Congratulations to Prof. Melody Neumann on the success of her online tool for student group work – 3rd Annual App Challenge Winner


TORONTO, ON – APRIL 13 – Melody Neumann, Associate Professor at University of Toronto has won the IMS Global 3rd Annual App Challenge in the Institutional App category for the online tool Team Up!. Working with Laurie Harrison, Director of Online Learning, a two-person design and programming team, and members from the Academic & Collaborative Technologies unit at UofT’s Information Technology Services, including spokesperson Ahalya Rajkumar, the online tool has garnered interest among instructors who facilitate group work.

“The Team Up! tool was one of our first projects to successfully integrate an external tool within the institutional Portal (Blackboard) using the IMS LTI standard”, says Rajkumar, a solutions developer for Team Up!, excited about enhancing the student learning experience. “LTI was an innovative approach, and this project helped us break new ground in architecting our Portal integrations.”

Neumann was delighted by the opportunity to highlight the teamwork that went into creating and launching the tool. “The creation of Team Up! was a fantastic example of how well teams…across the University of Toronto work together, and I am so pleased that the IMS Global Institutional App award recognizes this.”

Team Up! started as a tool for synchronous online group work that enables groups of students to work on problem sets remotely in real time. Since then the tool has received praise from instructors who want to facilitate effective and efficient group work.

The tool can be used in any discipline and was designed to facilitate good group dynamics during synchronous online group work, as well as provide a mechanism for peer teaching, immediate feedback, and part marks for approximate answers. The tool was also designed to transfer student marks directly into the Blackboard Grade Centre and to utilize the Blackboard grouping function.

How does working with IMS really stack up? “IMS Global is an outstanding consortium of schools and industry partners that is leading one of the most important educational revolutions occurring today. The University of Toronto has greatly benefited from its membership in IMS Global, and from the work being done by the consortium,” said Dr. Avi Hyman, Director of Academic & Collaborative Technologies at UofT.

“Our team is thrilled for Prof. Neumann’s first place app challenge success, and for having had the opportunity to support her innovative work,” Hyman added.



Monoamine Release during Unihemispheric Sleep and Unihemispheric Waking in the Fur Seal

Lyamin OI, Lapierre JL, Kosenko PO, Kodama T, Bhagwandin A, Korneva SM, Peever JH, Mukhametov LM, Siegel JM

Sleep 2016;39(3):625-36

PMID: 26715233


STUDY OBJECTIVES: Our understanding of the role of neurotransmitters in the control of the electroencephalogram (EEG) has been entirely based on studies of animals with bilateral sleep. The study of animals with unihemispheric sleep presents the opportunity of separating the neurochemical substrates of waking and sleep EEG from the systemic, bilateral correlates of sleep and waking states.

METHODS: The release of histamine (HI), norepinephrine (NE), and serotonin (5HT) in cortical and subcortical areas (hypothalamus, thalamus and caudate nucleus) was measured in unrestrained northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) using in vivo microdialysis, in combination with, polygraphic recording of EEG, electrooculogram, and neck electromyogram.

RESULTS: The pattern of cortical and subcortical HI, NE, and 5HT release in fur seals is similar during bilaterally symmetrical states: highest in active waking, reduced in quiet waking and bilateral slow wave sleep, and lowest in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Cortical and subcortical HI, NE, and 5HT release in seals is highly elevated during certain waking stimuli and behaviors, such as being sprayed with water and feeding. However, in contrast to acetylcholine (ACh), which we have previously studied, the release of HI, NE, and 5HT during unihemispheric sleep is not lateralized in the fur seal.

CONCLUSIONS: Among the studied neurotransmitters most strongly implicated in waking control, only ACh release is asymmetric in unihemispheric sleep and waking, being greatly increased on the activated side of the brain.

COMMENTARY: A commentary on this article appears in this issue on page 491.