Great stuff keeps coming – the Quercus Student Blog

If you haven’t book-marked the Quercus Student Blog yet, you definitely should – it’s a great sources of information and ideas – ostensibly for and by students – but in actuality, it’s great for everyone at UofT. Check it out here:

Pages vs Modules

Our colleagues in our Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering have developed a lovely and helpful document explaining the differences between Pages and Modules in Quercus. As they write, “In Canvas/Quercus, a Module is a way to organize and display course content. They are buckets that hold any number of different types of elements – pages, assignments, files, links, etc. You can have as many modules as you’d like. Most commonly, they are sorted by time (Ex. Week 1, Week 2, Week 3) or by type (ex. Assignments, Readings, Lectures, etc.). There’s no right or wrong way, you get to choose that based on how you run your course. Pages, on the other hand, are more like webpages. They have a WYSIWYG editor that allows you to add text, embed media, and link to other course elements. Often, they are used to provide descriptions and explanations – they are one of the pieces that can be stored in the buckets. ” Please check out this and other helpful hints at

Traffic in a Storm

by Marco Di Vittorio
Manager, Application Administration Academic & Collaborative Technologies (ACT

Most traffic moves slower during a snow storm. Pedestrian, vehicle and airline routes typically grind to a halt when large white flakes flood the ground in high volumes. Web traffic on the other hand, can exhibit a very different pattern during the same extreme events. Over the course of the recent snow storms that hit Toronto, the University homepage experienced significant spikes in request rates driven primarily by visits to the campus status page. The charts below tell the story.

Top Referrer URLs:
Monday Jan 28 1:00 PM to Tuesday Jan 29 1:00 PM

Beginning on Monday, Jan 28th, as the weather worsened over the course of the afternoon, requests to the U of T homepage increased and dramatically spiked at approximately 6:00 PM. It’s reasonable to assume the source was primarily students checking to see whether their evening classes were cancelled due to the weather. The traffic soon subsided only to spike to an even higher level at 6:30 AM the following morning as the U of T community woke up and checked the website to find out if campuses were open for business.

Total HTTP Requests per 5-minute interval:
Monday Jan 28 1:00 PM to Tuesday Jan 29 1:00 PM

High traffic alarms were sounding but the hybrid on-prem and cloud infrastructure responded and the website continued to smoothly serve content during the increased periods of demand. Roughly 200 GB of data was served over the 24-hour period. Site uptime was 100% and the average page response time was 431ms (as measured by

A third event occurred on Wednesday, Feb 6th beginning at 1:40 PM as the campus status page was updated with information that UTM, UTSC and STG were closing once again due to poor weather. As demonstrated in the graphs below, by 1:50 PM total request volume over a 5-minute interval peaked at almost 70,000 and then sharply declined. At the high-water mark, request volume was approximately 20x greater than the 6-month average measure. This data might also serve as a rough indicator that it took approximately 10 minutes for the closure message to disseminate across a significant portion of the university community.

Total HTTP Requests per 5-minute interval:
13.7K requests on Feb 6 at 1:40 PM

Total HTTP Requests per 5-minute interval:
68.0K requests on Feb 6 at 1:50 PM

While these metrics reinforce the benefits of the current infrastructure design, the most important outcome from our perspective is that we were able to reliably and rapidly deliver timely information to the institution’s students, faculty and staff.

Quercus Quirks

A new semester is upon us, and we now move into our second full semester in our new teaching environment Quercus. As with all new systems, there can be a bit of a learning curve, especially for some of the quirkier parts of the system. We’ve set up a web page where we will be documenting alerts about some of the more challenging things we come across. Please feel free to bookmark Quercus Quirks, which you can also find from the Quercus Support website as well.

Microsoft Teams

Hello again. We are pleased to let faculty and staff know that the Microsoft Teams tool is now available for use at UofT. Check out the Team @ UofT website for more information on this very useful collaboration tool:

Quercus Support Site

The wonderful members of the ACT support team in the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation have put together a fabulous new Quercus Support Site with the collaboration of educational technology professional colleagues from all around the University. Check it out!

Welcome to September

Welcome to September.  Quercus is now the University of Toronto’s new online teaching and learning environment. You can read all about support and training opportunities on our Toolbox project website.

Student Quercus Blog

The team has launched a website (blog) for students and by students, all about our new Learning environment – Quercus – check out the first post here:

U of T’s online AODA training

The University’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Office 30-minute online training modules are moving from Portal to Quercus. As a result, notifications asking participants to register as a student in the course are being sent out by Quercus <>. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of this email, you can access the AODA course by logging into Quercus ( For more information please visit:

Microsoft Forms

We are pleased to let everyone know that Microsoft Forms is now available for use via Office 365 accounts. For full information, including support and training materials, please visit the MS Forms @ UofT website: