Would You Like to Have A Second Monitor Without the Cost?

Would you like to have dual monitors without a significant investment?  Duet Display may be just the answer! 

Duet Display is an app that allows you to connect your computer to your smart device (tablet or phone) as a second monitor. Originally created by ex-Apple developers for professional use, Duet Display also works great for a home office, remote work, or the classroom. Basically, any place you want a portable second monitor. Markus and I both use multiple monitors.  We have found that dual monitors are a great way to manage multiple processes as well as increase productivity and efficiency.

For just $9.99, the Duet Display download connects Windows, iOS and/or Android devices.  I use Duet Display to make my iPad Pro 12” tablet a second monitor for my Surface Pro.

Duet Display is as simple as 1-2-3 to set up (wired or wireless) and easy to use.  To create a wired connection between my Surface and my iPad, I use a lightening to USB cable.  A wired connection is useful when Wi-Fi may not be available or when your Wi-Fi signal is low.  For a wireless connection, just follow the app instructions to pair devices.

To learn more about Duet Display or to get started using it, go to https://www.duetdisplay.com/.  You will also need to download the Duet Display app from your smart device app store.

© 2020 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Futureproof Employees and Students with Data Analytics Training.

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.  Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” ~Bill Gates~

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed when you hear or read about disruptive technology changes coming to the field of Accounting?  If so, you are not alone.  We hear terms like AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), RPA (Robotic Process Automation), AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), Mixed Reality, Blockchain, Big Data, Data Analytics, Data Visualization, 3-D Printing-Additive Manufacturing, and IoT (The Internet of Things). We are told that these disruptive technologies will impact the future of accounting, but do we really need to worry about this now?  The answer is yes!  Changes in technology is going to disrupt the future of the accounting workplace and the time to adapt is now.  The future is here!

Download to read the remainder of our article that was published in the July/August 2020 edition of the MOCPA Asset Magazine.

Accessibility – Free Technology Tools and Tips for Compliance

During Spring 2020, COVID-19 forced many face-to-face courses to shift to remote learning abruptly. This shift posed numerous challenges for instructors, including how to provide accessible course content. While the pandemic forced institutions and instructors to be flexible or even allowed short-term exceptions for specific requirements; accessibility standards were not waived.  Instructors were still responsible for making sure that their courses were accessible and in compliance.  Markus and I recognize that complying with accessibility requirements can feel a bit overwhelming. Therefore, we want to share a few tips to demystify the concept of accessibility as well as provide some free tools to simplify making your asynchronous and synchronous courses compliant.

Let’s start by discussing accessibility best practices.  First, a common thought is that accessibility requirements only need to be met if students request accommodations.  In reality, remote courses need to be accessible even if no student accommodations are in place.  Regardless of the delivery format (asynchronous vs. synchronous), there are several accessibility best practices to consider:

  • Course design – We recommend that you use a simple and consistent format. Take a few minutes to look at your course through multiple lenses.  Ask yourself, if you could not hear, see, or had other disabilities, could you successfully navigate this course?  If not, make the appropriate changes.
  • Communication – It is important to make sure your instructions are clear for all course activities. Remember, in a remote environment, you will not be as readily available to your students as you might have been in the classroom. Ask yourself, if you did not know anything about the presented materials, would you know what to do?  If not, add the appropriate clarification.
  • Learning Management System (LMS) Tools – Most LMS systems (i.e., Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, etc.) have built-in accessibility support tools. Be sure to use these when they are available. These tools and resources will simplify the task of making your course compliant.
  • Third-Party Applications – Do you use third-party tools? Homework managers, or other applications?  If so, are these third-party applications accessible?  If not, you may consider using different resources.  Third-party applications that are accessible will have an accessibility statement.
  • Hyperlinks – It is important to describe any hyperlinks used in your course. Avoid using generic terms for links, such as “Assignment,” “Quiz,” etc.  The link should describe the activity and its content, such as “Chapter 2 Assignment”.
  • Images – It is also essential to use descriptions that clearly describe all images shown in your course. If possible, avoid using images just for decoration.  All images should have a purpose and add value to the learning experience.
  • Font – The bigger the font, the better. San serif fonts are the best for accessibility. Additionally, Word documents should typically use a font that is 14-point or larger, and PowerPoint slides should use a font 24-point or greater.
  • Color – When using color in your course, always consider color-blind students or those who are visually impaired. It is best to use contrasting colors, whenever possible.  Avoid red and green, but if you must use these colors, try to use darker versions for clarity.  Colors like blue and orange tend to be better.
  • Captions – Captioning your course content is one of the biggest challenges or concerns for many instructors. It is perceived to be very time-consuming. Additionally, there is often the misconception that captioning is just for students who are hearing impaired. However, captioning can be helpful for a variety of other students as well. For example, ELS/ELL students (English Language Learners).

