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A new integration for Gradescope and Collab

Last fall, 9,261 UVA students submitted nearly 340,000 exams, quizzes, and other assignments in Gradescope. As of today, the integration between Gradescope and Collab has been upgraded to the latest standard: LTI 1.3, also known as LTI Advantage. This upgrade offers a number of benefits, including improved performance and the ability to edit grades that have been added to the Gradebook tool without having to return to Gradescope. The process for syncing grades between Gradescope and Collab has been slightly modified, but don’t worry—you can continue to use this valuable feature by following the steps below, and you can always contact us with any questions you might have.

Note that these changes apply to the integration between Gradescope and Collab only; if you’re not using Gradescope and Collab together, your workflow should remain the same.

Getting started

You’ll need to complete these preliminary steps before entering and syncing grades between Gradescope and Collab.

  1. Add the Gradebook tool, the Gradescope tool, and the Lessons tool to your course site, if they’re not already present.
  2. Visit the Gradescope tool in your course site and set up your course in Gradescope.
  3. Create quizzes or exams, problem sets or homework assignments, or online assignments in Gradescope.

Step 1: Create links to Gradescope items

Once you’ve created your items in Gradescope, you can add links to them in the Lessons tool. You’ll need these links to sync the grades between Gradescope and Collab once you’re ready to do so.

  1. Visit the Lessons tool in your course site, and select the Add Content + button. If you’re using the Lessons tool exclusively for this purpose, you can hide the tool in the toolbar to prevent students from inadvertently accessing it.
  2. Select the Add External Tool link.
  3. Select the Gradescope link.
  4. Select the Launch External Tool Configuration link.
  1. Select the Gradescope item to be linked, then select the Link Assignment button.
Gradescope screenshot: You've opened Gradescope via LTI from a UVACollab assignment. You can select a Gradescope assignment to link to it. After linking, students who use the LTI link will have their grades synced back to UVACollab. Link with: A new Gradescope Assignment OR An existing Gradescope Assignment

Step 2: Sync and edit grades

After entering your grades in Gradescope, you can return to your linked item in the Lessons tool and sync the grades between Gradescope and Collab.

  1. Enter your grades in Gradescope.
  2. Visit the Lessons tool in your course site, and select the link to the Gradescope item that you created in Step 1.
  3. The grades will be displayed, along with general statistics such as the mean, median, and standard deviation. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select the Post Grades to UVACollab button.
  4. Select the Post Grades button to add the grades to the Gradebook tool.
Gradescope screenshot: Post Grades to UVACollab
Instruction
- Grades from linked users' submissions will be posted to the UVACollab assignment listed below.
- Existing grades in UVACollab (for linked users) will be overwritten.

Once your grades have been added to the Gradebook tool, they can be edited in the gradebook without returning to Gradescope. For example, if you’d like to award extra credit points for an assignment, you can do so by simply adding the additional points to the scores in the gradebook. However, note that these changes will not be reflected in Gradescope, and if you resync your grades from Gradescope after editing some or all of them in the gradebook, your edits in the gradebook will be overwritten.

Happy Holidays from Learning Tech!

With the fall semester officially over, faculty and students are enjoying a well-deserved break. It’s been quite a year—a year filled with extraordinary challenges, but also innumerable inspiring examples of dedication, collaboration, and innovation in teaching and learning. Like all of you, we’re looking forward to a fresh start in 2021, and we’re already working on several new technologies and other enhancements we can’t wait to share with you.

However you celebrate this holiday season, we hope your days are merry and bright, and we’ll see you in the new year!

Instructors expanding their teaching toolkits with new UVA learning technologies

This article was published in UVA Today Thursday, December 10, 2020.

