This page contains a select list of software applications that can be used to promote learning and engagement with students. If you need assistance with using these tools, the Instructional Design Librarian can help.
A more comprehensive list of free apps can be found at "Typology of Free Web-Based Learning Technologies."
I. Game apps for the classroom
Kahoot is an online application where you can create game-show-like quizzes. Students can use their smartphones, tablets, laptops, or classroom desktop computers as buzzers. It's a great tool for a fun, interactive assessment tool. Instructors can borrow iPads for their class to ensure everyone has a "buzzer" or create teams so students can share a device. It's free to use. Many instructors use it as a syllabus review tool on the first day or to review content before an exam.
- Sign up or learn more about Kahoot
- Kahoot players go to https://kahoot.it/ to enter a pin and join a game.
Quizizz is an online application, similar to Kahoot, where you can create gamified self-paced quizzes. Like Kahoot, you can choose from a ready-made quiz to adapt and edit, or start from scratch and make your own. Some instructors choose Quizizz over Kahoot because it offer more flexibility in the amount of content that can be added to each question.
Goosechase is an app to create scavenger hunts. Students can download the app on their own device or instructors can borrow iPads from IT and have a group activity. Questions can be answered with text, photo or video, or GPS location. Get creative with the questions. Have students find a reliable website on a particular topic. Take a photo with their faculty adviser or take a selfie with a book they had to hunt down in the library. It can be a team building exercise, a more intimate ice breaker, or orientation activity.
Quizlet is an application to create online study sets – essentially electronic index cards that can also be used for gaming. It's a great tool to help students learn vocabulary words. There are options for group or individual gaming. You can create your own study set or use one made by another member. Study sets can be embedded into Blackboard and students can choose their study mode.
Gimkit can be used as a review game show activity or an independent study tool. Something that stands out about Gimlet over Kahoot or Quizlet is that students earn currency instead of points. They can use the currency to buy powerups. Tutorial on how to create and play Gimkit.
Turn a Google spreadsheet into a variety of fun learning activities or teaching tools, such as a matching game, flashcards, timeline, quiz game, and more.
II. Apps to engage with students
Mentimeter is an easy way to make your presentations more engaging.Use Mentimeter to insert interactive activities like polls and wordclouds into your lecture to elicit feedback from students or check for understanding. Interested in learning more about Mentimeter? Checkout this webinar.
VoiceThread is an online platform where users upload media (such as an image, video, or text) and others can comment by voice, video, or text.
It's commonly used as a platform for online discussion boards or an online lecture. You can use it for class introductions or as an online discussion around required reading or a video. Instructors have also created video lectures and then encouraged students to comment or ask questions. Students can choose to record their voice, record a video of themselves, or type a response. This allows students to choose how to respond based on their strengths and preference. VoiceThreads can also be embedded into Blackboard.
Checkout VoiceThread's YouTube tutorials to learn more.
Polleverywhere.com is an online platform to create polls or surveys to elicit feedback from the audience. The free educator account only allows 40 responses for each poll (premium features require payment). Students can use a smartphone or other Internet-enabled device to text a response or send it through a provided URL. Instructors have used it as a formative assessment tool or to gather student opinion during class. Learn more with a tutorial on Polleverywhere.com.
Are students forgetting due dates or not reading your important emails? Texting might be a more convenient method of communication. The Remind app is a convenient communication tool to group text students reminders or urgent messages. Students will not have access to your private number, and it's not necessary to gather student numbers either. Here's what you do: (1) Set up a free account with Remind. (2) Create a class. (3) If you don't want to manually enter students names and contact information, share the link provided with your class code and students can instantly join your class. Many instructors spend 5 minutes during the first day of class setting students up with Remind. You can send Remind messages with a computer through their website or on a smart phone with their mobile app.
Nearpod is a tool to create interactive lessons that can be synchronized on student devices with a class code. You can incorporate slideshows, videos, quizzes, and polls to name a few. There are different account levels. The free version allows class sizes up to 40 and storage space up to 20MB. There are premium versions with payment that include more storage space, larger class sizes, access to ready made lessons, and other features. Nearpod webinar and coupon code for 3 free months of Gold level membership
Flipgrid is a video sharing platform that can be used to connect students to each other or as an assessment tool. Teachers are using Flipgrid as an alternative to written assignments or reflections. To learn more about Flipgrid see "9 New Ways to Use Flipgrid in the Classroom" or a Flipgrid tutorial for teachers.
III. Apps to create videos
Screencast-o-matic is a user-friendly software to create tutorials. Premium features, such as video editing, cost extra. Many instructors do just fine with the free version.
A screencast is a video where the viewer can see the instructor's screen as a task or concept is being demonstrated. Screencasting allows students to learn by example, seeing, for instance, a step-by-step sequence in detail. Video creators can record their screen, their webcam, or a combination of both. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube and shared with students. Don't forget that you don't have to do this on your own; the Instructional Design Librarian can help you create tutorials.
Screencastify is a free screen recorder through Google Chrome. No download is required. Videos can be saved directly to Google Drive or uploaded to YouTube. There are also annotation tools.
Other programs to record a tutorial video:
- PowerPoint (narrate and record mode)
- Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
- Camtasia (ask IT about a site license - no free options)