Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vimeo by Kate Parker

I use Vimeo to host video response lectures that I create for all my online classes as a means of responding, directly and personally, to their discussions for the week. By uploading a video of myself talking through the interesting questions and problems raised by their online discussions, I am able to recreate--to a limited extent--the way I might respond to student work in a face-to-face setting. Because the video responses are not too structured, and are not really scripted or edited, the students see me in my true form. I have found this to be a more effective way to respond to student work, as it models synthesizing salient points for the students and enables me to draw broad and meaningful connections across discussions. I also find that students are more likely to access and engage with a video summary than they are to read a series of follow-up posts, even if those posts are assigned by the instructor. Recording these lectures also saves me time, allowing me to channel more of my energies into communicating with students about projects or creating other meaningful and fun content.

I chose Vimeo over YouTube and other free video hosting sites because it has a great quality of video. After creating my account with Vimeo, I record videos (usually of me sitting at my office desk) with my webcam, saving the movies as files on my computer and then uploading the files to Vimeo. I make the videos public and share them with students. After the semester is over, I make the videos private, but I love being able to access past videos to get ideas and inspiration for my current classes. Collectively, this video archive has helped me to see the kinds of questions and ideas that students tend to generate semester after semester. I've also assigned these videos in face-to-face classes, if I feel that they cover important material in a concise way. Because I respond differently to specific students each semester, I do recreate the videos every time I teach an online course. However, I find the process is easier each semester, as I use the previous semesters' video to help outline my thoughts and prepare my comments.

The videos are short--ten, fifteen minutes--and students report enjoying the chance to see me in my element and get to know me as an instructor. In my evaluations, students regularly commented on the videos as one of the activities they found most engaging and helpful in the online course. It also helps to humanize the process of online teaching--and connecting with students personally is extremely
important to me, whether I am in the classroom or on D2L.

For more information about Vimeo visit:

Submitted by Kate Parker, English 

Google Earth by Laurie Harmon

Google Earth allows for viewing of maps and roads (similar to GoogleMaps), but it has many more advanced features that allow for planning and staging the development of buildings, roads, trees, bodies of water, as well as integrated satellite imagery enabling relative heights, weather information, building information, and more.

I use Google Earth in my REC 400/500: Planning for Park & Recreation Facilities course when students work as a team of recreation professionals on a planning project for the Director of Recreation at La Crosse Parks and Recreation. There are multiple steps in the project, the first of which is Site Inventory & Analysis. Google Earth is one of the first tools used at this stage since students can get both a broad overview of their site in the context of the region and the national, state, local, or neighborhood level to determine what other recreation related services and facilities are currently provided. They can then begin to examine their site, usually a park facility, and explore the various layers of information provided through Google Earth, e.g. roads, buildings, but also weather information. The plotting ability results in a better understanding of historical weather conditions which greatly influence the site development, i.e. we need to consider protection from the predominant harsh weather patterns while taking advantage of the predominant pleasant weather conditions.

Once moving past the information gathering stages, the students then use Google Earth to develop a base map which adds to in terms of proposals to their sites. Using these maps, for which basic information can be downloaded, students are able to propose multiple recreation uses to scale and are able to observe and share accurate spatial relationships in order to design effective, usable, and safe recreation spaces. Students are able to turn layers of information on and off, can move through spaces either from a bird’s eye view or as if they were walking through the space (e.g. Google’s “streetview”) which has added yet another dimension of data.

Much of this information would typically be available through more sophisticated GIS-based software such as ARC-GIS, but Google Earth’s advantage is that it’s free, it’s accessible, and it’s relatively easy for students to use effectively without spending our limited semester time on learning to use the software. In this way, we are able to address the course learning outcomes specific to learning best recreation facility planning practices without spending valuable time on just learning to use the tools available for planning.

The addition of Google Earth to this assignment does not substitute for the site visit, but rather greatly enhances the site visit. Students come to the site visit more prepared and inquisitive than in the past.

For those interested in integrating Google Earth into an assignment, I highly recommend becoming aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the tool and running the project/assignment through a pilot test of your own. Also, be a little flexible with facets of the project that may have a relative relationship, not an absolute relationship.

