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.

TLT, Video

Make videos interactive

What is ?   RooClick is a patent-pending concept in click-to-interact technology utilizing web browsers and mobile applications to allow students and teachers to engage in video content in real time. Thus allowing curriculum and information to be accessed with one click. RooClick was founded on the premises of giving viewers what they want when they want it. By eliminating disconnect between seeing content and engaging with content through a simple click. No more searching for relevant information; teachers associate the material they want with the video content. This allows instructors to customize all assignments for their class.  From http://www.rooclick.com/docs/RooClickEducationFactSheet.pdf

Price: Free for individual teachers

Platform:  Android, IOS and a laptop (look for “RooPlayer” in the App store and “RooClick Video Player” in Google Play)

More Information:

To learn more about visit  http://www.rooclick.com/

RooClick Instruction Manual for Educators and Students found at http://www.rooclick.com/docs/RooClickEducationHandbook.pdf

Check out the following articles about RooClick:

Rock Your use of Video as a Teaching and Learning Tool With RooClick

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/


iPad, Mobile, Productivity, TLT

App recommendation: Clear -Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists

At last week’s TLT Faculty Open House we asked those that attended to recommend a favorite app and Clear was a clear favorite!

What is Clear?  An easy to use to-do list and reminders app.

Price: $4.99

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Clear for Mac which is available separately on the Mac App Store

More Information: 

To install and to learn about the app from the developer visit:


One review of Clear as well as  a comparison to other to-do apps:  http://thesweetsetup.com/apps/best-simple-to-do-list-app-ios-mac/

1-1-1, Innovative Instruction, iPad, Web 2.0

Faculty Guest Post: Nearpod as an alternative to PowerPoint

This month’s faculty blogger is Heidi Collins, who is Adjunct Faculty of French in the Department of  French-Francophone-Italian Studies.


Looking to shake up lectures from the typical Powerpoint and searching for a vehicle that better integrated student response in the presentation, I experimented with Nearpod during the Spring 2016 semester. This app allows an instructor to create a presentation and then push a slide show out to a student’s personal device. Perhaps more importantly, it features built-in activities and quizzes that require the students to interact with the presentation. Student responses from these exercises are available for the teacher to view and subsequently share with the class if they wish. The answers can also be saved and viewed later by the instructor for grading purposes or more in-depth evaluation.

The free version of the application gives you access to the basic features while purchasing the next level opens up more student activity modules. The Nearpod website allows you to create your presentation but the design capabilities are limited. It is easier to create the look you want by creating your slides in Powerpoint, saving them as images, and them placing them in your Nearpod presentation. You can also add activities like open-ended questions, free-draw, and quizzes to your slides. There are numerous Nearpod lessons available for free or a small fee. However, most of these are geared towards secondary school students.

Once you have created and published your presentation, you are ready to use it in class. When you run the presentation, the students will use the code provided to logon to the presentation and will see the individual slides on their own computers or tablets. You can open the application on the classroom computer, but I found it worked better to run the presentation from my iPad and log the classroom computer into the presentation as the students do. This allowed me to project on the big screen what the students were also seeing on their own screens and reference it as we worked.

The first time I used Nearpod with my classes, I requested students bring a laptop, iPad, or other tablet to class with them. While it is possible to view the presentations on a cellphone, the small screen size limits the students’ ability to complete activities. Unfortunately, for a class of 20 students, I only had 4-6 students bring devices with them. This meant that groups of 3-4 students were working together which ultimately led to one or two students being less engaged in the activity. Luckily, TLT allows instructors to check out iPads for classroom use on a short-term basis. Doing this allowed us to have 1-2 students per device which led to greater student participation.

One of the downfalls of the application is that the whole class must stay together. This can be difficult if the students are working on an activity at different rates. In particular, if a student hasn’t submitted a response to a question, once the instructor pushes the next slide, half-finished responses will be lost. To alleviate this problem, I asked students to submit any partial responses when we were ready to move on.

