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Tools and Systems

Explore the tools and systems used in digital education at the University of Leeds and find further help and support on using them for teaching and learning.

Visit the Teaching & Learning Online section for best practice, case studies and how to make the most of these tools for teaching. The University's digital accessibility website and inclusive teaching website provide guidance on how best to ensure your teaching is accessible and inclusive.

For how-to guides and practical support in using tools, visit the Digital Educations Systems Help site.  For technical support and to request assistance, visit the IT Services website using your university username and password to log in.

How you can get involved

We work alongside University colleagues, students, and product vendors to improve our systems and tools. For the latest information on upgrades and digital education systems, please visit the News and Updates page.  You can help shape the digital education systems used at Leeds by taking part in pilots, joining user groups, and giving feedback on your experiences.   Visit  the Digital Education Systems Help website for a full list of these opportunities.

Information on Tools and Systems

Learn more below about the digital tools and online resources available for you to use:


This tool checks the accessibility of content and generates alternative formats. 

Ally is an easy-to-use tool within Minerva that provides accessibility indicators so staff can identify how accessible their content is and fix issues flagged by the indicators. Students can download content from modules and organisations in alternative formats to suit their learning styles (e.g. audio, electronic breille).

Find out more: Staff guides for Ally

Box of Broadcasts (BoB)   

Online TV and radio archive 

BoB (Box of Broadcasts) is a shared online off-air TV and radio recording service for UK higher and further education institutions. It includes a searchable archive of broadcast content, the facility to schedule recordings, create and share playlists, and create clips, a one-click citation reference facility and searchable transcripts for all English language programmes, with the option of onscreen subtitling.  

No registration is necessary, simply log in with your Leeds username and password on or off-campus.  

Access this service: Box of Broadcasts information


Tool for peer evaluation of group work 

Buddycheck is a tool for peer evaluation of group work contribution. Evaluations are created in the Buddycheck system and students then complete the evaluation, scoring their own and their peer’s contribution to group work.  Buddycheck calculates an adjustment factor from the students’ responses which can then be used to update the mark awarded to each student individually.  

Buddycheck is integrated with Minerva and both staff and students access the tool via their Minerva modules. This tool is being piloted until early September 2022.  

Find out more: Buddycheck Guides for staff

China Connect   

Improves connection to teaching and learning resources for those in China 

This service is for staff and students based in China who need to take part in teaching and learning activities and are experiencing poor performance or having difficulty reaching resources. China Connect boosts performance to websites and key Leeds digital education systems (excluding Collaborate Ultra) through the use of VPN technologies.  

Find out more: 

Collaborate Ultra   

Web-based virtual classroom 

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a web-based online interactive session platform integrated with Minerva. It includes audio, video, text chat, an interactive whiteboard, PowerPoint display, application sharing, breakout rooms, polling and session recording.  

Staff can access Collaborate Ultra via Minerva and a link to Collaborate Ultra can be added to any module or organisation.  

Find out more:Collaborate Ultra information


Simple online tool for creating surveys, questionnaires and quizzes. 

Microsoft Forms is a simple online tool for creating surveys, questionnaires and quizzes. You can share surveys and quizzes created in Forms with anyone, including people outside of the University. Forms can be embedded in web pages and Sway documents and are integrated with Excel and OneDrive so that you can view the results in an Excel spreadsheet in real-time.  

Find out more: What is Microsoft Forms?


For submitting and marking assessments in a wide range of formats 

Gradescope is an integrated Minerva tool offered by Turnitin that enables electronic creation, delivery, submission and marking of a number of assessment types. These include handwritten responses, typed responses, STEM formulae and diagrams, programming/code and multiple-choice answers.  

It is particularly useful for assignments that have been handwritten, where students are required to supply answers that cannot be directly entered into a computer or device.

Find out more: Staff guides for Gradescope


3D laboratory training software 

Labster is a 3D laboratory training software that is integrated with Minerva. It delivers interactive, virtualised laboratory simulations across STEM and other subject areas to offer an immersive learning experience.  

