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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
  • Zoom
 

  • Zoom
Creates recordings**: 

  • Camtasia 
  • PowerPoint 

 

Creates recordings and/or streams: 

  • Echo360 
  • MacVideo 
  • Microsoft Teams, Live Events, PowerPoint Live Presentation: Recordings 
  • Microsoft Stream
Up to 1000 participants

 

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

* Recommend that synchronous Zoom 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 any course
  • 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.

What’s new:

What’s New:

Avenue now includes the following features: 

  • Respondus https://mi.mcmaster.ca/respondus/Respondus is McMaster’s supported online proctoring solution. Respondus Lockdown Browser prevents students from visiting other websites, copying, printing or accessing other applications during an online assessment. 
  • Microsoft Teams integration – Microsoft Teams can now be connected within your course shell. https://mi.mcmaster.ca/events/microsoft-teams-for-teaching/ 
  • Alternative Homepage: In response to the Fall Experience Survey we developed a new homepage that can be activated within Avenue to Learn. The new homepage includes a number of new widget that are designed to simplify and speed access to content/information, improve usability and reduce confusion. https://avenuehelp.mcmaster.ca/exec/alternative-course-homepage/ 
  • There have been a few system updates to note: https://avenuehelp.mcmaster.ca/article-categories/updates/ 
  • Did you know about the Learning object Repository? The Learning Repository is an online library  that enables McMaster instructors to share and retrieve learning objects. A learning object can be a quiz, a presentation, an image, a video, or any other kind of document or file you use to create course content and learning materials for online learning.  

Get support:

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  
  • Includes annotation tool and Whiteboard functions 
  • Hold virtual office hours  
  • Students can collaborate with one another in small groups (breakout rooms. For breakout room limits, check out Zoom support page 
  • Note: Zoom now supports live captioning. Has to be turned on in meeting settings for each meeting.  
  • Uncertain as to what web conferencing solution you should use. Check out our “Web conferencing Comparison” Shee

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 using Meetings or Live Events 
  • Incorporate quizzes from MS Forms in Teams meetings and video recordings 
  • 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 (15 minute limit) and add them to Teams 
  • Upload any video to MS Stream and incorporate in Teams 
  • Hold Team Meetings (lectures) with up to 10,000 participants (1000 active, the remaining at view only) 
  • Create a rubric for assignments 
  • How to create breakout rooms in Teams 
  • Create and host Teams Live Events for up to 10,000 people. Note: students can only interact with the instructor using the chat function. 
  • Collaborate on documents using Word, Excel, 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 
  • For technical support please contact UTS  

Find additional advice and resources:

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

Use it in your teaching: 

Echo 360 can be a solution for asynchronous, synchronous, and hybrid learning models.  Whether in class or at home, deliver a video lecture to students that is accessible through Avenue to Learn 

  • Live stream using classroom devices or your personal computer 
  • Record your webcam, computer display and microphone using Echo 360’s Universal Capture software or upload completed videos 
  • Facilitate student engagement using activity polls (multiple choice, ordered list, image poll, short answer and numerical). Embed activity polls in video content. 
  • Promote synchronous and asynchronous discussion using curated chat 
  • Track how students interact with course content using Echo 360 analytics. 
  • Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) transcripts that are searchable by students. Edit the transcript within Echo 360 and attach as closed captions. 
  • Use Avenue to Learn to manage student access and enrollment.  Integrate Echo 360 within Avenue to Learn modules as an “external learning tool.”  

Find a classroom equipped with an Echo 360 device using the Campus Classroom Directory (https://library.mcmaster.ca/spaces/cct/classroom-directory) 

Student features: 

  • Study Guide: bookmark content and take notes that are linked directly to class content.  
  • Q&A: ask questions and participate in discussion during live lectures or asynchronously 
  • Confusion Flag: communicate points of confusion that may require review and explanation 
  • Searchable Transcript: search for keywords and jump to corresponding video content 
  • Answer activity polls using SMS texting 
  • Access Echo 360 using mobile App   

Get support:

Find additional advice and resources:

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.

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

Use it in your teaching: 

  • Record, edit, share and embed videos 
  • Access analytics on the videos to see who watched what and when 
  • Utilize video quizzes integrated directly with Avenue to Learn’s gradebook 
  • Easy way for students to record and submit video projects 
  • Automatic caption generation for your videos as soon as you upload 

Get support: 

Find additional advice and resources: 

  • View this quick Getting Started video by Samantha Duncan to get familiar before you dive in 
  • Student Presentations in MacVideo – resource developed by Nick Marquis, Social Sciences, to assist faculty on facilitating an asynchronous format for student presentation assignments 
  • The Faculty of Social Sciences has created a playlist of tutorial videos on MacVideo  

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. 

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. 

Find some helpful inforgraphics here.

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 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, audio and video recording with editing.

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:

  • Free!
  • 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

McMaster Support:

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.