Markus and I are often asked the question, “Where do we start?”  There are several free tools available for you to use.  Some of these tools you already use on a regular basis.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office provides a free accessibility checker tool that can be used with Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word.  This accessibility tool is available for Office Online, as well as Windows and Mac users.

Word and PowerPoint are probably the best-known applications that allow you to create and share accessible documents.  Accessibility features in Word and PowerPoint can be turned on for accessibility checking while you work, or you can verify accessibility before saving the document.  The Microsoft accessibility checker not only verifies accessibility; it also provides recommendations for compliance, such as inserting alternative text (Alt Text) for images and properly formatting headings.  When creating accessible Word documents, avoid using features such as SmartArt, text boxes, headers, and footers.  When creating accessible PowerPoints, consider selecting a template that offers contrasting colors and avoid using the Design Ideas feature.  While some Design Ideas templates are compliant, many others are not.

PDF

PDFs are another way to share accessible documents.  If you have the professional version of Adobe Acrobat, you can use the accessibility check feature for any documents (created by you or others).  To create an accessible PDF, Markus and I recommend that you start with an accessible Word document. It is important to use the “Save As” feature to convert your Word document to a PDF, rather than printing the document to a PDF.  The “Save As” option helps retain the original accessibility features in your new document.  Most accessible Word documents easily convert to an accessible PDF; however, it is always a good idea to double-check the accessibility of your new document for accessibility and make modifications as needed.

Videos and Virtual Meetings

Course videos and virtual course meetings also need to meet accessibility guidelines.  Videos should be captioned, visual content needs to be described using Alt Text, and video players need to be user-accessible by mouse and keyboard.  Video controls should be appropriately labeled so that screen reader users can access all the video features. A few of the video players that support accessible content include YouTube, Vimeo, and Panopto. You may find Panopto as a free feature in your school’s LMS.

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR)

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology is continuously improving, but the technology is still not 100% accurate.  Accuracy of converting speech to text can be affected in various ways, including excessive background noise, the speaker’s accent, voice tone, or volume.  If you use a script to record your videos, then you already have your captioning transcript created.  If you do not use a script, there are several free captioning options available.  Regardless of the captioning method you use, it is essential to review your captions and make corrections as needed.

Closed-Captioning vs. Live-Captioning

Asynchronous courses typically use closed captioning.  Alternatively, live-captioning is generally used with synchronous courses since it happens in real-time.  Closed-captions allow course participants to opt-in or opt-out of displaying the caption. In contrast, live-captioning is always displayed, for all participants. Closed captioning is easy to translate into multiple languages, and captions can be modified.  In comparison, live-captioning is typically available only in one language and cannot be modified or saved.  Not all platforms support closed captioning, but accessible video players like YouTube, Vimeo, and Panopto do.

The accuracy standard for closed-captioning is higher than for live-. For closed captioning, the goal is 99% to 100% accuracy rate.  Markus and I have found that verifying video captioning accuracy is quick and easy when you record shorter videos (less than 15 minutes). Shorter videos also are more engaging for students, so it is a win-win!

Live-captioning standards strive for the highest level of accuracy considered reasonable under the circumstances.  Using technology tools that have a high speech to text accuracy level dramatically improves the quality of the live-captioning experience for students.  Technology tools like PowerPoint, Google Doc/Slides, G Suite – Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom all have live-captioning options.  As previously mentioned, usually, live-captioning cannot be saved for future use, but Zoom’s “closed-captioning” feature does have the ability to archive live session captions.

The topic of accessibility may still feel a bit overwhelming, but once you find your tools and perfect your processes, accessibility compliance can be very manageable.  Do not forget to use your Disability Services and Distance Learning offices for support and assistance.   They can be great resources.  An accessibility resource for web content that may also be useful is the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) Quick Reference.