For more information about Google Earth: And the Google Earth for Educators site with more ideas for classroom uses:

Submitted by Laurie Harmon, Recreation Management and Therapeutic Recreation

Haiku Deck by Jude Harrington

Haiku Deck is a presentation-creating iPad app that uses images and just a few carefully chosen words to make more impactful presentations with "decks" of slides. Users can choose from pre-loaded themes, many free stock photographs, personal images, charts, graphs, and colors, and then add text to present information slide by slide.

I use Haiku Deck to find images of concepts for my social studies class presentations. I like that the images fill the screen and that there is a copyright notice on the bottom (very unobtrusive). The photos are of excellent clarity and free images are easy to find. Text can be added but the app limits what can be on any one page. Haiku Deck makes it easy to follow the best practices recommended by experts: simplify your message, use images to amplify emotional impact, and keep formatting clean and consistent.

Haiku Deck presentations can be created online or downloaded as PowerPoint presentations and edited as needed. The image actually sits on the slide so it can be clicked on and resized. You also can add a text box to put more details. Usually, if more space is needed for additional information, I just add a new slide in between. Most students like the images and limited text but, of course, some wish there was more content so I combine Haiku Deck layouts with my own.

Haiku Deck for iPads and now the web (this is in a Beta version) are free to use. Certain images can be purchased separately.

For more information, visit

Submitted by Jude Harrington, Educational Studies

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Piktochart by Michelle Pinzl

Piktochart is an online tool for creating info-graphics. Users can easily assemble and present information by combining interactive charts, animated graphs, text, and graphics using the drag-and-drop interface. Although it's generally geared toward the workplace for creating business presentations, Piktochart clearly lends itself to use in a university course.

I have used Piktochart to create a syllabus and my students have responded positively. It is my experience that when students are presented information that is visually appealing they feel more excited about the content of the class.

Like any other technological tool, Piktochart has both advantages and drawbacks. On a positive note, it is pleasing to the eye and hopefully inspiring for students. I find that using this tool as a syllabus also gives the impression that you, too, as the teacher, are excited about the class. On the downside, it is a very large file, takes awhile to load, and doesn't fit particularly nicely in D2L. It can only be made into a pdf. if you have Piktochart pro, though it can be shared on the web.

Overall, Piktochart is a program that is easy to navigate because it has several pre-made templates with excellent icons, which help to quickly create an organized info-graphic.

Piktochart is a free, web-based application (with some limitations). Users of the free version will not be able to save as a PDF but can publish interactive info-graphics to the web at no cost. Those who pay the educator price of $39 a year will get “pro” benefits of use of all templates and the ability to download print quality PDFs. 

For more information, visit

Submitted by Michelle Pinzl, Modern Languages

Voicethread by Lema Kabashi

I use VoiceThread for both face-to-face (SPE 424: Special Education Classroom Management and Positive Behavior Practices and online (SPE 401: Introduction to Exceptional Individuals) courses. The VoiceThread technology tool facilitates significant student-student and instructor-student interactions because it allows students to add voice annotation to a slide presentation, attached document/photo, and/or a video and also allows commentators to add comments/questions using audio, video, or text.

VoiceThread provides flexibility for students to post a question and/or comment at a specific location within a presentation, based on their interest, creating a more focused interaction, and also use their preferred mode of communication (e.g., audio, video, text). For the face-to-face course, groups of students prepare a slide show and short video role play demonstrating an implementation of strategy addressing challenging behaviors. The groups digitally share the VoiceThread presentation to the class during the week before the class meets face-to-face, where they participate in role playing activities, or during the week the topic is being discussed for an online class.

VoiceThread presentations allow students to watch, review, learn, comment, and question the theoretical aspect as well as the implementation of the strategy prior to being asked to practice the strategy in the face-to-face class meeting. Presenters may answer peers’ questions online or discuss them in class. Students report enjoying the ability to get familiarized with the content and procedural steps before class, watch the video over and over, and interact with their classmates both online and in class. When students are exposed to the material before the class meeting, the class meeting is more focused and productive. In addition, students are actively engaged in class activities (e.g., classroom discussions, hands-on activities, role play, etc).