With many classes online this semester, instructors have found alternative, innovative ways to manage their classrooms and keep students engaged. To help with these efforts, UVA faculty and graduate students now have easy access to a host of new technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

This summer, the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Chief Information Officer invested in licenses for seven learning technologies: Digication, Gradescope, Hypothesis, MATLAB Grader, Peerceptiv, Poll Everywhere, and VoiceThread. More information on these tools and the rest of UVA’s digital catalog can be found on the Learning Tech website, another new initiative that launched ahead of the fall semester.

Instructors are taking advantage of these new or recently expanded technologies to improve assessment and evaluation processes and increase student engagement and collaboration.

“The University invested in these technologies to help faculty make the best of a necessary situation during the pandemic —a lot of online course instruction,” said UVA Provost Liz Magill. “But we have found that this has led to faculty innovation, too. Using new software is no exception—our faculty have changed their approach to many standard pedagogical practices and will likely retain these innovations long after the pandemic is over.”

Statistics Assistant Professor Rich Ross and Chemistry Lecturer Alicia Frantz are among nearly 550 instructors finding Gradescope to be an essential addition to their teaching toolkits. The tool allows them to streamline the grading process and gain insights into how their students are learning in their large-enrollment courses.

“I have lots of individual work and lots of group work and trying to figure out how to manage assessing or evaluating that work is a difficult thing,” Ross said, “but having tools like Gradescope have been super helpful in thinking about how we do this at scale.”

Instructors can grade exams, problem sets, and other assignments more efficiently by building intuitive, dynamic rubrics. Ross estimates that the tool saves him about 40 hours of grading over the course of the semester.

“You actually never have to take your hands off the keyboard. You can get very, very quick and accurate at grading work and especially in comparison to grading paper submissions.”

For Frantz, grading quickly means that she can return feedback to her students sooner, helping them to learn from their mistakes and better prepare for the next exam.

“Before I started using Gradescope, when we would hand back exams, there were always at least a third of the exams that never even got picked up and those were always the students that were struggling that most needed to work through those problems,” she said. “I think just the ease at which they can look through their exam without having to make a special trip or to feel anxious about it, I think that’s been one of the best things that’s come out of this.”

Students also can ask their professor to look at a question again if the student thinks there was an error.

“I think students appreciate being able to submit a regrade request maybe partly because they realize that as a course staff, we’re admitting that we can make mistakes sometimes, and that we’re happy to have those conversations,” Ross said. “I think that actually builds a lot of trust between the instructor and the students.”

In addition to trust, Ross is able to build stronger relationships with his students.

“Gradescope has implemented several mechanisms that meaningfully … reduce the amount of time you have to spend grading and let you do more of one of my favorite things as a teacher, which is interacting directly with my students, talking to them about content questions, talking to them about potential career options.”

Jennifer Sessions headshot
Jennifer Sessions, History Professor

When the pandemic hit, History Professor Jennifer Sessions turned to a tool that she had used before to help maintain an important aspect of her courses—peer feedback.

“I started using Peerceptiv for guided peer review of essay assignments in my modern European history course in Fall 2017, and since then have used it in everything from big introductory surveys with several hundred students to specialized upper-level courses of a few dozen. This fall, we’re even using it in a graduate seminar.”

She’s one of 10 instructors who have Peerceptiv up and running in their courses this semester. The peer assessment tool encourages student development as teachers and learners through a research-validated cycle of anonymous feedback. Students can share recommendations with each another, while evaluating the quality of the reviews they receive.

Sessions says she values the tool because it helps students not only improve their individual papers, but also become better readers and editors.

“It sounds hyperbolic, I know, but I regularly use the term ‘magical’ in describing this power to colleagues. The anonymous online system depersonalizes the peer review process and facilitates more objective, honest feedback, which means writers get better, more useful feedback on their own drafts.”

Her students review drafts of each other’s work and then revise those drafts for final assessment, getting separate grades for each assignment.

“Reading and providing feedback on several of their colleagues’ drafts allows students to see what does and doesn’t work for the assignment, to think through why, and to talk about how to make a given piece of writing more effective.”