©2020 TeachingAndLearningToolbox.com

 

 

Improve Your Virtual Meeting and Classroom Presentations

Toolbox

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been communicating fully or at least partially within a virtual environment.  Virtual delivery has allowed us to continue to connect and collaborate with students and co-workers while maintaining social distancing practices.  Throughout the past several months, we all have encountered good and poor virtual experiences, including meeting and screen fatigue.  Cathy and I have reflected on our personal experiences and we decided to identify some virtual delivery best practices.

First, make sure that you have the correct equipment to effectively deliver your course or meeting content.  This includes having a reliable web camera, and luckily, most laptops and tablets have adequate built in web cameras.  If you prefer a higher quality camera or if you have a desktop, many external web cameras are available at very reasonable price points.  In addition, sufficient internet speed to support streaming content and video is required.  Many households have implemented a family internet usage calendar to avoid too many devices streaming content during the same time of an important virtual meeting.  To improve privacy during virtual delivery, Cathy and I suggest using a headset or a pair of earphones.  Many listening options are available depending on how much someone wants to spend on this option.  Cathy and I prefer wireless options like Apple AirPods or the Anker Liberty Air.  The final piece of equipment that we have invested in is a quality microphone for recorded presentations.  Cathy and I prefer the Blue Yeti microphone, which is available with a desk stand or a boom arm.  To further reduce microphone noise and acoustic transparency, an optional pop filter can be placed in front of the Blue Yeti microphone.

After you are assured that your equipment can support the delivery of your meeting or course, there are other great practices that should be observed.

  • Prepare Yourself Ahead of Time and Incorporate Some Transition Time – Make sure to mindfully transition from all other tasks before you deliver or participate in a virtual meeting. Make sure to close other apps and browsers to increase internet speed and to help reduce distractions.  In addition, it is important to get into the correct mindset before the virtual meeting begins.  Cathy and I suggest reviewing the course topics or meeting agenda for a few minutes before the start of the virtual meeting.  Decide if you are going to stand or sit during the virtual presentation.  If you normally stand when you teach, we suggest that you stand during the virtual presentation.  Also, make sure that your lighting is adequate for others to see you during the presentation.  Test your video camera and the lighting before your meeting begins.  Furthermore, make sure that all screens that you plan to share during the meeting are ready to view on your device.
  • Don’t Do Too Much at Once – Typically, it will take longer to cover material in a virtual environment compared to when we meet in person. Consider covering less material and allowing more time for questions and conversation.  Online delivery models require more repetition and additional time for discussion.  PowerPoint can work well with presentation organization and delivery, but we should avoid putting too much material on individual slides.  PowerPoint can help facilitate keeping meetings and classes on track, but the slides should include only the main discussion items.  In addition, try to avoid having long virtual meetings or classes.  We as humans can only stay engaged virtually for a certain period of time.
  • Set Some Ground Rules – Participants should develop a habit of muting themselves when they are not talking. To avoid everyone talking at once, a process to ask questions or contribute to the discussion should be in place.  Utilizing the chat or raising your hand features are great practices to insure a fair an equitable process for everyone to have a voice during the meeting.  Decide ahead of time if all participants will be required to have their camera on during the entire meeting or only when they speak.  Cathy and I like the human element in our virtual classroom environments and it is more engaging when students have their cameras are on.  At a minimum, everyone should introduce themselves at the beginning of the semester (or meeting) and then state their name when they ask questions.
  • Increase Engagement – Cathy and I cannot stress enough that engagement during virtual delivery is essential. We utilize polling software to insure that our students are participating and understanding the material being presented.  Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, Mentimeter, Socrative, GoSoapBox, and Nearpod can be used for virtual meeting polling activities.  In addition, we use online breakout rooms to promote smaller group discussions.
  • Finish Strong– We should always end our virtual meetings with either an overview of what was covered or what still needs to be completed. Many times, we can ask everyone for closing thoughts, what they learned, or what they still are confused about before they exit the meeting.  The online chat feature or polling options can help facilitate the end of the meeting discussion.

Cathy and I are always trying to improve our classroom delivery and student engagement.  Our goal is to provide others the techniques and technology tools that have been successful in enhancing the student learning experience within our on-campus and virtual classroom environments.  Hopefully, our best practices will help with your virtual meeting and course delivery planning process.

 

© 2020 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

GoSoapBox In Review: Taking Student Engagement To A New Level

GoSoapBox In Review: Taking Student Engagement To A New Level

Occasionally, Markus and I receive a request to revisit a previous technology tool, so this month we will be looking at GoSoapBox In Review.

