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[Institutional Report] BCIT

This post contributed by Kyle Hunter, BCIT and SCETUG member.

What’s happening at BCIT?

  1. Gathering information
  2. Turnitin Pilot Ending
  3. Technology for Trades

Gathering Information

The BCIT community has welcomed a new President, the former Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Kathy Kinloch. Kathy’s got some big ideas about how BCIT will be moving forward, but as with any renewal, it starts with a bit of information gathering.
The institute is in the middle of surveying faculty, staff and students on a wide variety of topics including library services, technology use, faculty development and learning styles and preferences.
Two areas of focus being led by the Learning and Teaching Centre are BCIT’s:

  1. e-Learning strategy
  2. teaching excellence initiative

Survey results will inform and shape the development of these initiatives in combination with the foundational institutional aim to improve the student experience.
In many cases, survey questions are validating commonly-held assumptions about today’s learners, like how they prefer to learn, or how they use technology to learn:

  • How do you prefer to learn most of the time?
  • Where would you prefer to learn most of the time?
  • Which devices do you use more often for your course work at BCIT?

In other cases, the institute is looking for guidance and direction:

  • What services and technologies, not currently available at BCIT, do you think could make a significantly positive impact on learning at BCIT over the next 5 years?
  • Please identify any BCIT technologies or policies that inhibit your ability to learn the way you prefer. Why?

We’re very much looking forward to the next phase of the project when we sit down with stakeholders in focus groups to dig-in to the details.

Turnitin Pilot

Last summer the Learning and Teaching Centre was approached independently by several departments to look into the popular and controversial “originality checker” software, Turnitin. The software facilitates a comparison between students’ submitted assignments and a database of known internet resources. It claims to provide a measure of plagiarism detection. Why is the service controversial? The company resides and uses technology based in the US making it potentially subject to the privacy-exposing Patriot act.
BCIT’s learning management system, Desire2Learn, has a plugin that allows seamless integration between the learning platform and Turnitin’s originality-checking service. When enabled, instructors can automatically have student submissions submitted to Turnitin and compared. The value in this integration is a result of D2L’s privacy-conscious plugin development: all student information related to the submission is encrypted and can only be unlocked with a key stored on BCIT’s servers.
Despite the obfuscation of student information, it was clear from the pilot that there remains a number of significant problems:

  • the content of the assignment can sometimes have references to private information
  • there are a number of pieces of information required before students can make an informed decision about consent (and how far in-advance do they need this information?)
  • there needs to be an alternate assessment (opt-out) plan for students who do not consent to originality-checking

Consequently, BCIT has elected not to pursue the service further at this time.

Technology for Trades

An increasing proportion of BCIT’s LMS users come from a background in the trades. Departments ranging from aerospace mechanics to welders are beginning to use D2L for more than simply an assessment tool. One of the best ways D2L is being used for these students is to deliver content that is normally covered through presentations in the classroom via PowerPoint. This “flipped classroom” approach is freeing-up class time for instructors to be able to spend more time with their students in the hands-on workshops and labs.
For the trades, one technology that will see tremendous growth – and that the Learning and Teaching Centre will need to develop with IT services – is an integrated platform for the storage, development and delivery of video and audio resources. Several products are of interest: Kaltura, MediaCore, and D2L Capture all cover the media repository and lecture-capture functionality that we seek. Are there others that we should be looking at?