What’s an Assistive Technologist?

What’s an Assistive Technologist?

To find out the answer to this question and learn a bit about what Langara’s Assistive Technologist Team has been working on, check out the accompanying video. 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how the Assistive Technologist can support you and your students, please email If you would like to demo the course, you can self-register from the Brightspace homepage. 

Fostering Learner Engagement with ePortfolios

Fostering Learner Engagement with ePortfolios

EdTech is pleased to welcome Dr. Gail Ring and Dr. Melissa Shaquid Pirie Cross to campus to share their expertise on ePortfolios on November 21st from 11:00-12:00 (in person and online).

Registration Information

Here’s what they’ve shared about their presentation:

True learning ePortfolios provide students with multiple opportunities to revisit and reconsider the evidence of their learning experiences and present that learning to an external audience. As ePortfolio practitioners and evangelists, we have long believed in the power of ePortfolios to facilitate student learning, agency and engagement. We also understand that the practices of folio thinking, and the benefits that can be achieved by those practices, often requires a pedagogical shift from both faculty and students.

In this presentation we will share stories that demonstrate how portfolios can contribute a more learner-centered, process-oriented approach to teaching and learning supporting:

  • Reflection by giving students an opportunity to pause and reflect on their accomplishments, which often reveals new learning that can contribute to the development of their professional and digital identities.
  • Integrative learning over time, across contexts, and with intention (Patton and Reynolds, 2014) through Portfolio development and folio thinking practices.
  • Engagement of faculty in professional development applications and uses that lead to the integration of portfolios into instruction and assessment throughout the curriculum.

The result of these efforts include reflective, evidence-rich portfolios that have future value for both students and the university to showcase learning successes throughout/across the learning journey.

We will share a variety of examples that encompass everything from preparation for university to preparation for career. The examples presented will demonstrate holistic learning and lifelong folio participation practices.


Dr. Gail Ring, Director of Service and Partnerships for PebblePad, North America

Gail has had an extensive career in higher education. In addition to her work as an educator, she has founded and directed a number of teaching and learning centers. Formerly, she was the Director, Portfolio Program, Clemson University. For more information about Dr. Ring, including her research and publications, please see her professional portfolio.

Dr. Melissa Shaquid Pirie Cross, Implementation Specialist for PebblePad, North America

In addition to being an educator, Melissa has had roles as a public relations and retention specialist, a coordinator of dual enrollment programs, a director of student and academic services, and a faculty training and development coordinator in several community college and public universities. She has taught with portfolios extensively at Portland State University and is passionate about sharing her expertise with folio pedagogy.

Captions are now automatic on all new Kaltura media

New media content added to Kaltura MediaSpace will be automatically captioned, whether uploaded via the Langara MediaSpace website at, or via My Tools > My Media in Brightspace. These captions are machine-generated and should be available within 30 minutes of uploading your file. All media, including screen recordings, file uploads, web recordings, and most YouTube imports, will have captions added when uploaded to Kaltura. These are closed captions that can be deactivated by the media owner and when available, toggled on and off by the viewer. Existing media—uploaded before October 18th, 2022—will not have captions automatically added but you can request captions for this media.

Keep in mind, machine-generated captions are only 85% accurate and will not meet the requirements of students with closed captioning accommodations. Students requiring an accommodation will contact Accessibility Services, who will inform you directly. If you have a student that requires closed captions, edit your captions to ensure they are 99% accurate or contact Langara’s Assistive Technologist to request assistance with human-edited closed captions. 

We developed a Closed Captions slideshow (below) to provide step-by-step instructions for all you need to know about captioning your media in Kaltura MediaSpace/My Media.

five cartoon figures underneath a cloud that reads Kaltura MediaSpace

De-clutter your Kaltura media

Spark joy in your life and win a prize

You may have heard of internationally-renowned tidying consultant Marie Kondo and her trademark KonMari method. The method is based on the idea that we could all benefit from a radical de-cluttering of our home and work spaces; get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy in our lives or isn’t meaningful to us in some way. Who doesn’t like a good spring clean of their stuff but what has any of this got to do with Kaltura you might ask?

