Zoom Break out Rooms Now Allow Participant Choice

I may be the one behind the times here but this surprised me when I learned it last night. (Edit: I am. It is a 5 month old feature). You can now allow Zoom participants to choose their own break out room.

Here is what setting that up looks like (you just have to check one box if you are already used to using break out rooms).

This is a long overdue feature that I can definitely see using in a number of ways. Two come to mind immediately. I can see this being useful at the end of a class to let students work together on different items. Or, if you are hosting a tutoring session you could have areas for quiet study and for collaboration.

Wooclap Revisited

Sometime in the next couple months I will choose between Socrative, Wooclap, and Microsoft Forms for quizzing in my fall classes. Any of these will work in either face-to-face or remote settings. I would use them differently and less often in a face-to-face setting.

I decided to give Wooclap another try now that you can put LaTeX (a typesetting language convenient for mathematics) to enter equations in the questions. Wooclap has a large number of question types. My current quizzing produce, Socrative, had only 3 types of question, but a good math editor. Microsoft Forms has a lot of question types and captures responses very well, but the live display is not great.

Students can answer Wooclap questions through a browser of their choice. Links to your questions (and QR codes) are provided and customizable. If you are rich you can also have the students answer through text (plans costs go from around $84 US/year to $180 US/year for texting and a few other features.)

Here is what I will try in calculus next week:

There is a free version of Wooclap. The biggest drawback to the free version is that you cannot ask more than two questions in a single event. You could create multiple events.

The first level of paid subscription allows as many questions as you would like in a single event. It does not allow a lot of background customization or removal of the wooclap branding.

At HFC we do not have access to the Microsoft store otherwise we could import Wooclap questions into PowerPoint and Teams instead of having to upload PowerPoint presentations into Wooclap.

I know from posting in my personal blog that Wooclap searches for their name in social media so I’ll expect a comment sometime tomorrow . . . Seriously though they were very positive and responsive that time so I may learn of features I did not find by just trying the software without support.

Information about How to Use EMAIl and OFFICE


The URL above is maintained by the Network and Infrastructure (IT) area of the College. When they get questions or concerns from employees at the College about how to use an email or office feature they develop a PDF or video or have a partner company develop a PDF or video.

The first place you may want to check to see if your question have been answered is the Documents section of the Sharepoint site.

A screen capture showing the contents of the Documents directory at the Sharepoint site where Network and Infrastructure (IT) shares documents.
Look here first!

Special Event: Doug Shaw, Ph. D. Coming Virtually on Friday, April 16 from 2 PM to 4 PM

We are pleased to announce that we will have an entertaining workshop on how to use Zoom features in clever ways to promote interactivity in your classes. Doug Shaw of the University of Northern Iowa (http://dougshaw.com/) will lead the session. You can indicate you would like to attend here. The workshop is limited to 50 participants. We will leave the form open until 5 PM this Friday, March 19. Then we will select 50 participants for the workshop with an effort to balance attendance between the BEPD, HHS, SoLA, STEM, and support teachers as well as between full-time and part-time teachers. Within groups time of submission will determine who gets the chance to attend. After March 19 you can email us (Jeff Morford or Eric Rader) to determine if seats have opened up.

Here is a post I made after attending one of his sessions earlier this year.

We recognize that this session will have little to no impact on your winter teaching. Honestly we had hoped such sessions would not be needed but it looks like at least some areas will have remote classes into the summer and fall.

Prezi Presentations in Zoom Video

OK, I couldn’t wait to play with Prezi’s Zoom integration (sorry math students who will have their papers graded tonight instead of this afternoon). I have used Prezi before so I had a bit of an advantage of knowing what to do so I created the following video in about half an hour including all prep time. If you did not know about the Prezi pathway and if Prezi hadn’t done a lot of automating the pathway recently (I couldn’t find the controls for this) it would take longer.

