Tools for Homework, Study, and Collaboration Outside Class
The array of platforms for student learning and collaboration outside of class changes constantly. The purpose of this page is to highlight some of the common tools used on campus.
UC Berkeley currently offers a suite of web-based tools in the learning management system (LMS) bCourses, which is Berkeley’s name for its installation of the LMS platform Canvas.
Contact your Instructor of Record (the faculty members in charge of the courses) early to find out how bCourses will be used in your course and to gain access to any other online tools you will be using.
The table below shows some of the homework and collaboration tools available in bCourses, with links to explanations in the Canvas Instructor Guide.
|Assignments||In bCourses these can include quizzes, discussions, and student assignment files submitted online. The instructor can choose whether a particular assignment is linked with the Grades tool or not.|
|Collaborations||Based on Google Docs, this tool allows up to 50 users to edit a document at the same time.|
|Conversations||Messaging tool to communicate with others in the course; can be used instead of email. Students as well as instructors can use it, though some functions for students are subject to settings determined by the instructor. Using this tool, students do not have to swap or expose their email addresses.|
|Discussions||Threaded discussion forum.|
|Files||Allows instructors to upload content files and place them in a folder structure. The files can be linked to within other bCourses tools, such as Pages, Assignments, and Announcements.|
|Groups||Subsets of students enrolled in the course. The Groups tool allows a group of students to collaborate on group projects and assignments.|
|Pages||Text pages an instructor can create to provide additional course materials, a course blog, or wikis for student use.|
|External Apps||The Apps tab on the Settings page provide a way to install Twitter, Quizlet, Piazza, and several other apps in the bCourses site. GSIs may or may not have access to this feature on their course site. If not, contact the Instructor of Record.|
For substantial documentation of all of the tools used in bCourses, see the Canvas Instructor Guide. Further questions can be directed to Educational Technology Services (ETS). ETS also gives workshops for instructors on using bCourses.
UC Berkeley has adopted Google Apps for Education, which are accessible through the university’s bConnected site — click on bDrive to gain access using your CalNet ID. bDrive is a cloud storage service that also acts as the access point for Google Docs, a collection of web-based applications that allows users to generate documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and drawings. Users are able to invite others to view and/or edit their documents. The documents can be used for collaborative research projects, such as gathering sources about an issue and weighing the reliability of the sources; or for staging a debate that is structured in a way that allows students to think more carefully before arguing a point or responding to someone else’s point. This ability to share and easily collaborate makes Google Docs a particularly useful tool for group projects, and can also be helpful for instructors who wish to review or comment on student works-in-progress.
Webcasts and podcasts
UC Berkeley provides selected course lecture recordings on line. If your course is being webcast, you and your students should have access through bCourses or CalCentral. For further information about course webcasting and podcasting, see ETS’s Course Capture page.
RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) allows current online announcements (called feeds) to be posted for free on a website or displayed by most email programs.
The bCourses platform allows instructors to add RSS and other feeds in Announcements. Students can also post feeds in Group Announcements. For more information see How Do I Add an External RSS Feed to an Announcement? in the Canvas Instructor Guide.
bConnected Lists allow people with an @berkeley email address to create an email group list for collaboration. It is powered by Google Groups and integrates bCal calendar invitations and bDrive document sharing. See bConnected lists for detailed information.
More campus offerings
For information about more UCB digital resources, see Campus Resources for Teaching and Learning.