If you are looking to enhance your current classroom response system, you might consider GoSoapBox. GoSoapBox is a powerful multi-function tool that can help you engage students as well as conduct formative assessments to evaluate students understanding of course concepts.

GoSoapBox events help you gain real-time insight into student comprehension with several useful tools, such as (1) Social Q&A, (2) Confusion Barometer, (3) Quizzes, (4) Polls, and (5) Discussions. Let’s briefly look at each of these GoSoapBox features.

Social Q&A: Social Q&A is a way to manage student questions that you do not have time to answer in class. Social Q&A is a technology feature that is similar to a student raising their hand in class but without the disruption. As questions are posted, other students can determine which questions are also most important to them. This lets the instructor know what questions to address in class, which is especially useful when class time is limited.  After class, you can also post answers to the questions that were not covered in class.  With GoSoapBox, you can easily address all student questions, in or out of class, which supports all students throughout the course.

Confusion Barometer: The Confusion Barometer is a feature that lets students communicate when they are confused or when they need the instructor to slow down on a topic discussion.  GoSoapBox engages even the quietest voice in the class, especially when the anonymity feature is enabled.  The instructor sees a visual representation that identifies the number of students who are confused, compared to the number of students who understand.  It is always better to know early in the learning process that a student is off-track, rather than find out later, such as on an exam.

Quizzes: The Quizzes features let the instructor created multiple-choice or short answer questions. Students can take the quizzes either during or outside of class. Results can be exported into a spreadsheet to analyze student performance or apply points to the grade book. Quizzes are a great formative assessment tool to identify what students understand or may need to review further.

Polls: Similar to clicker devices and other polling technology, such as Polleverywhere (September 2018, August 2015), the GoSoapBox Polls feature engage students in course lectures and activities while displaying results in real-time.

Discussions: Discussions allow instructors to create topics for students to research and debate.  Discussion can be set up where participants can post anonymously or where student responses can be identified for grading.  The anonymous feature in GoSoapBox is easy to deploy by a discussion event.

For the instructor, GoSoapBox makes it easy to export data to a spreadsheet, capturing data for the entire class or by individual students.  GoSoapBox’s reporting feature makes it easy to identify students who may be getting off track or confirm which students have a solid understanding of the material.

GoSoapBox is compatible with all web browsers and most devices. It is easy for students to join using an event code. Best of all, GoSoapBox is free for smaller classes (30 or less), but upgrades are available for larger class sizes.

If you are excited to explore this fantastic tech tool, you can take a tour of GoSoapBox at https://www.gosoapbox.com/tour or sign up for your free account at https://www.gosoapbox.com/signup.

©2020 TeachingAndLearningToolbox.com

 

Zoom

Zoom logo

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators, including Cathy and myself, were displaced from our campus classrooms and then quickly adopted Zoom to deliver our course content in an online teaching environment.  Zoom has become the current leader in virtual collaboration classroom tools.  In addition, Zoom easily provides video communication across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and conference room systems.  Its free version hosts up to 100 participants and allows unlimited meetings.  Zoom’s free version also allows unlimited 1 on 1 meetings; however, group meetings are usually limited to 40 minutes (NOTE: The 40 minute limit has been lifted during the COVID-19 crisis).  Zoom is a very easy tool to learn and set up.  All meetings include features like a conference call-in number, private and group chat, screen sharing, group collaboration, and an electronic whiteboard to name a few.

This new unprecedented Zoom learning course delivery has resulted in some problems and concerns.  Unfortunately, “Zoombombing” is a new form of cyber trolling that has emerged.  Zoombombing occurs when an uninvited participant uses Zoom’s screensharing feature to interrupt and disrupt meetings and classes, usually with inappropriate content.  Since Zoom was not originally created for the educational environment, the company is continually improving the virtual collaboration tool to increase security and privacy.

