How the Internationally-Oriented University of Windsor Implemented a Single, Unified Tool to Enhance Teaching and Learning
Replacing a Legacy System
The University of Windsor first started thinking about a replacement for its legacy content storage and management a few years ago. A brilliant team had built the system in place, but officials knew the time was coming to where it was at the end of its useful life.
“I was around at the inception of the legacy product, and it had been chugging along for over a decade. It was well-designed and the fact that it was still running was a tribute to the team’s ability to know what to put into it,” explained Lorie Stolarchuk, a Learning Specialist with the Office of Open Learning at the University of Windsor. “We knew the time was coming to switch it off, so we were watching the market. We saw what YuJa was doing and went through the demo process.”
When the pandemic hit, Nick Baker, Director of the Office of Open Learning, said he knew there would be a lot of video content for instructors teaching courses online. “We needed a way to manage content and something that was built as a pedagogical tool. Other solutions weren’t built for teaching, and we had the opportunity to look to YuJa to fill that gap.”
“I was around at the inception of the legacy product, and it had been chugging along for over a decade. It was well-designed and the fact that it was still running was a tribute to the team’s ability to know what to put into it”
About the Client
About University of Windsor
The University of Windsor is a comprehensive, student-focused multidisciplinary university, with more than 16,000 students enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs.
University Officials Outline Numerous Goals for an Enterprise Video Platform
The university wanted a platform that was easy-to-use, accessible, provided access to captioning, and something that treated students and faculty similarly in that they could create and share content. They also wanted a plug-and-play option that would be usable across Learning Management Systems. “YuJa really ticked a lot of boxes for us, and we saw colleagues in the province in the same situation as us who were already using YuJa successfully, so we had a good sense of the pathway into it,” Baker said. “We had a patchwork of other things we had put together to meet most of our needs, but having one integrated system for everyone to use is a godsend for us.” Baker also is an instructor, and said YuJa has made teaching easier and has given students a safe space to create and share their own works.
Stolarchuk said that archival and policy management are largely absent in other systems. “We are overjoyed to be able to add this to our toolbelt,” she said, adding that material can be ported with coding.
University of Windsor Rises to Challenge of Bringing Courses Online
Like many institutions, most of the University of Windsor’s courses before the pandemic were in person, with about 10 percent online each semester. While the university had been building a technology stack, there were some gaps. “We were looking for a turnkey solution, and we could see what was coming down the road with the pandemic, so we liked that YuJa had integrations with other products like (Blackboard) Collaborate and Microsoft Teams,” Baker said.
The university has installed lecture capture in hybrid flexible (hyflex) classrooms for faculty to capture activity from multiple inputs. YuJa also helped the institution solve where to store student-owned video content, as storage within third party services can pose security and privacy issues. “Keeping those videos in house and students having the same functionality as teachers solves another really big issue in the teaching and learning world,” Baker remarked.
Instructors and student Find a “Diversity of Uses” for the Video Platform
Baker and Stolarchuk agreed that while YuJa solved immediate problems, instructors also have found a “diversity of uses.” They have been able to easily produce and edit videos, with editing tools that are “advanced enough to handle a majority of things people want to do, but aren’t overwhelming,” Baker shared.
Captioning has been a huge asset to the university. Baker noted that the captioning keeps improving, particularly as it is exposed to different types of voices and words. “The technology that underlies it gets better at captioning words from various voices and language it is exposed to,” Baker stated. “In terms of where it sits in the market, it is probably much better (than its competitors).”
Additionally, Stolarchuk described a sophisticated production of a video series in which she’s using YuJa for the workflow. Multiple people are working on the same project, each with different elements to contribute. Some are on campus, while others are not. Likewise, some are using other applications, but still can easily share and store content in the Video Platform. “YuJa is really pulling its weight in terms of sharing material in multiple file types and organizing,” she stated. “Users are drawn in at every level and a lot of barriers have been eliminated because of the easy-to-use interface.”
YuJa works well with other tools, including Pressbooks, which is an open publishing tool used primarily to create open textbooks. Additionally, content created in other platforms can be ingested and edited in YuJa quickly and easily. “One colleague hosted content on a streaming service… and with a few quick instructions, he migrated four classes with years worth of work and was able to stand it up and use it quickly in his courses,” Baker said. “This is a testament to its usability.”
“We had pockets where video is stored, but none archived appropriately. Now we can build policies around teaching and learning content, which is one of the things that stands out most about this tool.”
Use Case Goes Beyond Video Platform
The University of Windsor has implemented the Enterprise Video Platform, is in the pilot phase for YuJa Panorama for Digital Accessibility, and is in the development phase for the YuJa’s Himalayas for Digital Compliance.
YuJa Panorama is an innovative tool to help make learning more inclusive for all students by driving inclusivity. It includes features like a Visual Gauge for a quick check of each document’s accessibility; auto-generation of a number of Accessible Alternatives of course material, such as HTML, electronic Braille, EPUB, audio (speech-to-text), high contrast, tagged PDF files and more. Stolarchuk said the University is looking forward having a system to help identify problematic areas in course content. Panorama helps ensure accessibility is addressed proactively and can help ensure the institution is legally compliant.
YuJa Himalayas is a data archiving security and compliance solution that helps institutions manage large data workloads. The cloud-based tool reviews data workloads, identifying compliance issues, managing risks and enabling e-discovery scenarios, as well as helps meet the needs for institutional retention policies. “The ability to archive media content has been an ongoing conversation on campus,” Baker noted. “We had pockets where video is stored, but none archived appropriately. Now we can build policies around teaching and learning content, which is one of the things that stands out most about this tool.”
“One colleague hosted content on a streaming service… and with a few quick instructions, he migrated four classes with years worth of work and was able to stand it up and use it quickly in his courses.”