Category Archives: Hardware

The Best Ways to Get Creative on your iPad!

We have spent a lot of time on our blog sharing iPad/iPhone apps that are great for higher education and for use in the classroom. Some of the best apps are great for educational purposes, but some are just really cool and fun! Today we are sharing some apps we have discovered that are really interesting, unique, and fun to use for everyday purposes or when you are feeling like getting a little creative!

Face Jack ($1.99)
This app is one of a kind and will surely be a hit with everyone! Create a recording, upload an image of someone’s face, and then within a couple clicks, Face Jack will pair your audio to the face to create a fun and hilarious way of sharing audio!

Drawing Box (FREE)
This is the ultimate app for learning to draw or improving your skills! This app offers tons of drawing tools, and provides users with lessons to learn step-by-step techniques!

Fotolr PS HD (FREE)
This app gives users to tool to edit and enhance their photos with a few clicks! There are even tools specifically for portraits, including lipstick, hair dying, and teeth whitening!

Silent Film Director (FREE)
This app lets you turn your own movies into silent films! Choose from different eras that will add an overall effect to your movie, customize speed at various points in the video, edit sounds by choosing from soundtracks, your own music, using muting, and more.

CamWow (FREE)
This app brings all the features of Photo Booth to your device-choose from tons of filters and effects to add to your images, and then share with others them directly from the app!

Be sure to follow our Best of iPad Apps website for more apps for creativity, and much more!

New to Apple? Here are the best (free) apps to get you started!

Have you just started using an iPad? Are you feeling lost? If you are new to Mac products, your first iPhone, iPad, or iPod can be a little overwhelming…where do you begin with the apps? There are so many to choose from, so it can be a little difficult to know exactly what you may need or want right away. We have created a list of some of the best (FREE!) apps that will help you get started using your new Apple device! To view the entire list, click here.

Evernote
This app is one of the most effective apps for organizing and remembering everything that is going on in your life. Take notes, jot down ideas, take recordings, and synchronize all information with a computer or other mobile device

Sundry Notes

With Sundry Notes, users can write text, draw anywhere, research with the internet, import PDFs, images, and documents from Evernote, GoogleDocs and Dropbox, and share notes via Facebook, Twitter, or Google. Make it a multimedia note-taking experience by recording audio.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

This app provides users with access to all the definitions from the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Additionally, users are able to use voice search to look up a word without having to spell it.
Flipboard
Earning the name of Apple’s iPad App of the Year, this app is a great and beautiful way to go through news, photos, videos, and social media updates. Flipboard is like your own personal magazine, with everything you want to see in one single space.

Facebook
Facebook finallay released their app for the iPad, and its interface boasts simple navigation on your apple devices!

If you like this list, you’ll love our Best of iPad Apps website, site dedicated to providing you with the scoop on the best apps for a variety of categories-from the best apps for writing to apps for various specific educational topics, this website will give you a little insight on the best of what’s available to you!

Add some pizzazz to your lectures!

Ahh yes, February. The days are short, the weather is dreary, and the only thing that may be on the minds of your students is the fact that there is only one month until spring break. It’s that time of the semester where you may find yourself going above and beyond in an effort to stimulate your students.  We have put together a list of things you can do to add a little pizzazz to your lectures and keep your students motivated and focused!

  • If you are tired of using PowerPoint as your go-to presentation tool, check out Prezi. This free web-based tool will put a unique twist on your presentations and still allow you to add images, videos, and more!
  • To get students more involved in your lecture and keep them focused, try TurningPoint! Each student has their own clicker and can directly respond to questions and you will be provided with instant feedback!
  • Check out TED.com for speeches across the world on any subject you could imagine-a TED video could be a great addition to your lecture! If you like the idea of using educational videos to enhance your lectures, check out Snag Films, Academic Earth, or YouTube EDU for some more great videos.
  • If you like to walk around your classroom during lectures (or like to roam around making sure students aren’t spending the hour browsing Facebook) try out Engage. This tool is an extension of your computer and lets you navigate whatever is on the screen from anywhere in the classroom!

