Graphic Design Made Easy & Convenient!

Canvas LogoIn the spirit of sharing new creative tools, this week we thought we’d introduce you to Canva! Canva is the perfect, and easiest, tool to utilize for all your design needs—flyers, invitations, Facebook covers, posters, blog graphics, business cards—anything you would really need a great graphic for, Canva has got you covered.

Creating graphics doesn’t have to be difficult, although it is intimidating to most! With Canva, take advantage of layouts, graphics, photos, and fonts to include in your design, and the ability to create your masterpiece all on the web within Canva. You can even collaborate with users from anywhere, making the creation of a logo or other team-based graphic simple and collaborative!


IF you start using this tool…THEN you will love it!

We’ve just discovered an online tool that is about to become your new best friend! It’s called If This Then That (IFTTT) and it is a task-based tool targeted to link scenarios and tasks to help make life a little more organized…and a little easier!

So how does it work? It all begins with a trigger—if a specific trigger occurs, then a pre-determined action will take place. Channels are what IFTTT refers to the different building blocks of scenarios as—for example, they can be Facebook, Evernote, your Email box, Weather, Dropbox, Instagram, Google Drive (they are different apps, and there are TONS available to incorporate in IFTTT)! When you select your trigger, action and the channels incorporated, you create a recipe, which is essentially the rule you are creating. An example of a recipe would be “If you receive an email with an attachment, then save the attachment to Dropbox”. See how neat this can get? We are loving it!

What’s really great is that IFTTT offers tons of different recipes, even categorized so you can find tons of recipes focused around specific situations (hobbies, online newspapers, school, organization, etc.) They also share some of the top recipes created by other users-it’s a great place to gain ideas on how IFTTT can help your daily routine!

This Tool Allows you to Create “Living” Videos

If there is one thing you do this summer (besides relaxing and enjoying the outdoors, of course!) we want you to check out TouchCast, one of the most advanced, useful, and engaging tools we’ve ever discovered. TouchCast allows users to create interactive videos—they record a video and can add on the screen images, videos, websites, Twitter feeds, and more! The viewers can then click the material and view it without having to exit the actual cast. It is what they refer to as a “living” video…meaning it is alive with the links to the outside materials.

Our minds are spinning with the potential of TouchCast. For starters, it is not only free, but available as an app or a downloadable desktop program. We’re thinking this is the perfect tool to not only utilize as an instructor to engage students (particularly for online and flipped classrooms!) but it is an excellent tool to share with students and have them create projects of their own.

The ability to be creative is endless—TouchCast even has a green screen feature! Check it out this summer and become more familiar! There are tons of great instructional tools on TouchCast ’s website. Let us know what you think!

Get Planning your Beginning of the Semster Preview!

The end-of-semester review is one of the most common topics we blog about, and have definitely made our fair share of suggestions of tools that would be great to utilize when reviewing material with students at the end of the semester.

Now, we’ve come up with a new idea that would be a great way to kick-off the semester—a beginning-of-semester preview!

It’s the same idea as the review, only this time you are giving your students a sneak-peek of what is in store for them the next 16 weeks. It’s a great way to spend the first day—it will spark interest, break the ice, and get them excited and motivated for what’s to come! Here are a few ideas of how to create a semester preview:

  • Quiz ‘em: Socrative is one of our favorite tools, and we’ve blogged about it plenty in the past. This tool turns mobile devices into the responders—ask students questions and they can instantly respond during lecture! Try asking questions to help gain a better understanding of what students already know about class material, ask fun questions to get to know them better, and quiz them on the content of the syllabus!
  • Play some games: TurningPoint, a tool offered here at UIS, provides students with clickers to use to answer questions during an interactive presentation. Create a game and divide students onto teams—this will help them meet their peers and will again give you a baseline to what they know coming into the semester! More great websites to check out are Purpose Games and—there are a great variety of options!
  • Send them home with some fun: The semester preview doesn’t have to take place in class—we have some fun tools that you can use to create an activity for them to complete when they return home! One of our favorites is Blubbr, where users can create a quiz based off of different videos!

Create a Visual Experience with Visme

We thought we would follow up our blog last week focusing on images in multimedia with one of our favorite new web-tools we came across that has pretty much blown us away!

Visme (formerly known as EWC Presenter) is a tool that is completely focused on helping users create a visual experience for their audience. Create presentations, animations, banners, and our personal favorite—interactive infographics.