The tool has inspired Sessions to reexamine her course design.

“Using Peerceptiv has made me much more deliberate in designing courses to scaffold concepts and skills over the course of a semester. Particularly, it has pushed me to shift the focus of writing assignments from outcomes to process.”

Another popular new technology is Poll Everywhere, an audience response system that enables users to post activities like attendance items, quizzes, or polls and then display results in real time.

Math Professor Paul Bourdon, School of Data Science Assistant Professor Scott Schwartz, and 168 of their colleagues are using the tool this fall.

Schwartz said, “As I was [teaching my Data Mining] course, it just happened that after one of my lectures, where I had all this dense code, I thought, I want to ask some polling questions and it just was a hit with the students.”

He says using Poll Everywhere has been a low-stakes way to get more of his students to participate in discussions: “I just think it really lowers the bar to get engagement going. And that’s really what the students have told me when they talk about it.”

Bourdon, who serves as the Department of Math’s Director of Lower Division Courses, was previously using a different polling platform and decided to adopt Poll Everywhere in all undergraduate calculus courses this fall. He uses the tool to “promote small-group discussion of interesting problems during class, to monitor student understanding, and to help students assess their own understanding.”

He solicited midsemester feedback from his students, many of whom had positive things to say about the tool. A student in his course wrote, “I think Poll Everywhere is useful because it makes me stay engaged in lecture. It also acts like a check on my understanding. I like how the professor made it so that the bulk of the Poll Everywhere grade is for participation not accuracy so I don’t feel pressured to have it all figured out at that instant.”

Bourdon and Schwartz will both continue to keep Poll Everywhere an integral part of their toolkits.

“Poll Everywhere has totally changed the way I go to make my lectures,” Schwartz said. “Instead, I start by saying, ‘What is my Poll Everywhere conversation going to be about?’”

Encouraging collaboration and community by using ThreadBoxes in VoiceThread

This post was written by Keith Samuels, A&S Learning Design & Technology’s Language Lab Coordinator, and originally appeared on LDT’s blog November 16, 2020.


Would the ability to share VoiceThreads in a browsable collection with a select group of people or on the web be valuable to you? A ThreadBox is an embeddable or linkable space that allows you to gather VoiceThreads into an easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing browsable collection. A ThreadBox can be viewed by anyone, shared with a select group through your LMS, or embedded in a web page. The creator decides who can submit VoiceThreads and whether submissions are displayed as part of the collection. ThreadBoxes are great for showcases, projects, community collaborations, contests, conferences, etc.

By creating a ThreadBox, which is a format that allows participants to submit VoiceThreads to be viewed as a group, an instructor can foster collaboration over the course of a semester or for a particular project. This Threadbox can then be shared with a select group or made available on the internet. This allows flexibility in giving participants a platform to share ideas and projects for collaboration in a setting that fosters engagement on many levels.


Creating the Threadbox

Creating a ThreadBox is a simple process. 

  • Sign in to your VoiceThread account
  • Click on your email address in the top right-hand corner of your home page
  • Select Threadbox from the list (see image below)
LEADTOOLS v20.0

This will take you to your ThreadBox page, where you will have access to previously created ThreadBoxes, or have the choice to create a new one. To create a new ThreadBox, click “Add your own” in the top right-hand corner of the page.

In the pop-up window, enter the basic information about the ThreadBox. Once you have entered your settings for your ThreadBox, you may return later to update or edit your settings. For more information on that process click here.


Sharing a Threadbox

ThreadBoxes may be embedded in your website or shared with a link. To get a link for access to your Threadbox, repeat the steps listed in “Creating a ThreadBox” above. Once in the ThreadBox, click options, and you will be able to copy the link (see second red arrow below). If you would like to embed the Threadbox, click the “embed” button (see first red arrow below).