Well, digital de-cluttering seems to be all the rage these days. From deleting unused online accounts to tidying up documents and folders on computer hard drives, we are being urged to de-clutter our digital life in order to gain some control back and create more mental spaces that are meaningful to us. Furthermore, there is usually a cost (both environmental and financial) associated with storing digital files. Although the price of physical storage (hard drives and SSDs) has come down in recent years, cloud storage costs remain relatively high, particularly when it comes to large files such as video. And it is here that we in EdTech need your help.

What is Kaltura?

For those who don’t know, the platform we use to store and share video and audio files is called Kaltura. You can access the platform directly or share media files with your students via an integration in your Brightspace courses called My Media. For the past few years we have been part of a ‘shared service’ of BC post-secondary institutions who have stored Kaltura media at UBC without any extra costs for storage and bandwidth. This agreement recently came to an end and we now pay extra for storage and bandwidth over a set amount.

Why de-clutter my Kaltura Media?

Because it will spark joy in your life! Hopefully. What’s certain is that it will save us a substantial amount of money if we can cut down the number of large video/audio files currently stored on Kaltura’s servers.

How do I do it?

Simples! We’ve made a video to show you how to delete your Kaltura media. Before deleting though, make sure you have an archive back-up of your original video/audio file! You can download the original from Kaltura or if you already have the original you can store it on an internal or removable hard drive or on one of the numerous cloud services available.

What’s in it for me?

Other than the joy it will spark in your life and the kudos that you will earn from EdTech? Prizes! After de-cluttering your Kaltura media send an email to with the subject Kaltura de-clutter and the number of videos/audio files you have deleted. We’ll enter you into a draw to win some great prizes including Amazon/Apple/Google gift cards and a copy of Marie Kondo’s book Joy at Work: Organizing your professional life. Closing date is Wednesday November 30.

Can you help me?

We can’t de-clutter your media for you but if you have any questions just ping an email to or jump into our Zoom virtual support drop-in (8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. M-F). You can also read our Retention Policy for Kaltura media.

Showcasing Innovative Teaching

Join us on December 8, 10 am – 12:30 pm, in C408, and be inspired! The Langara Educational Technology Instructor Gathering brings together educators to showcase their innovative work and foster dialogue and cross-college idea-sharing.

For the main event, instructors will share their teaching ideas using educational technology. Listen to talks about innovative ways to use Brightspace discussions for summative assessments, podcasting, strategies to ensure academic integrity in Brightspace quizzes, ungrading, accessibility, and more! These talks will be followed by a Q&A and a tour of EdTech’s Studio and the newly upgraded lecture theatre in A130. Refreshments and snacks will be served.

Bring a colleague to be eligible to win a draw prize. (Maximum capacity 30)

Register now to save your spot and remember to register your plus-one: Registration Link to the Instructor Gathering.

PebblePad Brief: Activity Logs

Langara’s pilot of the ePortfolio learning platform, PebblePad, is now in its second year. This is the third in a series highlighting some of the platform’s features. Whether you’re already using PebblePad or considering using it at some point in the future, our hope is that the PebblePad Brief series extends your understanding of the platform’s capabilities.

This month’s “Brief” is going to focus on activity logs. Whether you’re asking students to track how many minutes or hours they spend on a task, or you have developed a “point” system based on your own criteria to log an activity, this can all be digitized and linked to a PebblePad workbook. In addition, instructors can run reports to get a snapshot of how the entire class is progressing towards their targets.

Please watch the video for an example of how this works, or read the article below.

Activity logs can be used when you want a student to document how many times they’ve engaged in an activity, or how much time they’ve spent on the activity.

Time Sheets

Let’s look at an example of how this works. In a practicum, a student may have to complete a required number of hours in their placement… let’s say 120 hours.

In their practicum workbook, the student goes to a page called “Activity Log”. Here they find a link to their timesheet.

They click on the link and enter their time:

When they go back to the workbook it tells them how many hours are now left to complete. Since they should be in the workbook regularly doing other course-related tasks, this makes it very easy for the student to keep track of their hours.

These types of workbooks are usually shared with the instructor for feedback and assessment. That being the case, it’s easy for the instructor to see whether the student is on track to complete their hours. There’s a demonstration of how instructors can monitor activity logs in the video above.

Feedback on timesheets has been positive from both students and instructors who have used them in PebblePad. It’s easy for students to track their hours right where they’re completing the work for the course, and it’s easy for instructors to check on the students’ progress towards the goal.

