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Technology Choice: Mode & Class Size

We are fortunate to have many institutionally-supported tools available to us. This choice can also bring confusion on what would be most appropriate when looking at your teaching goals and a number of other factors, including size of class and synchronous vs. asynchronous delivery mode.

The following chart was developed with input from McMaster instructors, faculty and education and technology experts in the Teaching and Learning Technology Committee and is intended to provide guidance as instructors make decisions about certain technologies available for use in delivering courses online. The bold text signifies recommended technologies that have more support on campus or can create a more consistent experience for students. Note that this chart is iterative, and currently includes select recommended technologies for content/video creation and webconferencing.

Where possible, asynchronous approaches will provide increased accessibility, flexibility and equity for students. Synchronous sessions should be recorded, captioned and made available asynchronously for students.

Size of Class/Tutorial Synchronous – Live
(Text-Based Audience Communication)
Synchronous – Live Audience
(Audio/Video Communication)
Asynchronous –
Pre-Recorded
Up to 300 participants
  • Echo360
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Webex*
  • Zoom*
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Webex*
  • Zoom*
Creates recordings**: 

  • Camtasia 
  • PowerPoint 

 

Creates recordings and/or streams: 

  • Echo360 
  • MacVideo 
  • Microsoft Teams, Live Events, PowerPoint Live Presentation: Recordings 

 

Streams only: 

  • Microsoft Stream
Up to 1000 participants

 

  • Echo360
  • Microsoft Teams Live Events
  • Webex*
 

  • Webex*
More than 1000 participants
  • Echo360
  • Microsoft Teams Live Events
  • PowerPoint Present Live
  • Webex Events

* Recommend that synchronous Zoom and Webex utilize live captions available via PowerPoint. 

** Note these need to be uploaded to a streaming provider to be streamed and captioned 

Expandable List

We are very fortunate to have many institutionally-supported technologies available to us at McMaster. With the move to online teaching, many instructors are turning to new or additional tools – herein referred to as third-party tools to help solve a particular teaching and learning challenge within these virtual teaching spaces, and are requesting support on how to make these tools available centrally and integrated into Avenue to Learn. We advise that new third-party alternatives be considered only when they either extend or provide additional functionality of institutionally-supported tools to meet teaching and learning goals.  

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have to prioritize the increased and complex needs supporting the tools that we have in place and are implementing a temporary moratorium on acquiring third party tools centrally as well as integrating third party tools into Avenue to Learn.  

However, this does not preclude an instructor, department or Faculty who wish to explore adoption and use of third-party tools in their teaching from doing so. If you do go ahead, we strongly advise that you complete a careful evaluation prior to use of these tools, particularly if the tool is to be used by students in your course. Please note that use of tools that are not officially supported by the university are not considered approved and there is no technical support available.  

Questions to think about:

Accessibility 

  • Does the tool meet WCAG guidelines? At minimum, the tool should adhere to mandated legal requirements for accessibility, but also generally accepted guidelines and best practice. 

Privacy/security 

  • Does use of the tool require students to sign up, and share personal info? If account creation is required, is it clear to students what happens with their data? 
  • Does use of the tool require you to provide highly-sensitive info? This would be a red flag – do not provide this information prior to entering a contract with the vendor. 

Support  

  • What support is available? Does the platform have a support team (ideally 24/7) or appropriate tutorials to facilitate understanding how to properly use the tool?  

Cost  

Opt-out plan 

  • What is your plan for students who do not want to use an environment hosted outside of McMaster? We recommend providing information about use of the third-party tool in your course syllabus and planning for an alternative.  This could easily be accomplished by stating in an assignment e.g., “Pikto-chart is the recommended platform, but students are welcome to use whatever tool they are comfortable with” – provide options but students should be free to use whatever if it similarly achieves the learning outcomes. 

A more robust and comprehensive evaluation of third-party tools can be accomplished by moving through the prompts in this guided document on Evaluation of eLearning Tools 

For a list on what third-party integrations are currently available in Avenue to Learn as well as additional considerations, see:https://avenuehelp.mcmaster.ca/exec/third-party-integrations/  

Note that the above-mentioned moratorium is temporary, and once the fall term is underway, a cross-campus group as part of IT Governance and the Teaching and Learning Committee will be working on a Third-Party Teaching and Learning Tool proposal process that will be help guide and clarify steps, and be included as a requirement prior to integration into Avenue to Learn.   

Avenue To Learn is our institutional Learning Management System (LMS).

Use it in your teaching:

  • Organize a course online.
  • Facilitate online communication and course discussions between instructors and students
  • Use it as a central space to upload and organize course content, assessments and grade completed work.
  • Run tests and exams through Avenue. Check out our guide for detailed information.

