1-1-1, Faculty Technology Institute, iPad, Mobile

Faculty Guest Post: eTextbooks and iPads as teaching tools

Our guest blogger is Vijay Vulava, an associate professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences. Dr. Vulava was a participant in the Summer 2013 Faculty Technology Institute.

Like any of you at the College, I used to carry a few textbooks on me a lot of times. I had even resorted to keeping a second copy in my home, so I didn’t have to shuttle textbooks with me. One of the great advantages of having a connected device (laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.) at your disposal is the ability to access digital versions of your textbooks (eTextbooks) anywhere there is internet access. This, of course, depends on whether the textbook publishers make eTextbooks available. A few years ago a publisher’s representative introduced me to CourseSmart (http://www.coursesmart.com/), a consortium of textbook publishers that publish their textbooks online. An exact copy of a textbook I requested was made available in eTextbook format and was accessible on any internet browser within seconds – I just had to login to my account. On this site, all eTextbooks are available for free to any instructor (you have to request access for each textbook), so you get to review a bunch of textbooks before you adopt one for the class. The eTextbooks look identical to hard copies and contain basic note taking, highlighting, sharing, and printing tools. And because the eTextbooks are available on any computer, you could easily take screenshots of selected pages, sections, or pictures to include in your lectures and notes. I found this very convenient in helping my students navigate through textbooks or helping them find information they need. The big downside of this eTextbook platform is that the publishers have not exploited the full potential of eTextbooks. The content in the text is not hyperlinked within the document (e.g., you cannot click on a figure citation to go to the figure), with the publishers’ own teaching resources (often videos, photos, animations, etc. provided in a CD with the textbook), or to any sources online (e.g., videos, government websites, etc.). The publishers could certainly learn a lot about how to make good eTextbooks by looking Al Gore’ 2009 publication, Our Choice and the accompanying app (http://pushpoppress.com/ourchoice/).

iPads have now made accessing eTextbooks more convenient. CourseSmart apps are now available for Android, iOS, or Windows tablets. I now carry these eTextbooks to class, flip to the required section, and show to my students. These eTextbooks are also available offline when there is no internet access available. I often take screenshots of the eTextbook sections right on the iPad (press Power and Home buttons at the same time and find the screenshot in the Camera Roll) and make annotated notes for the class. TLT’s website has tutorials for projecting from an iPad to a digital projector (http://goo.gl/9EXVw).

There are other eTextbook platforms such as Amazon Kindle and Kno that offer alternatives to CourseSmart, but I did not find as large a textbook selection in either of these platforms. Amazon Kindle does offer a large selection of wider interest titles than any other textbook consortium. In addition to the Kindle eReader, the Kindle app is available for all major connected devices as well.

CourseSmart is a good option for students that are digitally adept and those that prefer content from devices rather that physical textbooks. They can rent textbooks for 180 days and the prices are a lot less than what they would pay for a hard copy at a bookstore.

Mobile, TLT

How to make a paper towel tripod: DIY tutorial

Need help filming yourself? No budget for a tripod? Kentucky artist and film teacher Kathleen Lolley and TLT’s Alea McKinley co-created a tutorial to teach you how to make a tripod for your cell phone using a paper towel roll. Safe, social-distancing was practiced during the collaboration.


Fiction Friday: SOTA grads flex their acting chops in “Exeter” podcast

When I met George Ducker on the steps of St. Phillip’s Dorm (now referred to as Berry Hall), he told me that one day he would be a paid writer and “the doctor of rock-n-roll.” Fast-forward to present-day, Ducker, who spent his first (and only) year at CofC back in 1998 (I call that a “Quarter-Grad”), is now living the writing dream. In addition to that PhD in rock that he is still working on, Ducker is one of the writers for “Exeter,” an increasingly popular podcast that has now spanned two full seasons. Set in rural South Carolina, the cast includes Kevin Robertson (’99), Robert Seay (’99), and David Thomas Jenkins (’02), all friends he met at the CofC School of the Arts. (George Ducker – image below) 

According to Phoebe Lett of the New York Times, “If you love a ‘Law & Order’ marathon and binged ‘True Detective’ in one go, ‘Exeter’ might be your new favorite podcast. This police procedural follows Colleen Clayton (Jeanne Tripplehorn of ‘Criminal Minds’), a tough-as-nails homicide detective whose trust in her own judgment is shattered after a woman she convicted of murder 10 years earlier is exonerated. Bad timing for an existential crisis, since a ritualistic serial killer is terrorizing her home of Exeter County, S.C.”

