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What Can Instructors Do With CTools?

Click a category:

Distribution of Course Information
Course Material Management and Schedule
Linking to Online Materials
Online Communication
Student Assignment Submission
Online Grading


This webpage lists some of the many ways instructors can use CTools in their teaching. More uses for CTools, including tips and best practices, are added to this list often, particularly when CTools is upgraded with new features and tools. Check back often to learn more about what you can do.

Adding tools is part of the process of setting up a course site. For information on how to add tools after you have created your site, click here, or click Adding and removing tools, and changing options on the Site Info Tool help page, which you can access under "Site Management" in the help table of contents.


Distribution of Course Information

Distribute course outline

Tool: Syllabus

An instructor would like to have an electronic copy of the syllabus available to students. He or she uploads the document to the Syllabus in CTools. Instructors can also use the Resources tool to upload a syllabus.

Notify students of changes or upcoming events

Tool: Announcements

An instructor wants to inform students that there is a change with an upcoming class session. Using the Announcements tool, he or she types a short message describing the change and uses the Email Notification option in the Announcements tool to send a message to students informing them of the change. Instructors can also use the Email Archive to send messages to students.

Promote a course and provide course information to the public

Tool: Worksite Setup

An instructor's department recommends that instructors make course descriptions publicly available for students who might want to take the course. He or she can type or paste the general course description into the Short Description Field during the Worksite Setup process. (This can be added or modified later using the Site Info tool). Then students can find the description by clicking Browse Course Sites on the CTools Gateway.


Course Material Management and Schedule

Distribute or store articles or other readings for students

Tool: Resources

An instructor has 3-5 articles per week for students to read. He or she scans or obtains electronic copies of the articles and uploads the electronic versions into different folders in the Resources tool of the course site. A different folder can be set up for each week of the course.

List specific course materials available for checkout at the Library

Tool: Library Materials

This Tool lists course-related materials for a class (textbooks, etc.) that are being physically held at the various campus libraries for checkout by students. Instructors can visit the website and request that other class materials be made available for the instructor to download and, optionally, upload to Resources for use by his/her students.

Schedule class meetings and due dates

Tool: Schedule

An instructor wants to create a calendar that visually displays class sessions, assignment due dates, exams, and special events. Using the Schedule tool in CTools, the instructor can create one-time or repeating events, each with a type-specific icon.

Distribute lecture recordings, music, or other digital materials

iTunes U or Podcasts

An instructor who is recording his or her lectures or has specific digital media files as part of a course curriculum can use the available tools to Podcast their material. Podcasting allows students to subscribe to the material, which is then automatically downloaded when new material is added. Two tools are available, iTunes U and Podcasts.

Linking to Online Materials

Distribute information from an external website

Tool: Web Content

An instructor wants to link to a website outside of CTools so that students can access its content. The instructor types the website URL into the Options section of a Web Content tool in CTools (can also be added using the Site Info tool). Instructors can also link to external websites using the Resources tool.

Provide current news from external online sources

Tool: News (RSS)

An instructor wants to incorporate daily headlines from The New York Times into his or her CourseTools site. First he or she navigates to the NYTimes website and copies the appropriate RSS feed URL using the Edit > Copy command in the web browser. Finally, the instructor pastes the RSS feed URL into the Options section of the News tool in CTools. (It can also be pasted in using the Site Info tool.)


Online Communication

Invite students to simultaneously share thoughts and ideas

Tools: Chat Room and Piazza

An instructor wants to facilitate students' thinking about weekly course readings. He or she schedules a time each week for students to "meet" online in the Chat Room or in Piazza, where different questions are posed and students are invited to respond. The session could take the place of a face-to-face discussion session.

Invite students to share thoughts and ideas with each other

Tool: Forums

An instructor wants to facilitate students' thinking about weekly course readings. The instructor uses the Forums to create a thread for each week's class and requires each student to post one question and respond to at least one other student before each class session.

Invite students to build on and develop each other's thoughts and ideas

Tool: Wiki

An instructor wants to have students collaboratively provide feedback and also add their own content to a series of documents. Using the Wiki tool, the instructor can specify which pages students should comment or add content to while limiting access to make changes on other pages.

Student Assignment Submission

Have students submit assignments

Tool: Assignments Creating and Submitting

Instead of having students submit their papers by hand (hard copy), an instructor can set up an assignment using the Assignments tool in CTools, allowing students to submit their papers electronically. If desired, the instructor can also return comments and/or grades via the Assignments tool.

Share materials/comments with an individual student

Tool: Drop Box

An instructor wants to provide private feedback on paper drafts with each student. First, the student uploads the draft to their personal Drop Box in CTools. The instructor then downloads the draft, makes any corrections or comments, and then uploads the commented draft into the student's Drop Box.


Online Grading

Record and calculate grades and student course progress

Tools: Assignments & Gradebook

An instructor can return comments and/or grades using the Assignments tool if the student submitted the assignment online. Also, the grade, if point-based, can be automatically linked to the Gradebook, which will automatically calculate students' grades for each assignment and cumulatively.

Allow students to monitor course progress/grade status online

Tool: Gradebook

Point-based grades can be automatically linked to the Gradebook from the Assignments tool or manually entered. The Gradebook will automatically calculate students' grades for each assignment and cumulatively.

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