App of the Week: Lensical

1a powerful Camera, Photo Library and Image Editor, within a simple, beautiful, gesture-based interface; shoot & share photos in any aspect ratio, easily browse and organize shared streams & photo albums, and get creative with a huge selection of non-destructive photo filters and face effects.

Tap to set a focus point, then drag to adjust exposure.
Quickly toggle between square & natural framing.
View, browse, and share photos simply.
Press & Hold photo streams and folders to organize them.
Get creative with Apptly’s famous face-morphing effects. Make 80 year old friends, add beards, grow mustaches, or even go bald. It’s awesome!
Select beautiful filters and photo presets that make it easy to be awesome.
Try paint effects and canvas textures.
easy to share to Instagram, Twitter, Email, SMS, Facebook, and other social media!

Price: FREE

Link: [Apple]


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App of the Week: RefMe

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 5.13.44 PMImagine with me, if you would, the ability to curate and cite resources using the reference style of your choosing (6500+ styles), with the simple use of a barcode scan or search.  Congratulations, one does not have to imagine anymore.  The app RefMe is the free tool for you.  RefMe allows you to use barcodes, ISDN numbers, URLs, and DOIs to create bibliographies and citations.  You can cite 35 different types of referencing sources (i.e., CD’s, Legal Cases, Journals).  All of your bibliographies and citations are stored in a cloud and easily accessible using any web-enabled device.  You can export your citations and bibliographies to Evernote, email them to yourself, or sync them to your account so you can export to Word or Google Docs.  To download this free app, available on iTunes and Google Play,  click on the hyperlinks listed:


Google Play

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App of the Week: AudioBoom

Alright, so you want to add a voice over or make a recording of something, but you need an embed code or you need to be able to email it out.  What do you do?  Well, you use AudioBoom!

Now some of you may be thinking that the name of that looks familiar.  You would be correct.  AudioBoom used to be AudioBoo.  I don’t know why they added the “m,” sorry.  However, the product is still very useful.  The first thing you need to do is set up your free account online.  Then simply download the app to you device and sign in using the same username and password.  Not only does it record your voice and give you an embed code, but you can also add a photo to your recording.

So what does that mean for you in your class?  Well, if you are teaching an ESL class you could create recordings for your students to translate.  If you teach English you could record readings of poems and such for when you can’t be in class (ie. in case of snowmageddon).  You can use it to do a voice over of an instructional video with bad audio.  The possibilities are endless.  Just come on in to Instructional Support and Development and we can help you figure out how to use it in your classes.

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App of the Week: Book Creator

A tool for the classroom, creating iBooks on the iPad, including picture books, photo books, art books, cook books, manuals, textbooks, etc., for designers, designing a fixed layout picture book on the iPad.

* Choose from portrait, landscape or square book sizes.
* Quickly add pictures from the Photos app, or grab them from the web, then move, resize and rotate them with your fingers.
* Edit text using the onscreen keyboard, and apply rich formatting to make it look great.
* Choose from all of the iPad’s fonts – over 50 to use.
* Import video and music, and record speech within the app.
* Draw and write in the books with the freehand pen tools.
* Layout the book exactly as you want it with guidelines and snap positioning.
* A quick tap and you’re reading your book in iBooks!
* Send your books to your friends over email, to iTunes on your computer, over Dropbox, or to a WebDav server.
* Print using AirPrint or other printer apps, or export as PDF.
* Export as a movie and upload to the web.
* With your books created using the international ePub standard you know they will be readable now and in the future.

Price: $4.99

Link: [Apple]

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2014 Year In Review: App of the Year!

As the close of the year draws near, we at IS&D have reflected on what we believe are the top four apps that we have utilized.  So, from the vast apps that have presented to you over the past year I give you the top four:

mzl.aossebpw Coming in at Number Four: Heads Up!

