Author Archives: Kara McElwrath

Traveling afar? Keep us close!

As we begin wrapping up the spring semester, many of us may have exciting plans coming up. Summer is typically the time for trips abroad that may not fit into the school year, mission trips to help out in different areas for different purposes, family trips, friend trips, and wherever else the summer takes you…
One of the neatest ways to use all the great technology and tools available on the internet is to document experiences and share them with others. There are tons of ways to do this, and today we are sharing some of our favorites!
Blogging: Blogging is such a great way to get out there and share your experiences, opinions, ideas, and basically inspire (and be inspired!) by others on the internet. Incorporate videos, posts, photographs, maps, and anything you want to share about your trip (the list is really endless!) Blogs are great because they combine all of these elements in one easy location for others to follow and keep in touch while you are busy traveling the world.
Google Maps: If you are a Google Maps user, you may have noticed some of the pretty neat elements they’ve begun incorporating into maps: photos, videos, landmarks complete with descriptions, and custom-made maps created by Google users for others to explore and share. Creating a Google Map of a trip (especially if you are hopping around place to place) is a great way to document your travels and share them with others so they can see some of the same things you were able to experience!
We have so many ideas we’d love to share with you if you are looking to incorporate multimedia into really any of your experiences. You don’t have to travel to Europe to create a blog or go on a backpacking trip to create your own Google Map. These awesome tools are at your fingertips waiting for you to become inspired, create and share!

How to Make the Jump to Digital

Every week, we blog about new tools, new ideas, and new methods of utilizing technology in your classroom and in higher education in general. While there are tons of great resources out there we love sharing, and tons of services we offer here at UIS, we understand that making this leap into the technology world isn’t always easy!

If you are following along and are familiar with the challenges that may come along with using technology, then check out this infographic we found! From electronic textbooks to tips on integration and which devices to use, this will introduce you to some of the ideas and concepts to get started!

Digital Classroom Technology Infographic

Revisiting the Flipped Classroom!

The “Flipped Classroom” Model is definitely something we have spent some time blogging about in the past, but did you know that this year, new, innovative methods of flipping the classroom are projected to make it one of the biggest changes in higher education this year!

Basically, if you haven’t heard, the flipped classroom is the notion that time spent in the classroom is for projects, “homework”, and other collaborative activities, and time spent outside the classroom is for lecturing, note-taking, and watching videos. With all of the advances in technology, educators are able to record their lectures and post them online, provide students with videos, notes, and other class materials electronically (not just in the classroom). So, this gives educators the opportunity to really take advantage of the valuable hours they meet with students each week!

If you are interested in this concept, contact us! We love the idea of flipping the classroom, and have so many ideas to share. Many technology tools offered here at UIS are perfect for transitioning lectures to the online environment. We’d also love to share some of our great ideas on multimedia projects and utilizing some of our favorite tech tools inside the classroom to promote creativity and collaboration within the classroom!

Check out one of our favorite tools!

Jing is such a useful and neat tool, it’s hard to believe it’s FREE! While you do have to download the software, Jing will surely be something worthwhile. It allows users to create annotated screen captures instantly, and create screencast videos. Jing allows users to capture all or part of images and add text, draw, or highlight text. They can then be shared with students on Blackboard in class notes! UIS faculty, staff and students also can take advantage of Camtasia Relay – but for folks not associated with UIS, then Jing is an amazing free tool!

Flip This Classroom!

Essentially, a flipped classroom is just how it sounds! Instead of spending classroom time lecturing and time outside of the classroom doing homework and answering questions, the time inside the classroom is spent engaging in discussions and problem solving, and the time outside the classroom is spent listening to lectures and other materials that may typically be presented during class.

Although this is a relatively new concept, the benefits of flipping classrooms are already emerging. One of the main reasons they are proving to be such an effective way to teach is because of all the free great web-based resources available to you! From tools that help organize web-resources for your class (like SymbalooEDU) to tools to supplement your lectures and add a different view (like TED, Khan Academy, or SnagFilms), the internet is full of these resources and new ones are being developed daily!

Check out the infographic below to learn more about the science behind the Flipped Classroom- what they are, how they work, and how they can impact how your students learn! And be sure to follow our blog every week-we are always on the lookout for the next best web-based tools and love sharing them with you!

