Data Driven Design Quercus Analytics 2021-22

We are pleased to announce a new call for applications to the 2021-22 Data Driven Design: Quercus Analytics (D3:QA) cohort.

The D3:QA initiative examines opportunities provided by the Quercus Analytics module and related services aimed at enhancing instruction and learning experience. This mandate will be supported through activities and consultations enabling instructors to effectively use Quercus student data to make course redesign decisions.  The initiative is part of a broader program of learning analytics being coordinated by the office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education.

Analytics Interface

Successful applicants will participate in a peer network that facilitates capacity development by extracting and making meaning of Quercus analytics. Informed by the available data, the network will also support instructors to modify an existing course, implement its redesign and reflect upon those redesign decisions and outcomes.

Read full details and apply to the Data Driven Design: Quercus Analytics program.

The deadline for applications is November 8, 2021 at 11:59 pm.

You can view the showcase and read the report from the previous D3:QA cohort on the Open UToronto website.

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EdTech Sandbox Platforms from eCampusOntario

Ontario Postsecondary Institutions connected to EdTech through space to experimentAs part of their new Virtual Learning Strategy, eCampusOntario is facilitating access to new platforms and tools for use in post-secondary courses through a “Sandbox” program. The University of Toronto successfully applied for licences for three tools that have been identified by instructors as having potential to enhance student learning. The licences are available to learners until April 2022. Instructors and learners will be invited to participate in evaluation activities to support informed planning for introduction of new educational technologies both at the University of Toronto, and in future eCampusOntario initiatives.

The tools being piloted include: (1000 licences)

This online social annotation tool allows users to annotate openly on websites, blogs, online journals, and news articles. allows users in groups to share online text, resources, links, and annotations. It can be used as a private note-taking and critiquing tool or a collaborative annotation tool. Instructors from a range of disciplines and program areas have asked to pilot over the next two terms.

Pivot Interactives (1000 licences)

As an alternative for virtual labs, this platform is based on interactive videos and recorded lab experiments than animations or simulations. Each activity shows actual footage of experiments taking place, giving learners opportunities to make real observations and collect real data rather than just watching a simulation. The labs cover biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science topics and can be fully customized to suit a teacher’s needs. In addition to use in the Human Biology program, Pivot Interactive labs are also being used in teacher education courses at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Miro (1000 licences)

Instructors and students are using this is online collaborative whiteboard platform to enable teams to work effectively together, from brainstorming with digital sticky notes to planning course project activities and presentations. In addition to visual documentation and annotation tools, the platform features interactive communication tools for learners, as well as a meta-view for the instructor that allows observation of activity across all teams or a zoom in on a specific team activity. Miro is being used for design-oriented courses in architecture and engineering.

For more information contact:

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Experiential Project-Based learning: Riipen for Fall 2021

The Riipen platform is an on-ramp to facilitating work integrated learning experiences. Riipen helps UofT  instructors set up experiential project-based learning with community organizations and businesses by finding matches and streamlining ongoing coordination and communication between the faculty, students and partners. This initiative is unique in its focus on integrating small projects into course contexts in alignment with learning outcomes. Students receive feedback from partner organizations on their projects.

What is experiential project-based learning?

Experiential project-based learning is a teaching method that involves students designing, developing, and constructing hands-on solutions to a problem with a company or non-profit partner. Using project-based learning, students can build upon their creative capacity by working through real-world problems. The students typically work on these projects in small teams.

What is Riipen?

Riipen is a  project-based learning platform that enables students, educators, and organizations to connect through real-world industry experiences. Students acquire skills valuable in the workplace and get to build their employer network, organizations get to improve their talent pipelines and increase authentic engagement towards their brand, while instructors provide enhanced learning experiences for their students and tap new industry and community organization connections.

Access to Riipen gives UofT faculty the flexibility to embed experiential learning into courses and provides the tools for students to work as a team on real-world problems. The platform available to faculty, in all disciplines, working with all levels of students, in-class, online experiences, and remote internships. Riipen offers end-to-end support, including course project ideation and design, technical support and student onboarding, and matchmaking with industry partners globally.