Heads Up! can be used as a study technique for vocabulary words, people, and places.  The rules of the game are simple.  First create a customizable deck of cards with the words you are trying to remember.  Then gather a group of friends/classmates that have to learn the same words.  Once everyone is ready, hold the iPad or iPhone up to your head so that you can not see the words displayed and let your friends give you definitions/clues to guess the word displayed.  Now, your friends can not use any variation of the word while trying to get you to guess.  This makes the people attempting to get you to guess to think about the word displayed in a new and innovative way.  As the guesser, you also have new ways to identify the word displayed.  If you guess the word correctly then simply point the iProduct at the floor, but if you don’t know it then point it at the ceiling.  When the game times out (because you are on a timer) a list of words will show up and the ones in red are the ones you missed.  Now you know which ones to go back and study and which ones you know well all while learning new ways to remember the words and having a ton of fun.  It’s way better than flash cards!

While it’s a very useful app for studying and still having a good time with friends, Heads Up! is available only on iProducts and costs $0.99 for the app and $0.99 per customizable deck of cards.  Therefore, it is relegated to the fourth spot in our app of the year countdown.


thinglink-app-icon-o492x4-e1369521999854 Coming in at Number Three: Thinglink

Thinglink is a great presentation tool, easy to use, and FREE!  To use their service just sign up for an account with your e-mail address and password.  To create a Thinglink, first choose or create a “base image.”  Then simply click anywhere on the base image that you would like to have a multimedia file embedded.  Once you click you will get options to change the “tags” to something more content appropriate (or if you purchase the full version you can upload your own photos to use as tags).  If you wish to have a photo, recording, or video displayed when someone touches your Thinglink you do have to host it online as Thinglink requires a URL to embed those functions.  You will also have the option to add text to your tag if you so choose.  Once you have placed all of your multimedia tags on your base image it will be ready to be saved to the Thinglink servers.  Then you are given a URL and Embed Code so that you can share your Thinglink with the world.

While it’s a useful presentation tool and is available both via the internet and as an app on both iProducts and Android, it is simply a tool to present information in a new and interactive manner.  Therefore, it comes in at number three even though it has been widely used in this office.


Slide1Coming in at Number Two: Tellagami

Tellagami is a fun way to add a little personality to your online instruction.  This app allows you to create an animated “Gami” to speak for you.  Set up is simple, first you create your Gami with gender, clothing, hair, eyes, emotion, and even head size options.  Then you can choose your background.  Now there are preloaded backgrounds, but you can also either take a photo while in the app or access your photo library and use a personal photo as a background.  However, if you want to get really fancy you can take a picture of a blank green paper as a background and then use a green screen app, like Green Screen by DoInk or Camtasia, to add video behind your Tellagami.  Then all that is left is to record your message.  You can use your own voice to record any instruction that you would like to convey, but you are limited to thirty second increments.  However, if you purchase the full EDU version then you will have ninety second increments and many more options for customizing your Gami.  Once you have finished, you can share your Gami via email, social media networks, or you can save it to your device to be used later.

While it’s a fun way to deliver online instruction, Tellagami only creates animated people that speak in your voice.  For this reason, it has come in second place.  Although it is incredibly useful and has features on several IS&D instructional videos.


Untitled-1 AND THE WINNER IS: Nearpod

Nearpod is a great way to give instruction to a class (or schedule it for homework if you have the paid version).  This app is available on any web-enabled device and allows for you as a teacher to keep the class at your pace, but there’s more.  Nearpod allows for videos, photos, and recordings to be embedded within the presentation and you can use your already created PowerPoints!  The lynch pin for Nearpod is its assessment potential.  You can assess your students in real time through the Nearpod app and then address any issues as they arise.  and you’re not just limited to multiple choice questions.  You can add short answer as well as drawn answers!

Due to its ability to integrate everything and provide real-time assessment feedback, Nearpod has clinched the top spot for Alexandria Instructional Support and Development’s App of the Year.

Have a wonderful holiday break!

