Category Archives: Tools

Design and aesthetics matter when creating your course.

One area that is often overlooked in designing a course is the aesthetics of the course. Clearly this is not as important as the goals and objectives of the course, but a well put together course can help your students navigate the content and activities much easier. The infographic below shows some ways in which you can improve the look of your Moodle course.

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TED-Ed: Build or share video based lessons

Have you ever found the perfect Youtube video to illustrate a point in class? Has a TED Talk inspired you and you want to share it with your students? Do you want to take it a step further?

TED has an excellent online tool called TED-Ed that allows anyone to choose, share and expand on video content from Youtube, TED Talks or other TED-Ed lessons. Using the lesson builder, you can add review questions, follow-up readings and even group discussion topics.

TED-Ed makes it easy to leverage online video content in a quick and easy format. You can take a tour of the lesson builder at http://ed.ted.com/tour

Tyler Heaton

Submitted by Tyler Heaton
Educational Consultant – Technology

 

Do You Use Evernote?

Now that mobile devices are an integrated part of our lives, there are some app developers that have done a great job of creating productivity tools that allow you to be creative at your desktop, on your tablet, on your mobile device, and have cloud storage so you can access your resources from any web enabled device. Evernote is a developer that has one of these tools. This article will provide you some details about how Evernote works, as well it provides some examples of how faculty can use evernote in their day to day tasks including teaching, research and other tasks.

All About Evernote

Lets begin by exploring what Evernote is meant to be. The slogan for Evernote, is “Remember Everything”. That is exactly what this tool allows you to do. You can save web clippings and make notes on resources, you can snap photos for ideas and inspiration and save them for later; you can even combine audio notes with written notes to document meetings you attend. The best part about evernote is that it is not only an app for your tablet, but it works on your desktop, your phone, and is also available in the cloud. That means that no matter what device you have, you can access your notes and resource in Evernote, provided that you have a web enabled device. And Evernote isn’t proprietary. It works with Apple devices, Mac Desktop, Windows, Android devices and more. Just check out their website to see if they have products for your devices. Most likely they do.

http://evernote.com

A better way to see what Evernote can do is to explore some of the features that this cross platform productivity suit boosts. Evernote is free to download and use, but does contain some premium features that can cost $5/month or $45/year. The premium features will be identified so that you understand which features have cost associated with them. Although, some features do require a premium membership, Evernote is very useful as a free productivity suite.

Out of the Box features

This product is great because you can start an account a number of ways. You can sign up online at evernote.com, or you can download the app to your phone or tablet from the Google Play store or from the App Store for iOS devices.

Taking Notes
First and foremost, Evernote is good at taking notes. Create notes and organize them in notebooks. Notes use a simple word editor to add features such as bold, italics, underlining, colour, font size, and even adds hyperlinks.

Audio and Video notes
Need some improvement in your note taking skills. While you are working on improving your note taking abilities, you can record the meeting you are in and take notes at the same time. That way you can review the audio and improve your notes once a meeting is done.

Short Hand
Evernote has an place in the settings in which you can create shortcuts for common phrases. For example if you wanted to if you commonly had to type, “Bioglogical Sciences 1010: Introduction to Biological Science”, you could create the shortcut ‘1010’ and every time you type 1010, it will be replaced with the longer phrase.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Sometimes we come across ideas or inspiration and we wish we could capture that idea and save it for later. Now you can. Open up evernote on your phone. Create a new note and click the camera icon. The icon will allow you to take photo or short video that can be accompanied by your own notes. Once you save that note, Evernote will sync it to the cloud so you can access it when you sit down in your office.

To Do Lists
How many sticky notes and scrap pieces of paper do you have sitting at your desk with things you need to do? How many of you have multiple to-do lists? With Evernote you can create an entire notebook of to do lists that include radio buttons! You can actually check off your tasks as you complete them. When it saves it syncs, so you to-do list will be updated across all your devices.

