Quercus Quick Guide

U of T Quercus: Integrated Tools to Facilitate Teaching and Learning


The University of Toronto’s academic technology toolbox is powered by Quercus

Quercus is based on the Canvas Learning Management Engine by Instructure, which offers advanced content design, a variety of student communication tools, easy-to-use course administration features and a mobile application for access to key functions from a phone or tablet. Through a number of built-in tools and effective integration of other educational technologies, this powerful “app store” platform allows for greater pedagogical flexibility and engagement.  

Quercus’ common functions include:

  • Effective Engagement and Collaboration: conduct discussions; facilitate webinars, organize assignment groups
  • Assessment ‘of’ and ‘for’ Learning: apply assessment tools like quizzes, surveys, assignment submissions
  • Intuitive Communication: send emails and announcements; track progress; manage course components through the calendar
  • Teach Anywhere: use the mobile app (available on Android and iPhone/iPad)

The use of Quercus is governed by various University policies and guidelinesLinks to an external site..

Log into Quercus

Login to Quercus with your UTORid and password: 

New Instructors – Activate Your UTORid

Your UTORid includes a username and password that is unique to you. This is used as authentication for many University of Toronto services, including access to your Quercus Courses. Your Business Officer (or, in some faculties and departments, your Human Resources Officer) can issue you your UTORid and Secret Activation Key.

For more information on UTORid, go to: https://www.utorid.utoronto.ca/

Visiting and Status Only Instructors

If you are teaching as a Visiting or Status Only Instructor and do not appear in HRIS, ask the Business Officer or ROSI Coordinator in your department to apply for a Long-Term Guest UTORid on your behalf.

UTORid and Password Issues

If you are experiencing issues with your UTORid and password please contact the Information Commons Help DeskLinks to an external site..

Access Your Courses

Once you are signed into Quercus, you should be able to see a list of your courses on your Dashboard. If you are unable to see your course, verify the following:

  1. You must have active status in HRIS to be added to a course via ROSI. Contact your Business Officer or divisional Human Resources Officer to confirm that your status in HRIS is active.
  2. The Course must be created in ROSI, and you must be assigned as an instructor to the appropriate sections there. Contact your departmental ROSI coordinator to ensure that the course has been created and that you are properly assigned in ROSI.

Changes in ROSI or HRIS can result in a loss of access to your courses in QuercusIf you lose access to your courses at any point, reach out to the individuals listed above to verify your status in HRIS and ROSI.

All courses on Quercus follow the Course Life Cycle. Please review the timeline to confirm whether you should have access to your course.

NOTE: Any changes made in ROSI or HRIS will be reflected in Quercus within 24-48 hours.

Requests for Access to Course Websites

Instructors are assigned as the ‘owners’ of Course Websites on Quercus via an automatic feed from ROSI. Please speak to your departmental business officer or other departmental ROSI administrator to ensure that the correct instructor information is added in a timely fashion.

Every so often, a new instructor (sessional of otherwise) is hired to teach a course in the next upcoming semester, but wishes to have access to their course website in advance of formally being hired and/or placed inside ROSI. By current practice, the Quercus Help team in the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI) cannot manually assign people to instructor roles in Quercus – that role must come from ROSI. There are a few reasons for this: (1) support staff are not in a position to adjudicate the authenticity of these requests – they have no way or authority to know if the request is legitimate – ROSI is the official source for that information; (2) assigning someone manually will later conflict with the automated ROSI feed, and can cause access problems for the instructor and department, which would then have to be rectified manually, and always after the course has actually started; and 3) having the correct instructor information on ROSI ensures the information is accurate in other systems (e.g., Course Evaluations).

As stated above, under current practice, instructors should work with their local departmental contacts to ensure that timely information is added to ROSI. Instructors can also contact their local divisional Educational Technology Support team for more information.

Instructors of a course in Quercus can add additional instructors, TA’s or other course staff via the Add People section of their course.  From time to time, support staff are asked to grant access to a course website on Quercus for someone other than the instructor.

Quercus Help staff cannot authorize or enable access to a course website on Quercus without the instructor’s consent. Any requests for access to a course website on Quercus must be authorized by the instructor directly. If you are unable to get the instructor’s permission to allow access, but still require access, please let us know, and we will forward the request to the Office of the Vice-President and Provost for adjudication. The request must include the full course ID, the instructor’s name, the date that the course will no longer be required for access, and the name and UTORid of the person who requires access to the course. As above, the reason for this practice is to avoid putting support staff in a position of adjudicating requests. Requests are made to q.help@utoronto.ca

Change my name as it appears in Quercus

Instructors can login to my.auth.utoronto.ca to update their preferred display names.  It will take 24 – 48 hours for the changes to update in Quercus.

 

Sandbox Courses

A Quercus sandbox course is automatically created for all instructors who have an active teaching assignment in ROSI. Sandbox courses are unofficial courses that do not have student enrolments or course codes. They are meant to be used by instructors to try out the tools and features of Quercus. 

Note to Faculty at the Federated Colleges: Faculty and staff at the Federated Colleges will need to reach out to their Divisional Quercus support in order to be assigned a sandbox course

Course Lifecycle

Your Quercus course has automated administrative changes before, during and after your course is finished.  Consult our Quercus Course Lifecycle page for all of the important details.