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


Choose Your Own Adventure

Do you remember the days of the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books where you would read a few pages, then based on a choice, you’d flip to a particular page where you were faced with another choice?  The same story could be read multiple times, with a different ending every time!

Quandary is a free application that allows you to make web-based action mazes, similiar to these books.  These action mazes are great tools for problem-solving, diagnosis, procedural training, surveys/questionnaires – really any activity that students might understand and remember better by example than through explanation.

Online Study Tools

Looking for a way to help your students study on the go? Give Flashcard Machine a try! Flashcard Machine is a free tool for creating interactive, web-based study flashcards that can be shared with others. Teachers can build customized pages for each course to organize flashcards. With over 42.1 million flash cards created to-date and an iOS app for use on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches, Flashcard Machine may be just the tool your students need to prepare for their next exam.

Avoiding PowerPointlessness

When Microsoft introduced PowerPoint, the world of presentations was revolutionized. Perhaps we are well overdue for another revolution. I’d like to introduce you to the possibilities of Prezi, a free and innovative way to present and engage.

Prezi is a web-based tool that allows users to create a presentation using a map layout. Users are able to zoom in and out of different items and show relationships from an interesting point of view.  We encourage you to attend our workshop on December 1st at 10am to learn how to use Prezi.  Check out the Prezi below for a glimpse:

What’s Behind the Curtain?

Well, it’s really more of a screen than a curtain. I’m talking about the Interactive White Boards (IWB) available in all classrooms in UHB and in select classrooms in other buildings.

These IWBs are often hidden behind the projector screen, but they hold a great deal of potential for instructors in presenting their lectures.

The IWBs allow the instructor to move away from the instructor station (often located in the corner of the room) and remain at the front of the classroom. The instructor can control the computer simply by pressing on the board. Annotations can be made on any application run on the computer – commenting on Word documents, highlighting text on websites, annotating images, etc. Screenshots of annotated applications can be taken and converted to a pdf format, thus providing lecture hand-outs for students.

For more information on the Interactive White Boards, please visit our Technology Enhanced Classrooms webpage.

Did I Miss Anything?

This is one of my favorite questions from students who have missed class. Many days, I want to answer ‘No, we decided that we couldn’t continue without your presence and invaluable input, so we just waited until your return.’

Missed classes are unavoidable for many students – perhaps they are student athletes, have health issues, are primary caretakers for family members, etc.

Since it’s unrealistic to reenact class each time a student is absent, you might consider class capture as a solution. Class capture allows you to record your class, with the end result being a link to the recording. This link can be shared with students via Blackboard, iTunes, or e-mail, where they can view the recording at their convenience. It also serves as a great review for students who attended class.

ITS has two solutions for class capture:

– Camtasia Relay, which captures both audio and whatever is displayed on the computer screen.

– Echo 360, which captures video of the instructor along with audio and whatever is displayed on the computer screen

For more information about these solutions, visit our Lecture Capture webpage.

The Dog Ate My Homework

Hopefully, by this point in your students’ educational career, the excuses are more creative. In fact, I’d venture to guess that technology is blamed more than unruly pets.

“My computer died. I lost my Flash drive. I e-mailed it to myself, but the e-mail server is down. I saved it on my friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/parent/neighbor’s computer and they are out of town now.” Sound familiar?

While I can’t promise the elimination of excuses, I can offer a solution for your students. eDocs, UIS’ document management system, is available for faculty, staff, and students to store and share files. eDocs is a web-based resource and can be accessed on or off campus, 24/7, from any computer with Internet access. If students would get into the habit of saving their work to eDocs (which ITS backs up nightly), there might be fewer excuses for not submitting work on time.

For more information, please visit our eDocs webpage.


Welcome to the Instructional Support and Training blog! While our team offers support and resources to the entire UIS community, this blog will focus on tools for faculty – tools to save time, increase efficiency, improve effectiveness, and better reach students.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau – “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” The ISAT team recognizes that time is a precious commodity. We hope to use this blog to showcase tools that can have an immediate impact on your teaching (and your students’ learning). We’ll focus on tools that are easy to use, are flexible enough to integrate with your teaching style, are powerful enough to adapt to your students’ learning styles, and are pedagogically sound. Most importantly, our team is available to assist you in successfully integrating these tools.

We encourage you to share comments, feedback, and suggestions!