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Teaching/Learning Center: INSTRUCTIONAL TECH

Below is a collection of technology tools that can be used to support or enhance instruction.

There is no question that technology, particularly related to the web, is changing the way we teach and learn. Not only does Otis offer cutting-edge labs and shops, but faculty continually experiment with the learning environment itself. Multimedia and instructional technologies are integrated into many classrooms preparing students for the 21st Century.

It is the role of the Teaching/Learning Center (TLC) to assist faculty who wish to incorporate appropriate technologies into their courses.

List of Webtools

Think carefully before you require any tool that is unfamiliar to students. Sometimes they resent having to learn a new technology if they don't really see the value. They also get confused when needing to use too many different tools in one class. It's best to avoid using a technology unless it is the perfect tool for the job.

JM's Web-tools List

A live list of interesting web-tools.

Free Media Software Tools

An organized guide for tools.


Otis Pinterest Logo

Check out the Otis College TLC Pinterest Board for tutorials on how to use various instructional technologies.

Copyright Free Images

It is still always nice to give credit where credit is due.


Gaming Tools

arcade games

"Gamification is the application of game elements in non-gaming situations, often to motivate or influence behavior. The rewards or the spirit of competition can spur students’ concentration and interest and lead to more effective learning. The use of gamification is wide-ranging in higher education, from extra-credit awards and in-class team competitions to complex multi-level schemes that can pervade a course." - Educause

"7 Things You Should Know About Gamification" (Educause)

"Teaching as Designing" (Huffington Post)

"7 Things You Should Know About Alternate Reality Games (ARGs)" (Educause)

ARGs weave together real-world artifacts with clues and puzzles hidden virtually any place, such as websites, libraries, museums, stores, signs, recorded telephone messages, movies, television programs, or printed materials.

Seth Priebatsch's TEDxBoston 2010 talks about how game dynamics are reshaping classroom learning. (TED)

Screen Grabs


The ability to capture screen shots or screen grabs of your desktop is a really handy feature! You can quickly collect images to share or send for support.

For PCs

Snipping tool

For MACs

  • Use the keyboard short cut: apple + shift + 4 to turn your cursor into a cross-hairs. That way you can select a specific area of your computer screen.
  • Use the keyboard short cut: apple + shift + 3 to capture your entire screen.

Online Course Materials

desk with computer

Save some time! Here are great sources for digital content to use in your classes. You don't always need to build everything from scratch.

Video Projects

video camera

Provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their learning of course content through the creation of short video.

"6 Tips for Successful Mobile Video Assignments in the Classroom" (Chronicle)

Below are some best practices if introducing such an assignment in your course:

  • consider the outcome you want - length of video and expectations of quality and content as will determine how much time students need to complete the task
  • assign students to work on projects in small groups to promote student-to-student interaction and build collaboration skills
  • provide training and support resources to help students learn multimedia tools and software they will need, know what resources are available on your campus
  • educate students about the resources and methods for acquiring digital assets, as well as the ethical and legal issues related to using these materials in their projects
  • address a real problem to increase motivation and to provide students with the opportunity to share their projects with an audience outside the course if applicable

Consider for Video:

  • Write out a script first
  • Average 150 words spoken per minute
  • 15 minute video = about 2200 words
  • 10 minute video = about 1500 words

Social Bookmarking

social media icons

"7 Things You Should Know About Social Bookmarking" (Educause)

  • can be extremely useful in courses where research, exploration of new topics, and sharing of information is required
  • community—or social—approach to identifying and organizing information on the Web
  • saving bookmarks one would normally make in a Web browser to a public Web site and "tagging" them with keywords
  • groups or classes can set up their own account and allow everyone to easily add their links to the account
  • write annotations about why each site is important or interesting

Popular sites:

Video Conferencing / Chat

Image result for zoom logo video
Video Conferencing and Chats can be a great way to communicate with students and engage in course content online.

"What is Your Favorite Multi-Person Video Chat Client?" (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2014, ProfHacker)

At Otis College, we have a campus license to use Zoom

Mobile Apps For The Classroom

cellphone on a desk


  • GradeBook Pro is a powerful and intuitive paperless classroom management tool. Record grades, attendance, and student performance in an app and be able to email results to individual students.