If you have questions about PebblePad or any other learning technology that EdTech supports, we can be contacted at

Grade Exemptions in Brightspace


Grade Exemptions in Brightspace 
Instructors now have a tool within Brightspace where they can clearly indicate why a student does not have a score for a grade item or an activity.  There are several reasons why a student may have a blank grade or a zero (0) which include an assignment not submitted, the instructor has not graded the item, or the student has failed the assignment.  Providing an exemption to your student for a grade item gives the instructor some flexibility to accommodate many different types of circumstances (I.e., illness, accommodation requirements, etc.). 

Instructors can provide exemptions to all the different types of grade items (I.e., numeric grades, selection box, pass / fail, etc.) however exemptions can’t be given to final calculated grades or final adjusted grades. 

Setting an exemption for a student: 
Exemptions can be set from several different content items, including a quiz, an activity, or a topic but also can be set directly from a grade item. 

Watch the following video for an overview of how to create a grade exemption or see the step-by-step process below: 

Set up Grade Exemptions for your Students: 
To set an exemption for a student from the Gradebook:  

  1. Once logged into your course, navigate to My Tools and Grades 
  2. Click on the context menu of the relevant grade item  
  3. Select Enter Grades from the drop-down menu 
  4. Click the checkbox next to the name of student you wish to exempt, then click Exempt and when you are ready, click Save and Close. 

You should now see the word “Exempt” under the Scheme heading in the table. It is also possible to set up multiple exemptions for your student 
To set an exemption for a student from the Content area: 

  1. In Content, on the context menu of the activity, select Edit Properties In-Place. 
  2. Click Add dates and restrictions…. 
  3. Under Exemptions, click Manage Exemption.
  4. Search for and select the students you want to exempt from the activity. 
  5. Click Exempt. 
  6. Click X to exit the Manage Exemptions page. 
  7. Click Update to save the restrictions. 

Note: When activities are exempted, any associated release conditions on these exempted activities must still be met. 

What’s New in Brightspace

Brightspace Updates 

  • Instructors who teach several courses can save time by copying assignment folders to other courses.  From your assignment folder, use the context menu to copy your assignment to another course. 

Copy Assignment to Other Courses

  • Access new shortcuts to undo and redo PDF annotations on evaluations.  Previously, the only way to remove PDF annotations in Assignments was to use the eraser tool or delete the selection.  Now, an undo / redo button has been added for PDF annotations when evaluating in Assignments. 


  • Pronouns can now be viewed from the Classlist and by hovering over a learner’s name or profile in the submission views within the assignment area.
  • If you have students in your course with Extended Time on Exams within their accommodation letter, you may now Edit Accommodations directly from your Classlist.  Using the context menu for the student with the Extended Time allotment, choose Edit Accommodations.  From there, you can adjust the timing to suit the accommodation letter.



  • “Disable Right Click” will be retired as of August 2022 within the quizzes area of Brightspace courses.  As the web has developed and browsers have become more secure, browsers have reduced the ability for web sites to control end-user behaviour.  Students are now able to install extensions such as “Allow Right Click” or use the browser developer console to skirt any restrictions, so “Disable Right Click” feature in Brightspace gives you a false sense of security.  
  • Save time and prevent data loss with the Restore Deleted Quizzes functionality.  This feature adds a new option in quizzes that allows instructors to restore deleted quizzes.  This option appears in the More Actions menu in the Quizzes tool.



In her latest book, Remembering and Forgetting in the Age of Technology, Dr. Michelle D. Miller examines the role of memory and attention in how we teach and learn, and the impacts our devices have in our classrooms. The book will be discussed as part of a joint EdTech & TCDC book club.
Read a short excerpt of the book below and join in the weekly conversation this fall:
Bloom’s system is unapologetically hierarchical, which is why it’s often illustrated with a pyramid. And in this hierarchy of teaching and learning objectives, memory is squarely on the bottom. Whenever I look at Bloom’s Taxonomy, I’m reminded of the U.S. government’s food pyramid, where the bottom layer – remembering – corresponds to something like white flour, and the rest – synthesizing, evaluating, creating – lives up in the land of filet mignon, raw organic kale, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. The implication here is clear – excellent teachers don’t spend their time in the bargain basement of learning, but concentrate instead on the good stuff up at the top.
That’s the first objection to emphasizing memory in our teaching. Here’s the other, more modern one: Now that we have so much information available on the internet, and can access so much of it any time, any place, it’s simply not necessary to commit things to our own individual memories. In this way, expecting students to be able to recall facts is about as up-to-date as the skills of the roving bards of ancient times, the fellows whose stock in trade was the ability to reel off memorized epic sagas to illiterate audiences in the time before books (and Netflix).
David Pogue sums up this idea in a piece titled “Smartphones Mean You Will No Longer Have to Memorize Facts,” speculating that “maybe we’ll soon conclude that memorizing facts is no longer part of the modern student’s task. 

