Free Team Creation and Evaluation Tool_CATME

By in Software, Tools on .



CATME( is a system of secure, web-based tools that enable instructors to implement best practices in managing student teams. It has two modules. First, CATME Team-Maker is designed for automating the assignment of students to teams to meet weighted criteria set by the instructor. Second, CATME Peer Evaluation is designed for the creation, administration,  and evaluation of student self- and peer-evaluations using a behaviorally-anchored rating scale.

The CATME project began in 2003 with the development of an instrument for self and peer evaluation called the Comprehensive Assessment of Team Member Effectiveness.  Initially, CATME was NSF funded and  the result of the collaborative efforts of researchers from multiple higher education institutions. Professor Matthew Ohland in Engineering Education at Purdue University was the Principal Investigator.

It is a free tool and the user base has been up to 300,000 students of 6,000 faculty/staff at 1100 institutions in 61 countries. There are around 100 faculty on campus who have signed up for instructor accounts. For more information about CATME, please request a consultation at


Using Apps to Navigate Purdue and the Surrounding Community

By in Hiring, Musings on Technology, Tools, Uncategorized on .

When I moved to Indiana almost two years ago, I was overwhelmed trying to find my way around until I came across some helpful digital apps. There are many official and unofficial apps related to Purdue University but I am going to share the ones that worked best for me in the operating systems I use.

Purdue Maps appPurdue maps shot

The most helpful was Purdue Maps, available free on Android. While other apps have maps, what made this one useful is this is all it does. One tap and it shows me right where I am on campus. After typing in where I need to go, it shows me my destination with a dot. All I have to do is follow the map to match the dots.  I still use this app nearly two years later.

Purdue walkPurdue walk shot

The other issue you run into as someone new to campus is not knowing how long it takes to go from one part of campus to another. Purdue Walk, free on Android, assisted with this. You tell it your starting and ending points and it tells you how long it takes to get there at various walking speeds. When I have needed to calculate what time I need to leave to make an appointment or if I need to drive to make it over walking, this app has been extremely helpful.

YalpYelp screen shot

Learning my way around West Lafayette and Lafayette became much easier after utilizing Yelp (free for both Android and IPad). If you haven’t heard of Yelp, it is an app that reviews businesses and includes maps to find them. You get to hear from others who have been there and discover which businesses have received good reviews. It also knows where you are and can tell you what businesses are close to you and related to what you need, such as car repair or a grocery store. Yelp also allows you to look businesses up ahead of time, and bookmark them to find them more easily when you need them.

Starbucksstarbucks screen shot

I must also include the very important Starbucks app (free on Android and Ipad) which is perfect when you only have your phone and really need coffee, tea, or a snack. The app works by having you pay ahead and it can subtract your purchase from your account. It also has maps to nearby Starbucks and will inform you if they are currently open.

What apps have you found to be helpful for those new to Purdue?

Canvas Likes and Less-Than-Likes


By in Musings on Technology on .

In Fall 2014, Purdue started a pilot of the Canvas LMS to assess the usability of Canvas at Purdue University. With Purdue’s contract with Blackboard expiring in September of 2017, it is important to look at alternatives to see if Purdue is best served by Blackboard, or if a different learning management system would be better for faculty and students.

When it comes to Canvas, I’ve considered the things I like, and the things I’m not quite a fan of. Let’s start off with the three things I really like about Canvas:

  • Customizable Notifications
    One of the terrific options in Canvas is that users can customize how they are notified of course changes, announcements, and other alerts. By default, all users have their Purdue email address listed for notifications. Canvas allows for users to add additional email accounts, as well as their cell phone numbers for SMS messages. Notifications can also be sent to a user’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.Additionally, when users are notified of alerts can be changed. A user can be alerted to a change when it happens, once daily, or even weekly. Notifications can be turned off, too. By allowing faculty and students to customize how and when they are notified of course changes, in-course communication can become more effective.
  • Uploading Files
    Adding files to a Canvas course is simple – click on a file on your computer, and drag it into Canvas. Need three files? Highlight all three files on your computer, and drag them all into Canvas. Canvas features a file manager that can also allow for the creation of folders for better organization of files. Instructors may also lock files to limit access to them and course TA’s, which is useful if the course must include private files (such as homework solutions).
  • Canvas Mobile Application
    For me, this is a big deal. First, the Canvas Mobile Application while still developing, has a number of features that I think users will find very useful immediately. The mobile application allows for sending messages to instructors and students, as well as checking grades and viewing all course notifications sorted by date. Also, the mobile application is free and is available for iOS and Android. Plus, students can submit assignments through the mobile app!

