Tech Tips

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Tech Tips 2023

2023-01-30 Announcements & communication with your students

Quercus Announcements and Inbox messages allow communication from instructors to a whole class.  In any kind of mass communication with students, like through Announcements, Quercus Inbox conversations or email, please ensure the content respects the University’s policy on Appropriate Use of Information and Communication Technology.  To support learners’ management of cognitive load, be mindful of the volume of communication.  It is also recommended to keep the content of these messages related to course learning goals.  

2023-01-23 New and updated features to Quercus

Quercus is built from the Canvas Learning Management System; as such, your Quercus course comes equipped with many of the newest Canvas features and tools.  Below are some recently updated features that you can take advantage of in your Quercus course: 

The Quercus Rich Content Editor has recently added a new Icon Maker feature that allows for easier and quicker ways of including icons.  Consider using the Icon Maker to add visual cues to your pages.  

Enhanced Gradebook Filters are new options available in the Grades area of your Quercus course to help you sort and organize your student submissions.   

Different areas of your Quercus course can be scheduled to publish (i.e., become available to your students) at preset dates and times in the future, if you would like to keep certain content hidden from students until it is ready.  This option is used in Assignments by setting availability dates, and Modules make use of Lock until dates. Now with your Pages you can Schedule Page Publication to release content at a later date.

2023-01-16 Managing Quercus with a grading team

Teaching Assistants or other members of the teaching or grading team can be added to your course via the People section. Instructors and other members have the ability to add and edit content and grade assignments in a Quercus course (visit Course Roles and Permissions for more information on the different course roles).     

When building or modifying your course, keep in mind that simultaneous edits by more than one person will not be saved.  In other words, course Pages can be edited by more than one person at the same time which can cause some work to not be saved.  When working with a teaching team, be sure to organize and coordinate who is making edits so as to not create any conflicting edits.  

Other areas of the Quercus course behave in the same way and should only be edited by one person at a time.  This also applies when grading and providing feedback. You should not give feedback on the same SpeedGrader assignment at the same time as another member of the grading team.  If you notice feedback is not being saved, it may be the result of an instructor or TA grading the same assignment at the same time. 


2023-01-09 Getting Ready

Ready for the new term?  Use our checklist for pre-course and course design considerations to prepare your Quercus course: 

Refer to our Instructor Quercus Checklist for more tasks to complete for the start of your course and the Quercus Quick Guide for tips on course building and administration. 

2023-01-03 Send an announcement to your class

Quercus Announcements allow instructors to communicate information with the whole class.  Consider using the Announcement tool to welcome students to the new term and share any pertinent information to orient them to the course.  This helps to set the tone for the first class and let learners know what to prepare.   

Please note that Announcements will only be visible to students in a published course.  If you are still making changes to your unpublished course but want to connect and communicate with students ahead of the course website being ready, publish your course to send the announcement, and then return it to the unpublished state.  The announcement will be sent to the enrolled students and you can continue editing your Quercus course until it is ready to be published. 

Tech Tips 2022

2022-12-12 Technology reminders to end the semester and begin a new one

As the semester winds down, we remind you of the Quercus Course Life Cycle, including suggested end-of-term items to complete.  

With the University closure over the holiday break, keep in mind our online self-help Quercus Support Resources to assist with getting your January course up and running.  Our Quercus Quick Guide contains all of the administrative set-up elements for instructors new to teaching with Quercus, along with an Instructor Quercus Checklist

2022-12-05 Question banks in Quercus Quizzes

Using question banks in Quercus Quizzes allows you to create a pool of test questions that can be reused in future online quizzes delivered through Quercus.  Question banks can also be used to create a larger bank from which questions are randomly selected for the student.  With this randomization, each individual will have their own version of the test which can help to deter non-permitted collaboration and sharing of answers in online assessment.  

Keep in mind that edits to questions must be saved directly in the question bank for the changes to reflect in future Quercus Quizzes that draw from the question bank.  Please note that questions linked to a bank cannot be re-graded with the Quercus auto-regrade options.  

For more guidance on designing multiple-choice questions, view our Multiple Choice Question and Quiz Tips resource for suggestions on critical thinking questions, avoiding common multiple-choice flaws, and more.

2022-11-21 2022-11-28 Design for UDL; multiple means of action & expression 3

Assessments require students to demonstrate learning, but certain formats may prevent learners from performing to the best of their ability.  The means used for applying their learning affects the extent to which they can show what they know.  When multiple options for action and expression are encouraged, students have more ways to navigate the learning environment to express their learning. 

Our resource guide on Assessing Online Learning can provide some guidance around designing online projects, assignments, and tests which can include varying methods of response.  Suggestions around feedback and online assessment accessibility can help you optimize access to the teaching and learning tools. 

The Quercus Rich Content Editor can be utilized by students during their assessment submission as a method to offer multiple means of expression.  Students can submit assignments in a familiar written format (e.g., MS Word), but you don’t have to limit your student’s method of expression to just text.  Assignment submissions, such as PowerPoint files, images, audio files and video are all examples of acceptable assessment formats in Quercus.  Your student’s access to Office 365 OneDrive will allow them the creativity to produce and share large file sizes with you. 

