What are External Tools?

From EdTech Help
Revision as of 20:00, 20 July 2021 by Melliott2 (talk | contribs)

External tools are supplementary to the list of internal tools (e.g., Lessons, Announcements, Assignments, etc.) that can be added to your Sakai site. To add an external tool to your site follow these steps. What follows is a description of the primary external tools integrated into Brock University's LMS.

TurningPoint Clickers

TurningPoint Clickers is an integration with Turning Technologies clickers. It allows students to easily create a Turning Technologies account and connect their hardware or software clicker information with the account. Instructors can then retrieve this information via the TurningPoint 8 local client.

TurningPoint Clickers.png

Using the Turning Point 8 Integration as a Course Instructor

The primary use of the integration by instructors takes place in the Turning Point 8 local software. There are multiple options for download that are provided at: TurningPoint Downloads. There are both install versions for your local machine and no-install versions that you can save to your Turning Technologies receiver. The Turning Point 8 software is also available on classroom computers across the campus.

Downloading a Course from Sakai

  1. Open TurningPoint Desktop and sign in to your Turning Technologies Account.
  2. Select the Manage tab.
  3. Click the Course drop-down menu and select New. The Create Course window opens.
  4. Select the Download from LMS radio button and click Create List. The Connect to Integration window opens.
  5. Select the appropriate Integration from the Integration drop-down menu (Sakai SSO).
  6. Enter the Server (See Brock server information below).
  7. Click Connect.
  8. Then choose Brock Login at the top right, and login with your email@brocku.ca username and password. Once you've successfully logged into Sakai choose Finalize Connection.
  9. Select the course or courses to import. Optionally, select the Select All checkbox to import all courses.
  10. Click Import. A confirmation box is displayed.
  11. Click OK. The course is added to the left panel of the Course Overview screen.
  12. Select the course to view the participant information. The imported course contains the following information: device ID, license status, first name, last name, user ID, email.
Brock Server Information

The Brock specific configuration information is as follows: Integration: Sakai SSO Server Address: https://lms.brocku.ca

Using a Sakai Course in TurningPoint

  1. Open TurningPoint Desktop and sign in to your Turning Technologies Account.
  2. From the Polling tab, select the course and the polling environment. NOTE: A Sakai participant list must be loaded prior to running a session.
  3. Run and save the session.
  4. Close the polling environment to return to the TurningPoint Desktop Dashboard.

Exporting a Session to Sakai

  1. Open TurningPoint Desktop and sign in to your Turning Technologies Account.
  2. Select the Manage tab.
  3. Select the participant list and click Results Manager in the lower right corner of the window. NOTE: A Turning Technologies Account license is mandatory. If a participant does not purchase a Turning Technologies Account license, his or her score will show as an asterisk in all TurningPoint Desktop participant reports. Furthermore, his or her score will export as "0" to an Excel workbook and will not be exported to an LMS.
  4. Click Integrations. The Connect to Integration window is displayed.
  5. Select Sakai from the Integration drop-down menu and enter the Server Address in the box provided.
  6. Enter your Sakai Username and Password and click Connect
  7. Then choose Brock Login at the top right, and login with your email@brocku.ca username and password. Once you've successfully logged into Sakai choose Finalize Connection.
  8. Select Export Session(s).
  9. Select the column(s) to be exported and click Export. The Export to Integration window is displayed.
  10. Click Export.

Next Steps: Log in to your Sakai account to view the exported results data.

Enabling the Integration of TurningPoint in Your Sakai Site

Login to Sakai and navigate to the course in question. Then choose Site Info > Manage tools. Scroll to the bottom of the long list of tools and click the Heading labelled External Tools. This menu lists the external tools we have integrated with Sakai. Check TurningPoint Clickers > Continue. The next page will give you a summary of the new tools you are adding to your site. Choose Finish to complete the process.

Using the Sakai Integration as a Course Instructor

As a course instructor accessing the tool in Sakai will list the participants of your course who have registered their clicker. As this part of the integration is primarily to allow students to register their clickers there are no other features for instructors.

Using the Sakai Integration as a Student

  1. Log into Sakai.
  2. Select your course.
  3. Click the TurningPoint Clickers tool on the left hand side of your site.
  4. Enter all required fields as noted by the asterisks and click Finish.
  5. Enter your license code and device ID in the appropriate boxes and click Redeem or Register.
  6. Click Finish. You should have a check mark for license, device, and learning management system.

Common Student Problems

I'm Not Receiving a Mark in Sakai Assuming your clicker is properly communicating with your instructors receiver, this is likely because your grades are not being transferred to Sakai. During the instructors grade upload process only students who are actively licensed will have grades transferred. To ensure your grade is transferred you need to ensure you have an active license attached to your Turning Technologies account. You can verify this by choosing the TurningPoint Clicker tool in Sakai and checking if you see an active license under the "Subscriptions" heading. If you see a yellow exclamation mark instead, you do not have an active license. You will need to purchase a license from the campus bookstore or from Turning Technologies directly before your marks are uploaded to Sakai.

Missing a License? If you have an X below License it is because you have not yet applied a license to your account.

  1. Log into http://account.turningtechnologies.com, select Profile from the left menu and click Manage Licenses. Click Add a License.
  2. Enter the code in the License Code field and click Redeem.
  3. To purchase a license from the Turning Technologies Student Store visit http://store.turningtechnologies.ca.
  4. Purchase your items.
  5. Complete Steps 1 and 2 with the purchased code.

