The Secret World of Google Docs

One of the best features of Google Docs is the collaborative community and the idea sharing…and all of this comes together in the templates section! Browse through thousands of templates for just about any purpose…certificates, rubrics, outlines, presentations, and TONS of games!

Perfect timing in sharing this feature, as with finals approaching, taking advantage of some of these great Jeopardy and other group game templates can be a fun way to review material with your students! Simply go to the Google Docs templates and browse for the game you’d like to try, download the template, and customize it to your own classroom by entering your own questions, answers, and more!

If you have questions about using Google Docs or accessing the template community, let us know, we would be happy to help!

This 3D Printed Item will Warm your Heart!

We’ve blogged in the past about 3D printers and the great things they are currently doing, and also the great potential they have in the future! Today, we wanted to share a story with you that will not only show just another way 3D printers are making a difference, but will bring a smile to your face!

A puppy born with 2 legs recently had a 3D printed wheelchair created especially for him, and this chair will give the puppy a chance to develop properly and become more mobile!

To learn more about 3D printing, check out UIS’ very own page for more information!

Gartner: The University of Illinois’ Resource for Research

Today we are sharing a technology we have not discussed much in the past on this blog, but we want to highlight as it is a great resource is offered to the entire campus! Gartner is an invaluable resource for research and analysis on IT technologies, practices, and strategies.

To access Gartner, click Access tools and resources with the valuable analyses that can be used in a variety of ways!

October is…National Cyber Security Awareness Month!

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, and while this is always an important topic to discuss, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some of tips on safe and secure practices when using technology!

  • Make passwords strong and don’t share them with anyone: Use letters, numbers, and symbols, and make passwords different across accounts. If one password were to be compromised, you don’t want them to have access to all of your accounts!
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates: Don’t ignore those notifications of your expiring security software! To keep your system both safe and running quicker and more efficiently, update systems regularly.
  • Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety: With so much social media preference and our reliance on the internet for not only email but also purchasing items and paying bills, it’s important to share tips and news with your peers to spread awareness!
  • Limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely: Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, be sure that you know what information is being shared. It’s a good idea to keep the information that is shared minimal. Keep identifying information like your address, birthdate, and of course account information, private.
  • Be cautious about what you receive or read online—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Be conscious of emails and spam messages. Do not open links that seem suspicious or with which you are unfamiliar.

For more great information on Cyber Security Awareness month and more tips and information on how to stay safe, check out this PDF presentation from the Department of Homeland Security: and feel free to reach out to us here at ITS Client Services if you have any questions, concerns, or would like additional information!

Password Protection Services

The way we work now is so technology based that it feels like we have passwords for just about everything. Before we know it, we’ve reset a password and completely forgotten what it is! And if that happens to you with your UIS password, you know how frustrating it can be to be locked out of your email, my.UIS account, etc. password1-618x336

The good thing is we offer a few ways to reset your password on your own at any time, so misplacing or forgetting your password doesn’t cause such a setback! Resetting your password can easily done on the password reset page, here. You can both reset it to change it here and recover it if you’ve lost it.

If you’d like to visit ITS Client Services in the Media Lab, you can reset and/or recover your password there as well! To learn more about password management, click here!

Your On-Demand Training Tool!

Here at UIS, ITS services offers workshops regularly training faculty, staff and students on programs like MS Access, Adobe Photoshop, and more! However, attending workshops may not always fit in with your schedule…or maybe the question you have is something quick, like how to format a paper in Microsoft Word.

That’s where Lynda, UIS’ on-demand training resource comes in! This extremely helpful resource is free for use for faculty, staff and students and includes how-to videos and tutorials for tons of programs! Take full courses on how to use Microsoft Office Programs, Adobe Suite programs, and tons more. The courses range and can be up to several hours long, however, train at your own pace! Even customize your training and track your progress to see how much you’ve completed and how much further you have to go.

Lynda is not only a great solution for faculty and staff, but also be sure to share this resource with your students. If they are having issues using a program to complete a homework assignment or just want to learn more about new software, this is the perfect solution to share!

Organization of your Web Resources

With so much great information available on the internet, often times, it is a great idea to share websites and links with your students where they can find additional information that complements your lecture materials. Perhaps you’d like them to look further into a specific topic, learn something entirely new, check out new tools/web resources, and more! Diigo

A great tool to compile these bookmarks and share them easily is Diigo. Links and websites can be organized and distributed to various groups! A great feature is as a Diigo user, you can create separate groups of links to share with separate groups of individuals. So, if you have multiple courses, create a set of links for each separate course, easily!

Highlight, annotate, add notes and more on the items that are bookmarked so you can not only share the web information but you can add your additional comments to share as well! Check out Diigo today and let us know what you think!