If you decide to embed the ThreadBox, select the size at which you want to embed the ThreadBox, and then copy the embed code. A minimum embed height of 600px and a width that uses 100% of the available space is recommended (see below).


Submitting a VoiceThread to a ThreadBox

If you are an administrator or if submissions have been allowed, you may submit a VoiceThread as part of a ThreadBox. Choices for allowing users to submit a VoiceThread to a ThreadBox are set up in the options section of the ThreadBox homepage. The creator of the ThreadBox may allow submissions, require admin approval for submissions, or require submitters to accept terms and conditions.

There are three options available when submitting a VoiceThread to a ThreadBox. Create a new VoiceThread, select from already created VoiceThreads, or submit a link to a VoiceThread. If you own a ThreadBox or have bookmarked it, you can find it in the sidebar on your own VT Home Page. To submit one of your own VoiceThreads to it, simply drag that VoiceThread and drop it into the ThreadBox.


In Summary

Using ThreadBox is a great way to showcase projects, foster community discussion, share ideas, or collaborate with others. The ability to determine who can submit to a ThreadBox allows the creator to determine the scope and scale of the project. The ability to embed it in a website allows for a wider viewing audience and participation on the part of those making submissions. Creating a ThreadBox is not difficult and is a great way to share information on a small or large scale.

Check out these tutorials and guides on how to use ThreadBoxes from VoiceThread with this overview of ThreadBox.

Faculty Spotlight: Paul Bourdon’s rapid switch to Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is nice. I think it’s a fun collaborative way to get everyone in the class involved in learning.

I really like Poll-Everywhere. It’s like mini quizzes/practices that test my knowledge.

students in MATH 1190

Paul Bourdon is Professor and Director of Lower Division Courses in UVA’s Department of Mathematics. He previously used iClicker for in-class activities, but switched to Poll Everywhere this semester to maintain this aspect of his courses in a virtual environment. Poll Everywhere is currently being used in all introductory Calculus courses.

We asked Paul to share how he and his colleagues are using the platform to engage students and gauge their understanding of course concepts.

Q. HOW ARE YOU USING POLL EVERYWHERE IN YOUR COURSE?

A. I use classroom polling to promote small-group discussion of interesting problems during class, to monitor student understanding, and to help students assess their own understanding.  

All introductory calculus courses are flipped this term. Students are required to complete, an hour before their class is to begin, an online “class-prep” assignment. Fairly often classes start with a polling problem designed to help students review terminology and concepts introduced in the class-prep assignment. Results of this polling may prompt instructors to review the basics for the day’s class a bit more or a bit less than they had intended.

Later in class, students are sent into breakout rooms to problem solve. Polling questions are used in two different ways. Sometimes a polling question related to the solution of one of the breakout-room problems is activated when the students are in their rooms, allowing instructors to gauge students’ progress, aiding in making the decision of when to close rooms. Sometimes, students are told that one or more polling questions relating to the breakout-room problems will be activated when they return to the main room. This, ideally, prompts students to work through all breakout-room problems, sharing their thinking and recording all their work in order to be prepared to answer polling question(s) upon return to the main room.

Q. WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT POLL EVERYWHERE?

A. I use it almost exclusively for multiple-choice questions, which are extremely easy to code. I’m thankful that the question editor allows inclusion of math symbols (using commands that nearly all math instructors know very well).

It’s very easy to share polling questions with other instructors. One can set up “teams” of instructors and, in seconds, share polling activities for a given class with all instructors on your team.

Q. WHAT HAS THE TOOL HELPED YOU AND YOUR STUDENTS ACHIEVE?

A. I think I’ll respond to this via a student’s comment about Poll Everywhere provided on my midterm course evaluation:

I think Poll Everywhere is useful because it makes me stay engaged in lecture. It also acts like a check on my understanding. I like how the professor made it so that the bulk of the Poll Everywhere grade is for participation not accuracy so I don’t feel pressured to have it all figured out at that instant. Overall I think it’s a useful tool.