 

 

A New Year, a New Semester

Happy New Year! Winter break is flying by, and we are quickly approaching the beginning of another new semester. With these new beginnings, there is no better time to try something new and step out of your comfort zone. Here are a few fresh ideas for you to try in your classes this semester:

Use the Interactive Whiteboards

Those whiteboards in every classroom are more than just a fancy projector screen-they are interactive. Project your computer screen to the whiteboard, then directly interact with whatever is on your computer from the whiteboard. Use the markers to highlight, annotate, and write on the screen, and use your finger to navigate the web or whatever you wish. Take snapshots of the screens and then upload them to Blackboard to share with your students. The possibilities are endless with these interactive whiteboards, and they can definitely make a huge impact in any course. If you would like to learn more about the whiteboards, do not hesitate to contact us!

Create a Class Blog

Last semester, we introduced WordPress Blog Service to the campus, which is available to all faculty, students, and staff. Creating a blog is a great way to share information and stay connected with others. Students are very well connected today, so a blog could be a great way to keep them connected to the class and material even when they are not physically in the classroom.

Encourage Creativity

In the Media Lab, we offer so many tools for students to utilize for class projects. From Flip Cams to video editing software, students have the tools they need to create creative, elaborate projects. This semester, think about encouraging your students to express their creativity with a project utilizing Multimedia tools. If you would like to discuss the tools we have or have any other questions, feel free to come see us in the Media Lab in BRK 180!

Make your Classroom Interactive

As promised in our previous blog, we are going to be presenting new and interesting tools for you to incorporate into your classrooms that are free, simple, and incredibly useful. Involving students in your classroom sessions rather than just lecturing to them can prove to be very beneficial on both their part and your own. One way to involve them throughout the entire class session is to consistently be getting their feedback-in a high-tech way.

We have a few options for you to try this out if you haven’t yet. Turning Point, a tool we have blogged about often, and is available for your use, is an audience response system. By simply providing your students with the “clickers” and using the Turning Point software, you are able to create presentations that look exactly like your PowerPoint, but incorporate questions for the students to answer as you go. It provides instant feedback, so right after they all enter their answers and polling closes, you can discuss the results.

Another tool we have come across recently that does something similar is web-based, free, and allows students to use any device with an internet connection (tablets, smartphones, and laptops). Socrative allows teachers to log into their accounts during class and instantaneously ask a question for their students-the students then are able to log in to their own accounts and answer. This allows real-time interaction and collaboration among the students and educators in the classroom. Additionally, educators can pre-plan activities or assessments and view the data in Google Docs or Excel!

Both of these tools put a new twist on the traditional college classroom and create a more interactive environment (and more alert, prepared students!). If you would like to give them a try, don’t hesitate to contact us to answer your questions or help you get started!

 

 

As promised in our previous blog, we are going to be presenting new and interesting tools for you to incorporate into your classrooms that are free, simple, and incredibly useful. Involving students in your classroom sessions rather than just lecturing to them can prove to be very beneficial on both their part and your own. One way to involve them throughout the entire class session is to consistently be getting their feedback-in a high-tech way.

We have a few options for you to try this out if you haven’t yet. Turning Point, a tool we have blogged about often, and is available for your use, is an audience response system. By simply providing your students with the “clickers” and using the Turning Point software, you are able to create presentations that look exactly like your PowerPoint, but incorporate questions for the students to answer as you go. It provides instant feedback, so right after they all enter their answers and polling closes, you can discuss the results.

Another tool we have come across recently that does something similar is web-based, free, and allows students to use any device with an internet connection (tablets, smartphones, and laptops). Socrative allows teachers to log into their accounts during class and instantaneously ask a question for their students-the students then are able to log in to their own accounts and answer. This allows real-time interaction and collaboration among the students and educators in the classroom. Additionally, educators can pre-plan activities or assessments and view the data in Google Docs or Excel!

Both of these tools put a new twist on the traditional college classroom and create a more interactive environment (and more alert, prepared students!). If you would like to give them a try, don’t hesitate to contact us to answer your questions or help you get started!