Steps for Instructors to Get Started using Riipen:

  • Join the School Portal as an educator.
  • Book a call with your dedicated Account Manager to discuss if Riipen is right for you.
  • Riipen will set you up with a technical onboarding so you are comfortable with the platform and ready to connect your course.
  • Once published to our marketplace, Riipen will get to work on matching your course with the best industry partners in our network of over 10K employers.
  • You will approve the company projects that you want to pair with students.
  • The students start working on the projects on a timeline you determine.

For questions and support please contact Riipen at

For information about use of Riipen at University of Toronto please contact

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Innovation in Digital Learning at University of Toronto

Image of hand pointing at word "learning"The University of Toronto has received approximately $1.8M through a new Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) funding program, targeting improved access and innovation to digital resources for Ontario students. The initiative represents a $50 million investment by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities intended to expand and enrich learning through development of online course content, modules and open textbooks.

As we have learned during the past year, U of T has the capacity to respond to emergent needs for digital resources to address curricular activities across the disciplines. Through the VLS program additional rich learning content will be available to our own students, as well as those at other institutions across the province and beyond. The content created through his program will be shared via the eCampusOntario Library platform in February 2022, allowing others to benefit through re-use and adaptation of the resources created by our lead instructors and their collaborators.

Projects funded by the VLS program are as follows:

Project Lead Project Title Department
Frances Garrett Teaching for Student Flourishing Study of Religion, FAS
Jessica Slomka Matter in Motion: A transdisciplinary course exploring physical processes Chemical and Physical Sciences, UTM


John Hannah Supporting Academic Resilience for International Students Division of Student Life


Jessica Slomka Virtual Earth: Technology-based Earth Sciences Lab Series Chemical and Physical Sciences, UTM


Greg Evans Customizable Lab Simulations for Chemistry, Environment, and Engineering Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, FASE


Cindy Woodland, Derek Ng, Stavroula Andreopoulos A Multimedia Approach to Understanding Drug Interactions Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacology and Toxicology and Biochemistry; Dept. of Biology, UTM


Kim Mackinnon Designing for Meaningful Synchronous and Asynchronous Discussion in Online Courses Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Kathy Trip, Jean Wilson Simulation of Gynecological Examinations Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing


Michal Kasprzak,Cristina D’Amico Developing Your Teaching Dossier: A Series of Four OER Asynchronous Online Modules Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation
Bill Ju, Franco Taverna Building a common undergraduate Neuroscience OER for broad use across the Ontario curriculum Human Biology, FAS
Erin Styles, Johanna Carroll Introductory Coding for Genomics – An Asynchronous Online Course for Life Science Student Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medicine
Yuchong Li, Andreas Hilfinger Developing Stay-at-Home Experiment Modules for Introductory Physics Courses Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, UTM
David Kwasny, Krystle Phirangee Digital Learning Producers Online Training UTSC Library; Centre for Teaching & Learning, UTSC
Jim Hewitt, Clare Brett An Introduction to Effective Online Teaching for Elementary and Secondary Instructors Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Nick Eyles A country on the move: Canada’s changing landscapes Department of Physical and Environmental Science, UTSC
Erika Loney; Nadia Rosemond; Edward Al Hearn Bilingual Student Preparation Modules for Experiential Learning (French and English) Office of Student Experience & Wellbeing, UTSC; Centre for Teaching & Learning, UTSC
Shafique Virani Islam and Muslim Civilizations Online Historical Studies, UTM
Aleksandra Bjelajac Mejia Virtual Immersive Simulations to Promote Practice Readiness to Full Scope for Pharmacy and Pharmacy Technician Students: A Collaborative Approach Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
Tom Coyle Modules to support online delivery of advanced ceramic course Department of Materials Science and Engineering, FASE
Judi Laprade Creating a digital library of 3D scanned human-anatomical prosections for allied health science education Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery
Alexandra Motut, Essyn Emurla Teamwork Skills for Undergraduates by Rotman Commerce Centre for Professional Skills (RC-CPS) Rotman School of Management/Rotman Commerce
Laura Dempster Preparing Tomorrow’s Clinician’s with TeleOralHealth Faculty of Dentistry
Fiona Rawle Arrival Activities for Student Engagement – an Open Educational Resource Dept of Biology, UTM
Vivienne Luk The Language of Forensics Forensic Science Program, UTM


