If you are looking for a way to make your online, hybrid or lecture course come alive, Flipgrid may be just the new interactive technology tool you need in your teaching and learning toolbox.  Flipgrid is an easy to use application that gives every student a voice in your course.  It creates a vibrant learning community. Whether you want to increase engagement or create a collaborative, dynamic learning environment, Flipgrid may be just the tool to accomplish your goals.

To start using Flipgrid, create a new grid.  This will be your classroom or learning community hub.  Next, you will add a discussion topic. These can include text, videos from YouTube or Vimeo, diagrams, files (e.g. OneNote, Google Docs, Dropbox), documents (e.g. PDFs, Word, Excel) and/or weblinks.  Flipgrid also lets you embed a HyperDoc (a digital document containing all of the learning objective or learning cycle components in one central location such as Google Docs). In response to the discussion topic, students will create and post short videos that share their ideas and research about the subject.  Flipgrid is a great way to replace static discussion boards with dynamic virtual dialogue.

Flipgrid has a free version, is easy to use and it works on any device and with any browser.   The Flipgrid video response player is like other social media applications where participants can react or reply to their classmate’s posts.

As the instructor, you are always 100% in control.  You can moderate videos, provide custom feedback and establish privacy rules. Flipgrid’s ability to integrate with numerous learning management systems (Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, and Schoology) as well as Microsoft Team apps like Sway or other classroom apps such as OneNote and Google Classroom are additional benefits.  Flipgrid also makes assessment easy, providing instructors the ability to create custom rubrics, and individualized video feedback.

Are you ready to try Flipgrid? To learn more about how to get started or to set up your free Flipgrid account, visit https://info.flipgrid.com/?action=signup.

© 2018 Teaching and Learning Toolbox




Have you been searching for an easy way to create and monitor classroom “teams”?  Slack may be the app that can help make this happen.  Slack can bring classroom team communication and collaboration into one place.  In addition, the instructor can participate in and monitor the group activity.

Employer’s and recent college graduates have informed us that we need to increase the number of team activities within our courses.  As educators, we tend to focus on individual student grades and grading group activities can be difficult.  As a result, new graduates can be unprepared for the large amount of team activities and projects that are imbedded into daily activities within many organizations.  A bonus to using Slack in your classroom is that Slack already has a market presence in many organizations where team activity is vital to their success.   Therefore, it is an easy transition for students to utilize the same technology tools in their future jobs that they used in the classroom.

When using Slack in the classroom, each group will be assigned their own “team” channel.  The channel tracks the conversation and progress of the group activity or project.  Having access to the “team” channel aids in grading student contributions to the activity or project.  Also, Slack has migrated from being only a communication tool into a community platform.  Slack has the functionality of a message board and social media tool. Furthermore, it is easy to set up topic channels and have students provide input for the class topics that interest them.  Slack provides all your team communication in one place.  You can instantly search key words or topics and the information in available on any device.  Slack can be used from a computer or mobile apps compatible with iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

In addition, most organizations that utilize Slack have created some best practice rules of engagement for their team members.  Best practices might include: emphasizing appropriate behavior that will be read by others, no gifs, and setting snooze or do not disturb options when team members are unavailable.  There are many options available to choose from, but you will need to determine what will work best for your team structure.

Best of all, the “free” version of Slack works well for the classroom environment.  To learn more about the many features of Slack and to set up your free Slack account, visit  https://slack.com/features.

© 2018 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Microsoft Sway – A Collaborative, Interactive, Digital Storytelling App

If you are looking for a virtual collaboration tool or a way to make course content interactive, then Microsoft Office Sway may be just the new tool for your technology toolbox.

Sway is referred to by Microsoft as a “digital storytelling app”.  This interactive, collaborative alternative to PowerPoint lets you or your students share images, text, videos, audio and other media to “tell a story” about any course topic.   Sway is a great way to connect with online students or to provide a repeat and rewind activity for lecture students.

Best of all Sway is free!  For individual users, Sway provides a professional presentation format that is easy to create and share. Use the Sway images or import your own. There are also no limits to the number of Sways a user can create or store.  If you or your institution are also Microsoft 365 subscribers, then Sway’s enhanced features include administrative controls, additional organizational sharing limitations, and the ability to connect to or use content from OneDrive.

Additionally, Sway allows students full accessibility to this technology tool, as it works on all platforms and devices.  All you need to do is share the Sway link, embed the link on your website or LMS, or you can distribute your Sway through social media (Facebook or Twitter).

Concerned about privacy?  Sway has an array of privacy options, from private (only you can view), to public (where everyone can view).  For more controlled viewing, you can share a link with students and revoke viewing privileges at any time.  If you use Sway through your institution’s Microsoft Office 365, then you can also limit viewing to only members of your organization.

