2021 Year End Review

With COVID-19 still hanging around, many of us are ready for 2021 to end and we look forward to a healthy 2022.  At this time of year, we feel that it is a great opportunity to reflect upon the fantastic technology tools and topics that we explored throughout 2021.  A great resolution for 2022 is to integrate at least one new tool into your classroom environment.

Wakelet (Collaboration)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/01/

Microsoft Clipping Tool https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/02/

Ziplet (Student Feedback)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/03/

Zoom Classroom Lecture Recordingshttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/04/

Soundtrap (Podcasting & Collaboration)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/05/

Teaching in Hyflex and Blended Learning Environments  – https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/06/

Canva (Collaboration) https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/07/

Let’s Get Ready for the New Academic Year – https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/08/

CountThings (Image Recognition & Machine Learning)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/09/

Chrome Extensions (Momentum, Kami, InsertLearning, Google Keep, Just Read)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/10/31/

Google Lens https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/11/30/

We look forward to exploring more teaching and learning technology tools throughout 2022.

© 2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Enhancing Learning and Productivity with Google Lens!

Google Lens is a free AI-Powered app that utilizes a smartphone camera with machine learning to identify and explain objects to users.  The Google Lens app is available for both Android and iOS devices.  While Google Lens has been around since 2017, the technology continues to evolve.  Essentially, Google Lens has gotten “smarter” over time.  Not only can Google Lens identify images, but it can also easily search, copy, and translate text.  For ELS students, the real-time translation feature can be beneficial.  Students snap a Google Lens picture of the desired text and utilize the Google Translate plug-in to complete the translation instantly.  Google Lens can also identify people, text, math equations, animals, landmarks, products, etc.  Sometimes Google Lens provides resources for further learning exploration, and other times, it gives the answers.

Some key Google Lens features that can benefit both students and instructors include:

Text Selection/Search Tool: This feature allows students to use Google Lens to take pictures and highlight text for later use on their phone or computer, using the “Copy to Computer” command.

Google Lens can capture any text, whether it is on a piece of paper, in a book, on a whiteboard, or website.  Once the text is copied to a smartphone, the information can then be pasted in external sources such as Google Docs, notes, email, or a chatbox.

Today, many students use their smartphones rather than computers for schoolwork.  Therefore, the text and search features enhance the phone’s usefulness.  Google Lens is also useful for quick lookup activities, such as defining unfamiliar words or technical jargon.  Finally, for other students who prefer audio rather than visual learning, Google Lens makes it easy for students to listen to any captured text.  

Homework Assistant Tool:  Students can use Google Lens as a homework assistant.  Students simply scan the question(s), and the app provides resources and/or answers.  For STEM courses, Google Lens combined with Socratic by Google typically includes step-by-step instructions that lead to the final answers. 

Using technology as a homework assistant can be either good or bad.  For students who use Google Lens as a homework assistant, the technology can help get them “unstuck,” which can be particularly helpful as students are learning a topic.  Using Google Lens in this manner keeps students moving forward in their learning process. 

However, a downside of Google Lens is the increased ability to cheat.  Using Google Lens, students can easily take a picture of an exam question to locate the answer.  Before writing this blog, sample questions were used with Google Lens.  The results indicated that publisher-created questions as well as recycled instructor-created questions often quickly located the correct answer.  With this type of technology, students who cheat no longer must enter a question into the search bar and then sort through resources for potential answers.  Instead, they can simply snap a picture of the question, and Google Lens will rapidly search the Internet for the solution.  Since Google Lens uses machine learning, it can sort through millions of sources quickly, and as our tests found rather effectively.  

Productivity Tool:  Google Lens can help students and instructors stay organized.  Information captured by a Lens image can be sent directly to an electronic calendar.  This Google Lens feature can be beneficial for students who struggle with due dates.  Google Lens can also be a helpful tool for instructors attending conferences or networking events.  Information collected with Google Lens (i.e., scan images, texts, bar codes, and QR codes) can be immediately transferred to a file for future reference or follow-up.

To get started or try Google Lens, download the app from your smartphone’s app store, or you can find the Google Lens icon on your Google Photos and Google Search Bar.  You can also find the download instructions at https://lens.google/.