Fiona Rawle Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning: An Instructor Guide and Training Module Dept of Biology, UTM
Karen Smith, Oya Mercan Engineering in a Changing Climate – A Transdisciplinary Workshop Series for Engineering and Climate Science Students Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences UTSC
Stella Ng, Nicole Woods Advancing the CACE Homecare Curriculum Speech-Language Pathology; Dept of Family and Community Medicine
Essyn Emurla, Alexandra Motut Effective Virtual Communication and Presentations by Rotman Commerce Centre for Professional Skills Rotman School of Management/Rotman Commerce
Jon French IP Education Program Level 1 – Patenting Strategies UofT Entrepreneurship, VPRI
Jon French IP Education Program – Level 2 – Patenting Strategies UofT Entrepreneurship, VPRI
Helen Tran STEM Education <> Design Thinking Chemistry, FAS

For more information on support for VLS projects contact

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Visual and Interactive Media for Undergraduate Life Sciences

A new open resource was recently launched, providing links to visual and interactive media, associated publications and background information related to a range of online learning materials for undergraduate Life Sciences. Congratulations to the project team behind this collection of Visual and Interactive Media for Undergraduate Life Sciences recently added to the OpenUtoronto site.

Life Science Interactive Media Banner

Work by these Project Leaders was supported by funding from Faculty of Arts and Science:

  • Stavroula Andreopoulos, Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Biochemistry, Temerty Faculty Medicine
  • Derek Ng, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Toronto Mississauga; Master of Science in Biomedical Communications Program, Institute of Medical Science, Temerty Faculty of Medicine
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Coursera for Campus: More options for student learning

The Coursera for University of Toronto initiative continues to offer the UofT learners full access to a large catalogue of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). First introduced in support of partner institutions impacted by COVID-19, the program has been extended until April 2021.

These non-degree, short courses provide opportunities for professional and academic skill development in a range of areas, including research, writing, computer programming, statistical analysis, project management and many other topics. Browse offerings or create an account using a email address by following this link:

Coursera for University of Toronto – Main Catalogue

To help University of Toronto students discover valuable content related to career and professional skills development, we have curated two new course playlists with the help of Career Centre staff in Student Life:

Make Suggestions or Learn More

Instructors and staff are invited to curate a recommended Coursera course list for students in their program area from the full Coursera Catalogue. Use the “Explore” or “Search” tools on the catalogue display page to locate courses of value and relevance to your students.

Contact for information on providing customized Coursera content for your learners.

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Virtual Labs – Reviews and Previews

While we’ve all been rapidly propelled into online learning in recent months, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines have had the additional challenge of bringing what are normally hands-on labs to the virtual realm.

Many different solutions have been implemented by U of T’s resourceful instructors, who deserve our thanks and admiration for coming up with effective solutions that are in line with target learning outcomes, yet still successfully engage students in authentic activities.

As described on the Virtual Labs for Remote/Online Courses resource page, there are many innovative examples including the following:

  • Using open source materials that have been shared at no cost and creating interactive labs within Quercus modules.
  • Creating custom labs or activity guides using video clips of course lab demonstrations and accompanying data sets for analysis.
  • Licensing rich content that includes real-time virtual lab simulations and formative assessment available from publishers and other discipline–specific providers.
  • Using common objects found at home or easily purchased for DIY activities or sending physical kits for experiments directly to students.

Lab Simulations

Many of the learning objectives of laboratory courses can be achieved with lab simulations and DIY solutions, and there are additional affordances unique to the online environment.

Some of the benefits of incorporating lab simulations into courses include:

  • Allowing laboratory courses to move online and increasing student engagement — Many of the virtual lab options incorporate elements of gaming and storytelling.
  • Enabling students to go at their own pace — Online labs help close the knowledge gap by allowing students to finish labs when they want and at the pace they need.
  • Improving understanding of the concepts by students — Many of the interactive labs incorporate pedagogical techniques proven to facilitate better understanding of the theoretical information presented.
  • Offering options to replace, prepare for, or supplement in-person labs — Virtual labs can familiarize students with the techniques, skills, processes, protocols and underlying theory in lieu of or in preparation for in-person labs.
  • Broadening access to science education — May give students virtual access to experiences that would not normally be part of their undergraduate course due to size of class/lab space limitations.

Virtual Lab Pilots at UofT

Beyond Labz

Beyond Labz offers virtual labs in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics and Biology.

