New Extended Reality (XR) capabilities

This Fall, CAEN will introduce Extended Reality (XR) tools for student, faculty and staff use. At the Duderstadt Center Visualization Lab, and other select classrooms and CAEN labs, XR capable hardware is being installed to allow exploration of the technology.

XR standards, software environments, and integration into courses are still emerging. Individual students and student project teams are encouraged to explore XR features and capabilities in the following software packages:

  • Unreal Engine, Unity, and 3ds Max Interactive for visualization, content and game creation
  • Siemens STAR-CCM+ and NX for fluid simulation and product design
  • PTC Creo for product design and visualization using Augmented Reality on personal devices
  • Windows Mixed Reality

In addition, students can now check out HTC Vive Pro Wireless, HP Reverb, or Oculus Quest headsets from the Duderstadt Center library. Students can also bring their own XR capable headsets and hardware.

 


Tips for the layout of flexible learning spaces

Movable furniture and other equipment can be configured for multiple uses in CAEN’s flexible learning spaces and classrooms. An advantage is having a room that is able to be used for lecture-style teaching, student group collaborative work, or a course discussion. Wall-mounted monitors and movable whiteboards in the rooms can also aid the student learning experience.

The recommendations below are based on interviews with College of Engineering instructors, and observations of courses utilizing flexible learning spaces.

Movable Tables and Chairs

Instructors have the opportunity to use several different layouts in flexible classrooms, and depending on their teaching needs, they are encouraged to think about the different ways the furniture can be used. For example, small group layouts allow instructors to interact directly with students, particularly during collaborative group work, as may be done in design courses. It is also important to set classroom norms at the beginning of each term, and explain the room layout(s) you will use, so students know how to arrange the furniture. Creating an image or slide, and displaying it at the beginning of the class, will aid the students in arranging the furniture to conserve class time (see our example PowerPoint template).

Example Furniture Layouts

Chrysler 133:

GFL 224:

Wall-mounted Monitors and Movable Whiteboards

Monitors around the periphery of a classroom can be connected-to in a few ways. For example, they can be used by instructors to project slides and other class content to all displays in the room, allowing students to see the material even if their back is to the instructor or the main projection screen. Students may also connect a laptop to individual monitors for collaborative work, allowing instructors to easily view and evaluate a group’s progress. Refer to our main Flexible Learning Spaces page for instructions on connecting to the monitors and changing the display settings.

Each flexible classroom also contains movable whiteboards for students to use during collaborative group work. Similar to the monitors, these can allow faculty to see student work, and offer hands-on instruction as needed.

Chrysler 133 (Lecture – Double tables) Layout

 


Flexible Learning Spaces now available in some College classrooms

Some College of Engineering classrooms, including two CAEN computer labs, are now equipped as flexible learning spaces through the use of highly flexible furniture and integrated technology. These classrooms can be reconfigured for multiple uses, such as lecture-style teaching, allowing students to collaborate and work together in groups, and engaging in a whole-class discussion. Many rooms also have wall-mounted monitors that can be used to display content from the instructor lecturn, or individual student laptop connections at each station.

Classroom Capacity Movable Furniture Movable Whiteboards Perimeter Whiteboards Wall-mounted Monitors
Chrysler 133 84
Dow 2150 62  
EECS 4440 35 (w/CAEN computers)
FXB 1008 60      
FXB 1032 25  
GFL 224 48 (w/CAEN computers)
G.G. Brown 1025 24  
G.G. Brown 1045 24    
G.G. Brown 2147 56
G.G. Brown 2153 56

 


Reminder: CTools Project Sites to become read-only on August 31, 2018

As was reported in May, ITS is preparing to retire CTools Project Sites. As part of this transition, ITS announced that all remaining CTools Project Sites would become read-only on August 31, 2018, and remain available at least until July 1, 2019. This means that while site owners would be able to view and download the data stored on these sites after August 31, no edits or changes would be allowed. Project site owners can use a migration tool in CTools to review and delete sites, or download content to move to another service (e.g. cloud storage services such as U-M Google Drive or U-M Box):

CTools Project Site Migration Page

Exemptions from read-only status will be granted for sites that contain export-controlled data. Site owners who need an exemption should contact the ITS project team with the name of the site, reason for exemption, and how long the site needs to remain active.

