The LectureTools Blog

Export LectureTools Participation Data to Blackboard Gradebook

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, March 18, 2013
lecturetools in your blackboard course site

Awarding students participation points for in-class activities can help to incentivize attendance and, more importantly, engagement with course material. Though LectureTools has always provided participation data in the Assess tab, instructors have had to export these student metrics to Excel to calculate grades.

Now, instructors using Blackboard as their LMS can easily import LectureTools Assessment participation data into their Blackboard Gradebook. You and your students can sign in to LectureTools straight from Blackboard, creating a single sign-on for both LectureTools and Blackboard.

If you already have a course set up in LectureTools, linking it to Blackboard is as easy as launching LectureTools from your LMS course tools and selecting it from a dropdown menu. If you haven’t used LectureTools before, an account will be created using Blackboard’s sign-on, and you can create a linked course in seconds.

Then, sending participation data is as simple as selecting lecture columns to include and clicking the “Send total to LMS” button.
send assess to blackboard


The LectureTools data then shows up as a single column in the Blackboard Grade Center. Like any other assignment or exam column in gradebook, you can add the LectureTools column with a percentage weight to easily factor it into your students’ final course grades.
lecturetools column in blackboard learn grade center 

For more information about how to configure and use the Blackboard integration, visit the LMS Integration topic in our support portal. Don't use Blackboard? Watch out for later announcements about your LMS!


Unleash Analytics to Improve Teaching and Increase Learning

monitor student confusion

In-class quizzes and student Q&A help keep students attentive and engaged while providing you with real-time student comprehension data during class. See how LectureTools can increase participation and deliver learning analytics before, during, and after class.

Topics: LectureTools News, New Features, emerging technologies in education, Educational Technology, LMS Integration, Student Assessment

3 Ways to Use LMS Integration to Teach Interactive Lectures

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, May 16, 2011

LectureTools was only one of many presenters at the 2011 Enriching Scholarship conference. The University of Michigan’s USE Lab also hosted a panel presentation: “Exemplary Teaching: Using CTools to Enhance Interactive Teaching.” During this session, four U-M faculty members discussed how they use interactive classroom technologies through CTools, U-M's version of Sakai, to improve student learning.

Using technology in a large political science lecture

One of the speakers was Dr. Mika LaVaque-Manty, a political science professor who is known for innovative uses of interactive classroom technologies.

View his talk below, or watch it on YouTube:

LaVaque-Manty centered his talk on the idea that you can "use [CTools] as a shell for a lot of things," meaning that he not only uses tools available through CTools, but also external tools integrated with CTools.

LaVaque-Manty highlighted three of the ways he uses CTools to teach interactively in a 250-student introductory political theory lecture.

3 Ways to Use LMS Integration to Teach Interactive Lectures

1. Facilitate interaction and peer instruction with a chat room

CTools Chat RoomThe first tool LaVaque-Manty discussed (3:30min-6:35min) was the CTools Chat Room, which is both a real-time and an archived chat application.

Students are able to ask substantive questions, which can then be answered by a graduate student instructor. The chat room feature is built into CTools and requires almost no configuration.

LaVaque-Manty also talked about holding “Chat Office Hours” through the chat room feature. He found that students were unlikely to ask questions during this designated time, but would ask questions throughout the day. He would address these questions when he was able to log on, but often, other students would jump in and answer their peers’ questions.

Effective use of the chat room demonstrated students’ skills at navigating familiar technologies. LaVaque-Manty, however, cautioned about the “myth of the tech savvy student,” which emphasizes the importance of simplicity and ease-of-use for technology in the classroom.


2. Integrate reading quizzes with LMS

One challenge in college courses is to ensure students complete assigned reading. For LaVaque-Manty’s political theory lecture, students are required to complete reading prior to each lecture, or approximately 26 times per semester.

To address this challenge, LaVaque-Manty has added a “Reading Questions” tool to his course’s CTools site (6:35min-10:15min). This function is an application of the UM.Lessons assessment tool, which links to the class roster and can be configured to use student uniqnames and Kerberos passwords.

Students are required to answer a few quick, substantive questions about the assigned readings prior to class. LaVaque-Manty also asks students how difficult they found the reading, enabling him to assess comprehension issues.