I first listened to “Exeter” on a road trip. I’m a huge fan of murder mysteries, and this podcast made the majority of my 10-hour drive from Charleston, SC to Louisville, KY melt away — it’s really that good. And sure, I’m biased because my dear friend co-wrote it and actors I know and love are in it, but that’s an even bigger reason to listen. Listening to “Exeter” not only made me proud, but it took me back to my theatre days here at the college when we all sat on those second floor Simons Center couches dreaming up big creations and exciting futures. Our theatre professors gave us the tools, spaces, and freedom to create, and those comforting walls of the Emmett Robinson and Theatre 220’s blackbox space birthed playwrights, actors, directors, and designers that continue to work in “the biz” today. I imagine a lot of today’s theatre students are feeling unmoored, mourning their disconnection to those theatre spaces and classmates that every CofC grad holds so dearly in their hearts. Having worked with some of these instructors to transition to online learning environments, I know that they are rising to the challenges that Covid19 is presenting and working hard to continue the connection with their students. Thank goodness for the tech that is enabling these students to see and interact with their instructors and friends. And thank goodness for the arts and the people creating the stories we find ourselves disappearing into as we maintain our social distance. (Seay and Jenkins – images below)

In an article for the LA Times, Jeanne Tripplehorn recalls “recording ‘Exeter’ in what she called a ‘black box in Burbank,’ the cast used microphone packs instead of staying behind a desk, which she says added more life to her performance. ‘It was very modern, it felt very fresh,’ she said. ‘If we did a scene where we were sitting in a car, we would stand up and get out of the car. Or if we fell, we’d actually fall,’ she said. ‘I think it will help the listener to really lift it off the page so to speak.’”

Screens can be exhausting, especially now that we seem to be in front of them most of the day. If you want to give your eyes a break and get lost in a story (and feel some CofC pride in the process), give “Exeter” a listen. Not only can you access it (in most places) for free, but there are now two seasons available.

Find it on Sundance Now, Podchaser, Spotify, Audible, Apple… Pretty much anywhere you find podcasts. According to Audible Feast’s Best Podcast Series of 2018, “there is also additional content available to Sundance Now subscribers, called ‘dynamic captioning, a process by which visual elements are added to underscore emotion and enhance the tension of this gripping crime mystery.’” *Youtube (free) and Amazon (with a Sundance Now trial period) also stream this dynamic captioning content.

Contact your friendly TLT team member if you have problems finding or listening to this or other podcasts!

adobe scan on a phone
Distance Ed, instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Productivity, Share

Tech Tip Tuesday – How to Scan Handwritten/drawn Work to a PDF to submit in OAKS

With the College operating online, I know it’s difficult for some discipline whose work isn’t easy to do online, for example Math and Drawing.  If the assignment you wish to give is better suited to the student handwriting or hand-drawing something then just have them scan it!  This is also a great option for faculty who have semester long notebooks or portfolios that are turned in.

A FREE app that students can use (and you for that matter) is Adobe Scan. Adobe Scan works on phones and tables and makes it so easy for users to take pictures of multiple items and have one PDF created.

Check out the Adobe Scan page to download the app and here’s a tutorial for you and your students on how to use the app:

Magnifying glass over a finger print
Assessment, Collaboration, Mobile

Digital scavenger hunts for building class community

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Scavenger hunts are a great way to get your students working together for a common goal.  This is a wonderful way for them to bond as a class or to gel as a group project team.   These types of hunts can be used for assessment as well but I want to focus mainly on team and community building.

For interaction, successful group work, and/or great discussion to occur in your class there needs to be trust.  Students need to trust the instructor but more importantly, they need to trust their classmates.  This trust is what allows the students to speak their minds, voice their opinions, or contradict an instructor or a classmate.  Without this all you get is superficiality.

While building trust within a classroom is another topic in and of itself, the first step to establishing this type of environment is to get the students familiar with one another and to have them experience working as a team.  A scavenger hunt is a fun way to do this.

Check out Goose Chase scavenger hunt creator.  First, a special shout out to Melissa Negreiros from Philip Simmons Elementary who introduced me to this application.  It’s a free (mostly) digital scavenger hunt application and here are the details:

  • Free
    • Regular account allows for 3 groups in a hunt and one hunt at a time.
    • Educator account allows for 5 groups in a hunt and one hunt at a time.
    • Educator paid is <$50/yr.
  • Online
  • Built-in list of possible activities from which to choose
  • Can create your own activities customized to your students, organization, or content
  • Can set a duration for the hunt
  • Can easily invite students with a class code, no accounts required
  • Can password protect it

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  • Group community building
  • Class community building
  • Icebreakers
  • Content assessment
  • Field trip engagement
  • Brain break
  • Learn about campus resources

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Kahoot Challenge
Classrooms, Distance Ed, instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Pedagogy

Kahoot! Now Has A New Out-of-Class Feature!

Kahoot mobile screenshotKahoot! is a game-based learning platform that, up until now, could really only be used face-to-face.  But great news, it now has an out-of-class feature as well that can be used for homework or for online courses.  I know many of you teaching online has wanted to use Kahoot! but haven’t been able to.  Well now you can!

The new feature is called Challenge and does require the Kahoot! App to play.  When you (or your students) want to start a Challenge just click on an existing Kahoot! (or you can make a new one) and at the top, click Challenge.  You then set a due date by when the challenge must be completed.  Lastly, you are given a Challenge link and PIN that you then share with your students, either via OAKS, Email, or Google Classroom.  The student really just needs to type in the PIN into the Kahoot! app and they go on with the game as they would in class.  At the end, the instructor can see how everyone in the class did.