So, I’ve listed the things I like. Here’s the three things that I’ve found that I’m not thrilled about just yet…

  • Test and Quiz Creation
    This is something where Canvas does not necessarily have an advantage over Blackboard, unless you’re creating equations (where Canvas does have an advantage). Creating a test or a quiz in Canvas is just as complicated as it is in Blackboard. Also, one must be careful to not scramble answer options if answers such as “all of the above” or “A and B only” are used in questions. However, adding images and multimedia to question answer options is fairly simple in comparison to Blackboard. Overall, it’s still a time-consuming process to build a quiz in Canvas.
  • Limited Course Menu Alteration Options
    Canvas has designed its course menu to where there is not a lot of customization that can be done with the menu itself. Sure, menu items can be removed or made unavailable to students, but for arranging content, instructors cannot add new content areas like Blackboard. Canvas provides a Modules area, where content can be arranged by week, unit, chapter, and more. But there can only be one Modules area, not more, and the names of the links cannot be altered. For instructors who like to place a link to individual content areas set up by week or objective, this could be a concern.
  • Automatic Updates
    Instructure updates Canvas usually once every three weeks with anything from bug fixes to the addition of new options. While for bug fixes this is welcome, when it comes to look and feel alterations, should things really change during a semester? If look, feel, and feature updates could be delayed on an institution-by-institution basis this wouldn’t be a concern.

So, that are some of my likes and concerns about Canvas. If you would like more information about the Canvas pilot, visit our Canvas Pilot Site at Faculty members who would like to try out Canvas are invited to request a test account by emailing

Brett Creech
Educational Technologist

Captioning for Clarity: YouTube Videos


By and in Accessibility on .

Have you ever missed dialogue in a movie because the background noise was too loud? Perhaps the actor had a heavy accent. Maybe you were watching a movie presented in a language that is not your primary language.

Even though my hearing is fine and English is my primary language, I use closed captioning every time it is available. As a visual learner, closed captioning helps me to process what I’m hearing and retain information better. While this is helpful for watching television shows and movies, it is vital for educational videos for many reasons.  (For further information about general accessibility issues and why they need to be addressed, watch this great video: Accessibility Issues and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).) Although accessibility encompasses a good deal more than captioning video, today’s blog will focus solely on captioning YouTube videos.

There are two types of captioning: open and closed. Open captioning contains text that is always on, whereas closed captioning includes text that can be turned off or on. Either way, the text should always be synchronized with the video and should include information about additional sounds included in the original video (e.g. laughing, singing, door slamming, etc.).

Some people prefer to read video text as a document. While this may be convenient for some, it is important to note that the visual cues are lost when the text is separated from video. This is why it is vital to synchronize captioning with video. I’ve taken several courses in Coursera, and each of them has offered both synchronized closed captioning along with a text document containing the transcript. I would watch the closed captioned video, and I would use the transcript to scan for specific information later so I did not have to watch the entire video again. I appreciated having multiple options for accessing the information.

There are several ways to add captioning to your YouTube videos. If the audio is very clear, you could try transcribing the video using YouTube’s speech recognition technology; however, be warned that this is often so far off it’s not worth the time. For short videos or videos with minimal dialog, I prefer to simply type in the text myself.



How to add closed captioning to your YouTube video:


  1. After uploading your video, click the edit button.


edit button


  1. Click on “Subtitles and CC.”



  1. Click “English automatic” if you’d like to use the speech recognition system, but be warned that it may be so far off it won’t be of much help. Watch your video to ensure that the text is synchronized with the video. Revise the text within the text boxes on the right as needed. Click “Publish.”


If “English automatic” is not available, or you want to start from scratch…


  1. Click on “Add new subtitles or CC” and choose English.



  1. Choose “Transcribe and set timings.”



  1. Click to enable the “Pause video while typing.” The video will stop when you type and continue when you stop typing.



  1. Click the start button on the video to review the audio, and start typing. Don’t forget to add text describing sounds, like [applause] or [thunder].


  1. After you hit enter, click on “set timings” then “English” to see the text you just typed. Watch your video to ensure that the text is synchronized with the video.  Revise the text within the text boxes on the right as needed. Click “Publish.”


  1. Click on the arrow to get back to Video Manager and edit your next video.




For additional information on captioning your YouTube video:

For additional information on creating instructional videos:


Providing a transcript


I mentioned earlier that some people prefer to have a transcript available to read while watching an instructional video.  Averting the eyes from video to transcript is not recommended by learning specialists because switching from task to task results in lower productivity1 and some evidence suggests that task switching may weaken cognitive ability.2  Closed captioning is a better option because the text is embedded in the video and is synchronized with the video to reinforce video cues. However, if you are already going to go through the trouble of creating the text for your educational YouTube video, it might be worthwhile to save the text as a document, remove the timing information, and create a searchable document in addition to the closed captioning.


  1. Click on the actions button.



  1. Save the file as .srt. This is the most common file extension for closed captioning and can be opened in Wordpad. (Note: .vtt and .sbv can also be opened in Wordpad)


  1. Provide the transcript in a separate file or as part of the comments section under your YouTube video.




1 Multitasking: Switching costs.

2 Multitasking: The Cognitive Costs of Multitasking.