©2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Increase Your Efficiency in the Classroom with Chrome Browser Extensions

With Chrome’s market dominance, many of us use the Chrome browser on a daily basis.  To improve your productivity and efficiency within your classroom environment, Cathy and I suggest exploring a few of the many Chrome extensions.  We recommend starting with the following innovative extensions: 

  • Momentum

Momentum is a free extension that can help add focus to your day.  Join over 10 million users who are utilizing Momentum as an all-in-one productivity tool.  Momentum sends friendly reminders of your important tasks, links, daily focus, and more.  Momentum will help you start and end each day focused on the task at hand.

  • Kami

Kami is the world’s number one digital classroom tool with complete assignment workflow.  Kami allows you to annotate and transform any document into an interactive learning space.  You and your students can collaborate in real-time through live annotations, video and audio recordings, drawings, and more.  Kami provides tools to support many learning styles, helps increase student engagement, and helps improve learning outcomes.  Teachers can spend more time with their students and less time on grading.  Kami allows you to provide feedback, grade, and push student work straight from your preferred LMS, including Google Classroom, Canvas, Schoology, and Microsoft Teams.

  • InsertLearning

InsertLearning allows educators to insert instructional content on any web page, which can save teachers and students time while helping keep students engaged.  Instructors have access to insert questions, sticky notes, discussions, and videos directly into any website.  When students go to that website, they can respond to those questions and discussions, see the videos, and take their own notes.  Also, InsertLearning has a feature that will allow students to engage each other in real-time.  Use InsertLearning to turn any website into an interactive learning experience.

  • Google Keep

Google Keep is a free, simple, and effective productivity and collaboration tool for both students and instructors.  If you want to be more organized, productive, and collaborative, Google Keep captures your notes and ideas, provides a collaborative sharing resource, and offers a great To Do List feature.  See our Google Keep (March 2019) Tip of the Month for more information.

  • Just Read

Just Read is a feature-packed and customizable reader view app.  With Just Read, you can reformat cluttered websites into cleaner, easy-to-read documents.  Just Read allows you to easily eliminate advertisements, popups, comments, and other web clutter when you pull content from web pages.  The finished product is a simplified, clean, and readable document that can be distributed to students.

To learn more about the many “free” Chrome extensions, click  https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions

© 2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Let’s Get Ready for the New Academic Year!

At this time of year, we as educators begin to organize ourselves and make plans for the upcoming semester.  The COVID-19 pandemic forced many educators to utilize technology to deliver quality education.    This a great time to reflect on what worked well in a virtual environment 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, Microsoft One Drive, and Apple iCloud.

In addition, a great note taking app is a must have for increasing productivity.  Both Notability and Evernote are tools that we utilize on a weekly basis.  Additional note taking tools that we recommend are GoodNotes, Google Keep, Notion, Microsoft OneNote, and Apple Notes.

Furthermore, Cathy and I utilize technology to convert our typical classroom into an interactive whiteboard environment.  Doceri allows our hand held devices to project images through the classroom overhead projector and to record our lectures.  Zoom has also become a great presentation tool for Cathy and myself.  Additional whiteboard and/or lecture capture technology that we recommend are Explain Everything, Educreations, ShowMe, Notability, Splashtop, Jamboard, Stormboard, Camtasia, Tegrity, Snagit, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Whiteboard.

To increase student engagement in the classroom environment, Cathy and I utilize several polling and gamification technologies.  Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, Piazza, Sli.do, Socrative, Ziplet, Peergrade, and Mertimeter are a few of our favorite polling options.  These  student engagement technologies work great for on campus or online learning environments.

Cathy and I integrate many group team activities into our course curriculums.  Some of the technologies that we use to support the group workflow and grading are:  Canva, Soundtrap, Mural, GoSoapBox, Google Keep, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.  Another technology option to consider for team communication is Group Me.

If you are looking for technologies to introduce data analytics into your curriculum, Tableau and PowerBI are very user friendly tools.  In addition, Cathy and I describe how we introduce data analytics into our curriculum and our approach was published in an August 2020 article.

Finally, Cathy and I try to utilize technology to engage our students outside of our classroom lectures.  Some effective technology tools that we use to accomplish student engagement are: Wakelet, Kahoot Challenge, Flipgrid, Google Slides, and Recap.