A New Way to ENGAGE your Students!

If you’re the type of professor who would rather be interactive during lecture instead of sitting behind a podium, we have the tool for you!

Gone are the days of sitting by the computer to press the mouse each time you want to advance to the next slide or advance to a new website. Engage is a hand-held, wireless, touch LCD screen that is an “extension” of your computer at the instructor station. This tool gives instructors the opportunity to get up and walk throughout the classroom without losing accessibility to their computer. Use the stylus to navigate presentations from the back of the room, annotate over any material displayed on the screen, advance through websites, and more!

This is a great opportunity for instructors to walk around large classrooms but still have the accessibility of flipping slides, navigating websites or Blackboard, and interacting with the computer in the same way they would at the instructor station. Come see us in the Media Lab if you would like to learn more about Engage and are interested in using it in your classroom!

We’re all about iPads!


One thing you may have noticed this school year is students coming to class with not only their laptops and smartphones, but a new shiny tool-the iPad. The iPad has proven itself a valuable tool for education-the thousands of apps available for students and educators are some of the best tech tools available.

Check out our iPad apps site here to see some of the best iPad apps organized into categories. From free apps for education to the best apps for research and writing, you will be sure to find some great resources for your students and yourself. Be sure to share this site with your students and colleagues and check back often-we are always looking for the newest apps to add to our lists!

iPads are now available for faculty to check out! We have 2 iPads in the Media Lab (BRK 180) available for week-long checkout to faculty.

iPad 2 Smart Cover

5 ways you can use…a Document Camera!

Document cameras are a valuable tool that can be found in every classroom at UIS. Document cameras allow educators to not only project papers in a classroom for students to view, but also 3-D objects. They provide large, crisp images for students to view, making it a great way to ensure all students are able to see the material being presented. Here are 5 ideas to get you started:

  1. A document camera is an excellent tool to share and observe objects with your students. Try using it to magnify objects to show small print or details. This works great when showing fossils, labels, maps, or other objects that would be difficult to see.
  2. Solve mathematical equations easily by writing them on paper and projecting them so the class can easily follow along step-by-step.
  3. Use the document camera to show hands-on tasks, and be sure the entire class has the same great view! Try dissecting plants or animals, assembling models, or conducting a chemistry experiment.
  4. Share a newspaper, magazine article, or selected text from a book.
  5. Go through a paper as a class and demonstrate how to annotate and take notes efficiently.

Document cameras are an easy tool to utilize and will help add a little variety to the way you teach your course. From sharing how to use a graphic calculator to reviewing exams or homework assignments, the document camera makes those everyday tasks a little simpler!

5 ways you can use…Flip Cameras!

Flip cameras are a great tool for higher education for several reasons. They are small, compact, easy to use, and even easier to transfer to computer devices. The USB cable flips right out from the side of the camera and right into your device to reduce the hassle with cables and cords. While the flip camera cannot hold an extremely large amount of data (2 hours is its space limit), it is great to incorporate into your class projects to encourage students to get creative and really get into class material. Here are 5 ways you can use flip cameras in your classroom:

  1. Create a project proposing students to create their own public service announcements or commercials related to class material. This could work for any subject, from history to health!
  2. Have students practice their job-seeking skills by recording them interviewing for a fictitious job. They will be able to play back the video and engage in both peer and self-assessments.
  3. When students are delivering speeches in class, use the flip cam to record their speeches so they can view themselves later on and get instant feedback.
  4. Have students create a mock news segment related to class material.
  5. For an end of the semester project, have students create video diaries, reflecting all they have learned in the course throughout the semester.

Additionally, flip cams are a great way to record demonstrations or experiments (think chemistry or art classes) for students who may have missed class or want to review for an exam or lab practical. They are perfect to record segments of lectures where they need to “see” something to really understand it. Flip cams have the potential to make any project into an exciting adventure. For more ways to use flip cams in your class or how to use these devices, feel free to contact us!