Visit CTSI’s resources on Universal Design for Learning for more information on providing multiple means of action & expression.  

2022-11-21 Design for UDL; multiple means of representation

Various strategies influence learners’ engagement and motivation to learn in different ways.  Since students have a range of different learning preferences and needs, providing multiple means of engagement helps to reduce barriers to learning.   

Utilizing some of the Online Assessment Tools in Quercus can allow you to structure assignments with feedback options that guide learners toward mastery, providing guidance on positive strategies for success and development.  

Peer Assessment tools such as peerScholar have a reflection and self-assessment option, helping to promote learners’ self-regulation and persistence as they get feedback on their progress which helps them choose subsequent strategies.     

The ePortfolio tool in Quercus can facilitate reflective learning and provides options for ongoing two-way feedback, while providing students an outlet for individual choice and authentic learning. 

Visit CTSI’s resources on Universal Design for Learning for more information on providing multiple means of engagement. 

2022-11-14 Design for UDL; multiple means of representation

The Quercus course website is an important source of information in any course delivery mode.  Students in online, in-person, and hybrid classes can all engage with the course learning and expectations via the course website.  This allows learners to connect with the learning even outside of formal class times. To support accessible representation of content (a key component of Universal Design for Learning), leverage the Academic Technology Toolbox to provide multiple options for how information is represented.   

For example, providing videos and recorded lectures to students creates multiple means of processing knowledge through guided information processing and visualization as instructors use videos to emphasize patterns, relationships, and concepts in the learning. Using closed captioning helps to offer multiple means of engagement and representation by offering options and alternatives in the presentation of information in the video.  A transcript of the video also offers the opportunity for students to access the information at their own pace and in a written format, helping them to look up any words or ideas that may be unfamiliar due to language barriers or general understanding of the subject.  

Another example is using the Quercus Rich Content Editor to provide the ability for you and your students to interact with elements and contribute to course content using multiple different format types. Students and instructors can contribute content in text, image, audio or video format, or a combination of multiple formats.  Feedback on assessments using the Quercus Speedgrader can also be given in multiple formats. 

2022-11-07 Questions about Quercus

We are here to help with questions regarding your Quercus course.  Here is a breakdown of your options:

The Academic Toolbox and Quercus Support Resources functions as a self-help website with Tool Guides and Teaching with Technology resources to support your use of instructional technologies. 

Divisional support representatives are available to assist with Quercus tools and the development of your course in Quercus, with expertise from a local divisional lens.  Find your Divisional Educational Technology specialist from our list of divisional support contacts.

Contact Quercus Help ( if you have questions about Quercus or if you are encountering other issues with using the academic toolbox.  

If your needs would benefit from more individual assistance or support of a pedagogical nature, consultation services with CTSI staff or divisional representatives can be arranged.   

2022-10-31 See and interact with your course using Student View

Have you posted content in your Quercus course, only to have students indicate they cannot see it? There is an easy way to check what students can “see” in your course and interact with your course as if you are an enrolled student. 

Student View is a feature in Quercus which allows you to see your course from a student’s perspective, but also interact with your course as a pretend student.  Student View creates a “Test Student” in your course, which you can browse your course elements and even go through the experience of completing an assignment. When in Student View, submit the assignment as the Test Student, leave Student View to give your pretend student a grade and feedback, and then return to Student View to see what your grade and feedback will look like from the student perspective.  

Quercus assignments provides multiple outlets to include feedback, Student View is a way to check what feedback is visible to students. Don’t worry about your grade curves or averages, as the grade you give to yourself as the Test Student does not affect those.  

Using Student View is also a great way to check if you forget about items that might be hidden in modules, or if an assignment grade has not been posted to your students yet. Student View works with all built-in Quercus Tools, but may not work with integrated tools.  


2022-10-24 Reminders for assessments using Quercus Quizzes

The Academic Toolbox offers many options to support your course delivery, including tools for assessing student work.  If you are using online assessments with Quercus quizzes, become familiar with the settings that will provide the best student experience. 

Please remind your students they should not use the mobile app when taking a quiz, and must open the quiz in only one browser tab/window. If students open the quiz in multiple browsers or in more than one tab/window in the same browser, their answers may not be saved or submitted.

Instructors should use Classic Quizzes to deliver high-stakes assessment such as mid-terms and final examinations.  For essay-type questions using New Quizzes, advise students to always use the “Upload Media” button to insert images if the question requires it. Images that are copied and pasted into the response box will appear to be saved in the response, but the image is not actually retained in the student submission.

Please direct your students to the Quercus Student Support page for all details surrounding taking a quiz in Quercus.

2022-10-17 Finding the right digital tool for your teaching needs

The set of tools in the U of T Academic Toolbox is growing all the time.  The ACT Major Projects provides the community with updates for new tools under consideration to be added to the toolbox.  Existing tools that are supported at the University can be found and sorted in the Tool Guides section by our four teaching and learning areas: 

Use our Tool Finder for another way to view a list of academic tools in categories such as Active LearningPolls and Surveys or Accessibility, among others. 
Categories of Academic Tools graphic

2022-10-11 Providing technology support to your students

For many students, you as the instructor may be the first point of contact with questions about your course in Quercus.  But what if you don’t know the answers to field questions regarding student use of Quercus?   