One of the great things about Nearpod is that you can view the students’ responses and choose which ones to show to the entire class. This could allow you to highlight a particularly interesting response or perhaps a response with a common error that you wish to address. When working with grammar, I often prefer to have an incorrect response given instead of a correct one because it creates a teaching moment. However, students often only want to volunteer a response when they are sure it is the correct answer. With Nearpod, every student submits an answer, and I get to decide which ones we should look at together. I’m also able to quickly judge if many students are making the same mistakes.

The free draw activity also lends itself well to the language classroom. I created a lesson in Nearpod on prepositions of location. Using the free draw activity, I gave my students simple commands for drawing a picture. (Draw a girl. Draw a flower next to the girl. Draw a boy behind the flower. Etc.) Everyone was able to draw and then we were able to easily view the students’ drawings as a class and discuss them further in the target language.

Overall, Nearpod worked well to increase active student participation and provided a different way of doing things that helped engage the students. It also forced me to slow down a bit and gave me a better idea of how well the students were keeping up. Additionally, the premium features include being able to assign the presentations as homework which would be interesting to try as part of an online course.

iPad, TLT

App of the week: Marvin – eBook reader for epub

Looking for a eBook reader that allows you to export notes you have taken while reading, has full text search and a sleep mode?  Then Marvin is the e-Reader app for you!

Here are just a few of the features noted on the iTunes store

  • 2 column layouts in both portrait and landscape on the iPad
  • A reading timer
  • Customizable gestures
  • Powerful highlighting and annotation tools
  •  Intelligently search for and pin web content such as articles, reviews and videos
  • Sorting, filtering and grouping
  • Virtually all the content you see, create and find can be exported and shared
  • All exported content can be opened in web browsers and word processors for further reference

Price: $3.99

Platform: iPad and iPhone

More Information:

To see all the features and to download, visit:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marvin-ebook-reader-for-epub

For a comparison of Marvin and other e-readers apps go to: http://www.cultofmac.com/269542/winner-best-ebook-reading-app/

iPad Pro
iPad, TLT

New Apple iPad Pro

On Tuesday, Apple made its annual announcement of new products.  These included an upgrade to the iPhone, a revamped and improved Apple TV, and some new Apple Watch bands and faces.  However, the most interesting announcement was the iPad Pro and frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about it.  The iPad Pro is the newest in the iPad line.  It’s sleek, thin (6.9 mm) and light (1.5 lbs) and is 12.9 inches on the diagonal.  Basically it’s as wide as an iPad Air is tall and has 5.6 million pixels, more than a 15″ MacBook Pro Retina.

iPad Air vs iPad Pro

So why build such a large iPad?

Apple says it’s to reach the enterprise market but most would agree it’s to compete with the Microsoft Surface.  The iPad Pro has some additional accessories that will make it a direct competitor: a full-size keyboard cover and a fine-point stylus called the Apple Pencil.  On paper, here’s how they compare:

iPad Pro Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Dimensions  12 x 8.6 in. 11.5 x 7.9 in.
Screen size  12.9 in. 12 in.
Weight  1.57 lb 1.76 lb
Memory  32 GB
128 GB
64 GB
128 GB
256 GB
512 GB
Price $799 – 32 GB wifi
$949 – 128 GB wifi
$1,079 – 128 GB wifi & cell
$799 – 64 GB wifi
$999 – 128 GB wifi
$1,149 – 256 GB wifi
$1,799 – 512 GB wifi
Operating system  iOS 9 Windows 8.1
Camera 8 MP rear, 1.2 MP front 1080p rear, 5 MP front
External keyboard  $169  $129
External stylus Apple Pencil – $99 included


Apple is marketing the bigger size and speed as offering great benefits to both the creative type and the business type.

The Creative:

For those who love their iPad for drawing or creating then, the bigger iPad offers bigger, crisper images that are easier to work with.  Combine this is the precision point of the Apple Pencil and it would appear to be a creator’s dream.  The Autocad app supposedly flys on the iPad Pro, allowing you to work in 3D and full resolution with little to no refresh time.  Many of the drawing apps will also take advantage of the pressure sensitivity and tip slant provided by the Apple Pencil.  Apple Pencil tipped on its side  For the videographer, the iPad pro offers 4 speakers (one on each corner) that will auto-balance themselves based on the iPad Pro orientation.