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2014 Year In Review: Conference of the Year

2014 was a great year for us at Instructional Support and Development.  For starters, it was our first year together.  As a unit we collaborated on projects, workshops, presentations and more.  What made 2014 extra special were the many opportunities given to us to attend and present at various conferences this year.  Choosing only 4 was hard.  Choosing which of those 4 was the ‘2014 Conference of the Year’ proved to be even more difficult.  Some of the conferences that were honorable mentions include New Horizons 2014 held in Roanoke, Virginia, and the IT Summit Spring 2014 held on the campus of Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  New Horizons was put on by the VCCS and was held in Hotel Roanoke.  It was a great place to get some new ideas and meet new colleagues within the VCCS.  The IT Summit at Germanna was a smaller conference compared to New Horizons, but that was a great place to meet several Instructional Technologists from Germanna and Blue Ridge Community Colleges.  Germanna was a great host and we had some great takeaways from the event.  After those 2 honorable mentions, we as a team decided on our Top 4 Conferences of the Year and chose only 1 to be the ‘2014 Conference of the Year.’

Coming in at #4 was the James Madison University Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference.  

It was here that members of our team presented at 2 workshops: Building Communi’TEA’ and Let Us “Flip” Your Lid with Technology.  Building Communi’TEA’ was all about the Technology Engagement Arena (or TEA) on the Alexandria campus.  We showcased the idea that instructors, faculty, and staff, can create a community collaboration event, where they show their peers what technology they are using and how they can implement it in their classes.  In our other workshop (pictured below)  we talked about technology instructors can use to ‘flip’ their classroom.  It was an eye-opening workshop for many, and they walked away with not only new technology to use in their class, but also a new, forward thinking idea about how to change their class into an engaging 21st century classroom.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.04.34 PM

At #3 was VSTE 2014 held in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

It was here that the team presented “Let Us Edu-Tain You with the Sensational Seven”, (pictured below) which were apps and web tools including, Glogster, Thinglink, Prezi, Nearpod, Aurasma and Tellagami.  We presented the workshop to a full-house of nearly 55 Virginia educators.  We showcased each app in a unique way and many of the educators who attended were engaged and loved the presentation.  We loved presenting this workshop because we enjoy using each and every app/web tool in it.  This presentation was a tune-up for the ‘Edu-Tain You’ workshop as we will again present it at ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia. Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.06.25 PM

The runner up for ‘Conference of the Year’ was the IT Summing Spring 2014 held on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College in Wayers Cave, Virginia.  

At this conference, our team presented ‘Driving Student Learning with Google’ and ‘Let Us Edu-Tain You with the Fabulous Four’.  Both workshops were well attended and the VCCS instructors came away impressed and energized to create new things with the tech tools they learned.  In our first presentation, we talked about Google Drive, which at the time offered our students and staff 3oGB of free storage (it is now unlimited with a Google EDU account).  The instructors were shown Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Sites.  With all of the tools at their disposal, the educators were blown away with how easy it was to create, share, and collaborate within Google Drive.  The ‘Edu-Tain You’ workshop presented here was a smaller version of the one we presented at VSTE (see above).  Many of the attendees had not heard about the apps/web tools we presented, so many came away wanting more.  We were encouraged by their enthusiasm and many were interested in working with the tools that were showcased during this past semester.  Many of the attendees have reached out asking great questions and providing excellent feedback.  Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.02.21 PM


AND NOW…..For the 2014 CONFERENCE OF THE YEAR….ISTE 2014 which was held in Atlanta, Georgia.


Where do we start. Our boss, Frances attended the event with us.  It is the largest technology conference in the world, with over 16,500 people having attended the event.  Tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Blackboard, and so many others were also present at the event.  While we did not present at this conference, it set the ground work for everything that was listed above in the top 4.  If we did not attend ISTE 2014 (see below) it is likely several of these conferences, specifically us presenting there, do not take place.  The takeaways from ISTE were immeasurable; like throwing a small pebble into a quiet lake, the ripples from our attendance reach far and wide within IS&D.  The workshops, the poster sessions, the apps and new tools we learned.  From keynote speakers, to making connections, to doing new things, ISTE 2014 was THE beginning.  As a result of ISTE 2014, we presented at countless conferences (see above) and even submitted proposals to present at ISTE 2015, where members of our team will be doing 3 presentations.  Even typing that forces me to stop and pause.  One year after attending ISTE 2014, we are presenting at ISTE 2015!  ISTE 2014 was ‘the crown jewel of the crown’, ‘the creme de la creme’, the ‘straw that has stirred the drink’, the MVP.  It exceeded our expectations, inspired us to do some big things, and scared us into creating and doing more than we even collectively imagined; ISTE 2014 our CONFERENCE OF THE YEAR!