Choose from thousands of free images on their integrated Flickr database, built-in templates to help get started, a wide-array of fonts, and tons more. Visme is definitely one of the most impressive tools we’ve come across, and it’s hard to believe it’s free, and available for use from anywhere! Simply create an account and get started in seconds.

Try out Visme this Summer! It would be a great tool to share with students in the Fall, and would be perfect for their next multimedia project!

Our Favorite Ways to Edit Photos Online!

Here on our blog, we’ve really been loving multimedia, and we’ve been sharing tons of ideas to incorporate multimedia into lectures, class projects, assignments, etc. There are so many forms of multimedia and ways to create multimedia projects—and almost all include the incorporation of pictures for visual purposes.

We’ve blogged in the past about websites that offer images free for use, and today we’re sharing some great web-tools that offer free image-editing features!

  • Pixlr: Edit photos either online or on your mobile device with the app with Pixlr, a versatile –crop, resize, whiten teeth, remove red eye, add cool effects and more! There are different versions of Pixlr ranging from free to a small fee, depending upon the features you choose!
  • Picadilo: This free webtool is awesome and completely free. Create a photo collage or edit single photos! Add fonts, filters, effects, and more! When you are finished, share the photo on Facebook or print it. Picfull is another webtool, similar to Picadilo, to check out!
  • Fotor: This is one of our favorites because you can really get creative with it! Add filters, frame, text, clipart, and even create photo collages! Save all your work directly onto your computer or mobile device!

Security Check Up

We wanted to follow up our Summer Bucket List with one more suggestion to consider these next few months! With more downtime than during the school year, summer also lends itself to be an excellent time to check up on your computer and brush up on your security smarts! We’ve shared excellent tips in the past on being safe online, but here are some ways you can utilize time this summer to make sure everything is working smoothly and safely!

  • Update all software related to protecting your computer (yes, that anti-virus reminder you have been avoiding for much too long!)
  • Be cautious when connecting to Wi-Fi. When using public wi-fi hotspots, make sure you do not enter passwords or access private information. Since these are open access, there is a higher possibility this information is compromised.
  • Revisit your passwords: If you use the same password across different accounts or you cannot remember the last time you changed them, then now is the perfect time to reset your passwords. Make them different across accounts and very unique (using numbers, characters, uppercase and lowercase letters). Make sure you keep them in a safe place where they will not be discovered by others.

If you have questions about good web practices or about internet safety, feel free to contact us!

Summer Bucket List: Part 2

And we are back this week with the second part of our Summer Bucket List!Technology Bucket List

  1. Develop a multimedia-based projectWe’re always blogging about our favorite multimedia tools (most of which are free and available on the web!). Try out a couple out this summer – find out what you might like to use in your classroom, or even better, how you might integrate these tools in a project for students! Students perform better when they are challenged and able to be creative. There are tons of free web-based resources and tools offered through UIS to help get them started—they just need you to provide them with the project! Follow our blog for ideas, and please reach out to us if you are interested in creating a project or using a tool, but don’t know where to start!
  2. Create your own InfographicWe are always sharing awesome infographics because they are such a neat way to actually visualize facts and figures. And, infographics have become so popular, there are different tools out there available to help you create your own! These are great additions to add to presentations, websites, and other class materials. Or, even try challenging your students to create one of their is one of our favorites—it’s free and so simple to use! Simply add data, choose how you wish to visually arrange it, and then quickly share it! Additionally, web-based programs like Visme (formerly EWC Presenter) has a feature built-in that allows users to create infographics within their presentations!
  3. Try out lynda.comThe summer is the perfect opportunity to spend some downtime catching up on new programs and brushing up on computer skills. At UIS, we offer access to — an excellent resource that provides on-demand training 24/7! With, choose from tons of software applications as well as productivity skills, customize your own training program, track your progress, and always pick right back up from where you left off!

Summer Bucket List: Part 1

Summer Bucket ListHappy (almost) Summer Break! This is our favorite time of the year to share our Summer Bucket List with you! We’ve got some great ideas for you to test out this summer and see if there’s any neat tools or concepts you’d like to incorporate in your class next year! This year, our list is two parts, so look out for part 2 next week!