Set your Students up for Success by Promoting Collaboration!

Collaboration is one of the key components to making a students’ experience a positive one in your course. Collaboration encourages the sharing of ideas, opinions, and opens the minds of students so they can view things in a new way and learn something new. Sometimes, it seems difficult to fit in these opportunities for collaborating with peers into our lectures for many reasons; a class may be primarily online-based, it may not seem like there is time to have discussions during class-times because it will interfere with lecture, etc.

Today, we wanted to share a few tools and ideas for incorporating opportunities for students to collaborate with one another and share ideas—try one of these this fall!

  • Is your class primarily or completely online? Try out a new tool, like ThinkBinder, which is a free webtool where students can communicate with other students on topics like homework, test preparation, class discussions, and more! This is a great tool because students are not only able to share their ideas through text, but can also upload videos and live chat via text or video. It’s basically a remote study group!
  • Are you set with your class-time being lectures? Many of us have a lot of information to fit in and covering this through presentations during class time is the best way we work. One way to encourage collaboration in this teaching method is to use clickers so questions can be incorporated throughout the lecture and students can provide live feedback…to encourage collaboration, try putting students in groups to provide feedback, create a quiz game…with clickers, the opportunities are endless!
  • Want to try something small, yet effective? Blackboard discussions are a great way to encourage collaboration, particularly if these are integrated as part of the course syllabus! Encourage students to not only respond to the post but also to comment on the posts of others. To even go a step further, give students the opportunity to post their own discussion questions!

If you would like to explore more ways to incorporate collaboration techniques into your classroom, let us know! We can help you find the methods that work for you.

Your Computer Away from Campus

Citrix Virtual Desktop is definitely one of the most functional and useful tools offered by ITS, and is one of the best tools to familiarize yourself with at the start of the semester if you haven’t yet used it! Citrix Virtual Desktop is a program that essentially turns your home computer into a UIS desktop, complete with all the software you need. With Citrix Virtual Desktop, users connect to a UIS desktop remotely, and they are then able to access software and programs like the Microsoft Office suite, the Adobe suite, SAS, and any other program you may utilize while on-campus! Simply download the software to your personal computer and you are able to connect remotely to the UIS desktop anywhere with internet service. To learn more about Citrix Virtual Desktop, click here!

Communication 101 with Skype for Business

Being equipped with the right tools is one of the key components of success, and when it comes to communication…the right tools are important! At UIS, ITS offers Skype for Business for faculty and staff, which will fit all your needs in a communication tool!

With Skype for Business, engage in real-time communication including chat, audio, video chat, and even desktop sharing. Meetings can even be scheduled in advance to hold via Skype for Business applications with the Skype for Business Scheduler! This tool is a great all-in-one solution. Read more about Skype for Business and learn about even more features here!

Want to schedule a meeting with students and have them attend via Skype for Business? While they are not able to install the program like faculty and staff, they are able to use the web app where they can participate in the meetings, collaboration, desktop sharing!

Camtasia Relay: Screen Capture Solution

One of the most popular tools at UIS for faculty is Camtasia Relay, a screen capture system, allowing instructors to record their screen while recording their audio at the same time. Camtasia Relay is so simple to use—simply open the program and begin recording! Your Camtasia recordings will be linked with your Kaltura Media Space so you are able to access them all in one central location. Upload to your Blackboard, download, and distribute links—these videos are so simple to create and a great solution for everyone, but especially online instructors and those utilizing on the flipped classroom model! If you haven’t yet used Camtasia Relay, but would like to get started, find more information here, and check out a few of our favorite ideas for using Camtasia Relay:

o   Record a tutorial on how to navigate a website you’d like to share with your class

o   Record a lecture and post to your Blackboard so during “class time” you can initiate discussions/group work

o   Record supplemental lectures and post to your Blackboard page for students to watch as an assignment


The Best Resources to Share with your Students!

Kicking off the school year is always a great time to re-familiarize yourself with all the great tools and resources offered at UIS to not only the faculty and staff, but also your students! Today, we are sharing some of the services UIS ITS Client Services offers so you can be prepared to share them with your students as the semester begins!

o   Computer Labs: There are various computer labs on campus available for students that are equipped with Macs, PCs, software, printers, an audio lab, equipment checkout and more! Be sure to share this with your students—and that on the ITS webpage, they can find the locations and hours of all labs!

o   Help Desk: The Help Desk is located in the Media Lab and offers assistance at hours that are convenient for student schedules. They are able to assist with repairing issues with computers and can even assist with using the software/services in the labs.

o   Citrix Virtual Desktop: If your student doesn’t have specific software on their computer, but they need it to complete an assignment, it can be a bit frustrating! Citrix Virtual Desktop allows users to connect to a UIS desktop on a personal computer from home (or wherever!), so users are able to access all the software equipped on the UIS desktops! So if you know of any students that perhaps don’t have MS PowerPoint or SAS software, be sure to let them know in addition to using the Computer Labs, they can also use Citrix Virtual Desktop!

o   ITS Workshops: ITS offers weekly workshops teaching how to navigate the ins and outs of programs and UIS resources. Be sure to remind your students they can check the ITS webpage to see when these workshops will take place! From MS Word to Adobe Photoshop and Blackboard…these workshops are a great way to become more familiar and learn these programs!