The Academic Toolbox Guides are focused to assist instructors with setting up and using specific tools which may operate differently from a student perspective.  To assist instructors in fielding student questions around Quercus and academic learning tools, we have created a Student Support page.  This page will guide students through various Quercus course tools and bring attention to issues like Important notices when taking a Quercus Quiz

Please share the Student Support resource page with your students, as they may find answers they are seeking without having to ask. 

2022-10-03 Tools beyond Quercus and the Academic Toolbox  

The University of Toronto’s Academic Toolbox provides instructors with a multitude of educational technologies to support pedagogy in online, in-person, or other course delivery.  Talk with your divisional representative about the integrated tools that can meet your teaching and learning goals.  If you are considering tools beyond Quercus and the Academic Toolbox, it is important to understand that these third-party tools have not been vetted by the University for safety, accessibility, and privacy.   

In contrast, educational technology solutions that are part of the Academic Toolbox have passed a thorough review process after which the vendor enters into a formal agreement with the University.  Currently there are 4 main tool categories undergoing a formal review – Audience Response Solution, Collaborative Annotation Solution, Online Grading Solutions, and Online Proctoring Solutions.  Information and updates can be found on the ACT Major Projects update wiki

If you are thinking of adopting a new teaching tool for use in your class, review the Teaching Tools Criteria Checklist for important factors to consider and then consult with your divisional representative.  To continue extending the functionality of the Academic Toolbox, ACT accepts submissions for new tool ideas. 

2022-09-26 Updating and seeing changes take effect in Quercus 

To populate your identity in Quercus, names are pulled from student or staff records.  If your name in Quercus is not what you would like displayed, you can update the preferred name to be reflected across Quercus courses.  Log in to to change how your name appears.  This updated name will be how your name is displayed in your profile, in discussion boards, and other communication on Quercus.  Name changes may take 24-48 hours to update in Quercus.  

Instructors and Students are automatically enrolled into courses from ROSI/ACORN data. When students add or drop a course, instructors should not manually make these changes in their Quercus class list.  Add/drop

2022-09-19 Tech Tip: Finding the right technology tools to assist with your teaching

Did you know the redesigned CTSI website has a new section on Educational Technology

Our Teaching with Technology resources can help guide you in various technology areas such as choosing discussion board tools, delivering effective online assessments, and more.  

TScreenshot of Quercus Helphe new Tool Guides area of the CTSI website encompasses the Quercus Support Resources that are accessed from the Help menu in Quercus’ navigation menu.  Not sure where to start?  We have created a Tool Finder which categorizes features of the Academic Toolbox based on their potential use in your course.  You can also use the search filters on the Tool Guides page to browse for relevant topics.  

Selecting the Help button from Quercus will redirect to the Educational Technology resources for using Quercus and the Academic Toolbox, as well as information on who to contact for further assistance.

2022-09-12 Tech Tip:  Managing Zoom meetings/classes (Quercus v. Standalone Application)

There are two options for setting up Zoom meetings for your course:

  1. Via your course in Quercus.
  2. Via the Zoom standalone client.

Always manage your advanced meeting option settings in the same place where you created your meeting.  Attempting to edit a meeting outside of the environment in which it was created may result in a change in who can access or download recordings, or other unintended changes.

Consult with your divisional representative to confirm which approach is the right one for your needs.

Option 1) Setting up your Zoom meetings in Quercus. 

Zoom meetings created with the Zoom-Quercus integration should be edited only using the options available through the Quercus integration. If you are using the Zoom-Quercus integration, everyone accessing or administering the meeting through your course must also be a part of the University Zoom license, and not part of a separate divisional license.

The Zoom-Quercus integration is accessed only through your Quercus course, and will have the Quercus URL “”. An example is shown below:

Zoom in Nav

Option 2) Setting up your Zoom meetings outside of Quercus.

When setting up your Zoom meetings using the Zoom desktop client, mobile app, or web portal, it is strongly recommended to be managed only in the Zoom standalone client.

The Zoom standalone client option can be identified by using the “” or “” as the URL, or by using the Zoom application, examples are shown below:

Zoom Meeting Options

2022-09-06 Tech Tip: Accessing the Zoom Quercus integration

The Zoom-Quercus integration provides students with a direct link to Zoom in your Quercus course.  To use this tool integration to connect to Zoom within Quercus, instructors must first log in from the UofT zoom portal using SSO (“Single Sign-On”, not your email address).  After doing this for the first time, you will have access to the Zoom-Quercus integration without needing to log in to the portal again.  If you are not sure whether this Zoom account and Quercus integration are right for your needs, consult ACT’s information on the University of Toronto Zoom experience and your divisional representative to assist with your decision. 

Use our Instructor Quercus Checklist to assist with a quick check that you have the basics ready to go for September.

For a timeline of automated tasks in Quercus and a suggested timeline of activities to accomplish for your course, view our Quercus Course Life Cycle resource page for a listing of those details.

2022-08-30 Tech Tip: Find the answers to your questions about Quercus

There is always lots to do and consider as the new school year approaches, so we have consolidated your frequently asked questions about Quercus in our new Quercus Quick Guide.