Below are a few tips that Cathy and I have implemented to keep our class meetings private and prevent ourselves from becoming “Zoombombed”:

  • Turn OFF the ‘Use Personal Meeting ID’ when hosting your class meeting. By turning off this option, Zoom will create a one-time unique ID for your class meeting.
  • Turn ON the ‘Required Meeting Password’ – select a simple password and share it with the invited meeting participants. If you have different classes that you are teaching, we suggest setting up a different password for each class.  This practice will help protect the FERPA rights of students.
  • Turn ON the ‘Enable Waiting Room’ – This option places everyone into a waiting room until you recognize them and allow them into the meeting. If you use this option, you need to keep an eye on the waiting room to see if anyone needs to join the class meeting late or had to rejoin due to technology failures.
  • Select ‘Allow Participants to Chat With’ to chat with ‘Host Only’ – this option prevents inappropriate side conversation chats.
  • Turn OFF the ‘Allow Participants to Share’ – this option only allows the host to share their screen.
  • Turn ON the ‘Mute on Entry’ – this option mutes everyone at the start of the meeting, which prevents unnecessary background noise. The participants have the option to unmute themselves if they need to ask a question.
  • During the class meeting you have the option to ‘Kick Out Unruly People’ by hovering over the participants name and selecting the option to kick them out.
  • Also, consider logging into your hosted Zoom class meeting as a participant through a different device. This will allow you to monitor what your students are viewing during your class session.

Cathy and I have utilized Zoom extensively throughout the past few weeks.  Zoom is a great option to enhance and expand classes with powerful collaboration tools, including video breakout rooms, multi-sharing, polling, and group chats. In addition, attendance and attention tracking allows educators to know who’s engaged in the online learning environment.  Zoom also allows a host to create and re-purpose video content into easy hosted videos that allow students to learn at their own pace.

Breakout rooms in Zoom are a great option to help with group project implementation.  Breakout rooms are sessions that are split off from the main Zoom meeting. This allows class participants to meet in smaller groups. Breakout rooms are a great way to replicate the classroom environment by engaging students in small group discussions and collaborative activities.  Instructors can join any group activity, which is very similar to walking around the classroom or students can “raise their hand” to request the instructor join their room.

In addition to hosting our virtual classrooms in Zoom, Cathy and I have utilized Zoom for virtual tutoring, campus hours, and faculty meetings.  This has provided our students with opportunities to learn beyond the classroom.  In addition, Zoom has allowed us to share our successes and challenges with our colleagues through weekly virtual meetings.

Do you need more help adopting and securing your Zoom classroom?  We suggest checking out these great Zoom created video tutorials:  https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206618765-Zoom-Video-Tutorials?_ga=2.47859235.520390637.1586184035-254639170.1585840704

To learn more about Zoom and to set up your free account, click https://zoom.us/.

© 2020 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

 

Are You Ready for Remote Learning? Technology Tools to Quickly and Effectively Shift Your Lecture Courses Online.

When teaching with technology, Markus and I always promote having a Game Plan B and sometimes even a Game Plan C.  This same mindset can apply to having a contingency plan for taking lecture courses online.  This plan might be the result of weather or as we are seeing right now the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  If you are in the process of shifting your lecture courses online or facing this prospect in the future, here are some tips and technology resources that may help.

Transition Strategies

  • First and foremost, it is important for you to remain calm. Making this transition can be stressful for instructors and students.  How you present yourself with students will set the stage for a successful transition.  Strive for a smooth transition, not perfection.  Remember you aren’t perfect in your lecture classes, and you don’t need to be perfect in the online classroom.
  • As part of the planning process, try to mirror your online course as closely as possible to your existing lecture class. This will help your students adapt and provide everyone the best transition and learning experience. Check out your publisher’s materials first.  They are already prepared for online delivery, including content being accessibility approved.  When you have the time, create your own lecture videos.  Being able to see the instructor in the course, keeps students engaged.  For online learning, be sure to keep videos short.  Five minutes or less is ideal.  Having more short videos is better than one long video for both the students and the instructor.
  • Make yourself “present” in the course through Discussion Boards, collaborative tools, etc. It is important for students to feel connected.  Remember, many students believe they learn best in a lecture environment.  It is essential to make them feel comfortable in the online course too.
  • Set expectations immediately. Communicate what has changed in your course format and be clear about your expectations. Also, make sure to highlight the differences in online learning. In addition, revise your syllabus to reflect any remote learning expectations.
  • Include frequent feedback mechanisms or knowledge checks. Utilize your learning management system, homework management system or other assessment technology tools listed below.

Let’s look at some technology tools that can help you make a quick and easy transition from the classroom to online.  Don’t try to use too many tools at once.  Pick the best tool(s) to supplement the learning experience you are trying to achieve at the time.