  • A web-based collaborative real-time editor, allowing authors to simultaneously edit using the iPad.


  • Make your lectures more engaging through interactive multimedia presentations.


  • Audience response system that uses mobile phones, twitter, and the web to allow for live classroom participation.


  • Easily curate engaging magazines.


  • Snapguide is the easiest way to make and share great looking guides. Create your own guides with our mobile platform and discover guides on the go.


  • An amazing drawing application that records the process so you can watch how you created your own artwork.


  • Procreate is the most advanced painting app ever designed for a mobile device. Create beautiful sketches, inspiring paintings, and stunning illustrations.

Bill Eckert teaches at Otis College of Art and Design, in the Digital Media Department. Bill has been exploring the use of the iPad as a teaching tool for the past few years. Here Bill discusses some of the benefits of working with the iPad and the App "Brushes" in Arts Foundation Education.

Social Media

holding a cellphone

We all know that our students are on a variety of social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, DeviantArt, etc.). They use social media sites on a regular basis. If we can such sites to enhance learning, why not?  You must decide whether or not one of these sites is appropriate for the topic and content of the course.

  • Create a site or page specifically for the class.  
  • Lay down some ground rules. For example: don't use profanity, don't post anything you don't want to be shared with the whole class, and the world, use the site frequently to discuss class business or ideas related to the class, post images, and information that you think is relevant to the class and will engage other students.  

Such spaces are good for students to get to know one another and become more comfortable. It is also good for students working together virtually on projects. They find this to be a quick and easy way to talk to each other, whereas the blogs and threaded discussions are seen as something filtered through the course or the professor. So, it can be a casual and easy discussion place that enhances communication, particularly for team papers/projects.

Relevant Articles

1. "Facebooking the Past" (ProfHacker)

Digital Badges

Credly Digital Badges

We already have a game layer in education - it's called GRADES.

But grades are so insubstantial. A letter in a database. The only physical representation is a boring piece of paper. Easily forgotten, added to GPA calculations, there is no jazzy sense of ownership when you get a letter grade. Wasn't it much more satisfying to get a GOLD STAR in elementary school? You had physical, visual proof of what you had accomplished.

  • Badges - the web equivalent of gold stars
  • - create your own digital badges

Badges and Gaming Principles:

  • Make each class module a "game level." Whenever a student "levels up" they get some reward.
  • Create a visual representation of the progression of a class.
  • The submissions module can do this - students can quickly see whether they have completed an assignment.
  • More fun - create a progress bar with percentages. People want to reach 100%.

Writing Tools

inkwell and quill


Blogging can be a fun and useful tool in a blended course. Some may prefer it to the threaded discussions as it is simple to upload images and videos and everything is on one central page.

"7 Things You Should Know About Blogs" (Educause)

"7 Things You Should Know About WordPress" (Educause)


Tumblr is what is commonly referred to as a photo blog. It's easy to quickly post and share text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors to your theme's HTML.

Otis College's Tumblr

"Researching in Public on Tumblr" (ProfHacker)


Wikis are the most useful to facilitate collaborative writing or organize projects. Wikipedia is the prime example of a gigantic collaborative wiki that millions of people write on.

PB Wiki is an easy to use free wiki web tool.

"7 Things You Should Know About Wikis" (Educause)


Video + Blogging

Combines the concept of student feedback, but rather than writing, students respond with a unique video they create.This video can then be embedded within a blog or in their Learning ePortfolios or in a class Youtube Channel.

Other Fun Tools

pens and paper


Canva makes design simple for everyone. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so on . . .


Storytelling tool you can use to make a podcast with simple animated characters.

Check out more on the Official Voki Blog for tips/practices from faculty users.

Voki for Conversations


Media aggregator that allows people to post media artifacts which might be a document, a slide presentation, a video, or a collection of photos for community feedback.


A site that let's you create your own online graphic cartoons.

SignUp is Free and also available as an iPAD app.


