Develop your Own Apps–with a Tool that Makes it Simple!

Often times, technology presents exciting, yet intimidating ideas. Ideas that allow us to make our own creations, and learn how to use a new program. With all the apps out there, perhaps you’ve wondered how they are created…and maybe even how you can create your own!

TouchDevelop is a tool that now only allows individuals to create their own apps through coding, but also offers “Hour of Code”—lessons where users can follow a tutorial to learn to write and create an app! The “Hour of Code” program is a nationwide initiative to help students better understand and become involved with Computer Science and Programming—and it’s a great webspace to share with your students to help them explore their interests and learn something new!

We highly encourage you to check out TouchDevelop’s website and navigate through the scripts, tutorials, and discover the ideas of people all over the world just like you!

 

Engage your students with this new tools!

We always love sharing tool that get students involved in lectures and convert a regular lecture into an interactive discussion. Today, we’re sharing a great tool that turns mobile devices into interactive responders, and gets students answering questions and responding to discussions at any point during lecture!

GoSoapBox is a tool that works similarly to InfuseLearning—instructors can create their own space, also known as an “event”, where they can create polls, discussions, quizzes and q&a for responders. Students then will join the event with an access code from their device—the instructor can choose to have students enter their name (so only they can see them) or students may remain anonymous.Capture2

A great feature of GoSoapBox is the Confusion Barometer—insert a simple toggle asking students if they simply “get it” or don’t understand—you will then get instant feedback and are able to identify which areas need to be discussed further!

Be sure to check out GoSoapBox, and let us know what you think! If you have questions about using this tool, let us know and we can help you get started!

The Best Music Resources for your Projects

We’re always blogging about places where students and educators can find free for use images for their websites, blogs, projects and more. Today, we thought we would share some places where users can find music for the same purposes. We do not always recognize music the same way as images when it comes to multimedia projects, but music can be very impactful and offer a unique effect.

As with images, it is important to ensure the music used in projects is used appropriately, with permission. Check out a few of our favorite resources to find music to use with permission.

  • Freeplay Music: Free access to over 15,000 music files for students and educators!
  • Musopen: If classical music is what you are looking for, check out Musopen, where users can download up to 5 recordings each day, or stream music for free.
  • The Free Music Archive: Search for tons of music across many genres and types—The Free Music Archive is a hub of creative and unique content that can be used in multimedia projects.
  • Soundbible: If your audio needs consist of sound clips, specific noises or various effects, then Soundbible is the place to check out and explore—you’ll be sure to find something to fit your needs!

It is important that when you obtain music from any of these websites or others that you are familiar with the specific licensing for the music you are using—licensing differs for projects posted publicly on YouTube vs. those that remain in the confines of school. If you question whether it is safe to use your particular piece of music, feel free to reach out to us to better understand your permissions.

Pictures for your every need!

We have definitely touched on the topic of free use images in the past, and thought it would be a great topic to blog about at the beginning of the year. Finding Public Domain images is important in higher education–pictures are often an essential part of presentations, projects, and other forms of multimedia we create. But, it’s equally as important that we understand what images are appropriate to use and where we can find them.

We wanted to share Pixabay, a great resource that has recently been improved, making the searching process for images seamless and even offering different sizes of the same image to fit your needs!

This is a great tool to not only utilize as an educator but to share with your students for all of their future projects throughout this school year.

The Easiest, Quickest way to Record Voice!

Quick recordings added to blogs, pins, class websites, and emails are great additions to connect to the audience and share information that cannot simply be shared through text. If creating recordings quickly with a simple online tool is something you’ve been wanting to do, check out Vocaroo!

vocarooSimply go to Vocaroo’s website, click to record, create your recording, and then choose how you wish to share it—email, Facebook, Pinterest, and more! Or, choose to instantly download it. No sign in, no registration—just instant, easy recording!

This is one of the simplest tools to use, with so many applications. One of our favorites is that you can create your recording, and then it can be instantly transformed into a QR code. You can use this QR code in activities, and create various recording to associate with them. This would be so neat for scavenger hunts, student projects, etc.

How do you want to use Vocaroo in your class this year?

Enhance your website, blog, or even Blackboard site with ThingLink!

ThingLink isn’t a new topic we’ve posted on before—check out our past posts here and here.

We thought we’d revisit it today, because ThingLink can be a great “conversation starter” prior to lecture. Post a ThingLink to your Blackboard site, class website, or blog, and initiate further thinking, exploration, and interest in a photo of the class topic. ThingLink allows users to add so many other resources to a picture, making it more of an interactive experience than simply a photograph. Add comments, links, YouTube videos, and more to give students more of a complete picture!

Let us know if you have an interest or any questions on using ThingLink on your class site or blog!

Tap into your “Visual Senses” with this Android App!

We love sharing apps, and while we typically are sharing iOS compatible apps, today we’re sharing an Android app that is so easy to use, and has so many potential applications in education.

Clarisketch allows users to take a picture with their phone, and then add voice audio and draw over the picture, and share it with others. It’s so easy to use, and is a great way to take pictures and describe them—think geographical locations, art, diagrams, etc. Describe processes, diagrams, work-through problems, and more. After you share Clarisketch, users only need an internet connection and web browser to view—viewing the photo/audio does not require the Clarisketch app.

This app is great to have on your Android device and to keep in mind, as it can be useful in many situations—particularly in education!

On-Demand Learning with FutureLearn

 

In the past, we’ve shared webtools that provide wonderful opportunities for learning outside the classroom. Webtools like Khan Academy, Carnegie-Mellon University, and YouTubeEDU make it possible for students to watch lectures from professors from other schools, other subjects, and other countries.