Find out more: Labster staff guides


Lecture Capture and Multimedia service 

Mediasite is the University’s Lecture Capture and Multimedia service. It allows you to record, edit and share digital content. Mediasite can automatically record lectures via the central timetable, but you can also record screencasts or upload video and audio files to Mediasite. 

All published lecture captures appear in your Minerva modules automatically and you can easily add other Mediasite content to your Minerva module.  

Find out more:Mediasite guides for staff


Virtual Learning Environment and Portal 

Minerva is the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and portal that enables staff to create and manage online teaching areas and to communicate with students. It uses Blackboard technology with a wide range of in-built and integrated tools for interactive learning, assessment and grading.  

Find out more: Minerva Staff Guides

Office 365   

A suite of tools including Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word 

Microsoft’s standard desktop suite of tools, available online or to download. Staff and students at Leeds can get up to five free downloads of Office 365 Pro Plus for PC or Mac.  

Find out more: 

Online Surveys   

Web-based survey builder 

Online Surveys (formerly Bristol Online Surveys or BOS) is a powerful, easy to use tool for designing, distributing and analysing online surveys. Run by Jisc, Online Surveys is used by over 300 different organisations in the UK and internationally.  

Find out more: About Online Surveys


Digital noticeboard for collaborative learning 

An easy-to-use web-based collaborative learning tool. Similar to a digital noticeboard, users can set up a Padlet for others to collaborate on.  

Find out more: Padlet Staff Guides 


E-portfolio tool, for logging and evidencing achievements, activity and skills. 

PebblePad is the University of Leeds e-portfolio tool and the location of Academic Personal Tutoring workbooks. It helps students and staff create and keep together records of learning, achievement, and career aspirations. It can be used in many flexible ways, either self-directed by a user, or by staff who create structured assignments for students to complete.   

Work is set and marked via a part of PebblePad called ATLAS which can be linked to the Blackboard Grade Centre in Minerva modules. Staff use ATLAS to manage submissions, monitor progress, provide formative and summative feedback and apply grades.  

Find out more:Pebblepad Staff GuidesExplore uses of PebblePad for teaching and development

StREAM@Leeds (Learning Analytics)   

Learning analytics system for reviewing academic engagement 

StREAM@Leeds is the University of Leeds Learning Analytics system that enables students and staff at Leeds to work together to understand individual learning journeys and circumstances. This allows Academic Personal Tutors to support students to reach their full potential and maximise their chances of success.  

The approach to Learning Analytics adopted at Leeds has been developed in partnership between students, academics and support staff, and follows the University’s Learning Analytics Code of Practice.  

Find out more: 


Interactive presentations tool 

Microsoft Sway is used to create interactive presentations. It's a lightweight, cloud-only, story-telling application that is simpler to use than PowerPoint and provides more narrative devices than slide after slide of bullet points.  

Find out more:What is Microsoft Sway?


Mobile voting, interactive questions, quizzes and tests. 

A browser-based platform that provides mobile voting, quizzes and homework for active learning. It is integrated with Minerva and offers functionality for formative and summative assessment delivered either remotely or in person.  

Find out more:Top Hat Staff guides


Plagiarism detection and marking system 

Turnitin is a plagiarism detection and marking system which is integrated into Minerva. It includes a plagiarism checking tool and tools to facilitate both online marking of student work and student peer review.   

Find out more:Turnitin Staff Guides


Social networking tool for members of the University of Leeds 

Microsoft Yammer is a social networking tool where members of the University can discuss ideas, share updates, and crowdsource answers. Yammer lets you easily create groups for modules or join communities discussing a particular topic.  

Find out more: What is Yammer?


Video conferencing and collaboration tool 

Zoom is a web-based video conferencing and collaboration tool, which allows teaching staff and PGRs to deliver online teaching and learning in real-time. Zoom can also be used for outreach activities e.g. to host online conferences/webinars.  

Zoom can be used with or without video conferencing and users can choose to record their session, collaborate on projects, ask questions, share or annotate on one another's screens. You can deliver teaching to individuals or to large groups.  

Find out more: Zoom Guidance

Support for systems failure 

If a system goes down or is experiencing a problem, the following guidance may be helpful in supporting student education and assessment activities.

Find out more guidance on systems failure here.