Q. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR INSTRUCTORS USING POLL EVERYWHERE FOR THE FIRST TIME?

A. Make sure you’ve chosen appropriate default “Activity Settings” before you start coding questions. (E.g., one setting is “Allow participants to change their answer.”)


Poll Everywhere can be added to course sites in Collab, in Blackboard at the McIntire School of Commerce, and in Canvas at the School of Education and Human Development and School of Continuing and Professional Studies. It can also be accessed directly via NetBadge by faculty and students in all schools and departments. Contact the Learning Tech team or Poll Everywhere Support if you have questions about the tool or need help creating activities.

If you’re interested in sharing your experience with Poll Everywhere or another tool in the Learning Tech catalog with your colleagues, we’d love to hear from you! Email Kristin Sloane at ks8yx@virginia.edu.

Faculty Spotlight: Rich Ross turbocharges the grading process with Gradescope

I really think that to some extent one of the reasons Gradescope isn’t used more is that people just don’t realize how powerful it is.

Rich Ross is Assistant Professor of Statistics at UVA, and is teaching STAT 2120: Introduction to Statistical Analysis this semester. With 572 students in the course, grading assignments and exams can be challenging and time-consuming. Gradescope’s ability to build and apply custom, adaptable rubrics during the grading process has allowed him to grade quickly and accurately and focus more of his attention on interacting with his students.

We asked Rich to share some of his experiences with the tool and advice for those interested in exploring its potential.

Q. HOW ARE YOU USING GRADESCOPE IN YOUR COURSE?

A. The class that I teach right now, STAT 2120, we have an asynchronous lecture component where I pre-record videos and students are able to watch that content and re-watch it, which has been really valuable, and then we have a synchronous lab portion where there’s a lot of really active learning and students work and submit work in groups. So I have lots of individual work and lots of group work, and trying to figure out how to manage assessing all of that work or evaluating that work is a difficult thing, but having tools like Gradescope has been super helpful in thinking about how do we do this at scale.

You actually never have to take your hands off the keyboard because you can just select the grade items that apply to the student and then press a button to go to the next submission for that same question, and so you can get very, very quick and accurate at grading work and especially in comparison to grading paper submissions.

Q. HOW IS THE TOOL SUPPORTING YOUR ONLINE TEACHING?

A. When we were teaching in person in the spring … the first exam I gave in person, and so students wrote on paper and turned in the paper. Gradescope has a really cool way of managing those submissions. Basically, you can just scan all the student submissions in, and it does a lot of things that are pretty automatic. It can detect patterns of student responses. It reads your text and it does oftentimes a very good job, and so you can actually save a lot of time in grading that way as well.

But for the second midterm and the final, we were online. We had to figure out, how do we conduct an exam in an online format? And I still don’t think that we’ve perfected it, but Gradescope offers pretty smooth ways to run, evaluate, and have students take an online assessment that even can be somewhat high stakes. You can have some questions that are multiple choice or check all of the boxes that apply. You can have questions where students just type out their response. You can also have questions where students upload one or more files. There’s a lot of flexibility in how students get to interact as they’re taking an exam and I think that’s super valuable.

Q. WHAT FEATURES DO YOU FIND MOST USEFUL ABOUT GRADESCOPE?

A. With Gradescope, you can just change the point value for any item, and it applies that change to all submissions. The rubrics are highly customizable, and you can always change them even after you’ve started grading.

It also has a built-in regrade request system. When I publish grades, if a student says, “I think that maybe there was an error,” and in a class with 550 students, we’re bound to make errors once in a while. We hope that they’re minimal, but it sometimes happens. We’re just very upfront and tell students, if you think that we maybe made an error, submit a regrade request, and you can handle all of that directly in Gradescope’s website. You don’t have to have a bunch of emails going back and forth.