Developed at Brigham Young University through 20 years of research, Beyond Labz offers research-based, open-ended virtual lab experiences that provide students with opportunities to experiment, practice, fail, discover and learn without the limitations, expense and safety constraints of an in-person lab experience. The simulation platform is built upon actual experimental data and the most advanced models available. The aim is to teach students how to be scientists by allowing them to experience real outcomes and learn from their failures by not having such simulation constraints.

The virtual lab settings are designed around different lab benches that are specific to experiment types (i.e., for the Organic Chemistry virtual labs, the Synthesis and Qualitative Analysis lab benches are different).

Throughout each virtual lab experience, students can record/report data in a virtual lab book, copy their data, and even take snapshots so that they can then analyze their results in a Google sheet or Excel (for submission). For more information:

Online Learning Strategies has recently shared eCampusOntario’s call for Expression of Interest submissions and has since coordinated a submission on behalf of U of T faculty interested in using Beyond Labz simulations in STEM courses for the 2021 Winter and 2021 Summer terms. View Online Learning Strategies website page detailing this initiative.


Labster offers virtual lab simulations that give students access to a realistic lab experience that lets them perform simulated experiments and practice their skills in a fun and risk-free learning environment. Labster, a Danish company founded in 2011, offers virtual lab simulations that include quiz questions and background theory to engage students in an immersive, game-like multimedia experience. The simulations are based on mathematical algorithms that support open-ended investigations, combined with gamification elements, storytelling and a scoring system that highlights the connection between science and the real world. For more information:

Labster lab simulations are being used by several courses at the three University of Toronto campuses. Labster is fully integrated into Quercus as of September 2020.

Labster at U of T Timeline:

Future opportunities

Ladderane, which provides a customizable platform allowing instructors to create virtual chemistry experiments to meet their own needs and learning outcomes, has recently contacted Online Learning Strategies with an offer to start a Pilot with interested instructors. Instructors have the option to create experiments from scratch or use template experiments in the Gallery section of their dashboard. A wide variety of different elements can be customized for each experiment including, but not limited to, chemical names, glassware, colors and states of matter. This flexibility provides an opportunity to create a unique experiment for both individual students and groups of students. Follow this link to view a Ladderane demo. Please contact if interested.

Digital Learning Innovation is keeping tabs on any upcoming pilot opportunities involving virtual lab simulations. For a consultation please email

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Interactive Content Creation with H5P

In this new age of remote teaching it is more important than ever to identify strategies to help students stay motivated through active learning. One way to keep students engaged and alert is to incorporate elements of interactivity into teaching materials as enhancements to recorded videos and slide presentations. This article highlights an effective digital authoring method that can be used to create interactive content for course materials and a unique learning experience for students.

Introducing H5P

H5P is the abbreviation for HTML5 Package, and is an open-source eLearning authoring tool that enables educators to create and edit interactive videos, presentations, games, and more. Once created, this interactive content may be linked to from a website or web resource, embedded into a Quercus course, and incorporated into Pressbooks (an online book production tool).

Example H5P Uses

  • Insert true/false questions into video clips of lab protocols to make important concepts memorable
  • Break up longer slide or video presentations with interactive exercises (drag words into correct spots in a sentence) to stimulate thinking
  • Use interactive content to prepare for a graded quiz on the material

In Ontario, educators can explore this tool at no cost on eCampus Ontario’s H5P Studio website.

Using H5P — Quick Start Guide

Go to, click on “Register” at the top right, and sign up for a free account with your email.

How to register an account on eCampus Ontario H5P Studio website


If you are not ready to sign up, explore the catalogue to find out about the different ways educators are using this tool. You can even link to existing catalogue H5P content without an account.

Search the catalogue by title/description, type, keywords, subject, and even by author.

Search the catalogue in eCampus Ontario H5P Studio website


To adapt content already created, select the desired content from the catalogue by clicking on the title. Then click on “Reuse” on the bottom left of the selected H5P content. Another window opens, with two options: download the file or copy. Choose to copy the content.

Once you are ready to create your own H5P content, click on “Create” in the top navigation (you must be logged in). Then you have the option of starting from scratch or adapting content already created.


Once in the creative studio, and if you have copied existing H5P content, click on “Paste” on the top right to start customizing the content to your needs.

Give your work a descriptive title, pick an appropriate subject category (if in doubt, choose “Reference”), and add a short description (optional).