Get support:

Find additional advice and resources:

Accessibility considerations:

  • In order to avoid uploading inaccessible digital content:
    • Learn about Core Skills for Accessibility through Microsoft 365 Accessible Document and Outlook Email Training when creating your own content / digital documents and presentations
    • Quickly and efficiently convert your inaccessible documents (e.g. an inaccessible PDF) to accessible formats and/or alternative formats (MP3s, Microsoft Word docs, HTML) using institutionally supported SensusAccess conversion software
    • Be mindful that most PDF options are not accessible formats for individuals using various types of assistive technology unless they’ve been intentionally made accessible by the document’s author.

MacVideo is a video-creation and sharing tool that is integrated into Avenue.

Use it in your teaching:

  • Record, edit, and embed a video
  • Record a voice-over-powerpoint lecture, which you can then share with students via Avenue
  • Access analytics on the videos to see who watched what and when
  • Although there is currently no limit to file size or length of video uploaded, we recommend to keep lecture videos brief and focused – evidence shows that learning and engagement suffer when videos are more than 15 minutes. Chunk longer lectures into shorter segments

Get support:

Find additional advice and resources:

Accessibility considerations:

The MacPherson Institute has developed or curated the following resources on accessibility features and guidance related to Kaltura Capture and MacVideo use:

If you have learners in your online / blended learning environments who have academic accommodations for captioning recorded materials, please connect with Student Accessibility Services and Library Accessibility Services for support.

Echo360 is our institutional online video course delivery and student engagement platform that is integrated into Avenue.

Use it in your teaching:

  • Whether in class or at home, deliver your video lecture to students through Avenue to Learn. Simple and effective tools for enhanced engagement through polling, automatic transcriptions, and student study guides. 

Get support:

Find additional advice and resources:

Support for students:

  • McMaster student partners created a short “how-to” video for fellow students on how to navigate the platform.

Accessibility considerations:

CCT, Library Accessibility Services, and the Faculty of Sciences have developed several useful and accessible guides to enabling accessibility features within Echo360, including:

If you have learners in your online / blended learning environments who have academic accommodations for captioning lecture capture-recorded materials, please connect with Student Accessibility Services and Library Accessibility Services for support.

WebEx is a McMaster supported tool used for meetings, web and video conferencing.

Use it in your teaching:

  • Offer real-time lectures
  • Hold virtual office hours
  • Meet with groups of students
  • Students can collaborate with one another in small groups
  • Maximum number of participants is 1,000 (for WebEx Training)

Get support:

  • Support available by request at https://avenue.mcmaster.ca/support/
  • 24/7 support from WebEx at 1-866-229-3239
  • For smaller classes, we recommend using Webex Meetings. Please see our “Webex Meetings for first-timers guide”
  • For larger classes, that require breakout rooms we recommend using Webex Training. 
  • Uncertain as to what web conferencing solution you should use. Check out our “Web conferencing Comparison” Sheet

Find additional advice and resources:

Accessibility considerations:

Zoom is now available to McMaster faculty, staff and active students and supported through our University Technology Services.

Use it in your teaching: 

  • Offer real-time lectures 
  • Hold virtual office hours 
  • Students can collaborate with one another in small groups Maximum number of participants is 300 
  • Uncertain as to what web conferencing solution you should use. Check out our “Web conferencing Comparison” Sheet

Get Support: 

Find additional advice and resources: 

Accessibility considerations:

 

 

Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaborative hub (and part of the Office365 suite of programs – free for McMaster staff and students)

Use it in your teaching:

  • Livestream lectures
  • Incorporate quizzes from MS Forms in Teams
  • Private and public channels to facilitate discussion, Q&A, follow-up conversations and/ or collaborative work
  • Hold virtual office hours
  • Pre-record your lectures in MS Stream and add them to Teams
  • Web and video conferencing for up to 300 participants (1,000 coming this Fall)
  • Create a rubric for assignments
  • How to create breakout rooms in Teams
  • Create and host Teams Live Events for up to 10,000 people
  • Collaborate on documents using OneNote and other Microsoft Applications
  • Document collaboration in Teams includes immersive reader functionality
  • Automatically created Teams linked to Mosaic with student enrollment.

Get support:

  • For information on how to use Microsoft Teams for teaching contact mi@mcmaster.ca

Find additional advice and resources:

After thorough discussion, evaluation and review, a cross-campus steering committee has recommended a campus-preferred online proctoring solution. McMaster has licensed and integrated Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor into Avenue to Learn. 

What is Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor?