The Quercus Quick Guide covers such topics as how to log in to Quercus, getting access to your course, getting assistance for your UTORid login, setting your preferred name in Quercus, as well as basic elements to get your course content up and running in your Quercus shell.  This includes common functions like adding TAs, adding course content, downloading your class list, creating assignments, and more.

Use our Instructor Quercus Checklist to assist with a quick check that you have the basics ready to go for September.

For a timeline of automated tasks in Quercus and a suggested timeline of activities to accomplish for your course, view our Quercus Course Life Cycle resource page for a listing of those details.


Tech Tip: let the Library help you…  

Contact the Course Reserves and Syllabus Service to make required course readings available to students.  The University of Toronto’s Library services will retrieve reading materials and review copyright and licensing to ensure adherence to copyright law and U of T agreements and policies.  To help students access the course readings, you can add the Library Reading List tool to your Quercus course, which will make a single list with access to your course readings.

2022-08-15 Tech Tip:

Build a welcoming home page in Quercus 

Set the tone for your class by building a welcoming presence on the Quercus course website.  No matter the delivery mode of your course, your Quercus course site contributes to the learning community, and this starts with your home page.  The course home page is often where students get their first impression of a class and you can customize it to be more inviting to students.  Our new asynchronous program will take you through the tools you can use to build a welcoming home page in Quercus.  Enroll and complete our short 3-unit program at your own pace.  

2022-08-08 Tech Tip:

Workshop Recordings 

Have you found a CTSI workshop that you are interested in attending, but are not available on that particular date?  Or have you heard about a past workshop of interest and wished you had known sooner?  No problem, we have a library of closed-captioned workshop recordings from the past few years available to be viewed on demand.  Presentation slides and other workshop materials are also provided.   

2022-08-02 Tech Tip:

Copying & pasting images in New Quizzes 

When asking students to include images for Essay questions in New Quizzes, please note that images are not retained in some circumstances.  When students copy and paste an image into the Essay question’s open-ended response area, the image will be lost.  Instead, students should use the “upload media” button to ensure that any images are retained and shown in the submission.   

To mitigate the risk of losing images in student responses, include a message in your Quiz instructions that tells students to always use the “Upload Media” button to include an image in Quiz answers.  

2022-07-25 Tech Tip: New Quercus Support Resources

Assistance with Quercus has a new home on CTSI’s website.  The Quercus Support Resources have been a familiar place to find information, resources and help guides for all things Quercus and the Academic Toolbox.  Visit the new Quercus Support Resources / Educational Technology page to update your bookmarks on resources such as Quercus basics, divisional support contacts, and student support guides.       

As before in Quercus, select the (?) Help menu option, indicated by a question mark icon, at the bottom of the main Quercus menu that is on the left side of every Quercus webpage.  This link will take you to the Quercus Support Resources and the list of Support Contact information.

2022-07-18 Tech Tip: Add meeting co-organizers in MS Teams 

Coordinating and hosting an online meeting involves several considerations for running a webinar smoothly.  Working with others to manage the online meeting can help and MS Teams meetings now has the option to add up to 10 co-organizers who are able to assist.  Meeting co-organizers can modify meeting options, manage breakout rooms, and present content.  For a full list of co-organizer capabilities and instructions for assigning co-organizers, visit Add co-organizers to a meeting in Teams.  


Tech Tip: Add music or other high-quality audio to your Teams meeting  

Stream live music in Teams with Music mode. Teams meeting can optimize the audio settings to get the highest sound fidelity when streaming live music. Teams will automatically adjust the audio bitrate based on the available bandwidth of your network. Learn more about how to use high fidelity music mode to play music in Teams. 

This setting is best used for sharing music content, not speech. For regular calls and meetings where you’ll be talking, we suggest not enabling high fidelity music mode as it will use more bandwidth and won’t suppress background noises as well. 


Tech Tip: Pin important messages in MS Teams chat 

University of Toronto faculty, staff, and students have access to MS Teams, which can be used for online meetings such as webinars, synchronous online classes, and office hours.  If you are hosting meetings with your students and have important information to share, you may wish to keep particular information in view for the class.  Pinned chat messages will keep these messages at the top of the chat area regardless of how many new messages come after.  All participants will have this message pinned in the chat, and selecting it will take them to the original message in the chat.

2022-06-28 Tech Tip: Save your Zoom recordings  

Do you have webinar recordings in the Zoom Cloud?  Starting next week on July 5th, all Zoom Cloud recordings older than 365 days will get deleted.  Before your recordings are removed, you can download and store any videos that you wish to retain or reuse in the future.  Recordings can be saved to your local computer or uploaded to a University of Toronto video hosting or storage solution, such as MyMedia or OneDrive.  

2022-06-20 Tech Tip: New teaching and learning tools at the University of Toronto. 

Learn about and get involved by providing input into the process of acquiring new Teaching and Learning tools here at the University of Toronto. 

