eLearning Strategies and Resources at UofT

This Spring Laurie Harrison delivered an InnovatingEdu Seminar to over 45 Faculty and Staff at the University of Toronto and affiliated hospitals.

If you are interested in learning about new online tools and technology to improve your teaching, take a moment to watch the presentation below. In it Laurie discusses principles and strategies for developing good pedagogy using online tools to support teaching. Emphasis is placed on having learning be the driver of your decisions to select a technology to integrate in your course.
Laurie also explores some of the emerging technologies being adopted at the University and provides information on the resources/resourcing available to you to get you started successfully.

This is another example of how OLS provides outreach and awareness to the University community on technology supported teaching and learning.

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Newly Funded Initiatives

eCampus Ontario News!

University of Toronto has nine collaborative project proposals that have been approved for the 2016 round of the MTCU-funded provincial Shared Online Course fund. Each of the following will receive between $40,000 ~ 60,000 with a deadline of Sept 2016 for completion of development.

Online Courses  
Introduction to History and Philosophy of Science Hakob Barseghyan – FAS
Introduction to Medical Microbiology William Navarre – FAS
Introduction to Economics for Non-Specialists Avi Cohen
Gillian Hamilton – FAS
Introduction to Classical Tibetan Frances Garrett – FAS
Learning Modules  
Virtual patient case-based learning modules Marcus Law – Med. Sci.
Basic Physics Skills – Newtonian Mechanics Johann Bayer – UTSC
Indigenous Education Resources Jean-Paul Restoule – OISE
Project Management Essentials Arash Shahi
Brenda McCabe – FASE
Principles of Engineering Drawings Arash Shahi
Brenda McCabe – FASE
Understanding Statistics – From concepts through visuals to data and back again Douglas Bors – UTSC

Each module will consist of a set of shared curriculum resources that can be re-used in multiple courses or across different institutions. Our previously funded modules can be found on the Open UToronto website.

Programming in C Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 4.58.48 PM

In order to support successful design and development we held a Module Design Workshop Day for each of the lead instructors and their teams on Tuesday. Feb 16. The goals of the day include:

  • Introduce pedagogical underpinnings that inform design of active learning
  • Provide guided process for instructional design that incorporates online components and active learning strategies
  • Introduce media design strategies including video and learning object (e.g. Storyline-type) development
  • Orient participants to resources and supports available to implement online learning/module components in courses.

We are following up with additional webinars on key topics such as accessibility and content packaging strategies.

UofT’s success in securing funding for 9 new projects will allow us to continue to participate in the shaping of the broader provincial Online Learning landscape.

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MOOCapalooza Videos!

As part of our ongoing exploration of the potential of Massive Open Online Courses, Online Learning Strategies in conjunction with the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation recently held a community event,  MOOCapalooza: Purposes and Potential of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

In recent years, MOOCs have emerged as a new and potentially game-changing catalyst in the field of online learning. They also present institutions of higher education with unique forums in which to explore innovative new teaching techniques and technologies.

The MOOCapolooza offered the community an opportunity to catch up on the latest in UofTs MOOC engagement. Participants found out how MOOCs can act as ‘sandboxes’ for pedagogical innovation, provide new research insights on teaching and learning, and serve as effective outreach tools.

As an acknowledgement to the interest we received from the event we interviewed each of our presenters to follow up on some of the main themes and take-aways from their work in the MOOC sphere. We are pleased to share these resources on our Open UToronto page.

Visit the video resources directly and when you’re done, take some time to read about our continuing MOOC initiatives.

Moocalapooza banner

[ Watch Interview Video Clips ]

“Our goal within the MOOC context has been to support faculty on their paths of exploration and to create opportunities whereby assumptions regarding teaching and learning could be challenged.”

Carol Rolheiser, Director – Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation

“The MOOCapalooza provided the space for our instructors and research community to share what they have learned, and also what new questions have emerged regarding the potential of online learning strategies.”