The Office:

The iPad Pro also offers something for the office.  Even without the external keyboard the larger surface offers a full-size on-screen keyboard making it easier than ever to touch type.  Apple has also formed a partnership with Microsoft to bring Office to the iPad.  Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will now be fully functional on the iPad Pro and will allow ink annotations.onboard keyboard

The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil will be available for purchase in November and I’m excited to see if the product actually is as cool as Apple makes it seem.  One thing to keep in mind before you run out a buy yours is, according to several reviews I read, that there are not current plans to create iPad apps specifically for the iPad Pro’s larger screen.  As of now you’ll just run all your regular apps they’ll just be bigger.  This may change in the future but as of now that is the plan.  I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.  Once I get my hands on one I’ll let you know what I think.

1-1-1, iPad, Mobile

Guest Post: How a Calendar Service Saved and an App Nearly Destroyed My Sanity

Our guest blogger is Gretchen McLaine, Associate Professor of Dance. Gretchen was a participant in the 2014 Summer FTI, and this post is a review of Gretchen’s experience integrating two new tools into her courses.


If you are like most faculty here at the college, you embrace any opportunity to make more efficient use of your time and simplify your work life. Being the lone full-time faculty member and director of a vibrant, new program, I appreciate any chance to make my job a bit more manageable. However, with so many options from which to choose, I turned to our Faculty Technology Institute last summer for finding ways to make my life easier.

One of my favorite time savers is YouCanBookMe. If you do not currently use this website, you should. YouCanBookMe is a free service where anyone with your URL can schedule an appointment with you. Not only does the site sync with your Google calendar, it only shows your availability, not any personal information about your appointments. You can also decide specific times of each day to make yourself available/unavailable. My URL is included on my syllabi as well as on my office door. All of my advising appointments are scheduled through this amazing, free service, which has stopped the endless hours of emailing back and forth with students as we try to coordinate schedules.

My experiences with the Grader application has almost cost me my sanity, and has certainly cost me a lot of wasted time. Available for iPad, this app is supposed to integrate with the College’s learning management system, otherwise known as OAKS. One of the advantages of its use is the ability to grade files submitted to OAKS dropbox folders without requiring Internet access. However, before you can grade offline, you must go through the app while online and download the contents of these folders, remembering to hit the download buttons on each folder and then hitting the sync icon. If you are unable to do this, then the app isn’t useful. And even if you grade while off-line, you must sync again whenever you regain Internet connectivity for those files to be returned to the students. For some reason and on multiple occasions, I have graded papers only to have lost them when I synced the folders. And while there have been some improvements in the stability of this app over the past year, I have also experienced this app freezing while grading (losing graded papers in the process) on multiple occasions. Maybe it is user error, but my experiences with this app have proven more frustrating than fruitful.

1-1-1, Faculty Technology Institute, Innovative Instruction

Guest Post: Haiku Deck + Air Sketch = Sweet

Our guest blogger is Jeremy Clement, instructor and internship coordinator for Hospitality and Tourism Management.  Jeremy was a participant in the 2014 Summer FTI and this post reports on his experience integrating new technology tools into his courses.

FTI Tools in Action: Classroom Engagement & Instructor Versatility Made Simple

I could write a book about all the tools and ideas I walked away with from the Summer, 2014 FTI. As many will attest, it was almost overwhelming. The trick seemed to be to approach the experience with some expectation of how you can utilize the tools and technology you’ll find. I had some notion at the time…but have found since that the skills and abilities I gained from TLT have far more applications than I could’ve ever imagined. So rather than try to report on them all, I’ll simply report on the combination that I’ve utilized, quite successfully, since.

Prior to the FTI, TLT had turned me on to AirSketch for classroom presentations. AirSketch is a free app that simply converts your static presentations – you actually convert your PowerPoint or other materials to PDF first – into an interactive whiteboard in the classroom. In addition to that (and my favorite part) is that it is linked to the classroom projection system via a URL address you call up in the Internet browser on the classroom computer, not via some physical media or content saved directly to the computer itself. Once you enter the URL, the students are exposed to a live version of your presentation.AirSketch

Your presentation on your tablet or mobile device…not your presentation on the in-room system, wow. That means you can walk throughout the classroom, face whatever direction you’d like and still have access to advance your content or mark up the slide being displayed…all while using your own tablet from the palm of your hand. The freedom is incredible.

