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Tools for online course design

Springboard (a UA-branded version of Desire2Learn) is the default online environment at UA. While it is possible to host online courses in other learning management systems, UA does not generally support those systems for the following reasons:

  • FERPA protection – the provider may not have signed an agreement to protect students' educational records.
  • Security – the provider may not be compliant with industry standard security practices.
  • Accessibility – the system may not work well for students with disabilities (Desire2Learn wins awards in this area).
  • Disaster Recovery – the provider may not adequately protect your course against data corruption or data loss.
  • Software Support – the provider may not be able to answer support questions that you or your students may have.

Thus instructors developing online courses are strongly recommended to use Springboard. If there are features present in other LMS's that are absent from Springboard, please contact Wendy Lampner (wjl3@uakron.edu or x2149) to explore further. Some tools to customize your course that are fully compatible with the Springboard LMS are listed below.


ToolDescriptionAdditional Cost?
Course delivery tools
Springboard Powered by Desire2Learn (D2L), Springboard is the University of Akron's centrally supported learning management system.Springboard automatically contains a course shell, complete with a class roster and state-of-the-art communication, collaboration, content delivery, and student assessment capabilities for every course. Additional Springboard features include a course home page, a quiz tool, course news, threaded discussions, document sharing tools, a course calendar, a grade book, a checklist tool, self-assessments, dropboxes, user progress tracking, an HTML editor a paging system, intelligent agents, custom widgets, group management, rubrics, and competencies. None.
Web Conferencing Web conferencing gives you the functionality you need to support a 21st century teaching and learning environment, such as two-way audio, multi-point video, interactive white-board, application and desktop sharing, rich media, breakout rooms, and session recording. You will typically use this in a synchronous session with your students. Faculty also employ web conferencing to bring guest speakers into an online class and for students to use to complete group projects. There is no additional cost to use WebEx. You may need to make a small investment in hardware (microphone, webcam). DDS staff can make recommendations based on your intended use.
Learning Object Repository A Learning Object Repository (LOR) allows you to efficiently store, locate, and share learning objects. The LOR allows for external repositories to be linked in, providing a single interface for searching external sources. The LOR is flexible and allows for quick resource publishing and tagging and integrates seamlessly with Springboard. You can work with the library staff to license and embed media and journal articles in your course using the LOR as the storage location. No additional cost. In many cases, you can save costs by using the LOR. You will also save your own time when you find that you need to edit an item that appears in multiple courses if you have stored the original in the LOR.
Assessment tools
ePortfolio The ePortfolio tool is a user-focused online portfolio tool that empowers students to take an active role in their learning. Students upload, organize, reflect on, revise, and present digital learning artifacts that demonstrate their learning and achievements. Faculty can require students to post artifacts in their portfolio with an opportunity to grade the student's reflection. There is no additional cost. Students can export their portfolio to https://www.mydesire2learn.com/ upon graduation.
Respondus 4.0
Respondus Test Generator
Respondus is a tool for creating exams that can be printed out or published in an online classroom. The Respondus Test Bank Network contains thousands of test banks for the leading textbooks in higher education. The Test Bank Network is free for instructors who adopt a participating textbook.
StudyMate You can use StudyMate as an add on to your Springboard course site. Students can access StudyMate activities using computers, smartphones, and tablets. By uploading a set of terms, you can quickly create a wide variety of simple activities such as crosswords, flashcards, jeopardy, games, and more. None.
Lesson creation tools
Articulate Storyline You can use Storyline to develop interactive slideshows that incorporate text, audio, and video content to your students. You can mix together these medias to create interactive activities. You can embed completed Storyline projects in Springboard. You can use Storyline interactions to ensure your students are actively viewing your presentations. Maybe. You have 2 options. Some faculty choose to purchase their license (with an educational discount). The second option is to work with an instructional designer to plan the interactions. In this scenario, DDS will use the software installed on our computers to produce the project based on your specifications. Typically, you will meet in our offices to record narration that we will use when we assemble the final project.
Explain Everything Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. With Explain Everything, you can create slides, draw in any color, add shapes, add text, and use a laser pointer. Rotate, move, scale, copy, paste, clone, and lock any object added to the stage. Yes. This is an app that runs on Android or iPad tablets. Cost as of Spring 2014 is $2.99. In addition you may need additional hardware such as a noise cancelling microphone or a better stylus. DDS staff can make recommendations based on your intended use.
Panopto Focus Focus is a simple solution for capturing your lectures and offering them for later viewing. With Focus you can capture audio, PowerPoint lectures with narration and screen captures with narration. It also offers searchable integrated note taking, enabling the student to take notes at any point in the presentation to revisit. There is no additional cost to use Panopto. You may need to make a small investment in hardware (microphone, webcam). DDS staff can make recommendations based on your intended use.
Alternative presentation tools There are a variety of presentation tools you may want to use to embed presentations inside Springboard. Examples include Animoto, Prezi, Haiku deck, Sli.des. Typically free. Some tools offer a premium product that may include features you would like to use. You may need to make a small investment in hardware (microphone, webcam). DDS staff can make recommendations based on your intended use.
Video You should consider using video to introduce yourself and your course goals to your students. If there are learning activities that you would normally accomplish through demonstration, you should contact DDS to discuss the development of a video to accomplish that learning goal. DDS staff are available to work with you to develop a script, produce the video, edit the video, and embed it in your course. There is no additional cost, however projects should be planned with as much time as possible.
Student contribution tools
Web 2.0 Tools Web 2.0 describes a set of interactive web-based tools and technologies. Many Web 2.0 sites focus on interacting with the site visitor and providing a social networking experience. Depending on your teaching goals, DDS staff can help you select and embed a variety of Web 2.0 tools into your course through custom widgets or the course home page. Examples include but are not limited to blogs, RSS feeds, online polling, photo sharing, interactive maps, social bookmarking, social networking, and wikis. Typically free, although some tools offer a freemium product that may include features you would like to use.
Wiggio The integration of Wiggio provides learners with group collaboration capabilities for study groups and project teams. Wiggion enables learners to: send mass messages to all group members via email, text, voice, and video note; schedule events on a shared group calendar; upload and edit files; create polls, host virtual meetings via conference call, or run video chats, screen sharing, and group chat rooms; and manage group projects with ‘to-do’ lists There is no additional cost. The university is exploring an option to integrate Wiggio with Springboard. Currently students can choose to use it as a stand alone service.
Google apps for education Google Docs is a free web-based office suite offered by Google within its Google Drive service. Google Docs includes a suite of applications that provide collaborative word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and storage services. With Google Drive, you can create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Many instructors utilize Google Drive to establish a class Wiki or real time repository where students can contribute ideas and resources throughout the semester. There is no additional cost. All UA students receive an account with their UA email. In order for students to effectively share documents, you may need to request that a Google apps account be provisioned for you. Contact Zip Support to make this request.
Qualtrics Qualtrics is the online survey tool at The University of Akron. You could use it create and embed polls in your online course for real-time student engagement. None.
UA Video Encoder & Streaming Server For projects and assignments that require students to submit a video, UA offers an online video encoder and streaming server for student and faculty use. This server is owned and hosted by UA and is a great way for students to submit video without uploading their video directly to Springboard. This reduces the storage demands on Springboard. By streaming the video, viewers don't need to download the video to their own computers in order to watch it. The video encoder accepts a variety of file types and even allows users to upload directly from their smartphone or tablet. None.

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