I've Lost My License Code In order to recover a license code you'll need to provide proof of purchase for the response device to the Turning Technologies support team. Once provided they can generate a new code for you. Their Technical Support Team can be contacted at: 866-746-3015.

Missing a Device ID? If you have an X below Device it is because you have not yet registered a device to your Turning Account.

  1. After purchasing your device from the University Bookstore, log into http://account.turningtechnologies.com to add your device.
  2. Select Profile from the left menu and click Manage Response Devices. Click Add a Device.
  3. Enter the Response Device ID and click Redeem.

Missing Learning Management System? If you have an X below Learning Management System it is because you are not linked to Sakai.

  1. Sign out of your Turning Account.
  2. Navigate to your Sakai and log in.
  3. Select your course.
  4. Click the TurningPoint Clickers Tool.
  5. Sign into your Turning Account. The check mark under Learning Management System will be visible.

Course Readings

Course Readings is Brock University Library's Course Readings tool powered by ARES.

Course Readings.png

Reserves/readings lists can contain recommended or required readings, such as print and electronic books, journal articles, and content from external websites, to support course work. Students that visit the Course Readings tool and use links to listed items will be sent directly to the resource in the Library's collection or across the Web. In the case of resources provided through subscriptions, automatic authentication will occur.

Configure Course Readings

When the Course Readings tool is added in Sakai, clicking on it will open the Ares log-in page. Please log in with your Campus ID and Password. Ares will display all of the course sites you are associated with that have been activated by Library Reserves staff. If you see the No Courses Found message, please contact Library Reserves staff at reserve@brocku.ca to activate your course site.

Instructors are welcome to submit their syllabus to reserve@brocku.ca. Library Reserves staff will add your course readings to the Ares platform, ensuring copyright and accessibility compliance.


To learn more about Hypothesis visit their website here.



An Etherpad is a web-based collaborative real-time editor, allowing authors to simultaneously edit a text document, and see all of the participants' edits in real-time, with the ability to display each author's text in their own colour. Text is synchronized as each contributors type, so that everyone viewing this page sees the same text. Each author has different colouring for whatever they type. Those with access can use the Time Slider feature to see how the pad progressed.


In contrast to a wiki, Etherpads can be used only for rich-text. Multimedia of any kind (images, video or audio) can not be included. An Etherpad instead focuses on creating a single document with a number of collaborators in real time, removing the preview/save part of wiki instead creating an experience more like regular word precessing, except with all collaborators at their own keyboards.

Example of an Etherpad

This video includes an example of multiple users collaboratively editing one document. Each colour denotes a different user. Multiple users are able to modify the document at the same time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggEb-QKDtnE

How to Access an Etherpad

Once enabled, any instructor in an Isaak/Sakai course site can create Etherpads just for that course's participants. The instructor can further limit access by adding a password to a pad and only sharing the password with specific groups.

Student Access to an Etherpad

In the Etherpads tool students will automatically see any pads you create within the site. For example if you created a new pad in the ASTR1P01 FW 2014 Isaak/Sakai course site all of the students within that site would be able to access the created pad. The following year when teaching ASTR1P02 FW 2015 you would have to recreate these pads again as the pads are only available to students in the site they are created in.

Student names will automatically be sent to the Etherpad to help identify the users editing.

Students will have full access to edit the content of the Etherpad and all edits will be kept in the timeslider section of the pad.

Order Textbooks

Order Textbooks automatically forwards your students to the appropriate Campus Store resources for your course. This includes textbooks, course packs, lab equipment, etc. Please note that these resources will still need to be communicated to the Campus Store as per the normal Course Adoptions process before they are available in this tool.

Order Textbooks.png

The order textbooks tool will direct your students to this link: https://campusstore.brocku.ca/CourseSearch/mycourses

For additional help they can visit: https://campusstore.brocku.ca/live-chat/


Piazza is a third-party forum tool that can be integrated into course sites to manage student Q&A. There may be associated costs for adoption.


Piazza Features

  • Real-Time Q&A
    • No need to refresh the browser, everything happens right before your eyes. Designed to model face-to-face interactions
  • Post Questions
    • Spark discussions or let students take the lead
  • Post Polls
    • Get quick results, answers, and/or feedback
  • Intuitive Answer Format
    • Collaboration is proven to enhance learning – inspiring Piazza’s wiki-style, single answer sections for instructors and students
  • Follow-up Discussions
    • There’s always room to be confused – foster new discussions and debates easily organized around class topics
  • Participation Statistics
    • Sortable and exportable – everything you’d ever want to know about your class and students
  • Multimedia Embedding
    • Add images, files, videos, and more right into your discussion
  • Endorsements
    • Don’t waste time replicating quality content – endorse student questions and answers
  • Mobile Apps
    • for iPhone, iPad, and Android – free and replicas of the web version

A full listing of all features and more about Piazza can be found at https://piazza.com/

Top Hat

Top Hat is a teaching response platform that helps professors engage their students inside and outside the classroom. It is a software based "Clicker" and digital distribution platform which students access via their existing personal devices (e.g., phones, tablets, laptops, etc.).

To learn more about Top Hat visit the CPI website here: https://brocku.ca/pedagogical-innovation/teaching-tools/classroom-response/


This tool can be used to upload and share video files. It is powered by Echo360, a video platform CPI has contracted to host private video. To learn more about the videos on Sakai check out What is the Videos tool? and Enable the Videos tool.

Videos tool.png

More questions about the Site Info tool?

SAKAI logo2021.png

This page is adapted from an equivalent Sakai Community help article.

The original Sakai Community help article, unedited, is available at https://sakai.screenstepslive.com/s/sakai_help