CaptureToday, we’re sharing a similar, great tool to add to your list to share with students—FutureLearn. Not only does FutureLearn offer courses on subjects like History, Political Science and Literature, but users can also explore courses related to development such as writing resumes, public speaking, and more. It’s a great tool for learners of all ages, in all stages of life.

Be sure to share this tool with your students this fall! It’s a great way for them to explore subjects they are interested outside of school or even enhance the material they are learning in their current courses.

The Smartest Pocket Translator

Learning a new language is not always the easiest challenge to take on, but is a very valuable learning experience. All the new technologies, apps, and tools available today can make learning a new language a little less daunting and a little more fun! Today we’re sharing one of our favorite apps that help with translations and learning a new language! Google Translator is a free app available for both iOS devices and Android.

Translate by voice, by handwriting, by typing, and even translate entire websites by simply entering the website URL. Our favorite feature of this app that makes it so functional for everyday use is the ability to take a picture of the text, highlight what you want to be translated, and then it will be translated to your desired language!

Google Translator is an absolute must-have tool for all your translation needs!

A Unique Way to Stay Up-to-Date with Current Events

As educators, we are always focusing on ways to enrich the minds of our students. Most of the time, we are focusing primarily on our own curriculum and class material. However, its important for students to enjoy reading—enjoy learning—in ways outside of the classroom and outside of our syllabi.

9-11-2014 8-18-12 AMShare this awesome tool with your students today—Ten By Ten. It’s a website that presents the top news stories with photographs—100 to be exact, forming a 10×10 cube. Roll your cursor over the various photographs to see the top topics, and view various headlines linked to the photos to read more about these events.

Staying abreast on current events and news is an important aspect of learning, and this is the perfect tool to help your students easily do just that!

Conquer your Communication Needs with this Tool!

This week, we wanted to focus on Microsoft Lync, a tool for UIS faculty and staff that is definitely a favorite in our campus community.

Lync is a tool for communication—allowing users to message chat, audio and video chat, and even desktop share. This tool is great for communicating with colleagues across campus, across town, or even across the hall!

One of the best additional features of Lync is web conferencing. With web conferencing, faculty and staff are able to communicate with online students, making it a perfect solution for integrating interaction with students from a distance. With the Lync Web App, students can participate in meetings, chatting, desktop sharing, and more. Even more of a bonus—Lync is fully functional on mobile devices—simply download the app and start communicating right away.

We have tons of tools and resources for using Lync—check them out here!

Google Apps for Education at UIS!

Google Apps Logo smallerUIS is part of Google Apps for Education, which provides users with seamless access to several of their favorite Google tools by simply logging in with their UIS NetID and password. One of our favorite parts about Google is how all of these tools integrate with each other—log into your Google Account and get instant access to not only 1, but several apps.

Some of our favorite Google Apps to use include:

Google Drive

Google Docs

Google Calendar

Google Sites

Google Blogger

Google Maps

Google Groups

Google Bookmarks

And more!

These tools are great to stay organized, communicate with colleagues, classmates and other peers, and access important information from anywhere with a simple sign-in to Google Apps for Education! Check out more about Google Apps for Education here!

And, before we wrap up our post, we want to highlight Kaizena, a tool that directly integrates with a users’ Google Drive account, allowing them to add voice comments to their documents! Directly through Kaizena’s website, simply log into your Google Drive account, choose a document, and begin recording!

Citrix Virtual Desktop–so you can stay connected while off campus!

citrixThis week we wanted to highlight one of our most valuable tools offered here at UIS, particularly for anyone working off-campus. We’re talking about Citrix Virtual Desktop.

This tool can be accessed by any UIS faculty, staff or student from their PC or Mac. Simply connect on your computer to Citrix, and your desktop will be connected to a UIS virtual desktop, equipped with software that UIS has licensing for.

We love Citrix because it allows any faculty, staff or student to complete work at home on their own computer, even if they need to use a program they do not actually have. Simply log into Citrix and access programs like SAS to complete statistics homework, PowerPoint to finish up a presentation, and more!

Check out more about Citrix Virtual Desktop here!

See Lynda for all your On-Demand Learning Needs!

We’re following up our series today with Lynda, a tool that should really be used as part of your routine. We’ve blogged about Lynda plenty in the past, but if you aren’t familiar with this tool offered here at UIS, it is an on-demand training program offered to all UIS faculty, staff and students. Lynda can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection—simply log in and begin navigating through thousands of learning tutorials!

lyndaIf you’re interested in learning new program, like Microsoft Publisher or Adobe Flash, then Lynda is perfect because it is organized and paced into a series of courses that provide users with a thorough training program. Work at your own pace, track your progress and more!

Be sure to share Lynda with your students as well! It can be used to train students to use different programs for multimedia projects and more!

Check out more about Lynda here, and access it here!

 

Welcome back!

Can you believe summer is wrapping up and fall is already here? In just a few weeks, classes and the fall semester will be back in full swing! These next few weeks we are sharing some of our favorite tools here at UIS to help get you back into your groove! Also, just a reminder, ITS Client Services is located in the lower level of Brookens, and is your one-stop spot for assistance with technology, programs, accessing tools and computers, and more! Be sure to come check us out soon!

This week, we’re kicking off our blog series with Box. Box is a storage system that provides all UIS faculty, staff and students with 50GB of space to store documents and other files in a cloud. This can be accessed from anywhere, and even better, makes it easy to share, collaborate, and access files from anywhere. Box is not a replacement for eDocs—it is just an additional way for the UIS community to manage their documents and collaborate.

We have tons of information about Box, the best ways to use it, and how it differs from eDocs—check it out here!