Due to the sensitive nature of export-controlled research, there are a limited number of compliant solutions that can store the associated data properly. A current listing of services where this data can be stored is available on the U-M Sensitive Data Guide. Engineering faculty site owners who would like assistance with choosing an alternative service to store their export-controlled data can contact CAEN to discuss the available options.

 


Chesebrough Auditorium screen sizes and configurations explained

Last year Chesebrough Auditorium gained some new flexibility in the way the projectors work, allowing several different projected image sizes and locations. Some of the available options are listed below, including information on how to select them using the room’s touch panel (located on the lectern).

Want to show two sources?

Chesebrough Auditorium is capable of displaying two different sources on the projection screens at the same time. For example, you might have your laptop with PowerPoint presentation on one display, and your written notes on the document camera shown on the other. To do this, select the two sources you wish to use on the touch panel, one from the Main Screen column, and the other from Screen 2:

This will bring down the large screen, and the two sources will appear side by side as seen below:

Showing only one source?

If you only need to show one source, you can choose between two sizes/locations: large and centered, or medium-sized and offset to one side.

Large and centered

If you are not using the whiteboard, this will give the largest and most readable display for all students. The trick is to make sure the Main Screen (small) is turned Off, and select your desired source from the Screen 2 (large) column:

The large screen should come down, and your image will take up the space as shown below:

Medium-sized and offset to one side

If you are using the whiteboard, or prefer the projected image to be smaller, you can instead make sure Screen 2 (large) is turned Off, and select your source from the Main Screen (small) column:

The smaller screen will come down, and your image will appear as below:

If you have any questions about the A/V system in Chesebrough Auditorium or any of the other college classrooms, contact CAEN anytime at caen@umich.edu.

 


CTools Project Sites to become read-only on August 31, 2018

Over the last few years, ITS has been working to transition sites off of CTools. The transition of CTools Course Sites to Canvas was completed over Summer 2016. Since then, ITS has been working on the transition of CTools Project Sites. Background about this transition was announced in the University Record, and is available on the main ITS CTools Project Sites Transition website.

As part of this transition, ITS recently announced that all remaining CTools Project Sites would become read-only on August 31, 2018, and remain available at least until July 1, 2019. This means that while site owners would be able to view and download the data stored on these sites after August 31, no edits or changes would be allowed. Project site owners can use a migration tool in CTools to review and delete sites, or download content to move to another service (e.g. cloud storage services such as U-M Google Drive or U-M Box):

CTools Project Site Migration Page

Exemptions from read-only status will be granted for sites that contain export-controlled data. Site owners who need an exemption should contact the ITS project team with the name of the site, reason for exemption, and how long the site needs to remain active.

Due to the sensitive nature of export-controlled research, there are a limited number of compliant solutions that can store the associated data properly. A current listing of services where this data can be stored is available on the U-M Sensitive Data Guide. Engineering faculty site owners who would like assistance with choosing an alternative service to store their export-controlled data can contact CAEN to discuss the available options.

 


Peer annotation support shifting from nb to Perusall

Collaborative peer annotation tools help students actively engage with textbooks or other reading materials in a course. Instructors assign textbooks, articles, or PDFs, and students annotate these documents and respond to each other’s comments and questions.

CAEN has run a local instance of one of these tools, nb, since 2015. This local service will be discontinued for Fall 2018. Instructors who wish to continue with nb can still use the free MIT-hosted service (where nb was developed).

An alternative service called Perusall has since emerged that provides many of the same features, also adds Canvas integration, and includes the ability to purchase and use textbooks from many publishers. As with nb, instructors can upload their own PDFs to Perusall, and there is no cost for instructors or students (except when purchasing textbooks).

