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.
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 Socraticby 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 GoogleLens icon on your Google Photos and Google Search Bar. You can also find the download instructions at https://lens.google/.
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 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 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 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 Keepis 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.
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 GoogleDrive, 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.
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many educators, including Cathy and myself, into teaching in virtual learning environments. Since the goal was to keep students and faculty safe from COVID-19, some us were introduced to new teaching models.
First, we need to define our teaching and learning models (NOTE: Some schools use different terms for these models).
LVL: Live Virtual Lecture
Hybrid: Students watch/prepare outside of class and then have a live component
Blended: (Live-Combined) On-campus in class students and LVL
In this post, we want to address the complexities and challenges of teaching in a HyFlex learning environment. In any learning model, but especially the HyFlex model, we need to address the following items:
Similar to the Blended learning model, one of the biggest challenges in HyFlex is managing the people (students) in the live classroom and in the LVL. How are LVL students allowed to ask questions? Instructors need to decide if LVL students will use the chat feature, raise their hand and be called upon, or just unmute themselves and ask their question. There is often a delay in questions from the LVL students while they type in chat or by the time that it takes for an instructor to see a virtual hand raised. The interactions with the LVL students, many times will disrupt the flow of the class. Some instructors have found that subdividing their classroom into separate in-person student question and LVL student question periods help with their classroom organization. Furthermore, it is vital that the faculty teaching in Blended and HyFlex learning models receive appropriate training to teach in these models. Training is required for both pedagogy and for the technology used in the course delivery.
Many times, having the appropriate technology and understanding of how to effectively use it can be the biggest challenge for instructors. The pandemic forced institutions to quickly change course delivery models mid-semester. Many students, faculty, and schools did not have the appropriate technology to support the new learning models. At some institutions, students and faculty were loaned equipment and resources to accommodate the new classroom environment. In several situations, the loaned equipment was too old or too scarce to provide a successful transition for the students and faculty. Many individuals were forced to purchase new equipment themselves to adjust and assist with this new style of learning.
In the HyFlex learning environment, classrooms need to be equipped with multiple cameras, multiple microphones, innovative computer stations, and maybe even a document camera. The biggest challenge in the HyFlex delivery is managing the equipment and technology. Many times, the instructor feels more like a movie producer instead of a teacher. Managing the LVL and in-class students, while producing an asynchronous recording can be difficult to achieve. Furthermore, the school may have significant firewalls that prevent access to certain material to the LVL students. I encountered issues with trying to show a short video in class. The LVL and asynchronous recording could only receive the audio feed, since the video feed was blocked by a firewall. Most of the time, I brought my own laptop to the classroom to avoid similar issues. The best option is if the instructor has a separate person (teaching or graduate assistant) to run the equipment and technology while the instructor concentrates on teaching. Cathy and I do not have this option, therefore, we have asked in-person students to monitor the chat for questions. Furthermore, pausing and restarting your asynchronous recordings can be an additional challenge. Cathy and I try not to have extensive recorded idle time when students are working on in-class exercises. In addition, many times we will pause the recording when students ask questions. In our experience, students ask questions more freely when they know that they are not being recorded. After we answer the live student questions, we will restart the video recording and summarize the question and answer portion of the course. We have received positive feedback from our in-class students because the recorded summaries help them with their notetaking.
Unfortunately, we have found that Institutional Workload Policy regarding HyFlex is not consistent. Many schools will count a HyFlex course as one course load and other schools recognize the complexity of teaching this model, and will consider it as two or three course loads. The HyFlex model is a tremendous amount of work and when institutions treat it the same as a normal in-class lecture course load, it can be unfair to the instructor. The size of the class section and the level of support from the school can further complicate teaching in this learning model. We encourage everyone to fully understand the challenges in teaching in the HyFlex classroom model, including how you will be compensated, before starting this endeavor.
Cathy and I cannot stress enough that being organized and consistent is essential to successfully teaching in the HyFlex learning model. Students require consistent structure and they do not react well when the rules get changed throughout the semester. Also, keeping the students engaged can be an issue. To increase engagement, we use polling questions and breakout rooms in our virtual learning environments. Students appear to enjoy the flexibility of the HyFlex learning model. But, be prepared for students switching modes of delivery during the semester within the HyFlex environment. Some institutions require students to stay in the same mode of delivery throughout the entire semester, but many schools allow students to choose their mode of delivery on a weekly basis. With COVID-19, I had students that were forced to switch delivery modes due to quarantine requirements. Luckily, the HyFlex model allowed the students to fully participate and successfully complete the course during their quarantine period.
During 2020, many educators, including Cathy and myself, were displaced from our campus classrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us were required to quickly adopt technologies and create virtual learning environments. As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the possibility of returning to pre-pandemic classroom environments, we would like to reflect on some improved lecture recording practices utilizing Zoom.
For several years, Cathy and I have used Docerihttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2019/10/ as an affordable classroom lecture recording technology tool. We both have been avid users of the Doceri software while utilizing our Apple I-Pads and Microsoft Surface Pros when we lecture in our classrooms. Throughout the pandemic, Cathy and I began experimenting with Zoom to record our lectures for students to view on their own time.
Before someone begins recording classroom lectures, we encourage them to view the following two prior Teaching and Learning Toolbox “Tip of the Month” posts. In the first post, we discuss many organizational tips to aid in delivering a quality video lecture. The second post addresses the basic Zoom safety and security functions.
In addition, we always recommend using the most current version of Zoom. This will insure that you are using the most secure version and that you have access to all updated features.
Now, let’s examine the steps to using Zoom to record a lecture.