“It’s an innovative way to introduce the album cover to the public and have it be dynamic, not just a static image. To have video & audio accompany the image really helps connect the marketing and the social tie in is a big plus.” - Thanh Nguyen,
Digital Marketing, Atlantic Records
Students could use this as a tool to tag an image with their analysis, for faculty to highlight key aspects of an image, or explain a chart.


Make animated videos that look super professional in just a few minutes with PowToon. It's easy. It's free. It's totally awesome! 

Presentation Tools


"New kinds of electronic tools are emerging that allow instructors to craft presentations that more closely reflect new approaches to teaching and learning. For instance, many of these tools allow collaboration between multiple authors, and some use nonlinear branching or sequencing so that class discussion can guide the presentation. Presentation tools based on new models of representing information also encourage instructors to rethink learning activities in ways that can improve learning. These tools might also bring about a more thorough merging of in-person and remote classroom audiences."
- Denise Horoky, 2010, Educause

Articles of Interest:

"7 Things You Should Know About Next-Generation Presentation Tools" (Edcuase)

"Presentation Zen: What Is Good PowerPoint Design?"  

"Make Presentations and Publish on the Web with Flowboard (Flowvella)"

"10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations"

  1. Train Before Trying
  2. Presentation First, PowerPoint Second
  3. Know Your Audience
  4. Tell a Story
  5. Show It, Don't Write It
  6. Embrace Color -- Carefully
  7. Follow the Rule of 10
  8. Keep It Short
  9. Keep It Legible
  10. Skip It Altogether

"7 Things You Should Know About Infographic Creation Tools" (Educause)

"7 Things You Should Know About Podcasting" (Educause)

"7 Things You Should Know About Screencasting" (Educause)

"7 Things You Should Know About Ustream" (Educause)

"7 Things You Should Know About VoiceThread" (Educause)

Popular Web-Based Presentation Tools

  • Slideshare - Free - Discover, Share, and Present presentations and infographics with the world's largest professional content sharing community.
  • Keynote - A Mac alternative to PowerPoint.
  • Prezi - Pay - Create web-based presentations with movement.
  • Haiku Deck - Pay - Create web-based presentations that inspire.
  • Google Slides - Free - With Google Slides, you can create, edit, collaborate, and present wherever you are. (Part of Google Drive)
  • Nearpod - Pay - Nearpod allows an instructor to create an interactive classroom "powerpoint" presentation that students access on their mobile devices or computers. You control the pace of the presentation in the classroom as students follow along on their devices. Interactive elements can be seamlessly added to the presentation such as: videos, browsing websites, Q&A, and polls.
  • Flowvella - Engage your audience in one interactive presentation experience. Enable your team with their new secret weapon. Combine words, images, video, links, galleries, and PDFs to turn your story into an interactive conversation.

Infographic and Flowchart Tools

Infographics describe a wide range of graphics used to display complex amounts of data and/or ideas.

Screencasting Tools

Screencasts, or screen capture, is a wonderful way to take students through a complicated process. You can record whatever is happening on your computer screen with an added narration.

  • walk students through a website
  • demo software available on your computer
  • use a webcam - record yourself
  • practice problem solving

Screencasts can be used for presentations, learning objects, how tos, asynchronous communication, and whatever else you can think of. They do not have to be as polished and professional as learning objects.

  • Snagit - Take a screenshot or capture a video of what you see on your computer screen.
  • Camtasia - Available in the TLC production studio. Quickly create eye-catching videos.
  • Zoom - start a web conference, just don't invite any participants, use the screen-share option, and record the meeting.

Tips and Tricks

  1. For best results for the narration, use a headset with a microphone. Although many computers have built-in microphones, the audio can sound scratchy and distant. If you do not have your own mic, you can borrow one from the Video Lab or stop by the TLC.
  2. Since whatever is on your screen will be recorded, hide extraneous icons and browser menu bars.
  3. Make text appear larger by: boosting the default font size of your browser; zooming in on a browser (usually in the View menu); or switching to a lower screen resolution
  4. Use a script. Making a screencast is like public speaking. Some folks like to talk off the cuff, others prefer to read from a script. Do whatever makes you more comfortable.

 Either way, practice, practice, practice. It may take a few (or several) takes to get the screencast done.

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