The only other thing that’s been super useful is that it’s very clear to students with disability accommodations. If they get extra time on an assignment, that’s built in … Is this revolutionary? No. Lots of tools can do this, but it’s an important feature that helps to accommodate needs.

Q. WHAT FEEDBACK HAVE YOU RECEIVED FROM STUDENTS ABOUT GRADESCOPE?

A. The feedback overall has been quite positive. I think that students would generally agree with me based on what I’ve heard as far as it’s nice to have that one stop where you can go and you can see, here are all the assignments, here’s when they’re due.

And I think students appreciate being able to submit a regrade request maybe partly because they realize that as a course staff, we’re admitting that we can make mistakes sometimes and that we’re happy to have those conversations. I think that actually builds a lot of trust between the instructor and the students.

Q. WHAT TIPS OR SUGGESTIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR INSTRUCTORS USING GRADESCOPE FOR THE FIRST TIME?

A. Although it may take a little bit of time to get used to, it will shock you how much time you will save. The thing that I’ve found as I teach that maybe shouldn’t have surprised me, but does surprise me, is that lots of the little stuff takes up a lot of your time.

I think that Gradescope has implemented several mechanisms that meaningfully reduce the amount of time you have to spend … grading and let you do more of one of my favorite things as a teacher, which is interacting directly with my students, talking to them about content questions, talking to them about potential career options. I feel like I have a lot more flexibility to do what I hope to do as a professor and spend a little bit less time doing some of the things that we just have to do.

I really think that to some extent one of the reasons that Gradescope isn’t used more is that people just don’t realize how powerful it is. I think that once you take a tour, you’ll come back to visit again.


Gradescope can be added to course sites in Collab, in Blackboard and Brightspace at the McIntire School of Commerce, and in Canvas at the School of Education and Human Development. It can also be accessed directly via NetBadge by faculty and students in all schools and departments. Contact the Learning Tech team or Gradescope Support if you have questions about the tool or need help getting started.

If you’re interested in sharing your experience with Gradescope or another tool in the Learning Tech catalog with your colleagues, we’d love to hear from you! Email Kristin Sloane at ks8yx@virginia.edu.

Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Sessions on the power of Peerceptiv

The thing I really appreciate about Peerceptiv is that it doesn’t just help students improve individual papers. It helps them become more effective readers and editors.

Jennifer Sessions is Associate Professor of History at UVA. She is a historian of modern France and its colonial empire, with an emphasis on French relations with North Africa, particularly Algeria, and interests in comparative empires, settler colonialism, and cultural history. Her recent courses include lectures and seminars on Modern Europe and the World; Modern European Imperialism; Immigration, Race, and Islam in Paris; and France and Algeria: From Piracy to Terrorism.

Peer review of writing assignments is an important component of many of Jennifer’s courses, and she regularly uses Peerceptiv to facilitate this process. We asked her to share some of her experiences with the tool and recommendations for others who might be considering a similar approach.

Q. How have you used Peerceptiv in your courses?

A. I started using Peerceptiv for guided peer review of essay assignments in my modern European history course in Fall 2017, and since then have used it in everything from big introductory surveys with several hundred students to specialized upper-level courses of a few dozen. This fall, we’re even using it in a graduate seminar. Students at any level use Peerceptiv to review drafts of each other’s writing, and then use the feedback they receive to revise those drafts for final assessment by me and/or their graduate instructors. To reinforce the importance of peer review as a learning process, I treat the Peerceptiv and the revised essay as two separate assignments, with separate grades.

Q. What kinds of things has Peerceptiv helped you and your students achieve?

A. The thing I really appreciate about Peerceptiv is that it doesn’t just help students improve individual papers. It helps them become more effective readers and editors. It sounds hyperbolic, I know, but I regularly use the term “magical” in describing this power to colleagues. The anonymous online system depersonalizes the peer review process and facilitates more objective, honest feedback, which means writers get better, more useful feedback on their own drafts. But even more important, reading and providing feedback on several of their colleagues’ drafts allows students to see what does and doesn’t work for the assignment, to think through why, and to talk about how to make a given piece of writing more effective.