VoiceThread has a free account but each student must create an account. Each account is only
allowed one active video. For more information about VoiceThread, please visit:

Submitted by Lema Kabashi, Educational Studies

Web of Science and Google Scholar by Jen Holman

Thomson Reuter’s Web of Science (WoS) databases have long been the gold standard for cited reference searching. Google Scholar has been offering similar functionality in its search results for several years. At long last, the two information providers are sharing their cited-articles data.

Google Scholar to WoS 

From campus, there is nothing special that you have to do to see the links from Google Scholar to WoS.  If data are available in WoS, you will see the link immediately following the citation in Google Scholar: ​

For off-campus access, you will need to authenticate.  You can either use this link: or use the LibX Toolbar to right-click on your Google Scholar search results to reload the page through our authentication system/proxy server (EZproxy) and authenticate with your UW-L NetID/password.​

WoS to Google Scholar 

From within WoS itself, you can access Google Scholar cited-articles data (if it is available) by clicking on the “Look Up Full Text” link from an individual record/citation:

As WoS pulls its sources from a small subset of the scholarship available, you may find that checking Google Scholar helps illuminate additional research on your topic, especially when doing a comprehensive literature review.

Submitted by Jen Holman, Murphy Library

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

GoogleDocs Study Guide by Melissa Weege

In my Pathophysiology course the students are required to master a long list of objectives. In order to help them focus their attention and create a collective study guide, I create a GoogleDoc for the class which includes directions, objectives for each unit, assignment objectives to students, and a framework within the document to help in creating a place to post their contribution. I organize the start-up but students own the content and the process after my initial set-up. The GoogleDoc is a study guide for the students, created, enhanced, and modified by the students.

Each student is assigned to 2-3 objectives per unit. After each lecture that covers the objective, the student assigned to the objective posts a summary and notes to the GoogleDoc in the section created for those objectives. The students from that week are also asked to review the posts from the students of the previous week to ensure accuracy and completeness. This structure helps students focus on particular items in lecture while not feeling overwhelmed, but also creates a sense of collective ownership for the material. The collective nature of this resource gets buy-in from all students, especially after the students are able to use the study guide for exam preparation!

I find this study guide to be a great tool to assist the students in collectively learning and enhancing materials presented in lecture. While I don't edit the GoogleDoc, I do look at it and am often pleasantly surprised at the details and additional information that students add to the study guide, often information gathered on their own (their own words, more examples and pictures from the web, additional research articles about a topic, etc.) Students really do more than regurgitate the lecture in the study guide and report the resource to be very valuable to their learning.

My recommendation to anyone interested in creating a similar study guide structure in GoogleDocs is to arrange it so the students own it and you are hands-off, write very clear directions for completing their assigned section, give information and a demonstration about how to post in GoogleDocs, and create a framework or outline to the GoogleDoc to help students in structuring a useful guide. Prior to
using GoogleDocs I used a PBwiki to create this study guide; I prefer GoogleDocs for accessibility and security. If you would like to see an example of a start-up or completed guide, please contact me.

For more information about GoogleDocs visit:

Submitted by Melissa Weege, Radiation Therapy

BrowZine by Deb Hoskins

BrowZine is a free app for Apple and Android tablet users. You connect it to Murphy Library, and it will help you keep up-to-date with the journals in your field. It’s a product of Third Iron, a group of library professionals, working mostly out of St. Paul, MN. I could tell they are library professionals because their user support was outstanding, as I discovered when I had a problem.

