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