Make Sway more interactive by adding assessments.  Simply create a question or quiz by using Microsoft Office Forms and embedding the form link into your Sway.  If you are looking for a great collaborative tool, use Sway to let students work on their presentation in a virtual environment, or add Skype to your Sway activity and it becomes even more collaborative.  Sway is also a great tool for students to use for eFolio projects.

Looking ahead to 2018, start out the new year with this free, interactive, collaborative technology tool in your toolbox.  Sway is an easy way to add technology in your course.  For more information on getting started with Sway visit https://sway.com/education/ or https://sway.com/.

© 2017 Teaching and Learning Toolbox






Kahoot Update: Now available…..create out-of-class assignments with Kahoot Challenge!

The June 2016 TeachingAndLearningToolbox.com blog introduced Kahoot as an engaging in-class gamification technology tool; however, the value of Kahoot now extends beyond the classroom.   Using the new Kahoot Challenges feature, you can now create interactive out-of-class assignments too.  To assign a Kahoot Challenge, simply (1) create or select an existing Kahoot, (2) select challenge, (3) set a deadline, (4) share the link or pin, and (5) then wait for students to accept the challenge on their smart devices, using the mobile Kahoot app (kahoot.com/mobile-app).

Kahoot Challenges are a great way to connect with student between classes.  Use Kahoot Challenges to increase pre-work completion, make homework activities engaging or supplement exam reviews.  With Kahoot’s auto-grading feature, you save the participant’s Kahoot Challenge scores in Google Drive or Excel, using the My Results feature.

To learn more about using Kahoot Challenge for out-of-class activities, go to


2017 TeachingAndLearningToolbox.com

Microsoft Power BI

Power BI - 3

Do you already use Excel in your daily life?  Are you looking for an easy way to develop some Data Analytics skills?  Power BI is a Microsoft product that was originally developed as an Excel business intelligence (BI) solution upgrade and it may just be the tool to help introduce you to the world of business analytics.

Business intelligence encompasses the strategies and technologies used for data analysis of business information and Power BI is a tool which allows non-technical users the ability to assemble, analyze and share data.  Many individuals who currently use Excel have discovered Power BI to be a natural fit.   The interfaces of Excel and Power BI are very similar and simple visuals are easy to create and import.  Power BI is a natural migration for analyzing data sets when they become too large for Excel’s capabilities.  In addition, many extra analysis tools are available in Power BI compared to Excel.  Power BI allows users to create relationships between data sources and create various visualizations.

Review the following links to learn how Power BI can fit your data analytic needs:

Power BI Introduction Video:  https://youtu.be/_OOyJfszJXY

Power BI Frequently Asked Questions:  https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/powerbi-frequently-asked-questions/

Getting Started with Power BI:  https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/powerbi-service-get-started/

PowerBI VideoTutorial Playlist:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1N57mwBHtN0JFoKSR0n-tBkUJHeMP2cP

The best part is that you can get started for free today with the Power BI single user version, which includes 1GB of storage.  Create your free account at:  https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/

NOTE:  For an additional Business Intelligence analytics tool option, view our Teaching and Learning Toolbox Tip of the Month – April 2017 –  Tableau

© 2017 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Creating Engaging Animated Videos With PowToon


Are you looking for a way to create engaging, animated videos that capture your student’s attention?  If so, PowToon may just be the answer!

PowToon is the PowerPoint or Prezi alternative that can make learning fun.  Creating a PowToon is as easy as 1-2-3.  In under 10 minutes, you can select a template, structure your storyboard, create your presentation and publish your PowToon video.  PowToon videos can be stored in your PowToon account or you can also export them to YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia.  Don’t see a PowToon template you like?  No problem! You can also create your own from a blank template.

Whether you want to spice up your course Welcome/Getting Started video, create lesson previews for your flipped classroom or recap a topic, PowToon is a fun and easy way to deliver the message.  You can also share this useful technology tool with your students who may want a creative project presentation alternative.

PowToon’s are used by many large companies such as Starbucks, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, eBay, and Costco; therefore, introducing your students to PowToon technology adds another industry skill to their resume.

Not only are PowToon’s easy to create, edit and publish, but the PowToon library at https://www.powtoon.com/tutorials/ offers numerous helpful tutorials including a Quick Start Guide.  Best of all PowToon has a basic, free version or you can select one of their low-cost educational plans for more features.   Users who upgrade to the paid version of PowToon receive the added benefit of technical support.

To watch a short video about how you can “Bring Awesomeness to Your Classroom!” or to get started using PowToon today, visit https://www.powtoon.com/edu-home/.

