Free Team Creation and Evaluation Tool_CATME



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


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Using Apps to Navigate Purdue and the Surrounding Community

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?

By: Bethany Croton

Posted in Hiring, Musings on Technology, Tools, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Canvas Likes and Less-Than-Likes

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

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Captioning for Clarity: YouTube Videos

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.       

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Laptops and Lectures: Mismatch or Opportunity?

Recently, while browsing through my Twitter feed, (@HuckAtPurdue ), I saw an article linked called “Why you should take notes by hand — not on a laptop”. The article was from June 2014, written by Joseph Stromberg.   The article was referencing research published by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, entitled “The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard – Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking.”

Since I work as an Educational Technologist, and I see lecture halls filled with laptops, this was an alarming finding to read.  However, after reading both the article and the research, I think while I do not disagree with the findings, I do see it as an opportunity to guide more effective use of the technology.

The research summary states: “even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

The article used that research to state: “When done with pen and paper, that act involves active listening, trying to figure out what information is most important, and putting it down. When done on a laptop, it generally involves robotically taking in spoken words and converting them into typed text.”

I do not dispute either statement, but I do feel that the flaw does not lie in using technology, but in the lack of effective use of technology. Both documents dismiss or ignore the possibility that you could alter the methodology of note-taking with the laptops, and achieve similar results to the hand-written notes. The lack of performance seems more tightly linked to the notes being more verbatim and less constructed by the learner.

We need to use this data to do a better job instructing students on the effective use of the technology. If they are made aware of the impact of verbatim note-taking, they can make a conscious effort to make their notes more meaningful to them.  In fact, they could potentially use the audio recording capabilities of the laptop to handle any need they may feel for verbatim notes, and instead listen more intently and make notes only on important concepts and thoughts they fabricate themselves about the content.

All of this ignores the fact that research has shown that lectures themselves are a less effective method of instruction. But that is a whole topic in itself……

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IMPACT FLCs: What are they all about?

Recently, as a presenter at the 2014 AECT International Convention: Learning, Design, and Technology, I shared information about being a support staff member for the IMPACT (Instruction Matters Purdue Academic Course Transformation) program in the presentation: Designing Instruction to Create Systematic Change: A Designer’s Perspective1. IMPACT is a Purdue Provost’s initiative facilitated through the collaborative efforts of the Center of Instructional Excellence (CIE), Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), University Libraries, Discovery Learning Resource Center (DLRC), and Purdue Extended Campus (PEC). Using research findings on sound student-centered teaching and learning practices, over 100 faculty have redesigned their courses enhancing student learning, competence, and confidence. After 4 years, IMPACT has transformed over 90 courses changing the learning environment for over 25,000 students. Attendees were quite interested and impressed with the emerging results of Purdue University’s IMPACT program.2

One of the goals of IMPACT is to: form Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) as instruments for faculty exploration, collaboration, learning, development and contributions to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.3 FLCs began to emerge in higher education the late 1970’s and ‘80s as groups of faculty and professional staff explored strategies to improve instruction and student performance. In 2001 Miami University was awarded a FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) grant, Developing Faculty Learning Communities to Transform Campus Culture for Learning. Working with several other partner universities, the results of this FIPSE grant showed the structure of the FLC to be one that led to successful change.

The FIPSE project identified 30 components of an FLCP (Faculty Learning Community Programs). Evidence collected shows that FLCs encourage and support faculty investigation, implementation, assessment, and adoption of new (to them) approaches such as involving appropriate technology, active learning, inclusive classrooms, and revised curricula. In addition, FLCs provide for the developmental needs of important cohorts of faculty who have been affected by change, isolation, fragmentation, and stress. Evidence shows FLCPs enhance undergraduate learning by increasing faculty interest, practice, and expertise in teaching by providing safe, supportive, multidisciplinary communities in which faculty can investigate and take risks. Another project goal was to foster scholarly teaching and SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning). This was achieved by involving FLC participants in a sequence of developmental steps, starting with investigating the literature and culminating in a refereed presentation or publication.4

My experiences as support team member of IMPACT FLCs mirror the results of this FIPSE grant. Over the past four years the actual structure of the Support Team has taken several forms. In the current structure, the Support Team works with a small group of faculty, usually two to four. The Support Team is made up of members from the various units and consists of a “Primary” support team member, who acts as the main contact for the faculty member, and one or more “Secondary” support team members. All support team members participate with faculty in the semester long FLC sessions which serve as the foundation for the faculty development phase of the program. The support team members frequently assist in guiding the small group discussions that takes place during the weekly FLC sessions. These structured FLC sessions are designed to introduce faculty to research-based teaching and learning practices. Some of the topics covered during the FLC sessions include:

  • models utilized in the redesigned courses that include: blended learning models, supplemental approaches in which face-to-face courses are supplemented with online components, flipped models, and fully online models
  • pedagogies and principles, such as, strategies for incorporating group work, team based learning, problem-based learning, informed learning, Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (1987), the principles of backward course design,
  • and, exploration of possible topics for SoTL projects, including the development of a research question.