  1. Test out an audience response system: Geddit, Socrative, Infuse Learning and TurningPoint are all great free tools to use! Geddit, Socrative and Infuse Learning are all device-based response systems meaning they can be accessed on any device with an internet connection—smart phones, iPads, laptops, etc. These are a great way to put those mobile devices to use in the classroom, and get students interactive and engaged during class. Another tool we offer here at UIS is TurningPoint, where students use actual clickers during the lecture.
  2. Experiment with the iPad: We have iPads for faculty to check out! And the apps have come quite a long way since they first came out. Literally, there is just about everything you can imagine needing an app for. Check out our website where we share tons of apps for all different purposes.
    Additionally, UIS equipped classrooms with AirServer, a tool that allows instructors to project the screen of their iPad or iPhone during lecture. This is a great way for instructors to move about the classroom, stay engaged with students, and also promotes interactivity within the classroom setting! So pick up an iPad this summer and become familiar with some of the apps that may greatly enhance your classroom this fall!
  3. Try something NEW! The best way to keep your class fresh semester after semester, year after year, is to keep up on what’s new in the classroom and what methods and tools students are really taking a shine to! Follow some tech blogs this summer, read some journals, and connect with other educators who may offer fresh insight and new ideas on what NEW things you can try in your classroom this fall!

Showcasing Student Work

With the end of the semester right around the corner, faculty and students may be thinking about the best ways to showcase their work – either for a particular course or for their entire college career. There are several tools available that allow students to organize, publish, and showcase their best work. Especially for students preparing to enter the workforce, these resources can be a great way to share skills and expertise with potential employers.

Teaching with Mobile Devices in the Classroom

AirServerToday we want to share information about AirServer in UIS classrooms. This feature allows users to project to a screen wirelessly from an iPad or iPhone. This tool is absolutely wonderful as many instructors don’t like being tied to a podium during their lecture or presentation. With AirServer, instructors can walk freely about the classroom and engage with students. Students can also project their iOS devices, as well.

While AirServer only works with iOS devices, we are researching tools that work with Android and Windows mobile devices, and hope to have these services available in the near future!

Instructions for using AirServer in our classrooms are available. If you have any questions or would like to talk more about how AirServer or mobile devices can be used in your classroom, contact  ITS Client Services.

3D Printing Revolutionizing the Classroom

Have you heard about 3D printing? It works by “printing” objects with physical materials—such as plastic, metal, rubber, etc. Could you even imagine finding something online, and then printing it so it is an actual tangible item? Hard to believe it’s a possibility, but it is! The implications of these 3D printers in schools are beyond neat—check out this infographic that really gets creative with how they can be used!


Engaging Students with Geddit

We’ve blogged about student response systems before—we love them! They are great ways to keep students involved and attentive during class, and a great way to gauge how they are following along and understanding class materials. An added bonus—because they don’t require out-loud feedback, it encourages even students who normally remain quiet during class to easily provide their opinions.

In the past, we have shared tools like Socrative and TurningPoint, and today we are sharing another new web-based version we have come across called Geddit. This tool is similar to Socrative in the sense that the educator can send questions to a student’s device, and the student can respond using their own device. The added bonus of Geddit is really the ways to receive the responses and view the results.

Ask questions and see how specific students respond in a cool interface that highlights the individuals who may not necessarily be grasping a concept as well as others.

If you are interested in learning more about Geddit or student response systems in general, we’d love to work with you! Come visit ITS Client Services in the lower level of Brookens Library!

The Future of Higher Education

The way education is evolving with ever-changing technology is really booming these past few years, so when it comes to thinking about how it will be in the future, it can be quite overwhelming! Check out this infographic we found that looks at different approaches and opinions of how technology may effect education in the year 2020.

Is technology going to grow to be an even more integral part of education? What do you think?

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Building a Digital Portfolio = Building for a Successful Future

Have you ever considered/tried having students create a “digital portfolio”? It’s an electronic collection of student’s work—from blog posts to papers to images, videos, and projects.  This is a great way for students to store, collect, and track their accomplishments throughout the semester (and their entire academic career!). Check out a few of our favorite free webtools to get students started with creating their own portfolios:

Google Sites:
We are huge fans of Google Sites because it is so easy to navigate and simple to use! Create a website in seconds and instantly begin uploading photos, adding videos and text, and embedding other neat features! Google Sites is great because it integrates with other Google Apps, making it a great tool for UIS students.

educlipperWe like this tool because it’s unique in the way it allows users to select clippings from articles, websites, and other items they have bookmarked online, stored in their cloud space, or items they have saved.

Want to learn more about how portfolios are great for students to begin building upon for the future? Contact us, and we can share more ideas!