Immediate Transition Tools

  • Communicate: Post an announcement in your learning management system about course changes.  Remind students to check the course and their school email regularly.  It might be helpful to have your students sign up with Remind (November 2015) as a way to stay connected.  Both Markus and I use Remind to redirect students back to our learning management systems.  This tool can be especially helpful for working with lecture students who may not regularly check their school email or learning management system course.
  • Updating Your Course: To quickly insert supplemental material into your course, look at all available publisher material.  Publisher homework managers often have various study tools and supplemental teaching tools, including adaptive learning plans, videos, etc. that can be easily inserted to help with the initial transition.
  • Campus Resources: Use any campus resources available that are supported by your IT staff first.  This will ensure that you have professional assistance available if needed.
  • Stage the Transition in Steps: Look at the activities you can easily transition to online learning first.  Then look at how you can enhance or add to your course.
  • Be inclusive: Remember that some students will not have computer access to your course.  Will the activities in your course be accessible to students on smartphones or smart devices?  Be sure to consider how you will accommodate a student who might not have access to any technology.

Video Creation Tools

  • Doceri:  Markus and I have used Doceri (October 2019) for several years as a lecture capture tool as well as a method to provide students with short tutorials.  Doceri has a free version if you don’t mind the watermark or you can pay a one-time fee of $30 for the desktop license and training support.
  • TechSmith (Snagit):  The TeachingAndLearningToolBox featured Snagit (August 2017).  Snagit is a screen capture, screen recorder that can be used to create tutorials and lectures.  TechSmith is now offering this technology for free through June 30, 2020.  Click here for details.
  • Video Hosting:  There are several video hosting sites including Vimeo and YouTube.  Markus and I use YouTube because of the closed-captioning feature.  Click here for how to upload videos to YouTube. Note:  If you use the public setting, anyone can find your video.  Markus and I prefer to use the unlisted setting where we share a link with our students.  We would recommend you avoid using the private setting as that requires you to input/approve your student email accounts before they will have access.  Accessibility is a concern when shifting to online learning.  Click here for how to add closed captioning to your videos on YouTube.

Virtual Collaboration Connections

Many learning management systems have a collaboration feature (Blackboard Collaborate, Canvas, etc.), or your school may have technology such as Adobe Connect or WebEx.  Check with your school resources first to see what type of collaboration tools may be available.

  • Zoom:  Zoom is a virtual collaboration tool that is available for most devices.  Its free version hosts up to 100 participants and allows unlimited meetings.  Zoom’s free version also allows unlimited 1 on 1 meetings; however, group meetings are limited to 40 minutes.  Zoom is an easy tool to learn and set up.  All meetings include features like a conference call-in number, private and group chat, screen sharing, group collaboration, and an electronic whiteboard to name a few.  To learn more about Zoom, click here.
  • WebEx: WebEx has just extended its free plan to 90 Days.  WebEx allows you to record meetings, share files and it also has a whiteboard feature.  It also accommodates up to 100 attendees and can be accessed through both computer and mobile devices.  To learn more about WebEx’s extended free plan special, click here.
  • Logme.in: Logme.in is part of the GoToMeeting family.  It provides similar features to Zoom and WebEx.  To learn more about Logme.in’s free plan special, click here.
  • Microsoft Sway:  Microsoft Sway (December 2017) is a virtual collaboration tool that is referred to by Microsoft as a “digital storytelling app”. This tool is an alternative to PowerPoint that lets you share video, text, images, and any other media to “tell the story” to your students.
  • Evernote: Evernote (March 2016) is a great tool for remote group work collaboration.  It allows students to easily share with their classmates and instructor.  Evernote is also a great tool for student portfolios.
  • TechSmith Video Review:  This is a collaborative feedback tool that records presentations as well as allows students to interact with the videos and provide comments.  This tool lets you keep a meaningful conversation going in an asynchronous environment. TechSmith is now offering this technology for free through June 30, 2020. To learn more about TechSmith Video Review, click here.
  • Microsoft Teams:  If your school has Office 365, Microsoft Teams (March 2018) is another great collaborative tool you can use to create classroom teams.
  • Slack:  If you want to bring classroom collaboration and teamwork together online, check out Slack (January 2018).
  • GoogleHangouts Advanced (Gsuite):  Normally, Markus and I talk about GoogleHangouts for virtual office hours; however, Google has just announced free access to their Advanced GoogleHangouts/Gsuite as a response to the needs of organizations affected by the Coronavirus.  Gsuite will allow users to hold meetings up to 250 participants, live stream to up to 100,000 viewers within a domain and record meetings that can be posted to Google Drive.  To learn more about GoogleHangouts, click here.  To learn more about free access to Gsuites, click here.