BrowZine’s main features:
  • Consolidates across multiple databases
  • Customizable – you choose the content and organize it as you wish
  • Familiar “newsstand” organization
  • Search multiple libraries (requires logging out of one and logging into another, in Settings) without losing anything
  • Save articles to read later
  • Export articles to other apps, including online storage like DropBox, research organizers like Zotero, and .pdf notation apps like Notability
  • Share articles with colleagues via email or social media
  • Request help from within the app and get outstanding service!
Here’s how to start using it: Download the app to your tablet. Start the app and select “University of Wisconsin-La Crosse” from the drop-down menu. Enter your netID and password. Now, click on BrowZine Library at the bottom of the app, then choose either Subjects at the upper left or Titles at the upper right to search and select the journals you want to monitor. As you select a title, BrowZine allows you to select on which of its four “bookcases” you want that publication to show. You can label the “bookcases,” as well as each shelf, and delete journal titles using Edit, and reorganize titles simply by dragging them. Institution Info takes you directly to the Murphy website. Click on a journal title to see the title and authors of the articles in the most recent issue. Tap the title to see the article. Save the ones you want to read later, or export them, or share them. Click Available Issues to see the backlist. In Settings, add your public library or other research libraries, and choose whether and how you want to be notified about articles you haven’t yet seen. Awesome.

For busy academics, keeping up with research in your field is infinitely easier with BrowZine.

Please note that while BrowZine is a free app to users, Murphy Library does pay a yearly fee for this product. To learn more, see Third Iron’s introductory video here and Murphy Library’s guide here.

Submitted by Deb Hoskins, Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning

Socrative by Jim Carlson

Socrative is an interactive iPad application that allows faculty to engage and assess their students with educational activities like polls and quizzes on mobile devices. The software is fairly straightforward and easy to use and works on most any web or app-enabled device (tablet, laptop or smartphone). Quizzes can also be graded automatically by the software.

Through the use of real time questioning, instant result gathering and charting, teachers can gauge the students’ level of understanding or share ideas from all students. The opportunities for immediate discussion and feedback help to promote learning and alleviate misunderstanding. Additionally, information can be collected and shared for group discussion or problem-solving. In order to get the most out of Socrative, plan carefully. Consider ways in which you will use the information you gather as a result of the instant feedback from individuals and the entire class. All in all this is a powerful student response system with the potential to support truly active learning.
Teacher and student versions of Socrative are available in the iPad App Store for free.

For more information, visit

Submitted by Jim Carlson, Educational Studies.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

YouSeeU by Nishele Lenards

YouSeeU is a web-based software tool that provides recording, sharing, interacting and learning through video submissions. This software is the perfect tool to deliver asynchronous oral presentations, video discussions, case study presentations, and oral exams. YouSeeU was initially designed for online or distance education but is now used for blending learning and Face-to-Face courses as well.

The unique feature of YouSeeU is that the software synchronizes the student video with their PowerPoint slides through a 3 sync player. The video and PPT slides are 2 separate presentations but are synchronized with the software after the fact. The third component of the 3 sync player is the ability for the instructor to provide feedback along the video/oral presentation timeline (video time stamp). Other forms of feedback include a customized rubric, numeric grading, and audio/video feedback options.

Benefits of this tool include:
  • Ability to practice in a less threatening environment 
  • Improvement through behavior based feedback
  • Various means of connection with instructor/peers
  • Interactive feedback-rich digital environment (independent of time/place) 

How do I use the YouSeeU software in my program? Students are assigned a special project that must be delivered as an oral presentation. They must record the video and also prepare PowerPoint slides. These are synchronized into one comprehensive oral presentation that is shared with the instructor and peers. I provide feedback along the video time stamp so students can see feedback in the exact location of the oral presentation. A rubric is used for grading, which inputs a numerical grade into the system. I also use the video feedback option to record messages for the students at the beginning of the course and for their presentations.

While the software is not free, it is available at a minimal price. Instructors can try the tool (a trial basis) before purchasing/implementing.  The cost is approximately $1/minute per student (for example $20 for 20 minutes). The student can purchase the minutes directly through YouSeeU or the instructor can establish a special course fee and be direct-billed by YouSeeU.