In the actual redesign process, the support team members provide a variety of roles dependent upon their area of expertise, for example: pedagogy, technology, information literacy, research and many other areas. Most groups of faculty and support team members also meet weekly or biweekly during this semester. Typically this semester is followed by a more individualized phase of the program, again usually taking place over a semester. This is frequently when faculty actually redesign their courses. The support team members remain engaged with the faculty members during the subsequent pilot phase, and often several semesters later while the course is continuing to evolve. In some cases, support team members become involved in SoTL projects with the faculty members.

This course redesign program is a true commitment for support team members and faculty alike. Many institutions have course redesign programs; however, Purdue University’s IMPACT program is a cross-disciplinary effort that touches courses in all academic colleges and schools throughout the university. This unique collaboration of support team members from a variety of units and small groups of faculty in the FLC contributes to the positive systematic changes in the learning environments that are occurring on the Purdue University campus.


1Designing Instruction to Create Systematic Change: A Designer’s Perspective

2IMPACT Report 2014

3IMPACT website

4Miami University FIPSE Grant

Posted in Course Redesign, IMPACT, Professional Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

My Favorite Three Research Related Apps

As a PhD candidate and an Educational Technologist for ITaP, I rely on technology to keep myself organized at work, to collect research materials for my dissertation, and to keep track of things I find for my personal life. Here are three of my favorite apps and why I found them to be so helpful.

1)  Evernote icon  Evernote: This free data management system assists in keeping track of three areas of my life: work, school, and home. Each area has its own folder within Evernote. A paid account gives you a defined large storage space. The free version recharges your account monthly with storage space.

Evernote is:

*Accessible on the platforms and devices I use, Mac/PC, and Android.

*Backed up on the cloud.

This application has:

* Tagging for organization

*The Web Clipper extension in Chrome, which allows you to turn a web page into a note.

*The ability to convert an email message into a note in Evernote.

*The ability to record and save audio in a note.

Additional Notes

I use the tags to keep myself organized while writing my dissertation. If I find a resource I need to remember when writing Chapter 2, I can tag it as such. I can also add a “Chapter 1” tag as well so I remember to mention it in my background. I can also give it a topic or author tag so when I want all resources related to any topic or person, with one click, I have them.

I have a notebook for work. I created tags for all projects, meetings, notes, tools, and events I need to follow. I can find them and add to them wherever I am, even if all I have is my phone and the Evernote app.

I have another notebook in Evernote for personal resources such as recipes and bookmarks. Entering recipes makes them accessible anywhere I am near technology. When I find a resource my daughter might enjoy, I tag it with her name.

Anything that can use sorting or quick referencing anywhere is a great fit for Evernote. A getting started guide is here:


Example of Evernote

2) Mendeley_Logo_Vertical  Mendeley: I have found immense success in using Mendeley as a tool to not only collect research related resources but to search files of the scholars who contribute to the Mendeley collection.

Mendeley allows you to:

*Connect to scholars with similar research interests.

*Join groups based on your research interests.

*Connect with colleagues and share resources.

*Have your journal collection accessible and backed-up on the cloud.

*Connect with your materials using the app.

*Organize your articles with tags.

*Monitor a folder on your desktop to import any journal you save right into the tool.

*Connect directly to Word with an embed feature.

Additional Notes

I have found I need to review what I import to Mendeley because it does not always collect the citation information accurately. Once I have verified for accuracy, the citation can be copied to your clipboard and imported into a document. Mendeley also is friendly to the “drag and dropped” file. You can drop files into the tool and drag citations out of the original Mendeley file.

Mendeley is a free web-based tool. The app is also free but you need to use the web-based tool to connect with scholars and interact with peers. Your files update every time you open the application.