After you start your Zoom meeting, you will need to test and make sure that your microphone and video are working properly. The microphone Mute and Start Video buttons are available in the bottom information bar on the far left side.
If you want to record a PowerPoint presentation or other documents, you will need to click the Share button located in the bottom information bar. You need to have the document that you want to share open on your desktop. You will have the opportunity to choose the document to display during the lecture after you select the Share button.
To begin recording your lecture, click the More button at the top of the Zoom window.
Choose the Record on this Computer option from the drop-down menu. NOTE: If you did not share your screen, the Record/Pause/Stop Recording buttons will be located in the bottom Zoom information bar.
You have the option to Pause Recording or Stop Recording throughout the lecture. Cathy and I utilize the Pause Recording function to avoid extensive idle time when students are working on group exercises or if there are sensitive subject matters being discussed. Many times we will un-pause the recording and then summarize the discussion that just took place in the live classroom environment. NOTE: Pausing the recording and then resuming the recording will result in one video recording. Stopping a recording and then starting a recording will result in multiple videos. Every time that a recording is stopped, it completely ends that video recording.
When you are finished recording, click on the More button and then choose End from the drop down menu. NOTE: If you did not share your screen, the End button will be located in the bottom Zoom information bar.
After you select End, you will need to select End Meeting for All.
Your recordings will automatically begin converting to .mp4 formatted videos.
Zoom automatically saves your recorded lecture files in a folder named Zoom within your computer’s Documents area. This location should automatically open when the recordings are finished processing. In addition, the files will be sorted by recording date. We suggest renaming the video files before you post them into your Learning Management System.
Additional Note: Cathy and I Share documents in Zoom and mark on them utilizing our I-Pads and Surface Pro’s pencils. These marked up documents are captured within our classroom session recordings. Furthermore, Cathy and I upload our .mp4 Zoom recordings into our YouTube channels as unlisted videos and then we share the YouTube link in our Learning Management Systems. This allows our students to view the videos outside of our Learning Management System, resulting in less buffering issues and increased compatibility with our student’s mobile devices.
With the adjustments to our classroom environment caused by COVID-19, most of us have been forced to be much more creative and resourceful. Throughout the past year, Cathy and I have had to create many teaching tools for our virtual and online learning environments. From creating practice exercise templates and visual aids to help increase student engagement, we have utilized Microsoft’s snipping tool. This free tool has added efficiency to creating our learning resources. This is a tool that we have used for years, but recently we were asked about recommending good “clip and paste” tools.
Some of the reasons that we like to use the Microsoft snipping tool are:
This is a tool that is free and easy to use and is part of the Windows Operating System
A user can edit the clipped snapshots
Snipping Tool allows a user to write on the screen capture and save it
Captured images can be stored in many formats
After capturing the screen, it automatically gets copied and it can be immediately pasted into a document
The free Windows Snipping Tool allows users to do the following:
Draw a free-form shape around an object.
Drag the cursor around an object to form a rectangle.
Select a window, such as a dialog box, that you want to capture.
Capture the entire screen.
There are several ways to begin using the Microsoft snipping tool, but the easiest way is to select the Shift, Windows button and the “S” keys.
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.
Are you working remotely? Are you trying to record lecture videos from home? Are you frustrated by unexpected background noises, such as dogs barking, household noises, the neighbor’s lawnmower, etc.? Then Krisp.ai is the must-have noise-canceling app that puts you back in control of providing a professional, noise-free background.
The Krisp app utilizes AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to distinguish between the human voice and unwanted background noise. Not only can Krisp eliminate background noise on your side of a meeting or call, but it can also filter out unwanted noises coming from the other participants. While meeting applications like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, etc., give you the ability to mute meeting participants, there are times when participants need to engage in the conversation.
Krisp goes one step further than most meeting applications by eliminating background noises while at the same time allowing open conversation. From our experience, Krisp is also superior to some of the background noise cancellation applications available within some meeting applications. If you participate in multiple meeting platforms, Krisp is a seamless way to use one application for everything.
Krisp is easy to install and use. It is referred to as a “one-button” app because it is either on or off. The desktop application works with Windows and Mac OS. Krisp also has a Chrome extension, which expands its ability to be used with numerous other communication apps. Additionally, Krisp supports hundreds of meeting platforms such as Zoom, Google Meets, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, etc., and it does not have any special hardware requirements.
For those who only need limited weekly meeting or recording time, Krisp’s free version gives you 120 minutes a week of noise-canceling usage. For those who need more time, there is a “Pro” version that starts with a 14-day free trial and converts to a paid version of $5 per month afterward (billed annually). The Krisp Pro provides unlimited noise-canceling usage and works on up to three devices.
Another advantage of trying and using Krisp is their current referral program. This programallows you to share a referral link with friends and colleagues. It gives each referral one free month of Krisp Pro. It also provides the referrer two free months of Krisp Pro. The more friends and colleagues you refer, who use the service, the more free months of Krisp Pro you receive. For more details about the Krisp Referral Program, go to https://help.krisp.ai/hc/en-us/articles/360017349520-Free-Pro-months-with-Krisp-Referral-program.
Are you ready to eliminate the stress of unwanted background noise from your meetings and recordings? If so, go to https://youtu.be/JgUomX5uZpA to view the video on how Krisp.ai could work for you. If you like what you see and want to get started with Krisp, you can go to https://krisp.ai/ to sign up or use the following referral link https://ref.krisp.ai/u/u95524a350 to receive one free month of Krisp Pro. Note: The referral link to Krisp Pro is provided under the referral program mentioned in this article and is available at no extra cost to you.
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.