Virtual Office Hours

In addition to some of the virtual collaboration tools listed above, below are some technology tools that can help you streamline your virtual office hours.

  • Calendly:  Calendly (November 2016) is a simple way for students to sign up for virtual office hours.  This is a tool I use regularly and couldn’t live without.  Simply set up your office hour schedule in the application and provide students the link.  They can pick the best time to connect with you based on your availability.
  • Google Voice:  Many schools are asking faculty to provide some type of phone number to their students.  To avoid giving out your personal phone number, Google Voice offers a free number that you can link to your home or cell phone.  Markus and I both use Google Voice with our students.  This allows you to separate your personal and work life calls. To learn more about Google Voice, click here.
  • Skype:  While Markus and I have talked about using Skype for virtual field trips, it is also a great tool to connect with students during virtual office hours.  To learn more about Skype options, click here.

Interactive Assessment

  • Peergrade:  If you do individual and group evaluations, Peergrade (August 2018) is a great online tool to use with your students.  While there is typically a charge, Peergrade just announced that they will provide this application for free for the next four months. Use the code COVID19 when prompted.  Click here for details.  What a great time to give this assessment tool a try!
  • Quizlet:  Quizlet (January 2017) is a great tool to reinforce basic learning outside of the classroom.  The free version allows for the creation of study tools, including flashcards, learning activities, practice tests, and games.
  • Kahoot Challenge:  Bring the gamification of Kahoot from the classroom to online with Kahoot Challenge (November 2017).
  • Poll Everywhere Competition:  If you are using clickers or other polling devices in your classroom, try Poll Everywhere Competition (September 2018) with your online learners.

Enhanced Discussions

  • Flipgrid:  Create a vibrant learning environment by bringing your discussion boards to life with Flipgrid (February 2018).  Students create short videos for discussion posts from their cell phones.  Flipgrid gives every student a voice!

Document Submission

  • Office Lens:  You may have students who don’t have access to a computer while off-campus.  While most students can access class materials with their smartphones, they may not be able to electronically complete or submit work. If you have students who need to submit manual assignments, suggest that they download the Office Lens app by Microsoft (May 2018). Office Lens lets students take a picture with their smartphone, then convert it to a PDF.  This app provides more clarity than a regular smartphone picture and the PDF file is easy for the instructor to grade.

Markus and I know we have given you a lot of information.  You may feel a bit overwhelmed.  We recommend that you only pick one or two items to start.  Remember to use technology that serves a pedagogical purpose.  That may help you narrow down your selection.

Markus and I are closely monitoring free or low-cost technology options that may help you provide a better learning experience for your students.  As new information is available, we will post it to the blog.

Best of luck!  Remember this transition will be an evolving process.  You and your students will be adjusting together. You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to stay positive.  You’ve got this!

If you have questions during your journey, feel free to reach out to Markus or myself at info@teachingandlearningtoolbox.com.  You can also sign up for automatic notifications for future posts by clicking on the link on the bottom right corner of the Tip of the Month home page.

©2020 TeachingAndLearningToolbox

Grammarly

Grammarly

Are you interested in a technology tool to aid your students (and you) to improve grammar skills and to help detect plagiarism?  If so, Grammarly may be the perfect solution for you.  Grammarly is a digital writing tool that uses artificial intelligence through machine learning and deep learning algorithms.  Depending on the level of service purchased, Grammarly offers grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection services.

Grammarly’s online writing assistance and plagiarism tools encourage good grammar and a more professional writing style.  In addition, Grammarly’s integrated plagiarism checker instantly catches plagiarism from over 16 billion websites.  From grammar and spelling to style and tone, Grammarly helps users eliminate errors and find the perfect words to express themselves.

Grammarly can provide real-time edits while writing or the live edit can be disabled, which then only provides feedback during the revision portion of the writing process.  This option allows an update as a final check for errors and inconsistencies.  Other features available include Goals and Performance.  Goals launches whenever you import a new document and it helps Grammarly adjust its edits based on the context of your writing.  The Performance score informs a user how accurate the new document is compared to documents written by other Grammarly users who set the same goals.