Bookmarking Resources and Links

Undoubtedly, you have come across a link online that you think is wonderful. You believe it will be valuable to you in your teaching or in your research and you save it into a long list of other bookmarks. Maybe you are a bit more savvy and you save links using Pocket, Instapaper, or other read-it-later services. But when you read through your list of saved items you have no idea what part of the article was of interest. Although the link might still be interesting to you, you may have forgotten what you saved it for. That is where Evernotes’s web clipper extension for your desktop browser is hand. It allows you to actually capture the article in full, a snippet of the article, or the link to an article and you can add notes explaining why you have saved this resource. Also Evernote has great features such as tagging and geo-tagging. This will allow you to search for resources you save by where you were as well as a tagging system that makes sense to you.

Some Premium Features

Evernote provides a great deal of product and service to you for free. I guess they had to make money somehow, so they also offer premium services. As mentioned before these services have a minimal cost at $5/month or $45/yr

Offline Notebooks
As Evernote is a cloud based service they offer an offline service for those that do a great deal of travelling and may want to be productive as they travel. Read notes, add to them, read saved articles and more all without an internet connection.

Collaborate
Share notes with colleagues and be able to see version history of the document if needed.

Security
In the free version of evernote, you can make your notes private, meaning that the public cannot see them. However, Evernote offers more levels of security in the premium version with passcode locks.

Bigger
Save bigger files (up to 100mb) and increase your monthly upload capacity to 1GB

Smarter Searching
Evernote has a lot of great search features out of the box, but as you add files and other attachments such as pdfs to your notes, you will find that the content in these documents is not searchable unless you subscribe to Evernote Premium

Present Your Notes
This feature along with the collaboration features seems to make the premium version of Evernote worthwhile. Within Evernote desktop you can click the present icon. The projection will use the layout in your note to make an easy to follow and easy to read presentation on the board(projector). However, you can still utilized your laptop screen to modify they note as you present. This can make for some very interesting collaborative meetings.

30 Day Trial
If you think you might be interested in using the premium version of Evernote, you can try out the premium features using a 30 day free trial.

Other Integrated Evernote Products

If you like the functionality of Evernote, you may also want to check out their other products.

Skitch
This is a snapshot tool that allows you to modify the photo, by blurring out sections, adding, captions, arrows and other visual material. Snapshots have the ability to be uploaded to Evernote.
http://evernote.com/skitch/

Penultimate
This is a great tablet app that allows users to Doodle and take hand written notes using a stylus. Visual notes in this program can be uploaded to Evernote. Adonit is a stylus manufacturer that has worked with Evernote to create a bluetooth stylus that produces palm recognition in certain programs. The stylus was created to work with Penultimate. The Teaching Centre demoed one of these pens, and although more responsive than a typical stylus, at $79 dollars, you are better buying a cheap stylus, or upgrading to a full pressure sensitive stylus such as the Hex3 JaJa, or the Wacom Intuos Stylus.
http://evernote.com/penultimate/

Market

There is also an Evernote Market Place that sells products associated with Evernote. Some of these products are scanners, backpacks and styluses, but they also have journals and sketchbooks. For those of you that really like the paper experience, these notebooks are a great way to jot down notes, and then capture them using the camera on your device. Check out the market if you are interested in any of these extras.

How could it be used?

Below are some examples that were brainstormed to share with you, on how you can use Evernote in your teaching and research. This is not an exhaustive list, but may help spur on some new ideas.

Example One
Have students share an essay thesis or idea with you. Go in add your comments by a specific time. Students can go back into the note and feedback is right there. Notes remain private between you and the student.

Example Two
Share ideas with colleagues. Research does not happen in a bubble… well maybe some kinds of scientific research use a bubble, but what I meant was that research is a collaborative process. Evernote allows you to email your ideas, tweet them, share them on Facebook, LinkedIn and more.

Example Three
Don’t forget last minute requests from students as you go out the door. Snap a photo of the student, and create a note with the todo task they are asking you about. If they don’t want a photo, you could always type the name instead.

