Documentation:Guide to Teaching for New Faculty at UBC/Resource 10: Instructional Technology at UBC

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A variety of instructional and information technologies are available at UBC that may assist you in your teaching. The most important step in selecting educational technology is clearly defining your instructional goals. It is important to select technology that supports your instructional goals and not the reverse. Selecting technologies then trying to figure out how to use them in your course often leads to poor outcomes.

Campus Wide Login

UBC has a centralized authentication system so that you only need one ID to access multiple systems (Vista, Faculty Service Centre, HR, Finance, Library, and others). You can set-up your own CWL at (Faculty need an employee number and students need their student number to complete the application).

Faculty Service Centre

The Faculty Service Centre (FSC) lets instructors view current class lists, upload marks at semester end and send emails to either individual students or the whole class.

You can download a composite photograph of all your students in your class using the Faculty Service Centre (FSC). It’s a great way to start to recognize a few faces, and really start to connect with yours students.

Course Management System (Vista)

UBC has a central web-based course management system. We are currently using Blackboard Vista (formerly WebCT Vista). A course management system allows you to easily post course documents, communicate with your students in a variety of ways, create online quizzes and assignment dropboxes, and incorporate many other online tools in your course. A faculty member can request a Vista course shell and request that students be allowed access to the course shell. The students are allowed access to the course by a Vista administrator establishing a connection to the Student Information System. This ensures that the student list in Vista is always up to date. The process for making Vista service requests varies from Faculty to Faculty. Ask a colleague or your department head about the process in your particular area. The Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) offers a wide range of Vista training opportunities. To find out more about eLearning and training opportunities visit and

Classroom Response Systems (iClickers)

Clickers are wireless personal response systems that can be used in a classroom to anonymously and rapidly collect an answer to a question from every student; an answer for which they are individually accountable. This allows rapid reliable feedback to both the instructor and the students, even in large classrooms. Clickers are not a magic bullet – they are not necessarily useful as an end in themselves. They become useful when the instructor has a clear idea as to what they want to achieve with them, and the questions are designed to improve student engagement, studentstudent interaction (on-topic), and instructor-student interaction. (CWSEI Website).

Clickers are purchased by the students at the UBC bookstore, and can be used in multiple courses and across multiple years. Students can sell the used clickers back to the bookstore when they leave UBC.

Students register their clicker in Blackboard Vista. This will link a particular clicker with a particular student number, so you can view results by student number.

Blogs and Wiki’s

Blogs and Wikis let you and your student easily build and maintain private or community websites. Blogs and wikis have been applied in hundreds of instances for a wide array of teaching and learning applications. Professors use blogs to make big classes feel smaller by sharing resources and news, and allow students a quick means of offering feedback or questions. Course blogs give students a unique, personalized platform for finding their own voice and sharing it. (UBC Blogs)

Turn-It-In Anti-plagiarism Software

TurnItIn is a web service that checks for the originality by comparing it to the TurnItIn database of material. Students upload the text of their assignment (pdf, doc, rtf, txt, xls) to TurnItIn or can submit assignments via Vista if instructors have added and configured the Turnitin Vista PowerLink. The software scans the assignment and reports on originality (on a scale from 1 to 5). Using a variety of algorithms, the program compares the assignment to material on the web and in its database of student reports. (It will detect copying even if a student replaces up to 50% of the words in a paragraph). Instances of copying are flagged in a report. More extensive reports for assignments with low originality scores can then be studied in more detail, including the sources of any text that is matched in the student’s assignment. Faculty members decide, with help from the report, whether this is or is not a case of plagiarism. UBC has subscribed to Turnitin’s service ( since 2001. For more information, see Turnitin at UBC UBC policy clearly gives the instructor the right to use TurnItIn.

Note: Due to Turnitin storing personal information in the United States, the WebCT Vista plug-in will remain turned off in accordance with the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Read More

If your Faculty has an Instructional Support Unit, it should be your first stop for finding out more about the technologies available at UBC and how to incorporate them in your teaching.

A number of other technologies are available to support your teaching at UBC, including anti-plagiarism software, clickers, blogs, wiki’s and webcasting. For more information on these and others, visit