5 ways you can use…Clickers!

TurningPoint is an audience response system allowing users to essentially “poll” their audience. Through presentations and responding devices, known as “clickers”, audience members can respond to questions prompted on a slide, and users are able to instantly view the results for feedback. TurningPoint can be used in a variety of ways in college classrooms. Here are 5 ideas to get you started:

  1. TurningPoint can be used as a great way to get instant feedback on the effectiveness or student comprehension of lecture material. Simply ask questions before the lecture and at the end of the lecture as a pre and posttest, and get insight on how the audience is grasping the material presented.
  2. Multiple choice tests can be transformed into presentations, and students can give their responses in just a click! Try creating mock tests for students to use during a review session to gain instant feedback on areas that need to be further covered.
  3. Using TurningPoint is a great way to decrease your workload with tracking attendance, grading multiple choice tests and quizzes, and then importing the grades into your grade book. Simply assign each student a clicker and then track their grades and attendance with the software!
  4. Play “Who wants to be a Millionaire” and your students can actually poll the audience.
  5. The use of TurningPoint is not limited to the classroom; try using it at departmental meetings, functions, etc. to vote, seek opinions, prompt discussion, and more!

Using clickers in your class will help break social barriers experienced by students about knowing or not knowing the “right” answer, will help reset their clock with questions to answer every 10 minutes or so, and serve as a great facilitation for group discussions. For more information on using TurningPoint in your classroom, please contact us!

5 ways you can use…Interactive Whiteboards!

Those boards behind the curtain do a lot more than you may think. They are interactive, and very smart. While these boards offer wonderful features, one may not know exactly how to use them and incorporate them into their classrooms and lectures. Kicking of our “5 ways you can use…” series, here are 5 ways you can use Interactive Whiteboards:

  1. Interactive whiteboards allow users to directly make annotations on any document, webpage, etc. that appears on the screen, and then take screenshots of these annotations and notes. Instead of using a regular whiteboard to jot down notes for students, try writing with the interactive whiteboard and then upload the screenshots of the notes into PowerPoint for the students to view later on as reference.
  2. Another idea is to jot down notes directly on an image or painting being discussed in class. This makes it easy to circle, annotate, and point out specific characteristics of the image.
  3. If you have a class requiring students to write papers, you probably have a grading rubric with marks for students to identify. Try annotating a paper with the interactive whiteboard with students so they can see not only what is looked for in grading, but also the various grading marks being used. Capture the annotations and upload them to your Blackboard or class website for students to use as a reference.
  4. Interactive boards are also a great way to reduce the use of paper. If you teach a course with complicated mathematical problems or equations, try using the interactive whiteboard to go through each problem step-by-step, and then capture the screen and upload it to Blackboard or your class website to share with students. This will save the handout you may pass out to your students including the step-by-step directions!
  5. One of the best features of SMART boards is the SMART Exchange. Check out this website to view templates created by other users, then download them to use them for your own use! This is a great location to find interactive games to spice up reviews for exams.

There are so many fun and exciting ways to incorporate interactive whiteboards into your class. If you would like any more ideas, or have any questions, feel free to contact us!

 

Your “Summer Bucket List”

Summer is quickly approaching which for many means sun, fun, and relaxation. It also is a great opportunity to further explore educational interests that may have been put aside during the busy school year. I am presenting you with a “Summer Bucket List”, if you will, to get more familiar with the great technologies available to UIS faculty that can be utilized during the school year. All of these resources can be used to greatly enhance the educational experience for students and educators alike.

Establish new ways to communicate

This spring, UIS launched WordPress Blog Service. Faculty, staff and students are now able to create their own blogs. This summer, dabble into the blogging world and try creating a blog for your fall courses! Blogging is a great way to maintain communication with students throughout the semester, and can be integrated into several aspects of course material. Upload lecture notes, create discussions about topics, post updates frequently, and share current news related to class materials.

