Add an Interactive Component to your Videos!

Posting videos on your Blackboard website and utilizing them to enhance and add to content related to your lesson is a great way to add an interactive component to your class and spark student interest in new ways. Want to take it even a step further? Make your videos interactive!

In the past, we’ve shared VideoNotes, a tool that allows users to make their YouTube videos interactive by adding questions throughout for viewers to answer. Today, we’re sharing Vialogues, a tool that does the same thing, only you are not limited to using YouTube videos!

Vialogue allows users to add questions or comments that are tied to specific moments in their own video. Vialogues can be made public or private, but to be posted on a website or blog, they need to be public. This would be a great way to incorporate multiple choice questions for knowledge checks or even insert comments to point out important information!

The Future of Higher Education

We always like taking a peek into the potential future of higher education and how technology may evolve! We can’t believe how much it has evolved in just over the last few years…tablets being utilized in classrooms, an endless amount of apps for smart devices targeted towards education, online courses becoming more and more common, and more. Checkout this infographic we found that delves even deeper into what the future may hold!

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Mid-term Help with the Online Writing Lab (OWL)

It’s mid-term time! Can you believe we are already half-way through the semester? Chances are, students are preparing for midterm exams or completing midterm papers. If a paper is not assigned as a midterm project, chances are a final paper is part of the final exam or final project. We want to share a resource with you to share with students (and use yourself!) when it comes to writing papers. The tool is Excelsior College’s Online Writing Lab, commonly known as OWL. You may have heard of it already, but it recently won a WOW award and underwent a website makeover, making it even more functional and easy to navigate!

OWL is a great place to check out how to incorporate a multitude of sources into a paper and how to cite these sources, grammar tips, and even ways to avoid plagiarism. This website is a great resource to utilize as educators, and to share with students, as they will definitely utilize this resource throughout their academic career, and even beyond!

Create Instructional Documents in a Snap!

Today we’re sharing a tool that is an absolute must if you find yourself creating instructional documents complete with screenshots and step-by-step instructions! The tool is called Clarify, and it is a free, downloadable tool that combines all the separate steps required to create instructional documents into one program, cutting down time and maximizing efficiency! clarify

With Clarify, users are able to capture the images they need (with tons of options to tailor it to exactly what will work best for you!), place each image as a “step” in the document, and then add the annotations and text to that image…then you are able to put it all together creating an instructional document that is nicely formatted in just minutes! Utilizing several programs to put together these types of documents can be challenging…and formatting makes it even more difficult! Clarify is an absolute must for those of you creating instructional documents for your students and/or peers to describe processes and how-to’s!

Learning Outside Class: the Flipped Classroom

We’ve blogged frequently about the flipped classroom, and hope the information we have shared in the past has inspired some of you to implement some of the characteristics of the flipped classroom into your classroom!

Today we’re sharing a tool that has made the entire flipping of the classroom easier, and possible! One of the primary concepts of flipped learning is to view lectures and learn content online outside of class, preserving in-class time for group activities, discussions, and face-to-face interaction. One of the best webtools to help in bringing the learning of content the internet to be done outside of class is Khan Academy. Not only are there tons of educational videos, there is a classroom management component for teachers which allows them to assign lectures and track student progress!

There are many tools that help to bring the lecture component of classes to the internet to be completed outside of class, but Khan Academy is definitely a great option! If you’re interested in learning more, be sure to follow our blog and reach out to us!

Trend Alert! On-Demand Training!

Online training is one of the top trends to watch out for this year, and today we wanted to share with you some of the training resources available to all UIS faculty, staff and students!

Whether you are looking to become more competent with Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word, we have Lynda, a tool that can help get you the proficient in these programs, and tons more! Lynda is an on-demand technology training program, which means it can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Browse through tons of short tutorial videos if you are looking how to complete a specific task in the program, or view the entire training courses to learn the program as a whole!

Even better, if you are not on campus and do not have these programs installed on your personal computer at home (think Adobe programs, Microsoft Office, etc.), connect through Citrix and remote connect to a desktop that is equipped with all of these programs! This gives you the ability to utilize a program like Photoshop from your own computer.

Training in a program like Lynda is one of the best ways to expand interests and gain the skills to be efficient in different programs, but improving computer skills may also lead to future job opportunities/advancements!

A Tool to Keep Students Organized

We’re always sharing helpful tools for educators to use in their classrooms, but today, we wanted to switch things up! We came across a great tool for students, and because it is the beginning of the semester, we figured the timing is perfect! mystudentlife

The tool is called MyStudentLife. It is not only web-based, but apps are also available for iOS and Android devices. This app allows students to enter all of their courses, and then enter and update tasks as they are assigned, complete with due dates. This helps them track their upcoming assignments and plan for the semester!

Make sure you share this with your students right away! Being the start of a new semester, it is a great opportunity to begin using a tool like this and get started on the right foot!

New to Blogging?

Blogging has grown to be one of the most popular ways to communicate on the web! It is great–users are able to be creative, share ideas, and reach a variety of audiences. However, starting a blog can be a little intimidating, and it can be difficult to know exactly where to start and the steps to take.

Today, we want to share a resource we recently came across, This website contains tons of resources for all bloggers-new or expert! For those new to blogging, the How to Start a Blog guide is very valuable. It includes information on all steps to get started from hosting and themes to content, readers, and social media!

The website also includes other resources, including their own blog where they share a variety of of posts related to blogging. It’s a great place to check up on some of the latest tips and tricks for making your blog successful!

Here at UIS, we offer WordPress Blog Service. If you would like help in getting started, please feel free to contact us, and be sure to check out our website for more information on WordPress here!

Sync your Links!