How Can We Help You?

Welcome back! It’s hard to believe we are already entering the Fall semester! We wanted to kick off the year by sharing some of the great classroom tools and resources ITS Client Services offers to all UIS Faculty. These technologies are available in mostly all classrooms on campus and provide instructors with endless options for adding interactivity to their lectures.

o   Interactive Whiteboards: Classrooms on campus are equipped with interactive whiteboards, which allow instructors to engage their students in a fun and interactive way. Conduct your lecture from where you want to be, write and capture annotations to share with students, and even get your students involved in the lecture by working through problems and sharing their ideas for the rest of the class!

o   iPad Cart: Did you know we have an iPad here on campus available for faculty to check-out for use in their classroom? Another fun, unique way to increase engagement in class is to utilize iPads! Check out the cart, and students can follow along on an iPad of their own for the day. We have tons of apps and ideas of how iPads can be used in the classroom—for more information, checkout our website here!

o   Laptop Cart: Similar to the iPad cart, ITS has laptop carts where instructors can provide their students with a laptop for the day. These are great to check out if you are helping students find resources for papers, providing them with class-time to work on projects, or giving them the opportunity to work together on group projects in class!

o   Audience Response System: If you are looking for a way to increase student participation, “clickers” bring an interactive component to the classroom and can help keep students alert and engaged in class. Incorporate questions throughout your lecture with our Audience Response System—learn more about it here!

On the Hunt with QR Codes!

This summer, we will be periodically sharing ideas of ways you can use technology to kick off the school year! Incorporating an activity outside of the normal icebreaker games can be a fun way to engage your students and get them to know one another in a unique way.

Our first idea we’d like to share with you is the QR Code Scavenger Hunt. We’ve blogged about QR codes before, and free webtools that allow you to create your own QR codes so simply. A really fun idea to get your student up and moving around campus is to create a scavenger hunt where they walk about campus hunting for the QR code to scan that will send them to their next destination!

This can be a great way to incorporate a little “preview” of some material they will be learning throughout the coming semester and to get them familiar with some valuable locations on campus (send them to some computer labs, the media lab, the library, etc!)

If this interests you and you’d like some assistance getting started with your own QR Code scavenger hunt, feel free to reach out to us and we can help!

Your Summer Bucket List!

In keeping with our tradition of the Summer Bucket List, this week we are sharing our ideas for your Summer 2015! We love sharing these ideas as a way for you to explore the technology options available, and we know how busy it can be to explore these during the school year! So in no particular order, here are our summer bucket list items for you this year:

  • Flip your Classroom: This is no new concept, but it always seems that summer is the best time to really check this out because frankly, we have the time to explore our options and plan for the upcoming semester! Basically, incorporating the flipped classroom model into your class would consist of bringing in more discussion and interactive activities during class time, and posting the lecture and informational material on the class website for students to complete as homework. We have tons of ideas on ways to do this—from tools facilitating the use of videos to interactive response tools, be sure to check out our blog to get started!
  • Put yourself in your Student’s Shoes: What do we mean by this exactly? Think about being a student in your classroom-what tools would help you? What resources? If your students write a lot, perhaps it would be helpful to include on your Blackboard site a list of great web-based tools that are free, such as Purdue’s OWL resource and Analyze My Writing. There are webtools for just about everything—if you are looking for some options specific to the needs of your class, summertime is a great time to explore the web (and our blog!) to see what you can find! If you’d like help in finding tools, feel free to reach out to us! We would be happy to help search for some solutions that will fit your needs and the needs of your students!
  • Check out some of the services offered by ITS: If you haven’t been keeping up with what we’ve been doing throughout the year, ITS offers some great and exciting services! 3D printers are available in the media lab for the use of faculty, staff and students. It may be a neat idea to take this ground-breaking technology and incorporate it in your classroom and ask students to use these printers to design an object. Throughout the summer ITS also will be offering workshops on Microsoft Office programs, Adobe, and more! If you have the time and the desire to pick up some new skills you should definitely join us!