as WordPress and wikis. A set of discussions to identify use cases and consider collaborative approaches to supporting these tools are forthcoming. If you have not been contacted and wish to participate, please be in touch with Brian ( We are also one of the founding partners of the OERu and hosted their meeting last November.

We are looking forward to hosting the CNIE conference this May. Our theme is Confluences: Spaces, Places and Cultures for Innovative Learning. The Call for Proposals just closed and we are excited by the number and quality of submissions received. We have some wonderful keynotes lined up – Audrey Watters, Nancy White, Richard Wagamese and Brian Lamb – as well as some intriguing and practical pre-conference sessions. The conference will include a unique Kamloops experience – a “Hoot and Howl” excursion to McQueen Lake, hosted by our very own Dean of Science Tom Dickinson and a First Nations Elder. For more information, check out our website at

[Institutional Report] Royal Roads University

Institution: Royal Roads University
Contributor: Amanda Coolidge, RRU