Work is ongoing for three educational technology projects for 2022. Online and in-class audience response solutions (sometimes referred to as “clickers”), collaborative (social) annotation capabilities, and a refresh of our online grading solution are all currently under review and open for comments and feedback from the greater University community. See below for more details about the online grading tool and refer to the Academic and Collaborative Technologies website for more information: 

The Request for Proposal process for the revised online grading solution will identify a solution that allows students to complete tests and exams off-campus, while supporting academic integrity through remote invigilation, platform features, and automated processes. Some program areas at the University of Toronto have chosen to facilitate assessment in an online environment, and require supervision by a remote proctor who will ensure that the test proceeds according to the instructor’s specified protocols. Additional services that we seek from the new solution include video, screen capture, and audio recordings of the entirety of the assessments, as well as automated processes to identify potential issues for instructor review. Please contact your divisional educational technology support representative for more information on how to read and respond to these draft requirements, as the feedback period is ending next week on June 30th 2022.

2022-06-13 Tool Tip: Storage and retention of saved content  

When choosing a storage solution for your content, keep in mind the retention policy of the storage space.  

One year after the end of term, Quercus courses convert to read-only for instructors and will be removed from the main dashboard.  The content can no longer be edited, but if you wish to view it after the course is no longer on your dashboard, it can be accessed from the Courses area of the Quercus global navigation menu on the left side of the screen.  

Zoom recordings that are saved in the Zoom cloud will be deleted after 365 days.  If you will need access to them beyond the 365 days, download the recordings and then save locally or upload to another storage space.  

Saved videos, such as Zoom recordings, uploaded to MyMedia and/or Microsoft Stream do not get deleted.  You will be able to share links to these videos or use an embed link to include the video player on your Quercus page, for example.  

Video recordings and other content can also be stored in Microsoft OneDrive.  Content shared with others within the University of Toronto is available indefinitely.  For those outside of the University, their access to shared OneDrive content will expire after 30 days. 

2022-05-16 Tech Tip: Copy an existing course and content for re-use

Have you spent a lot of time building your course in Quercus? If you are teaching the same or a similar course in another semester, you can copy the entire course, or individual elements to a new course. This allows you to repurpose existing content and/or the layout of materials.  

Please note a few details that will occur when Copying Content From Another Course in Quercus. Be careful if you copy more than once, as importing the same content more than once will overwrite any existing content in the course even if edits were made. For example, if you wish to duplicate a Quiz that is already in your course, you must export your quiz and then import the quiz QTI file

Be sure to also double-check assignment settings and adjust due dates for the new course term. Multiple dates can be updated at once with the batch edit feature.

2022-05-30 Tech Tip: Quercus file quotas 

Courses in Quercus have a storage limit that is important to consider for media and file uploads.  When designing activities for students in Quercus, be aware that there is also a user quota which could restrict student contributions.  The Quercus file storage quotas are: 

  • Course quota: 3 GB 
  • Personal user quota: 50 MB 
  • Student Groups quota: 50 MB 

Different parts of Quercus use the different file quotas.  For example, personal file space is continuous across all courses, and is used by students when you allow posting of files to non-graded discussion boards.  Students may be prevented from adding files to their posts if they have exceeded their personal user quota.  However, students that contribute to items that are graded: assignments file uploads, quizzes, and graded discussion boards – use the larger course quota.  In other words, the student’s personal storage limit will not affect graded submissions.   

Course Quotas have the largest capacity by far, but you can still run into issues if you have many large files to share.  Quercus should not serve as a media repository for your large video or media files.  Instead, Rich Media Files (Videos and Pictures) are better saved and shared using other UofT services designed for those types of media, for example, UofT MyMedia, MS Stream, or Microsoft OneDrive

If sending to a large group of students or an entire course using the Quercus Inbox, it is suggested to use the “send an individual messages” option. Otherwise, all students will see all other students’ names in the notification they receive.

2022-05- 24 Tech Tip: Quercus “Inbox” messaging system 

Did you know that Quercus has a built-in messaging system for sending direct messages to students or groups of students? On the left side blue Quercus menu bar, the “Inbox” is a communication system designed to work with your course in Quercus.  

It will automatically make groups of students based on course information, or send an individual message option for private communication. The Inbox can be used to keep course communication within Quercus, and potentially reduce the amount of course/student communication required via direct email. 

You can choose to receive an email notification of a new inbox messages through regular Quercus notification channels, however, the actual message and two-way communication occurs within Quercus, outside of your email inbox. 

If sending to a large group of students or an entire course using the Quercus Inbox, it is suggested to use the “send an individual messages” option. Otherwise, all students will see all other students’ names in the notification they receive.

2022-05-16 Tech Tip: Publishing Items in Quercus

As the instructor of your course, you have the ability to show and hide any content that you have created.  This gives you the opportunity to build your course ahead of students having access to view certain material. When you first get your course, it is in the “unpublished” state, meaning students do not even see your course listed in their Quercus dashboard.  Announcement notifications will also not be sent when your entire course is unpublished. Once you publish your course, individual items such as assignmentsquizzes and discussion topics can remain hidden from students.  Published state is indicated by a green checkmark or cross-through circle icon.  Look for the icon beside your individual item, and toggle between them to make items visible or hidden from students.   If you use Modules you can show or hide the entire contents of a module and/or individual items within a module.   Just make sure to scan for the green checkmark beside the module name and individual items in the module.  Note as well that items in modules are nested.  If the module name is not published it will hide the nested contents within that module, and items will not be accessible to students regardless of their individual published state.