I would consider using this on an introduction or review day when I was looking for a little flashiness and their probably wouldn’t be a lot of varying from the script. It might make true interaction more difficuly (although you could turn off the Prezi overlay and switch to screen sharing at any time).

Anyway. This is an actual recording of a Zoom meeting a ran to see how the Prezi/Zoom integration works.

A brain that looks like it might be exploding
Mind blown!

This thing is addictive. Here is how you could use it for context cues for what is happening in class with screen shares.

One more idea of how to use this. I am not sure that this is better than Screencast-O-Matic with a talking window overlay, but it is different and at least gets at my third level of my teaching philosophy (I’m in the class space a lot of time during the semester and I should enjoy it.)

All the Softwares

This is a cross post with my personal blog so I apologize in advance to those of you who follow me in both places. Tonight I got to thinking about all the technology used in remote teaching and got in a listing mood. Here is what I have been using lately and why. Some of you can probably add more types of software or more examples of software in the comments. I think compiling this list makes me realize why I feel a little more scattered now despite not having a commute.

Learning Management System: The Henry Ford College LMS is based on Moodle. This can serve as a bookshelf for course materials and has some convenient quizzing and drop box features. It has some sophisticated testing features if you learn how to use the coding language for each type of problem.

Publisher Homework Software: Publisher software can provide practice at routine problems for students. Currently I am using XYZHomework and WebAssign.

Teleconference Software: I use Zoom for live remote classes and for office hours. While using Zoom I set up Otter.ai to allow for captions for students with hearing difficulties or who cannot use the audio that day because of where they are working.

Screen Capture Software: For asynchronous courses especially you need screen capture software. I like the ease of editing in a product called Screencast-O-Matic for videos. Plus, it was cheap when I bought a license. Snagit will also make videos. I use Snagit for screen capture because I like the interface and the editing tools.

Visualizer Software: I use a document camera for my live remote classes and sometimes when making videos. The software that came with my camera lets me freeze the screen and zoom pretty conveniently.

Video Library: YouTube is my back up place to upload videos. Sometimes in my asynchronous class I will upload videos to YouTube from Screencast-O-Matic if they are just one time use like weekly summaries and don’t need to be behind a paywall for some other reason. Mostly I use Microsoft Stream because I can easily restrict access to my students if I need to do so.

Extra Examples: I have been using Thinglink for this the last week or so in my asynchronous class. I am using the free version though so I cannot organize things into folders and this could get to be a mess. I can link my videos and other videos to a written example and add descriptions links to other examples or expanded steps. I have considered whether to use Prezi Present- a spatially based presentation software for this instead, That is a little harder to use but can look slicker. I hadn’t used Prezi in a while, but it looks like they have done a lot of work recently to integrate with common teleconferencing platforms with a product called Prezi Video. I may check that out over spring break. I have used a Livescribe pen but find that my visualizer together with Screencast-O-Matic gets the job done more quickly with higher quality.

Office Hour Scheduling: I have used Calendly ,which I was pleased with, to allow students to schedule meetings with me for office hours. It is worth $95 for premium. However, Microsoft Booking is part of HFC’s Microsoft 365 license and so free (included) has won out.

Informal Assessment/Participation: I am currently using Socrative for remote online classes because of their math editor and its relative simplicity for students. When we return to campus I might use Wooclap because of the expanded number of question types. I might use Microsoft Forms quick questions in a math corequisite course that is partially remote live and partially asynchronous in the fall. I have used Kahoot!QuizizzPoll Everywhere, and Plickers in the past. All are fine products for assessment- especially informal assessment. For me, Socrative not requiring student accounts and having a math editor make it best. Forms working in the college’s office suite makes it a good choice. And I recall liking Wooclap’s large number of question types.

Calculators: I teach math so I use Desmos and a TI-84 Emulator in my live remote classes and in some videos I make for asynchronous classes. I use Geogebra only occasionally and probably should remember to use it more.

