Tag Archives: development

New UF COE Teaching Tools: Turnitin, Kaltura, and CometChat

The use of open source software that is maintained and developed within the COE allows us to quickly add new tools for teaching and learning. For the past couple of years, we have been able to roll out new features nearly every term, and this fall is no different. We look forward to showing off some of the new tools we have recently implemented and, as always, welcome and appreciate your input.

red and gray Turnitin logo

Turnitin Plagiarism Detector

Turnitin is the leading academic plagiarism detector, utilized by teachers and students to avoid plagiarism and ensure academic integrity. Now you can use Turnitin in your online or blended course, without you or your students ever needing to leave the course site. As a teacher, you can add a “Turnitin assignment” to your course, and student submissions will automatically pass through Turnitin’s filters, where they will be checked against other published works as well as other submissions within the course for authenticity.

All of the features of the normal Turnitin system are available, but you and your students won’t have to manage another password, or go to a different site to grade or submit online assignments. The grades for Turnitin Assignments will show up by default in the Moodle grade book, and you can even add feedback on submissions right on the submitted document.

For more details on how to use Turnitin in your online or blended course, feel free to download the complete documentation, or contact us at onlinesupport@coe.ufl.edu.

Kaltura Video IntegrationKaltura "creating together" logo

Kaltura is a difficult product to describe, because it does so many things. We have used Kaltura for almost 2 years now to distribute video content for the COE, but we have recently integrated it with Moodle. Now you can quickly and easily add video resources to your online or blended courses, without leaving your course.

You can greatly enhance your presence in online courses by capturing video directly into your course. To do so, simply ‘Turn editing on,’ and click ‘Add a resource…Video’. This will bring up options to either upload a video from your computer, or capture directly from your webcam. You can even allow students to add videos as assignment submissions using the ‘Video’ assignment type.

For more details on how to incorporate videos into your online or blended course, feel free to contact us at onlinesupport@coe.ufl.edu.

CometChat window

CometChat Real-Time Communication

CometChat has been available on our Community site for a few months now. We’re excited that it will also be available in Moodle starting this fall. With CometChat, you and your students can type chat, video chat, and even share documents and files without ever having to leave Purlieu.

On the Community side, anyone you add as a “friend” will show up in the blue bar at the bottom of the screen while you are blogging or sharing bookmarks. On the Courses side, anyone who shares a current course with you or your students will be available to chat whenever they come online. You can even start a “Chatroom” and invite students to join you to collaborate on a document or discuss an assignment. Think of it like a really simplified version of Elluminate that is available anytime.

For more details on how to use CometChat, feel free to contact us at onlinesupport@coe.ufl.edu.

Our new education.ufl.edu, according to Google Analytics

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a website redesign for the UF College of Education. We’re pretty proud of the results from the front-end, subjective perspective. But – more importantly – we’re happy with what Google Analytics tells us about traffic to the site.

We have been excited by a lot of the data we have pulled during and since the web redesign process. The most recent fun things I have noticed is the striking difference between traffic to our site since the redesign. For example, the following table represents traffic to the site based on the time periods listed in the top row. The periods represent 13 months prior to the the website redesign, and the time since the new site was launched, respectively.

Time Period January 1, 2010 – January 31, 2011 February 1, 2011 – February 28, 2011
Average daily visits 371.2 visits/day 1333.1 visits/day
Average time on the site 00:01:35
Average unique page views 1.44 pages/visit 4.79 pages/visit
Most visits in a single day 695 (Wednesday, January 6, 2010) 2,362 (Tuesday, February 1, 2011)
Fewest visits in a single day 116 (Saturday, December 25, 2010) 687 (Saturday, February 19, 2011)
Percentage of visitors who arrived through search engines 14.3% 35.4%
Percentage of visitors from Gainesville, FL 51.0% 33.1%

CUNY Academic Commons

Back in June 2009 at the Sloan Emerging Technology Conference in semi-sunny SanFran, I got to see a presentation by Dr. George Otte, University Director of Academic Technology for CUNY. He talked about the Academic Commons at CUNY as a digital hub for the disparate faculty who are scattered around 23 colleges in the 5 Burroughs.

BuddyPress homepage

The site is developed around BuddyPress, and was just in its pre-launch stage in summer 2009. But now it seems like it has grown up in a very big way.


HTML5 and Self Reflection

Tonight I saw one of the more interesting applications of new technology I’ve come across in a while. This site, used to promote a new album by the band Arcade Fire, does something really interesting: it places you, the viewer, in the role of selecting a backdrop for the video. The video relies on the new capabilities afforded web and video designers by HTML5, to represent an intense experience of subjectively running through the streets of one’s youth.

Arcade Fire Cover Art

Having grown up on a farm with little development nearby, MY video was a little confounding. In my youth, 4307 S Goldenrod Road in Orlando, FL, was a rather blank slate for boredom and introspective fantasy. I longed for a neighbor nearer than 2 miles away. And now our old farm has been replaced by a maze of streets, small houses, and retention ponds.

Perhaps more so than any old home movie, this video…um…concept?, really made me think about where I was then and where I am now. If you feel like looking back in time, and forward into the future of web technology, go have a gander.

Search Engine Optimized

I just shed a little tear. After slowly convincing myself and others that one of the most tangible benefits of offering a ‘Community’ for learners in the UF COE was the fact we would eventually start showing up in searches, I finally got my confirmation.


How ’bout dem apples? I had to add the “uf coe” to get my stuff to bubble to the top. But I chalk that up to having a rather common name, shared with a rather unique senator and a petulant movie character.

This is just the beginning. The more tweaking we do to our applications, and the closer we adhere to Google’s “recommendations” for SEO, the better our return will be. According to the Goog, the community.education.ufl.edu domain currently shows up in 182 unique query strings.

How many hits does it take to get to the center of the Google bot?

Up and running…

apple and mirrorI’ve got to say, I’m pretty excited Purlieu has come together in such a way. While I still see plenty of room for improvement, I think online learning in the UF CoE has entered a new era.

I find myself lazily clicking around and being surprised that everything just works. I know that’s a bit preemptive, but it’s comforting for now.

Students and faculty have a whole new set of tools to apply to learning collaboratively. Now the pressure is on the Distance Learning office to help our learners help each other.

This probably should have been scrawled on my bathroom mirror, and not here. But c’est la vie.

SEO and Feedback Analytics

3-dimensional pie chart

We are beginning to crack at the SEO aspects of our new system. The rename of the distance.education to community.education sub-domain seems to have knocked our site down in the Google page rank scheme of things. We will need to do some heavy lifting to get it back in place.

Unfortunately, Kampyle no longer offers a free service to any new users. I was hoping to employ a system like Kampyle to glean feedback from users of Purlieu. We’ll have to re-think the feedback process; it might just be easier to write a little application that will aggregate user feedback in a database we can manage.