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.

© 2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Bring More Collaboration, Creativity, and Engagement to Your Course with Canva

“You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.”
~Maya Angelou~

Since the shift toward remote learning, Markus and I have been asked numerous times about ideas and tools to bring more collaboration, critical thinking (creativity), and engagement to courses.  This month we are sharing Canva, a technology tool that allows students to creatively collaborate, and instructors to create appealing course materials that support engagement. Canva for Education provides numerous free resources for instructors and students, such as images, fonts, graphics, videos, animations, and visualization and educational templates.  Canva also provides students with a dedicated and safe workspace to share, review, edit, and comment in real-time. For instructors, Canva helps enhance the visual design of your course to create a more engaging learning environment.

While Canva is ideal for enhancing online learning, it also works well with in-person, hybrid, or hyflex course delivery methods.  Canva activities can be shared through your LMS or through applications such as Microsoft Teams. Canva allow students to work together whether viewing, editing, or sharing feedback.  Canva’s real-time functionality will enable students the flexibility to work synchronously or asynchronously as needed.  Canva also helps students stay connected and engage in any course. 

For remote learning, instructors can create a lesson with voiceover, then share it as a video link in their LMS or by email.  Students can also create videos or record themselves speaking in an assignment or project.  Every student in the course has a voice using Canva, whether submitting original work or providing feedback for classmates.

There are numerous ways to use Canva, and it is adaptable for every type of course. The following are just a few ideas that Markus and I would like to share:

  • Design Thinking: Are you looking for a way to implement and manage design thinking projects?  Canva allows students to collaborate on design thinking activities and then provide their insights in an infographic.
  • Portfolios: Canva is a great tool to help students create learning portfolios, reflect on their learning or store information to create a resume or CV.
  • Student Learning Plans: Student learning plans can help students become more aware and engaged in learning.  With Canva, students can set personal course goals, create self-study guides, plus highlight newly discovered interests from the topics covered in their course(s). In addition, asingle student or group of students can use Canva to share their portfolios, allowing for peer-to-peer feedback, which improves the learning process.
  • Group Projects:  Canva makes group projects more appealing.  Groups of ten (10) can be created for free. A Canva group makes it easier for group members to create, share, comment, and revise projects. Students can also engage by liking a group member’s work when no other feedback is required.   
  • Visualizations: Canva allows students to create text-or-image-based graphics, which can often illustrate formulas or problems found in accounting, mathematics, statistics, and the sciences better. For students who find quantitative subjects challenging to grasp, adding a creative, visual aspect to the activity can help these students more easily “connect the dots”. Canva alsooffers various templates that help students turn numbers into visuals that are easier to understand.
  • Reflections: Markus and I both provide students with opportunities to reflect in our courses.  Use Canva to perform a quick reflection, similar to a one-minute paper, or to create a more in-depth reflective course examination.
  • Pre-Class Activities: Encourage students to be prepared by visually summarizing a chapter or topic in Canva before class.  Remind (November 2015) or LMS Announcements help reinforce when the Pre-Class Activity is due so it gets completed.
  • Data Analytics: Charts and graphs help to demystify numbers.  You can add data analytics visualization to any course using Canva’s easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank, visualization templates.  Canva is also a great way to have students explore visualization in a user-friendly environment before moving to more sophisticated visualization tools.
  • Flashcards: Create flashcards using Canva that can be used on a device or printed for additional practice.
  • Resumes: Resume creation is made easy with Canva. Students pick a layout and enter their data. Canva formats the document, selects the font, and suggests a suitable design.
  • Signatures: Many documents previously submitted in person prior to remote learning now require electronic signatures.  Teach students how to create their electronic signature using Canva.

For instructors, consider using Canva to create engaging and interactive presentations and assignments. Canva provides a wide range of assignment templates, including writing prompts, journal entries, book review designs, and word problems. In addition, create eye-appealing calendars, schedules, and anchor charts to help students stay on track during the course. Canva also lets you link created graphics to a webpage, in order to make the graphic interactive.  Simply, download your file as a PDF or webpage rather than as an image. QR codes can be added to any design to make it easier for students to access web content.