2022-05-09 Tech Tip: Make the most of MS Teams Meetings and webinars

As a participant in an MS Teams Meeting, many accessibility features are available, including the option to view live captions during a meeting or webinar. Note that this feature only affects your own view of captions, so you can toggle off if you prefer not to use captions.  

During the online meeting, you may wish to show your presence or respond to interactive activities. Reactions offer a simple way to do this without having to turn on your video. Another way this feature can be used is to virtually raise your hand, letting others know that you would like to turn on your microphone and contribute verbally.    

Meeting hosts or organizers may use interactive tools such as Breakout Rooms and MS Forms as a polling tool or student response system. When moving to breakout rooms, you will have a separate chat and meeting space for the smaller group. Biolong When a poll is used, it will appear in the chat and/or a new pop-up where you can select your response. The meeting host will also display poll results in the same area.

2022-05-02 Tech Tip: Quercus course life cycle

As one semester ends and another begins, now is a good time to recall or become familiar with what happens to your courses in Quercus, before, during and after each teaching term. 

The Quercus Course Life Cycle charts a timeline of when your new course can become available, when students will have access to your course, and what happens to your course content once the class has ended. 

For example, your upcoming course may be available as early as 4 months before you start teaching. This gives you a chance to upload content ahead of time. Your access is determined by your department and Registrar’s office having accurate HR and teaching assignment information. 

If your course has recently concluded, your students can continue to view course content, but will lose the ability to contribute to your course (i.e., add to the online discussions or hand-in late assignments) one month after the course end date. Contact your divisional support office if you will need to accept student work after the course end date.   

Tech Tip: Add your reading list to your Quercus course.

Did you know you can incorporate your entire reading list into your Quercus course?  Consider using the Library Reading List service in your planning for Summer and Fall courses.

The University of Toronto Libraries provides a Library Reading List service (Course reserves / Syllabus service) which provides access to a wide variety of course and library materials for your students directly accessible from your Quercus course.  Contact the library syllabus service team with your syllabus and full citations, and they take care of the rest – copyright considerations, licensing agreements and finding digital versions of your material, when possible.

Once complete, your readings will be available as a “Library Reading List” navigation item in your Quercus course.

Remember to get your course readings list to the library team as soon as possible to allow for processing time.

Tech Tip: Timing and availability for Quizzes in Quercus.

The Quiz tool in your Quercus course comes with many different features and options.

Setting a time limit for a Quercus Quiz specifies how long students have to work on and submit a test.  This is distinct from the quiz availability, which assigns the date and time period within which a student can begin the test.

Once a quiz has been published and is available, care must be taken when changing some of the options like giving students extra attempts or giving students extra time.

You can add extra time for individual students to complete the Quiz using Moderate Quiz.  This extra time can be added before students start writing or during an in-progress Quiz.  For students with accommodations, you will need to both give them specific Availability times that reflect their accommodation, and adjust the time limit in Moderate Quiz.

It is also good to remind your students they must take the quiz in only a single browser, as their answers may not be saved or submitted if they have it open in multiple windows/browsers.  It is also advised to use a full computer browser, and not to use the mobile version or app when taking a quiz in Quercus.

Tech Tip: Timing and availability for Quizzes in Quercus.

The Quiz tool in your Quercus course comes with many different features and options.

Setting a time limit for a Quercus Quiz specifies how long students have to work on and submit a test.  This is distinct from the quiz availability, which assigns the date and time period within which a student can begin the test.

Once a quiz has been published and is available, care must be taken when changing some of the options like giving students extra attempts or giving students extra time.

You can add extra time for individual students to complete the Quiz using Moderate Quiz.  This extra time can be added before students start writing or during an in-progress Quiz.  For students with accommodations, you will need to both give them specific Availability times that reflect their accommodation, and adjust the time limit in Moderate Quiz.

It is also good to remind your students they must take the quiz in only a single browser, as their answers may not be saved or submitted if they have it open in multiple windows/browsers.  It is also advised to use a full computer browser, and not to use the mobile version or app when taking a quiz in Quercus.

Tech Tip: Posting student grades in Quercus

Your Quercus course comes with a built-in grade organizing tool. Assessments collected through Quercus are automatically given a column in the “Grades” area of your Quercus course. You can enter grades directly in the Gradebook, or via the Speedgrader tool. If you wish to provide additional feedback, you can use the Grade Detail Tray or the full-featured SpeedGrader tool.

The default setting for grade posting in Quercus initially hides grades from students, and as the instructor, you can choose when to post grades to students for each assignment in the Gradebook.

Tech Tip: Expedite grading by using SpeedGrader tools in Quercus

Collecting assignments through the Quercus Assignments tool automatically adds class assessments to the Grades area of your Quercus course.  Make the most of grading features by using the SpeedGrader to assess student work and provide feedback.  You can access the Speedgrader through the Gradebook or directly from the assignment, quiz or graded discussion that you will be grading.  