Do you find yourself sharing many links with your students frequently? Perhaps links to audience response system URLs, blogs, articles, websites, and even URLs to some of your creations with the great webtools we share on our blog. Keeping all these links straight can be difficult enough, let alone ensuring your students have all the links and that they are correct!

The tools we want to share today is a tool that will make it easier to store and distribute all your links as an educator to all your students. Bitly and LinkBunch are both free web-based tools that allow you to “bunch” links together and send them out to the audience—this way it will ensure they are receiving the correct links! And an added feature of Bitly is that the sender can view how many times the links were clicked…so you can know if your entire audience was able to access and click the link, or if they have yet to access the links!

The Future of Technology: Some Favorites from the Consumer Electronics Show!

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place in Nevada earlier this month, and we’re excited to share some of the awesome things that were presented at the show! From 3D printed dresses to RocketSkates and tons of new ways to light up your space, this show had just about everything you could imagine!

One of our favorites? A treadmill more high tech than you could ever imagine! This “treadmill” is actually a stationary machine, and the user puts on special shoes with plastic insets that glide over the base in a frictionless way. But that’s not even the beginning—the user wears gear so they are fully integrated in a game-and the moves they make on the “treadmill” translate to their avatar in the game. Check out more about it here! We can’t wait to see what comes of this in the future!

Check out even more highlights from the show here:

3D Printing Technology here at UIS!

3D printing is everywhere now, and is becoming one of the most interesting technologies considering all of the potential for uses! Did you know we have not only a 3D printer but also a 3D scanner here at UIS? 3d print

The 3D printer and the 3D scanner are both available for use in the Media Lab in Brookens Library. The 3D printer will create a 3D solid product based upon a digital model. It does this by laying down layers upon layers of material to form the object. The 3D scanner creates models that are then ready to be printed on the 3D printer—the scanner and printer work seamlessly to help produce your creation!

To help design your model to be printed, the Autodesk software suite of applications is available on the computers in both the Media Lab in Brookens Library and UHB 2000.

So what exactly would you do with the 3D printer, and where do you begin brainstorming on ideas to take advantage of these great tools available right here at UIS? One of our favorite sites is Thingiverse. Find new ideas to help design your own creations or even download designs that are ready to print!

We are sure you have questions, and we’d love to answer them! Come visit us in the Media Lab where we can show you the 3D printing equipment and help you to get started!

What to Expect in 2015!

Welcome to a new semester! We hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season, and are as excited to kick this semester into gear as we are!

One of the biggest tech trends for 2015 is expected to be the flipped classroom. We definitely have blogged on this topic in the past, sharing ideas and tools to use to get started in flipping your classroom!

Flipped classrooms optimize student interaction with the material both in and out of the classroom. Often times, lectures, videos, and other items that can be completed away from the classroom are assigned as homework, and valuable class time is used for discussions with peers and problem-solving.

However, the need for interaction even outside the classroom is really the focus this year! A student may not get a lot out of viewing a video alone–there should be an interactive component to really boost the effectiveness. Tools like Blubbr and make this possible! These tools allow instructors to embed quizzes and add questions within videos, so students are expected to not only view the video, but to interact with the content as well!

If you’d like more ideas on how to expand the interactiveness of your flipped classroom to the outside the classroom activities, please reach out to us and we can help you think of some solutions that may work for you and your students!

On to 2015!

Can you believe it is already 2015!? Every year, it’s always fun to reflect on what we’ve blogged about and shared over the past 12 months, and to encourage our readers to take on a new year’s resolution challenge, and try a new idea or incorporate a tool we’ve shared into their classroom! images

This year, we want to continue to encourage you to make one of your resolutions this year to be to try to incorporate some new technology into your classroom this spring. If you don’t know where to start, it may be a good idea to start small. Check out a few ideas we have to get you started:
1. Try adding some videos from YouTube EDU, SnagFilms, or TED into your lectures to get students thinking outside the box.
2. Try getting your students more engaged during class lectures by using audience response technology! This sounds intimidating, but is so simple to incorporate into lectures. Simply use a free webtool like Socrative, Infuse Learning or Poll Everywhere.
3. Encourage students to get creative by assigning a project and challenge them to use multimedia. We share so many tools on our blog that would be great for them to try! Tools like Prezi, Glogster, and Timeline JS are great places to start!
If you want to explore more ideas of incorporating technology into your classroom, feel free to reach out to us! And make sure to follow our blog to check out new ideas posted weekly!

A Free Tool to Broadcast Presentations

We love sharing tools that are not only incredibly useful but also free! Even better? If they are free and simple! is one of those tools—couldn’t be simpler, and will be a very valuable tool in your lectures next spring! preso is a tool for broadcasting and sharing presentations or other documents. Simply go to, upload the PowerPoint, Word doc, PDF, etc. file that you wish to share, and then you will be provided with a link to share with the audience. The audience will then use the link from their laptops or device(s), and will be able to follow along with the presentation!

Viewers are even able to utilize a chat feature, allowing them to enter questions throughout the presentation when items are unclear! How will you use next semester??

Using Collages to Share Information

Multimedia collages are the newest awesome way to share information in an interactive, appealing format!

Tools like PicCollage, PicMonkey and Padlet are free web-based tools and apps that allow users to add images, videos, text, links, and more! They are then able to arrange these different resources however they please, adding essentially as much information as they want! When complete, these collages can be shared and distributed for others to utilize.

While it’s too late to create multimedia collages for the end of this semester, perhaps it would be a good idea to kick off the semester with one! Information about the syllabus, Blackboard and/or class website could be included, as well as links and information to other information relevant to class! It would be a great way to get students interactively engaging with the class and familiar with the material to be covered throughout the semester.

If you are interested in multimedia collages and want to learn more about the various programs available or ideas of how to incorporate them into your lectures or class projects, please feel free to contact us!