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U Ottawa Deploys Tools To Engage Students

The University of Ottawa will implement a new tool designed to improve student engagement. The university, which has been using Echo360 software to capture lectures and convert them into podcasts, video, and rich media for playback, has added another of the company's products to its site license. This fall the university is adopting LectureTools, which has a number of programs for increasing student engagement. Those programs include computer- and mobile-device-based student response functions that allow them to ask questions and respond to questions posed during a lecture, study aids, note-taking tools, an interactive presentation creation system, and a student assessment module for in-class activities.

One reason for bringing in the new tool, according to a statement from the company, was that U Ottawa needed to comply with Ontario provincial law that prohibits institutions from requiring students to buy extra tools for a course. The use of LectureTools will enable faculty to eliminate the need for specialized hardware clickers as students can use the computing devices they already have at hand.

"LectureTools improves the student/instructor interaction during class time. Our students see if they are tracking with their peers while instructors get immediate feedback [to] gauge student understanding," said Mark Gareau, director of Multimedia Distribution Services. "Because LectureTools is part of the overall Echo360 solution, our technology team can support one student engagement solution across the campus without worrying about clickers or niche devices,"

The university confirmed last year that a majority of its students had some type of mobile device. A survey of the student body showed that 94 percent have a laptop, 77 percent own a smart phone, and 17 percent have a tablet.

Echo360 purchased LectureTools in November 2012. LectureTools was developed by Perry Samson, a professor at the University of Michigan; the original company was founded in 2010. Samson continues teaching and is the CEO of the LectureTools team.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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