Currently, Grammarly Is Trusted by Over 1000 Educational Institutions.  Research has shown that a high number of high school graduates do not possess successful writing skills. Grammarly can help younger students prepare for college-level writing.  In addition, many college freshmen are not adequately prepared for college-level writing courses. Grammarly can work one-on-one with students to develop essential writing skills, reinforce proper revision habits, and prevent plagiarism.  Each week, Grammarly can send an email recapping a user’s writing activity, called Grammarly Insights.  The recap has the ability to provide a list of the three most common errors made and the number of unique words used.

Cathy and I have utilized Grammarly as a teaching tool for our students.  In the past, we have required students to submit written assignments to the following free Grammarly plagiarism detection link: https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker before the assignment is submitted to us.  The link provides students with feedback regarding how much of their written assignment is possibly plagiarized.  The premium service provides additional details regarding what specifically is plagiarized, which we can view as premium subscription instructors.

A great benefit of Grammarly is that it works in many places across your daily workflow.  Grammarly works seamlessly across several platforms including Gmail, Outlook, Messenger, Yahoo, Twitter, Google Docs, Slack, LinkedIn, Facebook plus many more.

Currently, there are a few improvements to Grammarly that could make it more appealing.  The premium plan is not free, but it can be purchased for under $12 per month.  Also, there is not an offline editing mode and there is not support for Office on Mac.  In our opinion, the benefits of using Grammarly greatly out weigh our noted limitations.  Furthermore, our students have greatly benefited from developing better writing skills by utilizing Grammarly.

For more information about Grammarly go to the following link: https://www.grammarly.com/

© 2020 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Create Interactive, Engaging Presentations with Real-Time Feedback Using Mentimeter.

Markus and I have discussed several polling and assessment apps over the years including Socrative (February 2016), Kahoot (June 2016), Google Q&A (April 2018), Polleverywhere (September 2018), Sli.do (May 2019), GoSoapBox (September 2019) and Formative (November 2019).  If you are looking for something different that seamlessly combines interactive, engaging presentations with real-time feedback, consider MentimeterMentimeter allows you to create interactive presentations by embedding polls, word clouds, quizzes, and Q&A slides.  Like other polling applications, students use their smartphones to respond.

What makes Mentimeter different?  Primarily, their free version allows unlimited participants.  This single feature can be extremely useful for those teaching larger classes.  Other benefits of the free version are unlimited presentations and access to the Mentimeter Help Center.  However, the free version does have some limitations.  For instance, it only allows 2 questions per presentation and no more than 5 quizzes.

Mentimeter’s paid upgrades also have some useful enhanced features, including (1) Smartphone presentation control; (2) Easy navigation between presentation slides, student voting, and Q&A monitoring; (3) PowerPoint import feature, which allows you to use existing PowerPoints with Mentimeter assessment features.  In addition to PowerPoint, users can also upload PDF or Keynote files.

For those who prefer to present from a podium, both Windows (PowerPoint 2016 – Office 365 with the Mentimeter plug-in) and Mac’s users can easily toggle or swipe to move between a presentation and the Mentimeter application.

Mentimeter as a single app easily supports interactive lecturing.  Use Mentimeter to start class with an icebreaker activity, encourage discussion between concepts, assess learning, and monitor student questions in real-time.  Mentimeter is also a great reflection tool at the end of an activity, a class or the course.

Most of all, Mentimeter is inclusive, fun and a great way to increase learning.  It is a tool that helps engage everyone in the course while providing the instructor with real-time feedback to quickly assess and correct gaps in knowledge.

To learn more about Mentimeter or set up your free account, go to https://www.mentimeter.com/Mentimeter also has a blog that shares various presentation and teaching tips https://www.mentimeter.com/blog.

©2020 TeachingandLearningToolbox.com

 

2019 Year End Review

Toolbox

As our semester and 2019 come to a close, we feel that it is a great opportunity to reflect upon the fantastic technology tools and topics that we explored throughout the year.  A great resolution for 2020 is to integrate one of these tools into your classroom environment.

Doodlyhttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/01/

Integrating Data Analytics https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/02/

Google Keephttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/03/

Piazzahttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/04/

Sli.dohttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/05/

Identity Guardhttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/06/

Integrating Data Analytics #2 https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/07/

Let’s Get Ready for the New Academic Year – https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/08/

Go Soap Boxhttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/09/

Doceri (Revisited)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/10/

Formative https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/11/

We look forward to exploring more teaching and learning technology tools in 2020.

© 2019 Teaching and Learning Toolbox