Susan McCahan, Vice Provost – Innovations in Undergraduate Education


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Peers, Process and Pedagogy: Sharing Online Modules

Collection of Screen Shots from Module Presentations
Are you interested in (re)developing content for an online audience, but uncertain where to start? This past year a number of instructors headed up project teams to create “modules” projects as part of a new provincial funding program. For many, this toe in the water is just the right place to start.

Online module creation is an effective entry point for content design and development for those interested in providing hybrid or flipped class options but not necessarily fully online course delivery. Unlike a fully online course where all material and interaction is provided online, a module project typically consists of a group of assets (e.g. video lectures, readings, quizzes) or an interactive learning object (e.g. e-authored in Articulate Storyline) on a topic/subject placed online.

Recently, the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and Online Learning Strategies Portfolio offered a workshop that explored these newly developed online modules from around the University of Toronto. The workshop provided participants with insight into the processes and challenges of creating an online module, as well as the opportunities for sharing, collaboration and innovation that arise when working in teams.

This “sold out” event explored three major themes:

  1. Working Collaboratively – how does collaboration improve teaching and support your professional development as an instructor?
  2. Pedagogical Innovation – how can designing open educational resources create different kinds of engagement of instructors and students?
  3. Designing, Planning and Sharing – how does articulating design intention and planning for sharing change the teaching/learning process?

If you are interested in learning more about how to create online modules and the insights shared throughout the day you can watch the full presentation.

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New Provincial Portal Launched

This month the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) launched the Province’s new online education portal.  You can visit the site at www.ecampusontario.ca.

eCampus Ontario Portal screen shot

To date the University of Toronto has a total of 9 fully online undergraduate courses on offer through the  new portal. Development of curriculum content for these courses was supported through the provincial Shared Online Course Funding program, which has been available over the past two years.  Recently we have also had the opportunity to create a selection of sharable online module resources from the same funding initiative.

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MOOC Design Day 2015

On June 24th, Online Learning Strategies hosted our third annual MOOC Design Day, which was attended by several teams that have been awarded project funding or are considering proposal development in the coming year. New initiatives are taking shape across several divisions and departments, including Materials Science; Geography and Planning, Medical Science; Social Work; Computer Science and more. In addition to a process overview and practical design activities, we also had presentations from Bobby Glushko, from UTL’s Scholarly Communications Office, and Hedieh Najafi, institutional researcher for MOOCs under the Open UToronto umbrella.

A highlight of the day was a participation of Megan Kollar and Frances Kleven, two colleagues from Coursera who joined the workshop and contributed a segment exploring marketing strategies.

Photos of MOOC Design Day


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New iOS Application Development MOOC Specialization Series

Prof. Parham Aarabi of Computer Science Engineering will be the lead instructor on a new MOOC series aimed at teaching learners iOS application development skills. Congratulations are in order, as the project was successful in an RFP competition for a funding advance from Coursera to support the design and development of a sequence of these four new MOOCs. The development of applications for mobile devices has been identified as a priority area by Coursera.

iOS App Development

Working with a team that will leverage expertise from the field, from the MADLab here at UofT and from the instructional technology team at FASE, this project will be working on a fast track to launch in fall of 2015. Curriculum plans are already well under way! To pull it all together, five members of the development team will be working with Coursera on fine tuning the alignment of the instructional approach to ensure coherence across the four MOOC sessions, culminating in a capstone project.

This specialization series will focus on creating mobile apps on the iOS platform, including Swift language syntax, tools, as well as platform details including building Apple Watch applications. The target audience includes students and professionals who wish to create apps for iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch devices.

Stay tuned! Coming soon!


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Course Re/Design 2015 – Online Cohort

Over the course of two full days, May 20 and 21, we took part in another successful Course Re/Design Institute. The annual event, hosted by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation, includes participation from faculty and staff from across the university community.  Our cohort of instructors who are launching new fully online courses joined with the larger group of approximately 30 faculty members looking to hone their design skills for the first day of the institute. On the second day the online group attending the institute were privileged with planning and design considerations that are unique to online course design in a separate breakout stream.