Respondus Lockdown Browser prevents students from visiting other websites, copying, printing or accessing other applications during an online assessment. Note that some of the restrictions can be customized to allow limited access. Respondus Monitor adds webcam and microphone functionality to LockDown Browser to document students during online quizzes and exams.  

What to consider before using Respondus:

Respondus monitors students while they are completing online assessments with an aim to ensure academic integrity. However, the decision to use Respondus should not be taken lightly. Please ensure you have considered the following: 

  • Rationale: do you really need to use online proctoring? Unless a proctored assessment is a requirement for a professional certification, you should consider alternate assessments or, if you rely on quizzes and tests, refer to our Guide to Tests and Exams Using Avenue to Learn on how you can configure tests and quizzes to increase fidelity without having to use a proctoring technology. 
  • Communication: have you included a statement as to your rationale and use of online proctoring in your course syllabus? Will you ensure instructions on how to use are provided to students along with a practice quiz? 
  • Accommodation: Quizzes that use Respondus can be configured on Avenue to Learn for accommodation purposes, but you will also need to develop a Plan B for certain accommodations or if technical/connection issues arise. 
  • Mental health and well-being of your students: consider the added layer of anxiety online proctoring can promote and how to support students through this. 

The MacPherson Institute recommends first exploring alternatives to proctored quizzes and exams online such as:  

  • Take-home exams 
  • Projects 
  • Reflections 
  • Group work 
  • Guided online discussions 
  • Peer-reviewed activities

Please review the Assessments tab for more assessment strategies and their descriptions. 

Instructor FAQ
Student FAQ (under Personalized Support)

How to Access and Use Respondus:

Guidance on Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor and how to obtain and use in your course can be found on the Avenue to Learn Knowledge Base: 

Respondus Training

Respondus is offering training specifically for McMaster instructors and teaching staff. Here are the dates/times, information and registration details: 

Tuesday, October 6, 10:00 – 11:00 am 

Thursday, November 12, 2:00 – 3:00 pm 

Respondus also offers weekly webinars for the broader community – you can find more information and how to participate on their website.  

Camtasia is a software package provided by TechSmith that bundles screen recording and video editing. Camtasia combines the ability to easily capture anything on your screen with a simplified video editor. It also provides picture-in-picture recording as well if alternative video source recording is desired (i.e. webcam + screen recording at the same time). It is available for both Mac and Windows platforms.

Who is eligible?

The Camtasia license at McMaster is free for all instructors and all faculty. Staff and students are not eligible. Camtasia may be used by staff on a limited term basis to assist instructors and faculty with the setup and training.

Download

The software and activation key are now available for download at https://mcmaster.onthehub.com. Users will be prompted to sign in with their MacID@mcmaster.ca and password. Those with existing trial versions of Camtasia do not need to download the software again and can enter the activation key to unlock the full functionality of Camtasia.

Additional Information

Our Camtasia license and activation key are for the most current version, Camtasia 2020.

Can I install Camtasia in a virtualized environment?

Yes – Camtasia can be installed in a virtual environment so long as it is used explicitly by instructors and faculty.

McMaster Support

For OnTheHub/Kivuto licensing questions, please submit a ticket with UTS at macservicedesk.mcmaster.ca.

 

Camtasia can be used to:

  • Create Presentation/Lecture content
  • Create Explainer/How-to/Instructional Video tutorials
  • Screen Capture
  • Edit dynamic/pre-recorded video (YouTube, Vlog, storytelling)

Benefits:

  • Easier to use than many other video editing tools
  • Over 15 hours of included tutorials
  • Ability to add effects
  • Includes animation and effects for text and video – transitions, titles, callouts, annotation
  • Ability to add in-video quizzes (non-graded/no LMS connection)
  • Easily integrated with PowerPoint/Easy to create Voice-Over PowerPoint Videos
  • Can add video recorded outside of Camtasia
  • Screencasts are automatically imported into the project for editing
  • Provides a single source to quickly capture, edit, produce and share video content
  • Can do green screen/background removal

Challenges:

  • If not familiar with video editing, Camtasia may require additional support (Tutorials, Webinars and access to community included)
  • Video editing of any type can be intensive on computer resources
  • Video files require more hard drive storage
  • Duplicates some features currently available in MacVideo, Echo360 and WebEx (screen recording, basic video editing)
  • Videos need to be added to another platform and captioned prior to

Training and support Resources

With Live presentations in PowerPoint, audience members can see a presentation on their devices and read live subtitles in their preferred language while you speak. They can use “pinch to zoom” to see the slides more clearly on mobile devices, give feedback, send live reactions to the presenter, and navigate back to review previous slides.

If you choose to use PowerPoint in an asynchronous way you may find some of these videos from the Faculty of Social Sciences helpful with recording and exporting videos.