Q. How has Peerceptiv changed the way you design and conduct your courses?

A. Using Peerceptiv has made me much more deliberate in designing courses to scaffold concepts and skills over the course of a semester. More particularly, it has pushed me to shift the focus of writing assignments from outcomes to process. Instead of approaching each essay as a stand-alone assessment of students’ writing skills and understanding of course material, I now think about the essays in a course collectively, as an iterative, cumulative practice that helps students get better as writers and readers.

Q. What tips or suggestions do you have for instructors using Peerceptiv for the first time?

A. Leave plenty of lead time to create assignments, and work with the staff in the Center for Teaching Excellence and at Peerceptiv to design and set them up. Getting the most out of Peerceptiv requires effective rubrics that are specific but not overwhelming. Consultation with an expert in the teaching of writing was invaluable in helping me to strike that balance and articulate my expectations in ways that would be accessible to student writers. This is time-consuming on the front end, but once assignments are set up properly, the review process can be as hands on or hands off as desired.


Peerceptiv can be added to course sites in Collab, and also in Canvas at the Darden School of Business and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Contact the Learning Tech team or Peerceptiv Support if you have questions about getting started or creating assignments—we’re here to help!

If you’re interested in sharing your experience with Peerceptiv or another tool in the Learning Tech catalog with your colleagues, we’d love to hear from you! Email Kristin Sloane at ks8yx@virginia.edu.

Organizing course content to encourage engagement

Recent studies have suggested that students’ emotional connections to courses are key contributors to successful online learning, alongside other more traditional elements such as the effective use of technology and access to the assigned content. In their latest article in the EDUCAUSE Review, Melissa Fanshawe, Katie Burke, Eseta Tualaulelei, and Cath Cameron offer three general recommendations for encouraging emotional engagement among students learning online:

  • Focus on the teacher-student relationship.
  • Let students know that you care about their progress.
  • Organize the online platform clearly and logically.

While the first two recommendations seem fairly straightforward, the potential benefits of well-structured course content and activities are more easily overlooked. Fortunately, learning management systems like Collab and Canvas include handy tools to transform your syllabus or other materials into interactive pages—which streamlines navigation, reduces confusion, and prioritizes progress and learning.

Collab: Lessons/Activities

If you use Collab for your course sites, you can use the Lessons tool for this purpose (also known as the Activities tool in some of the site templates available in Collab). Lessons includes options to add direct links to items in other tools in your course sites, including Resources, Assignments, Discussions, and Tests & Quizzes, allowing students to access everything in a single location. You can also add and embed text, images, videos, and checklists to track the completion of important requirements, and more.

If you’re familiar with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), you can customize the design of your pages even further. Check out the video below for a brief introduction to custom CSS in Lessons, and contact the Learning Tech team for a sample CSS file if you’d like to try it out.

Canvas: Modules

If you use Canvas for your course sites, you can use the Modules tool for this purpose. Modules also allows you to add direct links to items in other tools in your course sites. Check out the video below for an overview of Modules in action.

Further reading

Getting started with activities in Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is a versatile option for encouraging engagement in your courses. Use it to present general polls, attendance items, review questions, quizzes, and more; students respond by following links to your activities in a web browser or app on their computers or mobile devices. Results are received and updated instantly and can be displayed at your discretion to generate reflection and discussion.

The steps below will guide you through creating your account in Poll Everywhere, importing your course roster, and creating your activities. Once you’re up and running, Poll Everywhere’s Essential Distance Learning Guide provides a great overview of many key features. And of course, you can always contact us with any questions or comments that pop up as you get started—we’d love to hear from you.

Step 1: Create your account in Poll Everywhere

Creating an account in Poll Everywhere is quick and easy. Because you sign in with NetBadge, there’s no hassle of creating yet another username and password combination.

