Re-Envisioning Tools and Software

PEAR 2 Pilot

The PEAR 2 pilot launched in winter 2019—the planned successor to U of G’s popular peer, evaluation, assessment and review application PEAR. The pilot spanned 15 courses involving 10 different instructors, and hundreds of students.

Features of PEAR 2 include a responsive design, improved accessibility, and an updated interface. There were challenges and obstacles to overcome, as one would expect with the launch of any new platform; however, the response from those involved in the pilot was overwhelmingly positive. We received significant feedback allowing us to further develop the platform during the Summer 2019 semester and continue with the pilot in Fall 2019. We anticipate a full release in the near future.

PEAR: Peer Evaluation, Assessment and Review. 

CourseLink Intelligent Agents Tool

Our Educational Development team (now the Office of Teaching and Learning), in collaboration with the College of Biological Science (CBS), identified a way to reach out to and help students who may be struggling in core first-year courses.

The project initially leveraged the CourseLink Announcements tool to provide course-specific messaging to students regarding their performance on midterms or midterm-equivalent grades. It was determined that there was a tool better suited for reaching students. By working with CBS—and more specifically, Heather Pollock, manager academic programs—we recognized the need to switch from using the Announcements tool to the Intelligent Agents tool, a previously under-utilized CourseLink tool.

After communication from CBS and a thorough presentation to instructors, we were successful in demonstrating the value of the Intelligent Agents tool and how it can be used to automate more tasks. Several instructors have since refined its use through third-party integrations within their CourseLink sites.

Course Outline Manager

Last year, five of seven colleges at U of G began using OpenEd’s Course Outline Manager tool. We helped the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences initiate their onboarding process for their departments, with the School of Engineering already being a long-standing user of the tool.

The other colleges—Ontario Veterinary College, Ontario Agricultural College, College of Biological Sciences, and College of Arts—had already been onboarded into the system; however, 2019 saw the release of the Course Outline Manager’s administrative interface and the transition to self-managed administration of course outlines.

We coordinated and delivered workshops and some additional consultations for all staff who would be managing the creation of and access to outlines for faculty within each department. This was a significant shift in responsibilities, since OpenEd had previously been managing the process on behalf of every college and department.

The transition to self-managed course outlines has been a smooth one, and has allowed departments far more flexibility in their outline creation and approval processes.

Text that reads: multimedia projects...

Our multimedia team has produced a variety of instructional videos over the past year. Below is a short video highlighting their work in 2019.

2019 OpenEd Multimedia Highlight Reel  

Working with Faculty


Faculty and Instructor Development Month

In May, the staff of the McLaughlin Library and OpenEd collaborated to support faculty and instructors in their development. The departments brought together a variety of programming that encouraged faculty and instructors to connect with each other and advance their individual skills and instructional projects.  

With a variety of conferences, multi-day institutes, and workshops, faculty and instructors had the opportunity to learn and grow as part of a supportive community on campus.

JANUARY - Added integration with 

MAY - Integrated Zoom Pro for Executive Program courses

JUNE - Added Pearson MyEnglishLab integration

JULY - Added new interactive and display tools to course template (flip cards, timeline)

AUGUST - Added Perusall integration | Migrated integration to LinkedIn Learning

SEPTEMBER - Article – 'Anonymous Marking in CourseLink'

Text image that reads: 8337 Resolved Help Desk tickets.

Representation at D2L Fusion

Text reading: Course Design, Implementation and Migration, and Teaching and Productivity.

Group of D2L delegates on stage at the D2L Fusion conference.On July 15, 2019, Greg Sabatine, manager, online technologies, presented at the D2L Fusion conference in Kissimmee, Florida. Under the Technical and Development track, Greg hosted a 50-minute roundtable discussion—Proctoring Brightspace Quizzes: What's Working and What's Not?

In his session, the successes and challenges of online course proctoring tools and best practices were discussed and shared amongst attendees.


opening quotation mark.  I teach a 1.0 first-year course—FARE*1400 - Economics of the Agri-food System—and late last fall I was looking for means to increase the demands of the course to align it with its 1.0 credit status. A group project was suggested but we did not know how we could effectively incorporate such a project without taking up too much class and lab time. PEAR 2 came to the rescue. I was able to establish groups, track efforts by members of that group, submit drafts, grade those drafts by other students, and permit peer evaluation of the group. PEAR 2 worked very effectively. closing quotation mark.

Dr. Alfons Weersink | Professor, Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics 

opening quotation mark.  Excited to report that the Intelligent Agents have worked marvelously. I released them last night at 9 p.m. and less than 12 hours later I have 20 emails, most of them beginning with "Thank you for following up". They believe it's me. This time, I used Crowdmark to separate question content so that I could tailor the messages even further to indicate exactly what concepts I think they should work on. It was a huge success. For those using Crowdmark, this is easy to do and no increased effort in marking...something to think about!  closing quotation mark.

Dr. Kimberly M. Levere (Herder) | Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

opening quotation mark.  I write to convey my deep appreciation for the PEAR platform. The PEAR tool has significantly enhanced learning outcomes for students in both my undergraduate and graduate courses. Because of PEAR, they have a deeper understanding of the scientific process. This platform has provided for its smooth implementation making it a game changer; its scalability allows me to bring diverse aspects of peer evaluation to a multitude of students, regardless of class size. Well done!  closing quotation mark.

Dr. Robert (Bob) Hanner | Associate Professor, Integrative Biology 

opening quotation mark.  Owen is like an air traffic controller! I can and have called him literally in the middle of a class and asked him to figure out a problem with PEAR 2 that I am having and he rises to the challenge and immediately figures out the issue. Whewwwww! In addition to Owen's quick response, he is a wonderful person to work with. He is kind, respectful, patient, positive and has a great sense of humour. No matter the platform...if you don't have people behind the scenes that are excellent people, the experience with the platform won't be the same. Thanks Owen for all your work and support.  closing quotation mark.

Mavis Morton | Associate Professor, Acting Chair, Director of First Year Seminars, Sociology and Anthropology

Text image that reads: 4204 courses delivered through CourseLink