Mendeley Online Example

Mendeley Online Example


3) easybib_twitterlogo EasyBib online is a fee-based tool when used on the web but the app for Android and iPad is free. I do not use the web-based part of this tool. The app is helpful when I find a resource such as a physical book I would like to remember later. Opening the app immediately opens your phone or tablets camera, prompting you to take a picture of the books bar code. It then looks up several possible matches, allowing you to select the correct choice. You can also look up books according to title. The application saves a list of all things you looked up on just that device, making it an accurate but temporary repository for books you want to find again. Citations can be saved in MLA, APA, or Chicago style. This one feature is all the free application does but it has proven to be extremely useful, quick, and easy to use, on several occasions. Since there is no cloud storage of your information, I suggest utilizing the citation as soon as possible.

EasyBib app example

EasyBib app example

If you know of additional apps useful for the busy graduate student/mom/Ed Tech at Purdue, please share them in the comments section.

By: Bethany Croton

For more research related apps: 25 Best Research Apps for iPad and Android

Posted in Mobile, Musings on Technology, Tools, Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Respondus Lockdown Browser

Cheating in school is a form of self-deception. We go to school to learn. We cheat ourselves when we coast on the efforts and scholarship of someone else. James E. Faust

In a recent meeting, faculty members and support consultants discussed the topic of plagiarism on examinations. As the discussion progressed, a faculty member from the mathematics department shared one of his experiences. He had given a take home examination which was mailed to students. In this particular case, some of international students enrolled in his course made a pact to cheat. Once the exam had been mailed, one of the members of this student group emailed the exam to a “math whiz” friend in their home country. The friend completed all of the problems on the exam and mailed the answers back to the group. The members of the student group “completed” and submitted their exams for grading. There was a glitch however. A disgruntled student, excluded from the group, came forward to tell of the professor of the incident. All of the students identified in this cheating incident failed the examination.

Cheating is not a new phenomenon on college campuses. Researchers have reported that a majority of college students have cheated over the course of their academic careers (Jones, Blankenship, & Hollier, 2013; Vandehey, Diekhoff, & LaBeff, 2007). When we turn our focus to cheating on examinations, we know that it is easier for faculty to monitor student behavior when they are present during the examination; watch the students, and have articulated exam policies, such as no books or notes, and observe the students. However, monitoring student behavior during an online examination is more of a challenge, due to the proximity between the faculty member and students, as well as the availability of Internet and other online resources (Jones, Blankenship, & Hollier, 2013).

Some faculty have the challenge of trying to deploy an exam in a very large lecture hall. Using paper or even Scantron answer sheets limit the test to questions and answers that can only be delivered on paper. They miss the immediate grading, question pools and multimedia questions possible when digital tools such as Blackboard are used to deploy tests.

One tool that Purdue University has implemented to curb the incidence of cheating on online examinations is Respondus Lockdown Browser (RLB). Respondus Lockdown Browser prevents students from printing, performing screen captures, or accessing web based resources when they take an exam.

Some of the benefits of Respondus Lockdown Browser include:

  • Forced Completion of Assessments:
    • Students cannot accidently (or intentionally) exit the exam.
  • Leveling the playing field:
    • By preventing students from using Internet resources and applications during the exam; ensuring that all students have an equal chance to be successful on the exam.
  • Hacker Tested
    • Respondus team continually monitors/addresses security issues as they arise.

A helpful addition some have used is Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor. The benefits of adding the Monitor addition allow students to:

  • Test remotely while still being secure.
  • Use the computers web cam to record the student taking the test.
  •  View thumbnail shots of each student taking the test.


  • Instructors can require students present their student ID to confirm the person taking the test is the person enrolled in the course.
  •  Ask students to perform an environment test where they record the entire surrounding area.

Implementing Respondus Lockdown Browser





For more information regarding product use, training, and support, please visit Respondus LockDown Browser information page.


Jones, I.S., Blankenship, D., & Hollier, G. (2013). Am I cheating? An analysis of online students’ perceptions of their behaviors and attitudes. Psychology Research, 3(5), 261-269.

King, C., Guyette, R., Piotrowski, C. (2009). Online exams and cheating: An empirical analysis of business students’s views. Journal of Educators Online, 6(1).

Vandehey, M., Diekhoff, G., & LaBeff, E. (2007). College cheating: A twenty-year follow-up and the addition of an honor code. Journal of College Student Development, 48(4), 468-480.

Posted in Blackboard Learn, Musings on Technology, Tools | Leave a comment