The weekly online (Zoom) book club begins Tuesday, Sept. 20 (4:30-5:30pm) and runs until Oct. 25. Sign-up for the EdTech & TCDC Fall 2022 Book Club here.

PebblePad Brief: Feedback Options

Langara’s pilot of the ePortfolio learning platform, PebblePad, is now in its second year. This is the second in a series highlighting some of the platform’s features. Whether you’re already using PebblePad or considering using it at some point in the future, our hope is that the PebblePad Brief series extends your understanding of the platform’s capabilities.
This month’s “Brief” is going to focus on the variety of feedback options available within PebblePad, and how they can benefit students and instructors. Whether you’re looking for a tool to give formative or summative feedback, PebblePad has multiple options.

Feedback in Brightspace Versus PebblePad:

PebblePad functions differently than Brightspace when it comes to assignments. In Brightspace, students usually submit a file by a due date and the instructor has no way of giving formative feedback on the developing assignment unless they ask students to submit a draft of their work. PebblePad, on the other hand, doesn’t work with file submissions but with shared links. If an assignment is set up for auto-submission, the instructor is able to see the students’ work in real time as soon as they start it. This enables instructors to give formative feedback any time prior to a due date, as well as summative assessment after a due date. Further, unlike Brightspace, students have access to the feedback after their course finishes and even after they graduate.

Feedback Options:

Simple Comments:

  • The simplest way to give feedback in PebblePad is through general comments. To use the comment feature, a student shares a link with someone else. When that person clicks on the link, there’s a comment icon on to the top-right which can be used to by instructors, mentors, or peers to provide feedback. The student can reply to the comments so feedback is potentially dialogic.
Adding Comments Via the Comment Icon


Feedback Comments:

  • By using the tools in the formal assessment part of the platform called ATLAS, there are extended options. Here we can to a specific answer, a page, or the entire assignment. If an instructor will be using the same comments for many students, feedback statements can be created that will be available when marking. Any comments added via ATLAS have the advantage that they are only visible to the student and won’t be seen by anyone they share their work with. When assessing in ATLAS, instructors have the option to release feedback as it’s added, or hold all feedback for later release so that the whole class receives it at the same time.
Adding Block Feedback Comments via ATLAS

 Assessor Fields:

  • When creating scaffolded learning activities for students, assessor fields can be inserted right into body of the assignment. It’s possible to assign “blocks” or sections to either the students or the instructor to complete. Instructors can be assigned text fields, drop-downs, radio buttons, checkboxes, and rubrics that only they can complete (the student will see them but not be able to complete them). These fields are easy for instructors to find when they’re assessing, and easy for the student to see when they’re looking for feedback. This type of feedback will always be visible so is generally used for activities to develop knowledge or skills, rather than assignments that might be used as a showcase in future.
Adding Feedback via Assessor Fields

Feedback Templates:

  • These are very similar to rubrics in Brightspace, and can be created and used to assess students’ work in ATLAS. They can include any or all of: clickable rubric components, comment fields, radio buttons, drop-downs, and checkboxes. Because this feedback will only be visible to the student, this is a better option to use with assignments that the student might want to use as a showcase to show to others.
Providing Feedback via Feedback Templates


  • Assignments can also be graded in ATLAS. Grading is flexible as instructors can enter percentages, letter grades, or even pass/fail wording such as “meets expectations/does not meet expectations”. Although PebblePad is not currently integrated with Brightspace, it is possible to get a CSV file of all grades and easily transfer them to a gradebook.
    Adding Grades

Feedback Longevity:

  • We all know that it takes time and effort to provide meaningful feedback to learners. One of the advantages of using PebblePad is that the students have access to feedback long after the course ends and even after they graduate as students can get an alumni account. This will help them make meaningful connections between assignments, between courses, and between studies and career. Feedback can be fed forward.

If you have questions about PebblePad or any other learning technology that EdTech supports, we can be contacted at