The SpeedGrader gives an all-in-one view of each student’s submission, with options for annotative feedback, rubrics, grade information, sorting by submission date.  Along with text comments, you can use additional text, audio and video feedback if you wish.  For document-based submissions, you can even use a digital stylus to handwrite comments using a compatible touchscreen device or add annotations using a tablet with the Canvas Teacher app. 

See this video guide for Speedgrader for a demonstration of the features and this video on making annotations and comments on student work. 

Tech Tip: Save recordings from the Zoom Cloud

Recordings stored in Zoom Cloud are available for 120 days.  If you have recordings that you wish to keep or use again, remember to download from the Zoom Cloud within 120 days of their creation.  Downloaded recordings can be saved locally to your computer and then stored in OneDrive, the Microsoft 365 storage solution that is available to all University of Toronto faculty, staff, and students.  The saved recordings can also be uploaded to a University-supported media hosting site such as MyMedia or MS Stream.  Uploading the recording to MyMedia or MS Stream will create a share link for accessing the video recordings.  This link can be posted directly to your Quercus course or you can use the embed code to display the video player in your content.

Tech Tip: Fix invalid links in your Quercus course 

Use the course link validator to verify that links in your course content are working. This tool can be used at any point in the course to search through the content and validate linked materials. It is also helpful to use after you have copied or imported content from another course. The tool will identify any invalid or broken links in course content, so you can update the path of the link by editing the page where it resides in your Quercus course. Links to unpublished content in the course will also be identified by the course link validator because students do not have access to view these pages. Making sure that linked pages are published will make that content available to learners. After correcting any invalid links, you can run the course link validator again to verify that all the necessary updates have been made.

Compare online meeting tools at U of T 

Choosing an online meeting tool/webinar platform depends on needs of your students and teaching goals.  The University of Toronto provides access to MS Teams Meeting and has recently formalized the continued use of Zoom, both of which are available for remote class sessions.

Consider your class size and how you wish to interact with students, as that may affect which webinar tool can work for you.  Zoom meetings have a maximum capacity of 300 people (including the instructor and any other course staff) while MS Teams Meeting can have up to 1000 people in the session.  If students will be in breakout groups, Zoom can create up to 100 different breakout rooms and MS Teams can create 50 breakout rooms, with some additional limitations.  See Enterprise Video-conferencing & Video Meeting Resources for a complete comparison of the video-conferencing services.

Tech Tip: Copy content from your other courses

Duplicate content from another Quercus course individually or in bulk.  If you already have content in one course that you would like to repurpose in another, you can copy it instead of re-creating it all over again.

For individual content that you will use again in a new course, you can copy a pagecopy a quizcopy an assignment, or even copy modules from a previous or a current course in Quercus.  This method copies content one item at a time.  Once the content is copied to your course, you can edit it to update any details for the current course.

If you have multiple items you would like to copy from one course to another, you can import course content, and select specific content to duplicate in the new course.  This will display a list of all the components from the Quercus course for you to choose what will be copied.

Tech Tip: Share physical content to an online or hybrid/hyflex class 

Use your webcam to share your live in-person physical whiteboard or other physical learning objects in MS Teams Meeting.  Set a whiteboard, printed documents, books, or other physical objects as the focus of your MS Teams meeting.  The object will be framed and resized for optimal viewing by participants in the Teams meeting, allowing attendees to have a better viewing experience.  This also allows you to keep a recording of content drawn on the physical whiteboard for both in-person and remote learners to have a record for later review.

For similar document camera or whiteboard broadcasting functionality in Zoom or another web conferencing platform, use a second device like a phone, tablet or computer and connect it to the meeting.  Position the camera of the second device to show video of your physical learning object.  If you are using this second device in the same space as your primary video device, remember to mute both the microphone and speakers on the second device to avoid feedback or echo from your audio.

Tech Tip: Keep Zoom up-to-date

Update your Zoom desktop client and/or mobile app for the best experience with your Zoom meetings and to keep the interactive features consistent and available for all who join the meeting.  This will give you access to new features and help to resolve bugs in previous versions.  To update, sign in to the desktop client, check for updates, and install available updates.  To save the hassle of remembering to update, you can now enable automatic updates based on a selected release frequency.  These updates will be installed when the desktop client is restarted.  For the Zoom mobile app, a notification will be displayed for updates in the mobile app store.

Tech Tip: Make changes to your assignment due dates quickly and easily

Flexibility is essential in today’s course design to adapt to changing circumstances and to reduce barriers for all learners.  There may be times when you need to shift multiple due dates quickly.

Quercus has a bulk editing feature to set or change assignment due dates and availability dates for multiple assignments.  From this view, all the class assignments and their due dates can be revised, updated, and saved.  Filtering by date, you can select applicable assessments to batch edit or shift forward availability and due dates by a chosen increment.  Instructors can also adjust the due dates and availability dates for different sections or group sets that may have differentiated deadlines.

Tech Tip: Launch a poll in a live class 

Polling students in online synchronous or in-person learning is a quick way to engage the whole class. In online classes on Zoom, polling can be conducted within the online meeting by launching a poll created before or during the session meeting. If your class is hosted in a Microsoft Teams Meeting, students can be polled by sharing Microsoft Forms or by using the Microsoft Forms app feature.

