Google Apps for Education at UIS!

UIS 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!

This 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!

Voice Comments Integrate with Google Drive/Docs!

With the increasing prevalence of online courses and increasing use of technology, distance-interactions between educators and students is essential. While recorded lectures, emails, and discussions/responses are definitely useful, some of the most useful tools we’ve come across are tools that allow educators to leave voice-comments for students on their assignments. Today, we’re sharing Kaizena—a tool that does just that—and integrates with Google Drive, making it a perfect solution for us here at UIS!

Simply add the app to your Google Drive or go to Kaizena’s website and log into your Drive account. Then, select the student’s assignment and open it with Kaizena—now you are free to not only view the assignment but add both voice and text comments. There are great features to help keep you organized with the assignments you are commenting on, and allow students to request comments and feedback on a specific assignment.

For more information on Kaizena, click here!

Put Google Maps to the Test!

Traveling anywhere this summer? If so, then the new Google Maps app is an absolute must-have! The iOS and Android compatible app has recently rolled out new features that make it the perfect travel companion! New features include:

Google Maps

  • The GPS system is specific in clarifying which lane you should be driving in at a given moment—making it more functional than some other GPS systems
  • Save maps for offline use—this is great to take advantage when Wi-Fi is available and to capture your destinations for the day, so later on when you are traveling you can utilize the saved map without having to utilize cellular data!
  • Google Maps now integrates with Uber, which makes finding your best form of public transportation much easier! The times for different forms of transportation are listed, with the approximate wait times for each. If you choose to use Uber (a cab), then simply select that option and your location will be opened up within the Uber app.

Be sure to take advantage of the new features in Google Maps, which will help make your next day of travel a little easier!


Resources for teaching with Primary Sources

Teaching with primary sources is a current initiative at UIS, and a very valuable way for students to learn and study different subjects. Primary sources are first-hand accounts or direct evidence concerning a particular topic…different that secondary sources, which are accounts or interpretations of events from somebody without first-hand experience.

There are some great resources for finding primary sources, especially online, which makes it so simple and convenient for both educators and students alike to browse and discover Library of Congressthese valuable sources! The Library of Congress is a widely popular resource, and today we’re sharing another great one—the World Digital Library.

The World Digital Library has a focus on history and cultural studies, and is easy (and interesting!) to navigate and find new information. Search by date, topic, continent (and more) and find maps, images, journals, books, and more!


Socrative 2.0

This past week, Socrative was updated to its second version…Socrative 2.0. When you log into your Socrative account as usual, you will notice you’ve been upgraded to the new version automatically. The new update offers the same functionality as Socrative 1.0, but many more features! And even better, it’s intuitive and just as easy to use!

Existing quizzes that you had in Socrative 1.0 are still available in 2.0, room numbers are the same, account passwords and login information remains the same, and links and apps to use Socrative are also the same. The upgrade offers tons of new features, including:

·         Student Navigation within Quizzes

·         Google Drive Integration

·         Common Core Tagging

·         Individual Student Reports

·         Printable Quizzes

·         Real-Time Results Views

Be sure to check out the new Socrative 2.0, and get ready to integrate the great features into your curriculum this fall, just in time for the new 2014-2015 school year!

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!