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