The only thing I’m not in love with is that Challenges can’t be done on a computer and most young children (for EHHP) don’t have cell phones or iPads.  For a college classroom this shouldn’t be an issue.

Here’s how it works:

Kahoot! can be used to:

  • Review, revise and reinforce
  • Re-energize and reward
  • Get classroom insights
  • Gather opinions
  • Motivate teamwork
  • Challenge past results
  • Join global classrooms
  • Introduce new topics
  • Great for competitions
(taken from Inspiring Ways to Kahoot! )

Also, as you learned above, there is a new mobile app to make it even easier to join and play!  Check it out on their Mobile app page.

cell phone scanning a bubble answer sheet
Assessment, Mobile, Productivity, TLT

Ditch the Scantron, Use ZipGrade

cell phone scanning a bubble answer sheetAre you tired of walking to Bell or the Library to use the Scantron machine?  Try ZipGrade.

Last year at the ISTE Conference I was introduced to ZipGrade but am just getting around to looking at in depth.  ZipGrade “turns your phone or tablet into an optical grading machine similar to a Scantron. It reads free-to-download answer sheets in multiple sizes. Provide instant feedback to students by grading exit tickets, quizzes, and formative assessments as soon as they finish.” (ZipGrade website)

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for a free account
  2. Download the ZipGrade app to your cell phone or tablet (iOS and Android)
  3. Print out the 100-question answer sheets for your students (don’t worry, your test/quiz can be less than 100 questions)
  4. Student takes the test and turns in the answer sheet
  5. You use your phone to scan it, right then and there if you want.  It takes seconds!

You’re done.  By the time all the students have taken the test, you’re done grading!!  Plus you’re instantly able to see the students’ scores on your app and your question stats.  No more schlepping to Bell or the Library to use the Scantron.

screenshot of the appFeatures

  • Use with or without (anonymous) student names and ID numbers
  • No internet is required to create and scan the quizzes
  • You can import your student information using an OAKS download
  • Create answer sheet packs with student names and ID numbers pre-filled

Tip – use the 100 question answer sheet because it’s the only one that allows an ID number long enough to accommodate the CWID.



  • Fast and easy.
  • Free and cheap.
  • Realtime quiz/test scores.
  • Reads pen and pencil.
  • Export your OAKS classlist into ZipGrade.
  • Cannot re-import the ZipGrade quiz grades back into OAKS.  You have to manually enter them in the grade book.


  • Free download and 100-scans per month
  • Unlimited Scanning: $6.99 for 1 year

FERPA and Privacy:

#onenewthing Padlet
Collaboration, discussion, instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Portfolio, Presentation, Research

#OneNewThing – Padlet

padlet screenshot“Padlet is a virtual wall that allows people to express their thoughts on a common topic easily. It works like an online sheet of paper where people can put any content (e.g. images, videos, documents, text) anywhere on the page, together with anyone, from any device.” (Mrs. Treichler)

Platforms:  Web, iOS, Android, also has plugins for Chrome and WordPress


How It Works


Uses for Faculty & Students


  • Create a blank board and share it (either with specific people via their Padlet account, or via a general link.
  • Double-click on the board to add a new “sticky” note.
  • You can add:
    • Text
    • Audio
    • Video
    • Images
    • Files
  • Drag the notes around to organize and sort them.

Works on a computer or almost any mobile device.

  • Discussion and collaboration
  • Constructing a classroom code of conduct or an assessment rubric with your students
  • Backchannel where students can write questions during or before class
  • Exit ticket
  • Brainstorming
  • Planning
  • Student-to-Student image sharing
  • Writing prompts and collaborative writing
  • Student introductions
  • KWL Charts
  • Curation
  • Flow maps
  • Opinion forums
  • Inspiration wall
  • Portfolios
  • Website bookmarking tool
  • More…
  • Even more…

Get your padlet account today


Accessibility, Accounts, Mobile, social networking

App Recommendation: 1Password

Are you tired of trying to remember every password you have or worried about using the same one over and over?  Try 1Password!  1Password is an app that stores all of your passwords in one area, locked securely by one main password.  You enter this one password and it will sign you into any of your accounts.  It will also generate and save secure passwords for any new accounts you may create.  1Password is integrated into your web browser and on as many devices as you need.


This app uses a combination of encryption and key derivation to ensure that no one can see your data while in use and everything is fully encrypted when you are not actively using 1Password.  

You can try it free for 30 days and after it’s $2.99 a month or $4.99 a month for a family subscription.

Check it out: 1Password

Accessibility, iPad, Mobile, TLT

App recommendation: Prizmo – Scanning, OCR and Speech

What is ?  Take a photo of a document then Prizmo converts it to text and then allows you to hear it read aloud or save/export as a searchable PDF.

Price: $ 9.99

Platform: iOS also for Mac supporting OS X 10.10 or higher for $49.99

Android users – see the following site for a list of Android apps that are similar to Prizmo: http://appcrawlr.com/app/related/1113421 

More Information:



User review of Prizmo http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/saltzman/2013/08/27/prizmo-app-documents/2709095/