Quercus, the basics - Build Your Course

A video tour of the Quercus interface:


Additional Resources

  • AODA Office: Information on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act for University of Toronto Faculty and Staff. Human Resources.
  • CTSI Accessibility Guidelines: Tips and advice to improve accessibility of course content published within Quercus (Canvas). Developed by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation.

Province of Ontario

Web Accessibility Tools

  • WAVE: Evaluates the overall level of accessibility for any given website.
  • Color Oracle: Displays colour on a website in a manner similar to how a user with color blindness would perceive it.
  • Image Analyzer: Examines website images and tests their compliance with accessibility standards.
  • WebAim:Accessibility services offered by Web Accessibility in Mind.
  • How to Meet WCAG 2.0: A customizable quick reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 requirements (success criteria) and techniques. 
  • NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access): Free “screen reader” which enables blind and vision impaired people to use computers. It reads the text on the screen in a computerised voice.  

It is recommended that instructors upload their syllabus as a course file (e.g., .docx, .pdf) and not use the Syllabus tool as a replacement of a standard text based file.


The People tool is useful for instructors and course administrators who are managing their courses. The tool is available to instructors even when it is greyed out (i.e. not available for students to use). While it is fine for students in a course to know one another, it is generally advisable to keep the People tool off for students unless it is explicitly needed as part of your course design (for example, if you want to use self-sign up groups, you will need to turn on your People tool). For more specific advice on the use of the People tool in your course, please contact your divisional educational technologist.

When sending mass communications to students via Quercus Announcements, Inbox message or email, please ensure the contents respect the University’s policy on Appropriate Use of Information and Communication Technology. We suggest being mindful of the volume of communications to students throughout the course and keeping contents related to the course learning goals.

The following options are available for sending mass communication to students:

Create an Announcement

  • Your course must first be published for students to receive notification of an announcement.  Students will not see your announcement information if your course is in the “un-published” state.

Sending a Message with Inbox

  • Student-to-student conversations at the course level are disabled
  • Student-to-student conversations at the group level are permitted to allow for group collaboration

Download a List of Student Emails 

 
[link to this information – uoft.me/q-announcements]

Online discussion with and between students in a course can be a very powerful and effective teaching tool. Quercus has a built-in Discussions tool, and at the University of Toronto, we are also piloting another, enhanced discourse tool called PeppeR (available from the tools area while building your course). Read more on the Quercus built-in discussion tool.

Instructors should be aware that once a discussion board is enabled, they should carefully monitor the correspondence in the discussion to make sure students are using the tool effectively. Instructors who have not built this monitoring into their course’s design may wish to avoid turning on discussion tools. For more about best teaching practices, please visit the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation’s discussion board-related resources.

Organize students into Groups in your course using Canvas Groups or the UT Advanced Group Tool.

A variety of learning tools are integrated in the academic toolbox that extend the functionality of Quercus. These tools provide instructors with options that match their course goals and learning outcomes.

Visit the Ed Tech Catalogue for a full list of educational tools and services available at the University of Toronto.

Canvas, the platform powering Quercus, offers several tools and settings that are still under development and being tested by Instructure, including MasteryPaths and Learning Outcomes.

 

Default Quotas:
  • Course Quota: 3 GB
  • User Quota: 50 MB
  • Group Quota: 50 MB

Examples of existing public course sites are available to provide ideas for what can be created in Quercus. 

Step by step instructions to download a copy of the class list or roster using the Export feature in the Gradebook are available.

Learn more about importing course content from another Quercus course into your Quercus course shell.

Mobile App Notifications: We have received reports that push notifications are not being generated on certain mobile devices. The developer for the Canvas Student and Canvas Teacher mobile apps has been notified of this.

The Canvas Student app should not be used for any high-risk activities such as submitting assignments or quizzes—important tasks and assessments should be completed on a desktop or laptop computer instead.

Troubleshooting Issues: The Canvas Student and Teacher mobile apps are developed by Instructure, Inc., not the University of Toronto. Please be aware that these mobile apps have limited functionality, and the service through these apps are provided “as-is”. For a more complete experience access your courses using the desktop version.

Most issues can be resolved by uninstalling and reinstalling the app from your mobile device. Additional troubleshooting and questions may have to be directed to your cellular network provider and device manufacturer.


  Canvas Teacher

The Canvas Teacher mobile app allows instructors and course staff to access course content and receive course communications on a mobile device.

Download Canvas Teacher for Apple devices on the App Store      Download Canvas Teacher for Android devices on Google Play

The Canvas Teacher mobile app is developed and supported by Instructure, not the University of Toronto. For assistance with Canvas Teacher, please refer to the Canvas Teacher iOS Guide or Canvas Teacher Android Guide. You can also get help directly on your iOS or Android mobile device.


  Canvas Student

The Canvas Student mobile app allows students to conveniently access their courses and groups, review course content, and receive course communications on a mobile device.

Download Canvas Student for Apple devices on the App Store      Download Canvas Student for Android devices on Google Play

The Canvas Student mobile app is developed and supported by Instructure, not the University of Toronto. For assistance with Canvas Student, please refer to the Canvas Student iOS Guide or Canvas Student Android Guide. You can also get help directly on your iOS or Android mobile device.

These are just the basics of setting up and running your course in Quercus.

Check out our Tool Guides for information on all of the available tools in the Academic Toolbox

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