PDF Annotator: I use Drawboard to write on worksheets in live remote classes. I will also sometimes paste a few problems I expect will cause questions into Drawboard using Snagit.

Collaboration: I occasionally use items from G-Suite because it is really easy to let students collaborate. For instance, you can crowd source calculations and have students type the answers in a Google Sheet you set up beforehand and share a link in the chat of whatever software you use for you teleconferencing. I would use Jamboard if I used groups/break out rooms more often.

ThingLink Tours and Step-By-Step Examples

Thinglink lets you easily add text and link overlays on media. I learned about it from a teacher at HFC a couple years ago. Reading Pacansky-Brock’s 2017 book I was reminded of it. I wanted a project to use to play with it to see if I thought it worthwhile. Today in Calculus 2 we worked on a problem. During the problem 3 questions came up that led to short side discussions. I wondered if I could take screen captures from the work today and turn the whole thing into a ThingLink.

I rewrote the main problem and captured it with my document camera. Then I captured the side discussion work as best I could. If I were starting from scratch I would probably do this differently. I uploaded everything into ThingLink using the CREATE button.

I then picked the main work as the first image. I chose edit and added a tour. I linked to the other file I wanted and changed the button type.

A picture showing the screen with the sample problem and the change icon dialog

It seems to work well. I could add text or audio descriptions of the steps if I wanted. I added a text description saying not to use the browser back button, but instead the internal navigation. I navigated out of the example a couple times. I will add a link to my Thinglink and try to embed it at the end of the post (embed failed).

I did all this skipping the tutorial which is a test of how user friendly the software is. You could use this for step by step examples if you did not want to go back to the main image. I now need to consider whether I would use this enough to justify $35 per year. Video capture software by itself gets the same information out- just without student choices of what they want to see. (I would also worry about hitting the 12,000 view limit).

Thinglink does tons more. You can add pauses with questions to videos for instance. If you would use all the features the price is a bargain. If you wanted to track students, too, it is a huge bargain as the $35 includes 61 students seats.

A link to the ThingLink

Send You Later…

To stay productive sometimes I want to draft a message now to send later. It might be something to students. Or, I sometimes send a Zoom calendar announcement and want to send a traditional email reminder the day of the meeting. I used to use the Desktop app. This had one drawback in that it sometimes did not send if I did not have the desktop app open.

You can now do this from the web Outlook app. Draft your message. Click the down arrow next to the Send button inside the message. Select Send later and pick your date and time. The message will go to your drafts folder and will have red text above it showing when it will send.

An image of an email to be sent later showing the text "This message is scheduled to send on Tue 02-MAR 8:15 AM"

Here is a video of me using the feature. It shows how straightforward it is.

The Checklist in HFCOnline

I have experimented with the checklist this semester in HFCOnline. With the checklist you can make a list of assignments, link to the assignments or ancillary material, and add recommended due dates. As students complete them they can manually check them off. Some things can be automatically checked off. Checklists create a graded item, but I did not want to award points for them so I just do not have them in a credit category. I also could go hide them in the student gradebook. You can add the due dates you assign to the course calendar if your students are trained to look there. (See the setting below.)

A list of the settings for a checklist including "Add due dates to calendar" with a Yes or No toggle.

Checklists appear at the end of a section with other “Add an activity or resource material.” I always drag them to the top of that list to make them easy to find. I also try to keep the section description brief when using checklists to students can

I recorded a brief video showing what one of my checklists looks like and my reflections on using them at the quarter point of the semester.

Here are the directions D. Smith uses. These directions automate part of the creation process.

Where Did the Session Summaries Go?

We are using our CTEI Mentoring Moodle shell whenever we have session summaries. This keeps the material on an internal to HFC server and allows us to easily password protect things. This can be important when we have an external speaker willing to allow us to record, but not willing to let us post publically.

We have some other information there as well. Please join me on a 90 second tour of the most popular features.