  1. Visit polleverywhere.com, and select the Log in link at the top of the page.
  2. Enter your UVA email address (computing ID@virginia.edu) into the box, then select the Next button.
  3. Select the Log in with UVA NetBadge button, then sign in with NetBadge.
  4. Select the Sign up for my Poll Everywhere account button. Your account has now been created!

If you previously created a free account with Poll Everywhere using your UVA email address, we’ll need to invite you to join the UVA account in Poll Everywhere. Send us a message at learningtech@virginia.edu and we’ll take it from there!

Step 2: Import your course roster into Poll Everywhere

Now that you’ve created your account in Poll Everywhere, you can import your course roster, which registers your students as participants for your activities and allows you to review their responses and export them to your gradebook. If you’re using Poll Everywhere for basic engagement and you don’t need these features, you can skip to Step 3 below.

  1. Visit your course site. If you’re using Collab, you can follow the steps for adding tools to sites to add the Poll Everywhere tool to your site. If you’re using Blackboard or Canvas, you may need to contact your system administrator to make sure you have access to the tool.
  2. Access the tool in your course site. If you’re using Collab, you can select Poll Everywhere in the toolbar on the left side of the page in your site. If you’re using Blackboard or Canvas, you can follow the steps in the Blackboard and Canvas educator guides to access the tool.
  3. If you see a Continue to LMS to login button, such as Continue to collab.its.virginia.edu, select it to continue the process.
  4. Select the Import Roster button.
  5. Select the Go to Participants page button. Your participants will be listed on the page, and your course roster will be listed among the Groups on the right side of the page.

If new students are added to the course roster after you import it into Poll Everywhere, you’ll need to repeat the roster import process to add them to your group in Poll Everywhere.

Step 3: Create your activities

Now that the setup is out of the way, you’re ready to get started with Poll Everywhere!

  1. Visit polleverywhere.com and sign into your account.
  2. Select the Create button.
  3. Follow the steps for creating activities to create your activity, then activate it when you’re ready for your students to respond. You can even insert your activities directly into your PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides presentation!

By default, newly created activities are restricted to registered participants, which requires students to be registered with you (through their inclusion on a course roster you imported into Poll Everywhere) and signed into Poll Everywhere with NetBadge in order to respond. However, you can change this setting and make your activity accessible to everyone who visits the activity link by visiting the Configuration menu.

New year, new tools

With many courses transitioning to online instruction, it’s safe to say that this semester will present unique challenges for faculty, staff, and students alike. That’s why we’ve spent the summer strengthening and expanding the digital part of our Academical Village to accommodate more features and potential applications than ever before.

Thanks to generous support from the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Chief Information Officer, seven tools have been newly added or significantly expanded for use in your course sites and activities. The Learning Tech catalog includes more information about these tools and their potential for teaching and learning, along with resources and contacts to help you get started.

The list includes:

  • Digication: Design and publish simple, elegant ePortfolio websites for academic projects and professional development.
  • Gradescope: Streamline the grading process for exams, problem sets, and other assignments by building intuitive, dynamic rubrics as you work.
  • Hypothesis: Add annotations alongside digital texts to provide context, offer reflections, ask and answer questions, and more.
  • MATLAB Grader: Build autograded programming assignments that provide immediate, contextual feedback, with detailed analytics.
  • Peerceptiv: Encourage student development as teachers and learners through a research-validated cycle of anonymous feedback.
  • Poll Everywhere: Post attendance items, quick quizzes, or polls, display live updates on your screen, and transfer scores to your gradebook.
  • VoiceThread: Create a virtual seminar discussion by recording and embedding video commentary within posted documents or clips.

Stay tuned for tips, tricks, and examples of each tool! Don’t hesitate to send us an email at learningtech@virginia.edu with your questions or ideas, or leave us a note in the comments below.