Contributed by Emily Schudel, SCETUG Chair and Camosun Instructional Designer
This last year has brought a number of new tools to eLearning, with some now fully established, some piloting as we speak, and some to be launched in the new year.
Last fall (2018) we began piloting Kaltura, the media streaming platform hosted by UBC and supported through BCNet. Currently we are using Kaltura solely through our Learning Management System (D2L), but in the new year, we will be working with our ITS to set up and configure the outward facing web version, which will give faculty not using D2L, as well as service units like ITS, the Library, and Marketing, a place to host and stream videos. As well, we will be working to set up the live streaming and lecture capture components as 2020 moves forward.
At the same time we integrated Kaltura into D2L, we integrated Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (BBCU). We have this tool available both through D2L (where it’s a simple matter of creating a room and getting started) as well as outside of D2L. Recently we worked with a group to run a BBCU session from classroom to classroom using both in-situ technology and plug and play camera/microphones. We have also tested classroom to remote laptops, and are looking forward to promoting these options to faculty looking to give their students more flexibility when they can’t come physically to class.
A couple of other tools we integrated into D2L over the past year are ReadSpeaker and ePortfolio. ePortfolio is a D2L add-on which allows students to save artifacts from their courses so that they can access them for the life of their program (currently, students lose access to course materials 20 days after the course end date). ReadSpeaker is a text-to-speech solution that is part of the Content tool in D2L, and allows students to have documents (WORD, PPT, PDF, HTML) read aloud to them so that they can read and listen at the same time (or just listen if that is their preference). They don’t need anything more than a headset or speakers.
Continuing in this accessibility vein, we are very excited to be piloting Blackboard Ally (BBAlly) (also integrated into D2L) with specific courses in January. BBAlly supports faculty in assessing and revising materials so that they meet accessibility standards, and it also allows students to download content in a variety of formats. Like ReadSpeaker, this tool is limited to the Content area in D2L, but we are looking forward to using it as a conversation started with faculty around accessibility and Universal Design for Learning.
Finally, eLearning is working with ITS and our new CIO towards having WordPress available to students. This has been a long-awaited dream, and we are hoping to finally pilot this in Spring 2020.
If anyone out there is interested in talking to us about any of these tools/projects, or starting user groups for troubleshooting and sharing, let us know! We do belong to the Kaltura Basecamp site, but would be interested in knowing if anyone using Kaltura, ReadSpeaker, BBCU, BBAlly or WordPress with students, would like to compare notes and challenges!
Suffice it to say it’s been a busy year, adopting many new tools that we have limited resources to support. We do our best, but do rely on the OERs of other institutions to adapt and revise tutorial documentation for these tools, and as we move onto a new WordPress platform, we will finally be able to share out our original, adapted, and revised support materials for all of these tools for others to take away.