The same Microsoft Forms tool also makes polling possible for in-person learning. Students can be given the link to respond to a Microsoft Form and then you can choose to display the aggregated results in the class.  We have a guide on How to use Microsoft Forms as a Polling Tool (Student Response System).  During your synchronous virtual or in-class lecture, you can share the short-link to your poll in Quercus or in your lecture slides for your students to respond.

Check with your local divisional support team if additional live class polling tools are available in your area.

Tech Tip: Share recordings from Zoom 

Hosting a class or webinar with Zoom?  Recording your lecture or class meeting and making it available can assist your learners by providing flexible modes of content delivery. For example, students will be able to review the recording ahead of an assessment, and those who missed the meeting can access it asynchronously.

Recordings stored in Zoom Cloud should not be kept longer than 120 daysIf you wish to retain your recordings, please download them and consider sharing from one of the University supported media hosting sites: MyMedia and MS Stream.  Uploading the video recording to MyMedia or MS Stream will create a share link that can be posted in a Quercus course.

When sharing video recordings with your class, it is also a good practice to create accurate captions to support your learners who can benefit by receiving your course information in that format.

Tech Tip: Course access and adding people to your Quercus course  

Add members of your instructional team to your Quercus course to give them access and permission to create and edit course content.  Under the course role of ‘TA’ in Quercus, Teaching Assistants will be able to grade student assignments, moderate discussion boards, and create and manage course content and assignments.  View the Course Roles and Permissions chart for detailed information on course roles and the permissions granted to each role.

Please note that student enrolment is automatically updated with Registrar add/drop information, so you should not add or remove officially enrolled students in your course.  For more information regarding automated events for your Quercus course, please see our Course Life Cycle.

Tech Tip: Course design for beginning-of-term

Welcome back! Get your Quercus course ready for the new term: 

Refer to our Instructor Quercus Checklist for more tasks to complete for the start of your course.

Tech Tip: Course-end checklist

As we prepare to end the term, consider the tasks listed in our Course Life Cycle chart which includes suggestions to wrap up your course and keep records for future use.

Checklist for end of term:

  1. Export the gradebook to download and save numerical grades as a CSV file for your record keeping. (Please note that letter grades will not be included in the export).
  2. Export Course Content and save the course package to your computer or Office 365 OneDrive once your course is complete.  This serves as a back-up of your course content.
  3. Submit final grades to your department.  Grades in Quercus are not official final grades.  Please check with your department regarding the process for submitting final grades.

We also recommend saving any class recordings that you want to keep or re-use. View and Download MS Teams Meeting Recordings or Download Zoom Recordings depending on your chosen platform.

Our friends at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering Education Technology Office have compiled a Quercus End-of-Term Checklist for FASE Instructors, with additional tips around course content publishing and extending access to your course.

Tech Tip: Use one tool for both synchronous and asynchronous course video content 

U of T makes available two licensed tools that can be used for broadcasting live video and creating recordings: Zoom and MS Teams Meeting.

Both tools give you the ability to web conference live synchronous sessions with your class.  Zoom meetings are created and scheduled from within the Zoom client or meeting management page. Zoom meeting links can easily be shared in any area of your Quercus course.  MS Teams Meetings are created directly in Quercus, and the meeting link can also be shared.  Both tools can generate automated live captions and transcripts.

In addition to hosting synchronous meetings, both tools can be used to record videos as announcements, video lecturettes, or other content to be viewed asynchronously.  To do this, start a meeting by yourself, without other participants, using whichever platform you are already comfortable with: MS Teams Meeting or Zoom.  Once you have finished your recording, you can add captions and share your video with students.

Please note when recording with Zoom, you should save your “Cloud Recordings” within 120 days.

Tech Tip: Facilitate learning with tools for peer collaboration

Peer collaboration contributes to learning by involving student voices and engaging active participation. Through co-creating and reviewing peers’ work, students receive formative feedback on their learning.

Using the Quercus Assignment Peer Review option or the feature-rich peerScholar tool, assignments can be formed around each student receiving multiple peer feedback. Through the act of giving feedback, students also have a chance to reflect on their own work through a different lens.

For either asynchronous or real-time group collaborations, the integrated MS Office OneDrive Collaborations allow multiple student collaborators to work together on a single MS Word, PowerPoint or Excel file.

Pre-arranged or self-signup group work can be created with Group space in Quercus to provide groups with discussion boards, file sharing and more.

Tech Tip: Tools for Assessment

The academic toolbox provides several options for assessing student work.  Assignments, Quizzes, and Graded Discussions are linked to the SpeedGrader in Quercus, which has multiple pathways to provide feedback to students (see Quercus Tips: Feedback Options in SpeedGrader (pdf)).  Different types of assessments can be delivered through your Quercus course, including Open Book Assessment Options and submissions using the U of T Microsoft Office 365 toolset.  Assessments that take place offline can also be connected to the SpeedGrader and Gradebook by setting the Submission Type to ‘On Paper’ or ‘No Submission’.

Teaching Assistants' Training Program

For information on graduate student and Teaching Assistant professional development and job training, please visit the TATP for resources, events and more.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Enroll in the SoTL Hub to access resources, share ideas and engage with your U of T community.

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