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!

Where to find Quality Pictures for your Media Needs

We’ve blogged about using images the correct way in media before, but because this is a hot topic, we wanted to revisit this issue today! file4711279208151
When you are sharing information on the web whether it be via blog, wiki, published presentation, etc. it’s important to make sure you are selecting any pictures to accompany the material correctly. While using images that are in a public domain or have creative commons licenses may not always be your primary consideration in choosing the right image, it is important. To be sure you are taking the appropriate measures and following best practices, check out these resources for images:
Pixabay: Easily search for quality public domain images by keywords, and then download your selected image in the size you need!

Morgue File: Tons of images free for use for academic purposes can be found here; just make sure you carefully read the labels for each image, as some require attribution.
If you are looking for more resources or would like to learn more about the best practices for using images in media, feel free to reach out to us!

Analyze My Writing: The Perfect Tool for Final Papers!

Wrapping up the month of April means we are quickly approaching the end of the semester and finals! Students are busy studying for exams and finishing up their final papers, and today we are sharing a tool that will help them in writing those final papers and ensuring the quality is to the level they strive for!

With Analyze My Writing, students can simply paste their writing into the text box on the website and their writing will be analyzed based on readability, phrases used, words used, and more! This is a great way for students to get an in-depth analysis of their writing and will give them tips on improvement prior to turning it in for grading! Analyze My Writing is free and so simple to use, it’s definitely a must for students to use as they write papers. Not only will it help them improve the particular paper, but it will help them learn more about their learning style and patterns.

Analyze My Writing is definitely a must-use tool for all writers, whether they are being graded or not! Check it out and let us know what you think!

Changing Your Password Just Got Easier!

Changing your password just got easier! ITS has implemented the ability for you to set up password recovery options. Setting up your password recovery options will allow you to recover your password on your own, whenever you want, from wherever you want, using three different recovery methods (email, text, and voice).

Although not required, we encourage you to start the process as soon as possible. It will make it easier to change your password as you near your password expiration date. You can access the new system from http://go.uis.edu/password. The process is very easy and should only take you a minute to walk through the set up process.

If you would like assistance in setting up your options, please visit ITS Client Services in the lower level of Brookens Library. We will also be having drop in help sessions in BRK 141B every day this week from 11am-1pm if you would like to walk through this process with an ITS staff member.

This implementation is part of the first phase of the Identity and Access Management (IAM) project and we are excited to be the first University of Illinois campus to roll out this functionality!

Today’s Post…Starring You!

Today’s blog post is a little different—we are reaching out to you, our readers, to get the scoop on the information YOU want to see! What blog post topics are your favorites? What would you like to learn more about? Are you looking for tips on an educational technology or tool, specifically? Let us know! We love providing the latest tips and ideas to our readers on our blog, and would love to hear what you would like us to share!

Ways to use Smartphones in Higher Ed

Smartphones and smart devices have been around for a few years now, and it has been a challenge finding their place in the classroom, and deciding if they even belong there. We have definitely come far, and have found innovative and highly educational ways to incorporate these tools into the classroom. Checkout this great infographic we’ve found that details smartphones in education and the features that are best for education.

Some of our favorite features include the ability to turn a smartphone or device into a response tool to answer poll questions during lectures, the great apps that make everyday tasks easier for students and assist with studying, and how students and educators are taking these apps and tools to the next level, making them work for them in education, specifically! Let us know your ideas for mobile devices in the classroom and how you think they could be used!

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This tool will help start and facilitate discussion!

Today, we are sharing a tool that has many implications in higher education, and is a great tool to use particularly during lectures. Message boards are commonly found on the web, but Tozzl brings the online message board to a new level! With Tozzl, simply create a new message board, set a password if you wish it to be private, and a URL will be assigned to your new message board. Simply distribute the URL to the users you wish to have access to the message board.

Aside from being a forum for discussions, with Tozzl sections can be added for YouTube videos, to-do lists, and file sharing.

One of our favorite ideas to use Tozzl is to use it as a backchannel tool during lectures. During a lecture, students can enter your unique Tozzl and post their questions and comments concerning the lecture! The ways to use Tozzl in the classroom expand beyond using it as a backchannel—it’s a great tool for students to work and collaborate together on projects, too! If you’d like to learn more about Tozzl and are interested in using it in your classroom but have some questions, feel free to reach out to us!

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!

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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, firstsiteguide.com. 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!