© 2017 Teaching and Learning Toolbox



Are you looking for a way to easily express yourself “visually” to students in an online environment?  Snagit may be the tool that you have been looking for.  With Snagit you can effortlessly utilize screen capture technology to create online lectures, demonstration problems or to help explain student questions.  Snagit allows you to create quick videos, imbed images and make edits before you share the link.  Anything on your screen can be captured, explained and shared to your students utilizing Snagit.  This allows students to instantly feel a personal connection to the course instructor.

Experience the benefits of Snagit by clicking on the following video link:

Snagit Screen Capture Software & Screen Recorder | TechSmith

Snagit software allows you to create recordings on Windows and Mac.  In addition, your school may already have Snagit available for you.  If not, you can start using Snagit for 15 days free or purchase Snagit for a one-time discounted educator price of $29.95 (Regular price $49.95).   Click on the following link for the educator discount:  http://shop.techsmith.com/store/techsm/en_US/buy/productID.289742700

What are you waiting for?  Become a superstar with your students today with Snagit!

© 2017 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Using PowerPoint and Office Mix to Create Engaging, Interactive Videos!

Office Mix

Whether you are new to recording videos or an established pro, consider using PowerPoint with the Office Mix add-in to create engaging, interactive videos.  Office Mix can be used to enhance existing PowerPoint templates or you can create something from scratch.  Either way, you can use a familiar classroom technology tool to flip your classroom or enhance your online courses.

Office Mix lets the technology novice or guru easily add audio, video, screenshots, or web links to any PowerPoint presentation.  You can also annotate your slides as you record.

Are you concerned about recording a video in one setting?  No problem, Office Mix lets you start and stop the recording at any time, preview what you previously recorded, delete what you don’t like, and re-record any slide you desire.

Do you want to change slide information for a later semester?  This is easy to do as well.  Office Mix lets you modify previous recordings, and upload the revised version without changing the URL.

Office Mix also makes assessment easy.  With a click of a button, you can add assessments, such as quizzes, anyplace in your PowerPoint deck.  This lets you replicate your classroom’s interactive environment with a pre-recorded video lesson.

The data analytic tools in Office Mix provides the instructor with extensive information about the course.  Available data includes (1) which students viewed your “Mix”, (2) how much time students spend on each slide, (3) the average attempts per question, (4) the average hints used, (5) the percentage of students who correctly answered questions, (6) responses by student, (7) the most watched slides, (8) which student(s) didn’t watch the video to completion, and (9) data comparisons between class averages and individual students.  The data analytical tools can provide numerical output in Excel as well as visual output utilizing graphs and charts.

In addition to Office Mix making video creation and assessment easy, it makes sharing your interactive video lessons simple as well.  Within minutes you can upload your video to the Office Mix MyMixes web portal by logging into your Facebook, Google, Microsoft, or Office 365 account.  You can also share the video URL by email or embed it into your Learning Management System or website.

If you have privacy or security concerns, Office Mix works much like YouTube.  You can easily control the privacy settings for the recording.  Privacy settings include, private (only you can view your video), unlisted (share the URL to view) or public (anyone can find and view your video). Office Mix allows you to easily inventory and retrieve your videos by title, description, category, and tags.

Concerned about closed captioning?  Good news!  Closed captioning is available as well.  Simply use the PowerPoint closed captioning tools available in the 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007 versions.

Whether you want to flip your classroom, enhance an online course or provide students with a free, project creation and presentation technology tool, Office Mix may just be the thing you are looking for.

To learn more about Office Mix or to download this PowerPoint add-in so you can try it today, visit https://mix.office.com/en-us/education.

© 2017 Teaching and Learning Toolbox





Use the Summer to Prepare for the New Academic Year!


Let’s get ready for the new academic year!  This is a great time to reflect and utilize technology that can help organize yourself and your classroom for the upcoming year.   Where should you start?  Cathy and I think that this is the perfect time to share how we stay organized and to recap some of our favorite and most useful technology tools.

To maintain easy access to our documents from anywhere or any device, Cathy and I utilize Dropbox for document cloud storage.  In addition, Dropbox allows us to easily share documents with anyone.  Other cloud storage services that we recommend are Google Drive (https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/google-drive/), Microsoft One Drive and Apple iCloud.

In addition, a great note taking app is a must have for increasing productivity.  Both Notability (https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/notability/) and Evernote (https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/evernote/) are tools that we utilize on a weekly basis.  Additional note taking tools that we recommend are GoodNotes, Notes Plus, Noteshelf and Apple Notes.

Furthermore, Cathy and I utilize technology to convert our typical classroom into an interactive whiteboard environment.  Doceri (https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2015/09/18/doceri/) allows our hand held devices to project images through the classroom overhead projector and to record our lectures.  Additional whiteboard and/or lecture capture technology that we recommend are Explain Everything, Educreations, ShowMe, Notability, Splashtop, Scoodle Jam, Camtasia, Tegrity and Snagit.

Other useful organization technology that we utilize and recommend are Future Me (https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/connect-with-your-future-you/), Remind (https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/remind/) and Group Me.