For more information, visit

Submitted by Nishele Lenards, Medical Dosimetry

Explain Everything by Josh Hertel

Explain Everything is an app for creating and sharing screencasts on iOS and Android devices ( I have used this interactive whiteboard in my own classes to introduce new content, review exam solutions, and discuss homework problems in-depth. Although there are a number of screencasting applications available for tablets, there are several reasons that I think Explain Everything shines above the rest. First, the app has basic editing features that allow the user to pause, rewind, and record over previously saved audio or video. This is particularly useful when you make a small mistake in a screencast and want to redo the audio or video (or both). Second, the app allows the user to easily break up a screencast into multiple pages. These pages can then be uploaded as one continuous screencast or several individual videos. This type of functionality is very helpful because it lets you split up a long discussion into smaller parts. Additionally, when combine with the app’s editing features, multiple pages allow you to replace portions of a screencast without having to redo an entire video. Third, Explain Everything can upload videos to a number of different sites including Youtube, Dropbox, Google Docs, and Evernote. In my own courses, I found that exporting screencasts to a share folder on Google Docs was an easy way to share them with students. Fourth, the app supports importing pdfs and images as screencast backgrounds making it simple to work through an exam or discuss a diagram. 

These features coupled with an intuitive user interface make Explain Everything my go-to application for creating screencasts on a tablet. At a price of $2.99, the app is an affordable option for anyone hoping to incorporate screencasting into his or her teaching. One additional note, heavy users should consider buying the Explain Everything Compressor ($14.99). This program allows you to transfer raw screencast files to a mac/pc, compress the video, and then upload the finished screencast. Without the compressor, lengthy videos (10 minutes+) will take a long time to compress and upload on the tablet making the device unusable during the process.

Submitted by Josh Hertel, Mathematics

Diigo by Kristin Koepke

I use Diigo ( to collect and tag articles of interest.  When I find an article, website, resource, etc. that I find useful and would like to refer back to someday, I mark the site (from a Diigo web add-on) on a Diigo list. I have lists for various topics -- blended, teaching tips, online instructor training, etc.  I can then share the lists of resources with multiple people.  For example, I created and continually update a Diigo list that contains resources for online instructors.  The Diigo list (contained as a single URL) is shared with groups of faculty that complete online trainings.  Example: This link is continually updated whenever I add a new tagged site but the link does not change. These are the features that I use in Diigo but there are even more features that I have yet to explore (online highlighting, reading offline, interactive sticky notes, etc.) Here is a tutorial all about features of Diigo:

Submitted by Kristin Koepke, CATL

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Evernote by Adam Van Liere

Evernote is one of those handy applications that I discovered while I was working on my dissertation, and then found so many other uses for over the years. At its core, Evernote is a note taking application, but your notes live out in the cloud so you can access them from anywhere, which means you can access your notes from a Mac or a PC, from your iOS or Android device, or through your web browser. These notes can be everything from a page of text and images that you create within Evernote, to screenshots of websites that are clipped from your browser. They can be simple notes and reminders that are created on the fly, or long documents that include all sorts of attachments. It can even perform optical character recognition on handwritten notes that you snap a picture of and upload into Evernote. I have used this program to help keep track of everything from grocery lists and scanned receipts, to managing course redesign files and grant applications.

The application makes it easy to create notebooks to store collections of these notes, and to create whatever tags you might find especially useful. For example, I have created notebooks for each of my courses and stuff them full of information that I have put together for in-class discussions, course assignments, and so on. But I have also created tags for each of the different types of assignments--e.g., presentations--that I can use to review the assignments across my different classes. I have found this especially helpful whenever I am working on revising elements of a course, or even a full, course because it lets me hang on to the old material and collect ideas for new elements all in one place.

Submitted by Adam Van Liere, Political Science/Public Administration

Wunderlist by Diana Tempski

If you are a Type A person like me who loves/needs to keep everything organized; Wunderlist is an app you can really appreciate! I recently learned about this app  and it quickly became one of my favorites. Wunderlist 2 is the latest version that can be downloaded for free to all major platforms: Mac, PC, iPod, iPad, iPhone, Android, etc. Once you download on your first device of choice and create your account, you can download the app on every other device you own and access your account with every to do list, reading list, etc. you can possibly create from all devices. You can also email your lists; share your lists, etc.

This video is a fun promotional one that briefly displays various Wunderlist features and uses: You can access Wunderlist at or via the App Store for your mobile devices.