Prior to class LaVaque-Manty is able to quickly review the results in an online report and can adjust his lecture accordingly.


3. Use LectureTools to increase instructor-student interaction

LaVaque-Manty finished his talk by detailing how he utilizes LectureTools in his large lecture courses (10:15min-14:20min). Using LTI integration, LaVaque-Manty has added a gateway to LectureTools in his course’s CTools site.

Students are able to take notes associated with LaVaque-Manty’s slides and can report comprehension issues with material on a given slide. LaVaque-Manty can track comprehension during lecture in real time.

The student inquiry tool allows students to ask instructors questions. During class, LaVaque-Manty uses an iPad to monitor the question stream while his graduate student instructors answer the inquiries.

LaVaque-Manty said he believes that traditional student response systems “don’t work for humanities.” Thus, he utilizes the “smart” clicker function of LectureTools because of its various question types.

image map resultsAs an example, he showed results of an opinion poll posed as an image map question. Students were presented with a timeline marked with key years in the history of the United States and asked “When did the United States become democratic in your opinion?” The results revealed a wide variety of opinions about when the US became democratic and even whether democracy has been reached. Such questions can create opportunities for class discussions, even in large lectures.

LaVaque-Manty has found that with LectureTools, “students are interacting with me much more than they were before in a 250-student class.” He also noted that students are reporting greater satisfaction and he believes there is “clear evidence that students are learning.”


View the rest of the talks from the “Exemplary Teaching: Using CTools to Enhance Interactive Teaching” session on the U-M USE Lab’s YouTube Playlist and learn how other instructors are using technology in the classroom to facilitate interactive lectures and engage their students.

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, instructor interaction, student engagement strategies, Enriching Scholarship Conference, LMS Integration

LTI Framework Spurs Educational Technology Innovation

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, May 09, 2011

sakai ctools university of michigan

Success of Sakai at the University of Michigan

As a leader in the IMS Global Learning Consortium, the University of Michigan has become a case study for implementing collaborative learning and technology in the classroom through its support of Sakai, an open source learning management system (LMS). Each year in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan’s Sakai system, CTools, has over 45,000 users, 10,000 new course sites and 10,000 new collaborative project sites.

Expanding capabilities of LMS with Learning Tools Interoperability framework

LTI DiagramTo expand the educational technologies available to instructors and students using LMS – such as Sakai, Desire2Learn, and Blackboard – IMS Global created the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) framework. LTI encourages innovation, allowing both university and external developers to add tools that work with LMS. Notable external tools that use LTI at the University of Michigan include SiteMaker, a simple way for users to create websites, and BlueStream, a customized multimedia content management system.

LTI makes it easy to integrate new tools with existing LMS. Commercial vendors initially estimated that it would take 1000 hours of development to integrate the aforementioned BlueStream using API, but with the use of LTI, it took less than 40 hours to integrate authenticated rosters with the system.


LectureTools integrates with LMS through LTI framework

LectureTools is another external tool that offers integration with LMS like Sakai through the LTI framework. Students and instructors participating in the LectureTools Beta in spring courses at the University of Michigan register and login to LectureTools using a CTools gateway. This makes it easy for users to login to LectureTools, and allows LectureTools to enroll students into their respective courses automatically when they create their accounts.

The student response system in LectureTools will also use LTI to integrate with “Gradebook” LMS applications like the one in CTools. This will save instructors valuable time, as credit for student responses is awarded to the gradebook instantaneously.


Benefits of open standards for education

The development of LectureTools by Dr. Perry Samson, Arthur Thurnau Professor of Atmospheric Science, is just one example of the kinds of development that are facilitated by use of open standards. Open standards like LTI allow different universities and vendors to work together on creating educational resources, even if they are using different LMS.

IMS Global’s creation of LTI allows educational technology to be easy-to-use, compatible with various LMS, and developed from all levels of a university. With open standards, new learning tools need not be developed from the top-down. Instead, anyone at an institution with an idea can develop a tool that can easily be added to a preexisting integrated learning environment like Sakai.

Topics: emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, lecturetools beta, Teaching with Technology, LMS Integration