We hope that you take this opportunity to discover at least one technology that can help you become more organized throughout the upcoming year.  We recommend checking with your institution to see if they currently provide any of these technologies at little or no cost to faculty.  Many technologies provide similar benefits, therefore, we identified several tools within each organizational category listed above.  We suggest utilizing tools that compliment your teaching style and that can be acquired for the least amount of resources.  Good luck and have a great academic year.

© 2017 Teaching and Learning Toolbox


QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online vs Desktop Compared

Have you been using QuickBooks Desktop or thinking about adding a general ledger software program to your course?   Have you heard various stories about the pros and cons of using QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online?  If so, this month’s blog will attempt to demystify the great debate over using QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online in your courses.

Let’s start with discussing what’s happening with QuickBooks Desktop in education.  You may have heard that the educational version of QuickBooks Desktop is being phased out.  It was thought that the last version of QuickBooks Desktop for education would be 2015. Until recently, this information was correct.  While new Enterprise versions of QuickBooks Desktop continued to be available, the last version of QuickBooks Desktop for education was 2015.  As educational software for QuickBooks was no longer updated, academia was faced with training on software that was behind industry.  To resolve this problem, academia began to shift to QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online is available in an educational format and always up-to-date.  Some faculty members liked the transition to the cloud and others did not.  Until a few weeks ago, this month’s blog planned to talk about how to transition from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online.  However, in the last few weeks, Intuit has announced there will be a new educational version of QuickBooks Desktop available for 2018.  This will be good news to some, while others will continue to evaluate the benefits of transitioning to QuickBooks Online.

So, if you are undecided or confused as to what direction to take, let’s look at some of the differences between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.  This may help you decide.

        QuickBooks Desktop           QuickBooks Online
Unlimited companies. This allows students to complete similar problems, using different companies. One company limitation.  Students are required to use a continuous type problem, using one company.
Only works with Windows PCs.  QuickBooks Desktop is not Apple Mac compatible.  Additionally, some computers have difficulty installing and running the QuickBooks Desktop software. Internet/Cloud-based.  QuickBooks Online works with all operating systems (PC or Apple Mac), and all types of devices.
Does not require an Internet connection Requires an Internet connection
Currently, requires a site license or student installed CD.  Note, the 2018 version is expected to be free and available for download.  CD’s will no longer be required. Free Educational Access.  A free educational access code is provided with textbooks.  Internet-based access means no software installation is required.  QuickBooks Online can be accessed from any place, at any time.
Fixed Asset Management included Fixed Asset Management not available
Navigation.  The look and feel of the software does not change within a version year. Navigation.  The QuickBooks Online application is updated on a regular basis.  The look and feel of the application may change at any time.
Requires data files and backups Does not require data files or backups
No remote access Remote access
Certification of users available Certification of users available

So how do you decide which QuickBooks option is right for you?  Let’s look at the following questions to help you decide:

  • Are you teaching your course on campus, where students work on QuickBooks Desktop in a computer lab or have access to a computer lab for out-of-class homework?

If your answer is Yes, then QuickBooks Desktop may still be a viable solution for you.  The benefits include the availability for students to practice with similar problems, using multiple companies.  There is also a limited learning curve for instructors between version years.

If your answer is No, then QuickBooks Online may be the best option for you.  The benefits of QuickBooks Online include access to the application 24/7, from any location, using any computer or device.  Data files are no longer required and students do not have to perform routine backup procedures.  Instructors can also be given Accountant access to assist students with their work and/or view the audit trail.  Note, if you haven’t used QuickBooks Online before, there will be a slight learning curve.  QuickBooks Online has a different look and feel from QuickBooks Desktop.

  • Have you surveyed your industry partners and/or your advisory committee about their preferences?

Industry views regarding QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online still differ depending on your location and local area needs.  Since QuickBooks Desktop does not require Internet access, businesses in more rural areas may prefer QuickBooks Desktop over QuickBooks Online.  If you work with industry partners and advisory board members who have converted their businesses and clients to QuickBooks Online, then you may receive a recommendation to train your students in QuickBooks Online.  Let your industry partners help you decide which option is best for your students today, and plan for what direction you should consider in the future.

  • Are you planning on having your students earn QuickBooks Certification?

If so, there are certification options for both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online.  Visit the Certiport QuickBooks Certified User website at http://www.certiport.com/portal/aspx?tabid=668&roleid=101 for more information.

Whether you are planning to shift from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online, or continue to use QuickBooks Desktop, there are training resources available.  Visit the Intuit website at http://quickbooks.intuit.com/tutorials/all-quickbooks-tutorials/ for various video tutorials on how to use QuickBooks Desktop or how to switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online.

© 2017 Teaching and Learning Toolbox