Submitted by Diana Tempski, Finance

Sony PCM Recorder by Brian Udermann

I use a Sony Linear PCM Recorder (PCM-M10) to record workshops and presentations I give. The PCM-M10 is the smallest addition to Sony's portable audio recorders, is user friendly and has 4 GB of built in flash memory. Having the ability to easily record and listen to workshops, presentations or class lectures is one way you can self-evaluate your teaching or oral presentations in an effort to improve them. You can view a PCM-M10 product tutorial here:
Submitted by Brian Udermann, CATL

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Google Suite by Bryan Kopp

If I had to pick a favorite technology, I would have to go with the Google Suite. Though the products are familiar, instructors are not always aware how they can combine them to meet their needs. Here is an example of one of my attempts to coordinate group learning, writing and critical thinking:
  1. I created a Google site for a class project. 
  2. This site contained a page within which there was an embedded Google presentation (which could also be posted in D2L).
  3. Within the presentation there was rich content, including an embedded YouTube video and step by step instructions.
  4. One of the tasks included a link to a Google form that enabled students to share the results of some research they had conducted.
  5. After sharing their results, they could click on a link on the next slide, which led them to a Google spreadsheet that provided near real-time submissions from the whole class. 
  6. After reviewing them, they could then move to the next step: discerning patterns, trends and anomalies across all submissions.They did this in a shared Google document. Students could see what others were writing (avoiding redundancy) and insert comments to discuss responses. 
  7. This document then served as a group memory that enabled more advanced work in future class sessions. 
This sounds complicated, but students just clicked through some slides and completed some tasks. In such assignment modules, I try to select and sequence the right tools for the job at hand. When everything works, it is amazing how much progress can be made. When Google is unreachable, well, that's another story!

Submitted by Bryan Kopp, English/CATL

Comedy Central Clips by Adam Hoffer

I am a huge fan of integrating media clips in my teaching. My favorite clips are modern satirical clips that come from television shows on Comedy Central. These clips can be streamed in class from and may be anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes in duration. I make a concerted effort to bring modern issues and current events into my classes to demonstrate how basic concepts they learn relate to the current world outside of the classroom. The Comedy Central clips are ideal for this, especially clips from the Colbert Report and the Daily Show.

Why Satire? First, there are several topics I cover in class that can be very controversial or polarizing. The satirical nature of the information in the clips I play cuts the tension surrounding many topics, allowing a more open-minded, casual class discussion.  Example 1: Colbert Super PAC - Trevor Potter Second, there are additional issues that are so frustrating, so maddening, so ludicrous that I just have to laugh to avoid getting upset. Fiction writers may struggle to invent some of what we can see on modern news. Example 2: Colbert PAC SHH! 501c4 Disclosure - Trevor Potter 

I tend to use the clips either at the beginning of class or to break up the lecture. I’ve found clips at the beginning of class can be great to review material from last class and the clips get the students interested in new material. If I use the clips to break up the lecture, I’ll integrate a quiz with a few questions about the clip itself, course material related to the clip, and at least one thought-provoking question that will help transition to the remaining lecture material. The mid-class quizzes can simultaneously serve as a reward/penalty to students for class attendance and as a feedback mechanism for evaluating student comprehension.

Submitted by Adam Hoffer, Economics

Ulrich’s Web Global Serials Directory by Sloan Komissarov

I use Ulrich’s Web to look up detailed publication information for journals and other serials. If you are a faculty member, graduate student, or professional looking for journals in which to publish, Ulrich’s is a great tool that can help you identify potential publications for your work. You can limit your search by the type of publication and content, subject area, language, or country. Searches can also be limited to only peer-reviewed, e-only, or open access titles. Once you have run your search, you can resort the results by the desired feature and explore records for each title more thoroughly.  Ulrich’s can save you time by pulling together titles that meet your search criteria in one place. To find Ulrich’s Online on the Murphy Library website, go to Articles & Databases by Title. Resources are listed alphabetically by title.

You can also view this short video that will show you how to use Ulrich’s.

Submitted by Sloan Komissarov, Murphy Library