For someone who is a bit fidgety, like myself, this allows you to move freely about the class without being tethered to a console or station at the front of the room. I still generally stay in the front for most of my class…but I can’t say enough about the freedom and flexibility inherent in being able to move about and see where I’m at in a lecture, all without having to look back at the screen behind me or staying behind a podium. I find it is more engaging for the students and more natural to my presentation style.HaikuDeck App Black

AirSketch is an effective and impressive tool in and of itself. Outside the classroom, I’ve used this technology numerous times to give reports or lead discussions and meetings. Without exception, someone always asks ‘how did you do that?’ I honestly think I might’ve won over some of those audiences simply due to my practiced use of this simple, yet powerful tool.

Event Management
Haiku Deck title slide

Now here’s where the FTI really amped that up to another level. Haiku Deck was introduced during the FTI as an alternative to PowerPoint for creating engaging and dynamic presentations. I have to say, I was instantly hooked. The program or app (Haiku Deck is accessible via a website or can be downloaded as an app) essentially pairs your presentation content with an expansive database of beautiful, vibrant photographs via the use of its unique correlative categorization feature.

Essentially, you type in the main theme of the slide and they find a plethora of engaging and interesting photos and images that follow the same theme or concept. I don’t claim to know exactly how it works, only that it is both effective and fun to use. My only issue is I tend to get lost looking at all the cool images and trying to pick the one that is most appropriate and also the most engaging. It allows me to mix up a little left- and right-brain activity and really bring more of my personal style and creativity into what can sometimes be dull and emotionless presentation material.

Adding user’s own images to Haiku Deck

Not only does Haiku Deck offer their own photo library, you can also include your own images. This feature allows you to integrate photos, diagrams, or other materials as the backdrop for the slide and details surrounding the subject. I’ve provided some examples to give you an idea of how this might be integrated.

The unique design function of Haiku Deck does have some limitations, but I developed a workaround that I think everyone can benefit from. Essentially, I usually need to include more data on a slide than what Haiku Deck’s presentation builder will allow. I found this frustrating at first and thought that would limit its usefulness for my particular course given the volume of information I need to display as a part of my presentation.

Haiku Deck slide edited inside Powerpoint

So, my solution was to use Haiku Deck to build the base slide – typically including a graphic and a slide title or subject line. Then I would download the presentation into PowerPoint, one of the various options they provide for exporting your content. I would then use the tools available in PowerPoint to add content over top of the Haiku Deck slide. The result was what I consider a beautiful balance of engaging graphics and pictures supplemented by the course materials I need to deliver in a more comprehensive format than what Haiku Deck had to offer.

Poll Everywhere
Poll Everywhere results added to Haiku Deck slide

Now, once I had the PowerPoint deck fully developed, I convert that presentation to a PDF. From there, it’s a simple matter of pulling it up via AirSketch and calling up the URL in the classroom. My course evaluations were the best in my department, certainly in part due to the use of this unique blend of tools and technology. Of course, I didn’t stop there – I also integrated other FTI-introduced tools like Poll Everywhere which can be seen in my examples here as well.

The versatility and level of engagement I was able to accomplish as a result of information I gathered in the FTI have surely improved my teaching style as well as my personal appetite for trying and implementing new tools and technology in the classroom. Honestly, even the fails are learning opportunities as the class has to work together to find a better way to tackle the challenge. My evaluations are one indicator but certainly not the only one I’ve received.Scavenger Hunt

If you’ve gotten this far and still find this interesting, I would encourage you to check out Haiku Deck’s pending software launch – Haiku Deck Zuru. This new offering, not yet released but eligible for subscription as a charter member, promises to utilize artificial intelligence to essentially read and convert a preexisting presentation into a Haiku Deck in one fell swoop. I find that both fascinating and exciting.