One week before the event we held a pre-institute orientation webinar that served to introduce the group to each other, model use of online teaching technology and review the theoretical underpinnings that inform the design day.

CDI Webinar Image

Another benefit for our online instructors is the participation of their own course builders or educational technology experts as part of a design team process on day 2 of the institute. The conversations, explorations and considerations of effective course design were very engaging and inspiring, as faculty from across a full range of disciplines shared their ideas and insights.

Religion and Popular Culture Poster

The full list of UofT instructors who are designing fully online courses as part of the undergraduate OUCI initiative or Ontario Online initiative for the coming year include:

Arts and Science
     Religion and Popular Culture Jennifer Harris
     Introductory Sanskrit Elizabeth Mills
     Classical Tibetan Frances Garrett
     Introduction to Statistics Alison Gibbs
     Introduction to Neurobiology Bill Ju and Franco Taverna
Materials Science and Engineering
Introductory Chemistry from a Materials                Perspective Scott Ramsay
     Environmental Politics in Canada Andrea Olive

If you are interested in participating in upcoming discussions or considering applying for OUCI funding, please contact Laurie Harrison.

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Flexible Learning with Public Health Online

Over the Fall and Winter terms, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health undertook an exciting new pilot project to develop and run a series of four quarter-course credit e-modules (6 weeks in length each). Under the guidance of graduate coordinator Ann Fox with the assistance of the online learning strategies portfolio the school worked with four leading instructors in a course redesign process to bring the modules to life. The instructors and course topics included:

  • Susan Bondy: Representative Sample Surveys in Public Health Disciplines: development and use of population data on large and human scales
  • Paul Bozek: Introduction to Environmental Health
  • Robert Mann: Public Health, Mental Health and Addiction
  • Blake Poland: Building Community Resilience

Dalla Lana School ype on windowBeginning in January 2015 the first two courses ran for six weeks. When they were complete the remaining two opened and ran until the end of the Winter term. The pilot was driven by the need to meet the school’s wide ranging student body which includes students, managers and experts operating across public health related disciplines in various locations in Canada and worldwide. In order to reach these busy professionals, practicum and distance students, the online format and condensed course structure allowed for greater flexibility to fit studies into full schedules.

The e-modules were structured around both asynchronous and synchronous activities and strategies. On their own time students could access readings, videos, assessments and discussions. For a minimum of once a week the instructors also led their students in live webinar sessions where they delivered lectures and were able to field question and answer periods using Blackboard Collaborate. Although there was a balance of activities, a lesson learned was to offer less synchronous sessions structured around a rigid weekly timeslot to offer even more flexibility.

For a first time offering in this format the feedback has been positive, with students expressing interest and support for both the online environment and the quarter course format.

When asked about their experiences with teaching online the instructors agreed that they benefited from the capacity building and even applied the course redesign work to their other courses. They also felt that teaching online was on par with instructing a face-to-face (f2f) class and that the online environment even offered some possibilities that the f2f could not (sharing videos to study at own pace).

This project is another innovative example of how online course design can transform teaching and learning.

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Nursing Project Named Finalist for CUCCIO Innovation Award

CUCCIO awards logoFinalists have been announced for the inaugural CUCCIO Awards, celebrating collaboration, innovation and community building in Canadian higher education IT. Our congratulations to Fareed Teja, the lead on a recent Online Proctoring Pilot Project at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg School of Nursing that was selected as one of four finalists in the Innovation category.

The  project explored online proctoring as a method to protect the academic integrity of online exam taking in an online Master of Nursing – Nurse Practitioner program. Specifically, online proctoring was implemented in online tests to ensure that students adhere to academic honesty policies, exam questions were protected, and student identification was verified. Goals of the project were to evaluate effectiveness of online proctoring to protect the integrity of online high stakes exams, collect and analyze student feedback on the process and experience, and share the results internally, institutionally, and abroad.

Fareed will be participating in the upcoming CANHEIT conference  in New Brunswick, presenting on the process and results of this innovative project. Hats off!



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