Information Technology Services (ITS)

UofT Winner in App Challenge

Published on: May 24, 2016


TORONTO, ON – MAY 24 – Melody Neumann, Associate Professor at University of Toronto has won the IMS Global 3rd Annual App Challenge in the Institutional App category for the online tool Team Up!. Working with Laurie Harrison, Director of Online Learning, a two-person design and programming team, and members from the Academic & Collaborative Technologies (ACT) unit at UofT’s Information Technology Services, the online tool has gathered interest among instructors who facilitate group work.

“The Team Up! tool was one of our first projects to successfully integrate an external tool within the institutional Portal (Blackboard) using the IMS LTI or Learning Tools Interoperability standard,” said Ahalya Rajkumar, ACT’s solutions developer for Team Up!, excited about enhancing the student learning experience. “LTI was an innovative approach, and this project helped us break new ground in architecting our Portal integrations.”

A significant advantage during the development stages, tool owners could focus their time on building unique features and according to Rajkumar, “simply re-use features such as authentication, enrolment, groups and grade management that are already built into LMS (Portal).”

Using the LTI guidelines, the Portal technical team worked with the Team Up! developers on key features such as building a quiz tool that could be launched from within Portal with single sign-on access; a feature for sharing class roster and group information from Portal; and seamless feedback of student grades from the tool into Portal.

Prof. Neumann was delighted by the opportunity to highlight the teamwork that went into creating and launching the tool. “The creation of Team Up! was a fantastic example of how well teams…across the University of Toronto work together, and I am so pleased that the IMS Global Institutional App award recognizes this.”

Team Up! started as a tool for synchronous online group work to enable groups of students to work on problem sets remotely in real time. Since then the tool has received praise from instructors who want to facilitate effective and efficient group work.

The tool can be used in any discipline and was designed to facilitate good group dynamics during synchronous online group work, as well as provide a mechanism for peer teaching, immediate feedback, and part marks for approximate answers. The tool also transfers student marks directly into the Blackboard Grade Centre and utilizes the Blackboard grouping function.

How does working with IMS really stack up? “IMS Global is an outstanding consortium of schools and industry partners that is leading one of the most important educational revolutions occurring today. The University of Toronto has greatly benefited from its membership in IMS Global, and from the work being done by the consortium,” said Dr. Avi Hyman, Director of Academic and Collaborative Technologies at UofT.

“Our team is thrilled for Prof. Neumann’s first place app challenge success, and for having had the opportunity to support her innovative work,” Hyman added.

The 3rd Annual Connected Learning Innovation App Challenge 2016 rankings can be found on the IMS Global website. Congratulations to the Team Up! team for their outstanding 1st Place achievement.