Learn how to use an Interactive White Board

Remember that big whiteboard behind the screen in your classroom? It’s not just a whiteboard-it’s Interactive, and everything about it is just that. This summer, check out everything these boards can do, and get familiar with using them. They are simple, and a great way to increase involvement in the classroom with students.

Get familiar with TurningPoint

TurningPoint is another tool that can be very valuable to your courses. It is software that integrates with your PowerPoint presentations or other lectures that allows you to “poll” your class. Through clickers, your students can respond to your questions and you are able to receive instant feedback. Stimulate discussions, conduct quizzes or tests, take attendance, or receive general feedback on students’ understanding of the lecture material. This easy yet innovative tool will be sure to keep students focused and on track.

Be sure to get in some good R&R this summer, but to also check out these great tools! Questions? As always, feel free to contact us!

The Power of Multimedia

The other day we introduced a class to various multimedia tools available for use in the Media Lab to help assist them with their final project for the semester, where they are instructed to get creative and use multimedia. Going over all of these fun tools even got me excited for their final project, even though I am clearly not a student in the class.

The Media Lab offers wonderful resources for students to use both within the lab and for checkout to use on their own time. From Flip cameras to microphones and movie editing software, students are provided with an area where they can utilize tools and also get assistance from student workers and full-time staff.  They are provided with all the tools needed to create videos, blogs, documentaries, audio essays, or anything else their creative minds can conjure up.

Utilizing the tools available for students in the Media Lab is the perfect opportunity to get your students more involved in class material and evoke their interests in technology. Instruct your students to get creative using multimedia tools for projects and perhaps they will gain more from the project than they would writing a typical paper. Be sure to visit us in the Media Lab in the lower level of Brookens Library and we will be happy to help you and your students!

If you would like to “Ask the Audience”…

Now that Spring Break is over, you may find that your students are a little less interested in their schoolwork and a little more interested in rushing to the finish line to kick off their summer plans. If you are in need of a magic tool that will keep your students alert and on their toes during class, checkout TurningPoint.

TurningPoint is an audience response system that integrates into your PowerPoint presentations. You can integrate slides into your presentations asking questions, and then instantly receive the results from your audience’s responses, which they submit via a clicker. It’s a great way to gain insight from your audience and stimulate discussions. Another useful way to use TurningPoint is to assign students to a specific clicker and track their individual responses-a great way to incorporate pop quizzes or participation points into your lecture!  The points from the quizzes can even be imported directly into Blackboard’s Grade Center.

Not a fan of PowerPoint?  No need to worry!  Turning Point AnyWhere allows you to get audience input from any application.

For more information about clickers, including how other universities are using clickers in the classroom, visit our Audience Response System webpage.

If you would like any assistance in using TurningPoint, feel free to contact us and we would be glad to help!

Save a Tree-Use Technology!

No, it is not Earth Day, (although we could all use a little spring weather in our lives right now) but we should always make an effort to reduce waste and find alternative ways to carry out our daily routines. And as members of a campus community, it’s pretty safe to say we may use paper like it’s water. So why not use some of the great technology we have to help reduce the amount of paper used in class? Here are a few ways you can reduce waste and add a little ease and convenience to your busy schedule.

Get SMART

Use your SMARTBoards! Not only will these boards mesmerize your students like they are magic, but they are fun, convenient, and extremely useful. Instead of writing notes on paper or distributing endless copies of exam reviews, use the SMARTBoard to write on internet pages, documents, PDFs, PowerPoints (really anything!), and then SMARTBoard can capture your notes so you can upload them to BlackBoard or send them to your students in PDF format.

Poll Away

Ahh Turning Point, another tool that may mesmerize your students. Do you use paper for quizzes? Attendance? Participation responses? All of these can be easily incorporated into a presentation and used through Turning Point. This audience response system allows instructors to ask questions in a presentation and receive responses from students. The best part is Turning Point actually reduces the work for you! No more having to fumble through papers to grade quizzes-simply import the results into Blackboard and your grading is complete!

Make your classes a little greener and check out how these quick tips (all available to you!) can help save some trees while making your life a little easier. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to learn how to start using these tools in your classroom.