Example Four
Gather resources for you class, then vet them and organize them in Evernote so you can copy these resources into a LMS or CMS to be used by the students.

Example Five
Share a note with students in your class. Have students share interests in the class, problems with the class, and other issues related to their learning in a note. This can be a type of ongoing after hours chat that takes place asynchronously.

Example Six
Keeping notes at conferences. The audio recording feature allows you to record a meeting using your device and make notes as you go along. Both are synced to Evernote. Also because of geographic locating and tagging within evernote, you can add photos of presenters, notes, audio recordings and more, and you will be able to find them using ever notes integrated search features. Just remember to keep tagging simple. You are tagging articles for easier reading, not creating an entire taxonomy of classification.

Some Links and Resources that may help you become a better Evernote user.

31 Ninja Tricks for Making Evernote Awesome
http://nerdgap.com/31-evernote-tricks-for-newbies-who-want-to-be-ninjas/

I’ve Been Using Evernote All Wrong. Here’s Why It’s Actually Amazing
http://lifehacker.com/5989980/ive-been-using-evernote-all-wrong-heres-why-its-actually-amazing

Using your Assessment Overview to navigate the Moodle Gradebook.

Moodle is a great tool that many instructors utilize in their course offerings to share documents, have discussions, and also to post grades. One part of Moodle that produces a great deal of questions from instructors is the grade book. This article will provide you with some examples of how a grade book could be set up by using an assessment overview as a map.
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Why would I use Twitter in my course? And how would I implement it?

Twitter is a microblogging tool that has been growing in popularity for many years. It allows users to easily share photos, videos, comments and links. If you are unsure how twitter works, check out the links below.

http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Twitter

So how can 140 characters posts in a social media tool be useful to you and your student?

Below are some ways you might think about integrating twitter into your course. This is not an exhaustive list, but there are resource links at the end of this article that provide some other options not explored here.

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Master Your YouTube Resources

When we set up our LMS (Moodle course) or a blog for a course, there are often times great resources available on Youtube that we would like to use. However, like many online services, we do not get the options we need to implement the video in an relevant manner.

The following resources will help you become a YouTube master. Tips related to setting the video to play at a specific start point, to disabling the related videos that show when you embed a video are available in the online resources below.

6 Youtube URL tricks
http://lifehacker.com/the-six-best-youtube-url-tricks-1422544868

YouTube Trickery
http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/youtube-trickery/52661

Try out these tips and tricks for yourself.

Teach, Click, Learn: Classroom Response Systems

From hand raising to popsicle sticks, clickers to smartphones, classroom polling is an effective way to gauge students understanding of the material, to generate classroom discussion, or even to give one shy student an opportunity to voice their opinion.

While the technology has evolved from coloured popsicle sticks to Classroom Response Systems, the pedagogical principles of student polling have remained the same. Instructors today have many options for gauging understanding on the fly in the classroom. Continue reading

Creating Videos for Use in a Class

Posted by: Todd Doucette – Teaching Centre – Digital Media Specialist (Video)

The other day a colleague in our office wanted to talk to me about creating videos for a class on flip teaching (or flipped classroom). He had to explain to me what flip teaching was because I had never heard of it before. What I learned was that flip teaching is where students do work prior to class. In this case it was to watch a video lecture and then come to class ready to discuss the topics in the video. It doesn’t have to be a video can be to read an article, chapter of a book, or anything done prior to the class. Considering my focus at the Teaching Centre is video I was intrigued by the concept.

I wanted to see how I could help the instructor create videos that would help with their teaching. We discussed how we could help and had many ideas, many good, some not bad and some that probably wouldn’t work. We wanted good quality for both video and audio. Many times in creating a video people don’t place enough emphasis on audio. We discussed how to make the videos to a quality that your students can see and hear everything. We talked about delivery, where to post your videos, what formats to export it to. We had many different ideas depending upon your goals so if you are interested in creating videos for your class come to the Teaching Centre and I would be happy to discuss how we can help you.