There are tutorial videos and examples accessible right in the edit view for each H5P interactive content type.

Remember to save your work on a regular basis!


Once your H5P content has been created, you can link to it or choose to use the embed code to seamlessly incorporate it into Quercus or another platform.


The example of Drag and Drop H5P Content Type featured here, “Label the Coronavirus Structure Elements”, is an adaptation of “Label the Human Heart”.

“Which is better: Soap or hand sanitizer?” is an example created to demonstrate the Interactive Video H5P Content Type.

Additional Resources

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Managing Mental Health MOOC

Responding to the need for managing anxiety globally due to COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Steve Joordens launched an open course on Coursera titled: “Mind Control: Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19” in March 2020. So far, more than 65,000 learners have signed up for this self-paced course that has already been offered in two different versions. Learners in the “Mind Control: Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19” MOOC represent a diverse geographical scope spanning North America, South Asia, Africa, East Asia, Europe, and South America. Later, 6,500 U of T alumni participated in an exclusive alumni version of this course. 

Image of a brain

Professor Joordens has structured this course into three themes: understanding anxiety; managing anxiety; and managing the effects of isolation. Each theme includes short videos; quizzes; and guided mediation sessions. With U of T buildings closed due to the pandemic, the course production leveraged creative strategies with minimal production equipment, yet the result has excellent good sound and video quality. 

“Mind Control: Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19” emphasizes a community approach to learning with an active moderated discussion forum. Learners are also encouraged to upvote their favorite posts so that the instructor comments on them. Engaging students in peer interaction is an integral component of Professor Joordens’s approach to teaching. In 2013, Professor Joorderns was among the first U of T instructors to offer a popular Massive Open Online Course, Introduction to Psychology, on Coursera. He successfully integrated Peer Scholar and Digital Labcoat educational technology applications in the Introduction to Psychology MOOC, thus enabling learners from a variety of background and knowledge in reviewing their peers’ work and in experiencing the process of scientific research.

Originally offered in English, Professor Joordens’s team of students has translated the course material into Hungarian, Spanish, Arabic, and Serbian to facilitate access to the course to non-English speaking learners.

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Online Learning at U of T – Ready to Reach Out

Computer with (n)ever (s)top learning displayed.As the University of Toronto shifts to increased online learning activity in response to COVID-19, we are fortunate to have a Digital Learning Innovation portfolio with a strong track record in exploring and evaluating emergent learning technologies and practices. Since 2012 we have been supporting transformative initiatives that enhance the learning experience and build momentum for a digital learning innovation mindset.

Digital Learning Innovation fast tracks capacity development, leveraging the work of a community of instructors who have already introduced effective approaches to course activities in a digital format.  At a recent round table it was acknowledged that the “most important consideration is keeping a connection between the instructor and the student to build community and ensure engagement.”

In collaboration with other units on campus, our portfolio has been building momentum across the following dimensions:

  • Flexible access through fully online, hybrid, and MOOC courses that leverage our academic technology tools
  • Digital content design featuring interactive modules, open educational resources, virtual reality, peer feedback and community-building activities.

University of Toronto instructors are able to access the resources and the know-how to provide a rich learning experience for all our students, regardless of modality of course delivery. We are “ready to reach out” to ensure that our students never stop learning at the University of Toronto.

Online Learning Spotlights

Support within a range of digital learning contexts is illustrated in the innovative initiatives featured below.

French Business Logo

French Language Collaboration with Wikis: Business writing activity focused on authentic and meaningful tasks. [Read more]

Rosa Junghwa Hong, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Language Studies, UTM


symbolic logic text

Symbolic Logic Video and Discussion: Supporting learning at own time and pace. [Read more]

Alex Koo, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Philosophy, FAS


Barbara MurckEnvironmental Science Virtual Office Hours: Live online drop-in question and answer sessions using Bb Collaborate. [Read more]

Barb Murck, Member of the UofT President’s Teaching Academy and Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Geography, UTM

Screenshot of quizzing interfaceOperations Management Randomized Quiz Questions: Online assessment tool that generates, presents and automatically marks sets of randomized algorithmically generated questions. [Read more]

Gerhard Trippen, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Rotman School of Management and Department of Management, UTM

For more information visit About Digital Learning Innovation.

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