If you are interested in trying one of these tools, Perusall’s help and support resources provide a good starting point. You can also contact CAEN to discuss the options, and get help with any questions you may have.

 


Lecture Capture Service manual control no longer requires Adobe Flash

While most instructors opt for pre-set schedules to make recordings using the Lecture Capture Service, the system allows for manual control in cases where live movement of the camera or impromptu starting-and-stopping of the recording is desired. Previously, using the manual control required a web browser with Adobe Flash support. Flash has been superseded by improved web technologies, and we are happy to report that this last dependency on Flash has been removed from the recording system.

The functionality and appearance is very similar to the previous version. To try it out, simply create a manual recording and choose to connect with the new control interface:

Starting Fall 2018, the old Flash-based interface will no longer be an option. Also note that we still offer M-Cam for manually controlling the recorder from an iOS device such as an iPhone or iPad.

 


Cable-free presentation available in CoE classrooms

All 50 College of Engineering (CoE) classrooms are equipped with Apple TVs to allow the presentation of slides or other content without physically plugging-in a device. The type of connection supported, called “AirPlay,” is built into Apple devices including laptops, iPhones, and iPads. You do not need to be on a particular wireless network for this to work. Apple provides some instructions on how to use AirPlay:

AirPlay video from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

Use AirPlay to display video from your Mac on an HDTV

What if you are not using an Apple device? CAEN offers licenses for a utility called “AirParrot” to instructors using Windows-based computers and tablets in CoE classrooms. Note that it is necessary to connect to a special wireless network called “CAEN-Presenter” before AirParrot will work with any device. This network requires a password, which we can provide on request.

Why might you consider using wireless to display? One advantage is you do not need any special adapters, which may be needed to connect certain devices to the room’s HDMI or VGA cables. Also, if you have a tablet computer, wireless frees you to walk the stage and annotate in real-time, or even pass the device to a student to demonstrate a solution if desired.

What are the steps to get connected? It’s pretty simple. Just select the “Apple TV” source on the room’s touchscreen panel. Then connect your device to the AirPlay destination named for the room number, for example, “Dow 1013 Apple TV.” To ensure the connection to the display is coming from inside the classroom, a 4-digit code will be shown on the screen, and your device will prompt you for this code to enable the connection.

The big question: Is this all reliable? The wireless connection is typically very reliable, however it is possible that interference from other devices can cause a disconnection. CAEN is working to minimize this by relocating antennas and upgrading hardware as needed. If you run into any problems with wireless display, let us know at caen@umich.edu. A backup option is to use the wired connections at the lectern, and we are available to advise on what adapters, if any, would be needed for your device.

If you would like to meet with CAEN staff in a classroom to go over the process for getting connected, or if you have any other questions about presenting over a wireless connection, contact us anytime at caen@umich.edu.

 


Enhanced Gradebook functionality now available in Canvas

There are a number of enhancements that have been added to the Canvas Gradebook for this term. These features are intended to help instructors easily view and enter grades for students, making grading more flexible and intuitive. Additions include Late Policies, which allow instructors to set up rules and be more efficient about grading late and missing submissions.

Other new Gradebook enhancements include:

  • New menus with more filtering and sorting options
  • Visual crosshairs to make it easier to see the current student or assignment cell
  • Custom color coding for assignment status (late, missing, resubmitted, dropped, or excused)
  • Keyboard shortcuts to improve accessibility on grade entry
  • Capability to drag and drop total columns

Features coming soon include:

  • Ability to override final grades
  • Defining if grades should be posted automatically or manually

For the Winter 2018 term, New Gradebook must be manually enabled at the course level under Settings >> Feature Options. In future terms, it will be enabled automatically in all courses. Until then you can revert back to the old Gradebook, except in cases where you have added a grading policy.

Tips for using these enhancements can be found on the Canvas New Gradebook Guide. In addition, ITS has created a video screencast highlighting many of the new features on the Canvas at Michigan site.