Canva is entirely COPPA and FERPA compliant, ensuring your student’s privacy and safety. Canva is also easy to use, and to get started.  Just send your students an invitation link through your LMS or email. Feeling a bit tech challenged?  There are numerous resources available to help you explore Canva as you look for new and exciting ways you can utilize this tool in your course(s).

Whether you want to utilize Design Thinking, incorporate Data Analytics, enhance project-based collaboration in your course, or create more engaging lectures and activities, Canva provides you the tools you need.  To explore what Canva for Education offers or set up your account, go to https://www.canva.com/education/.   You can also check out a brief summary about Canva for Education in the following video: https://youtu.be/3Axs47FT1-s

©2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Bring Your Course Content to Life with Wakelet!

If you are looking for a technology tool that will engage students and bring your course content to life, Wakelet is the tool!  Unlike some apps, there is only one version of Wakelet. The free version! Additionally, there are no limitations or required upgrades; instructors can create unlimited collections and spaces, invite an unlimited number of participants or contributors, and users can create multiple accounts if desired. 

Wakelet is easy to use and works seamlessly with most learning management systems. It also works with multiple other educational technology tools, such as Flipgrid (February 2018), Kahoot (November 2017), and Microsoft Teams (March 2018). It is accessible and inclusive. Partnered with Microsoft, Wakelet utilizes Microsoft’s Immersive Reader, which enhances accessibility and inclusivity in your courses. The text-to-speech reader is as simple as clicking an icon.  The Immersive Reader also provides language translation.

There are multiple ways to utilize Wakelet in a course. For instance, do you currently use student resource packets? You can easily convert these manual resource packets using Wakelet into engaging, online content.  Do you utilize Microsoft Teams with your students or colleagues? If so, you can share Wakelet Collections with team members. You can also bookmark or save links to your Wakelet Collections directly from Microsoft Teams.

Do you encourage students to become self-directed learners? If so, you can embed videos into Wakelet to explain a topic, allowing students to rewind and repeat the concepts as often as needed. You can even embed a self-assessment Kahoot quiz after a Wakelet learning activity. Allowing students to repeat assessments until they have mastered the concepts or have reached the assessment deadline. 

Flipgrid can also be used with Wakelet to create an engaging activity that facilitates class discussion. Create a discussion Q&A session or enhance your discussion board activities. This type of interactive engagement helps students improve their critical thinking and communication/collaboration skills. It also helps students learn to be concise with their responses.

Wakelet Spaces helps instructors get organized. For instance, you can organize your Flipgrid discussion responses by activity. This arrangement allows instructors to build a collection of discussion responses that students can use for future reflection activities. Additionally, today many students learn better when they can communicate verbally rather than in writing.  Wakelet, combined with Flipgrid, provides a simple way to give students oral formative assessments to showcase their knowledge.

Since many students use various mobile devices, Wakelet’s mobile app is convenient for students in remote learning environments. Mobile access allows students to collaborate across devices and from any location. Students can join a Wakelet Collection by scanning a QR Code, entering a Collection’s code, or pasting a Collection’s URL. Students can also utilize the app without creating a Wakelet account.  

From enhanced resource sharing, assessment, project collaboration to eFolios, Wakelet is a versatile tool that will enhance your teaching toolbox and improve your students’ learning experience. 

Are you ready to use this engaging technology tool? To get started, you can sign up for your free account at https://wakelet.com/. Be sure to check out Wakelet’s free templates and learning resources (blogs, guides, videos).

©2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

2020 Year End Review

Many of us are ready for 2020 to end and to turn the page to 2021.  As our semester and 2020 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 2021 is to integrate one new tool into your classroom environment.

Mentimeterhttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/01/

Grammarly https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/02/

Remote Learning Tools for Successhttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/03/

Zoomhttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/04/

Go Soap Boxhttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/05/

Improve Your Virtual Meetings & Classroom Presentationshttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/06/

Accessibility Compliance Tools https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/

Futureproof Employees and Students with Data Analytics Training – https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/08/31/

Duet (Second Monitor Without a Cost)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/

MURALhttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/10/

Krisp for Noise Free Meetings & Recordings https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2020/11/

We look forward to exploring more teaching and learning technology tools throughout 2021.

© 2020 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

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

 

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.

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