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.13.58 PM


As our last parting shot, we want to thank everyone who attended any of our workshops at all of the conferences we presented at.  We also want to thank our boss, Frances, who has supported us throughout and for her visionary leadership bringing us all together.  

2014 was a great year and we are looking forward to what 2015 brings us!








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2014 Year in Review: Tech Tool of the Year

The Instructional Support and Development team  (IS & D) shared a lot of awesome tech tools this year with students and faculty.  There were apps to help you to organize your classwork, to collaborate with others, and to create awesome projects and presentations.

Here is a list of the top Tech Tools for 2014:

1. Google drive was voted the #1 app of the year by the IS&D staff.



Google Drive is an one stop shop for everything in your life. It is a cloud storage service that allows you to store pictures, documents, video, and more online. The cool thing about Google Drive is that you can see your stuff anywhere.  Your drive can  be accessed from any smartphone, tablet, or computer. Where you go, your files go with you. What makes this an awesome tool for educators and students is that you can invite other to view, download and collaborate on your files. This makes working on projects so easy and here at NOVA, we get unlimited space!

2. One Drive


Coming in at #2 is One Drive. One drive is Microsoft’s storage option. Just like Google Drive, you can save your documents, photos, and video in one place. You can access your drive on any Windows PC or mobile device. The biggest benefit is that it works closely with  the Microsoft Office Suite tools such as Word and PowerPoint.


In 3rd place, we have tie between Camtasia and iMovie.


Camtasia is a tech tool that allows you to create video tutorials and presentations of items on your computer screen. It’s more than a movie making tool because you can import assessments and mash up other interactive programs like Tellagmi. Camtasia can be used on both the Mac and the PC. As a professor you can use Camtasia to break down concepts into  easy to follow tutorials for your classes. Students can use Camtasia to create unique presentations.

iMovie is a video editing software application sold by Apple.  iMovie is awesome tool for turning your video clips into movies. iMovie is only available on the Mac and other iOs devices. The iMovie app is especially nice because you can shoot video with your iphone and then immediately create a movie and share with your students, friends or family.  Students used iMovie to make short films for a cellular cellphone competition as part of this year’s International Education Week. This was the first time many students had used iMovie and it was so simple. Some of the projects were very impressive.  I hope we use this contest in future NOVA events.

If you want to check out  other apps that have been reviewed by the IS&D team, check out our blog:

Sty tuned for more Tech Tools in 2015.










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2014 Year In Review: NOVA Event of the Year!

This year, team ISD, supported a number of events on the NOVA Alexandria Campus!  We were reflecting and determined our Top 4.  Out of our Top 4, we collectively voted on our #1.  I have the pleasure of sharing with you our NOVA Campus Event of the Year.  But first, let’s re-cap our Top 4:

NOVA T.E.A. – Partnering with Amanda Trostle (Liberal Arts) and Kelly Hebron (Science Technology and Business), Team ISD worked collaboratively to host 2-3 informal professional learning communities centered on student engagement and success.  Kelly and Team ISD presented this strategy, “Building Communi-‘TEA'”as a best practice at JMU’s TLT Conference. This semester, we hosted the following events:

  1. Ode to the Whiteboard
  2. Leveraging Social Media Appropriately for Classroom Engagement

We look forward to next semester’s collaboration!


Adjunct Professional Development Day – During the Spring Semester, Learning and Technology Resources, under the leadership of Dean Frances Villagran-Glover hosted an Adjunct Professional Development Day.  “Sailing Towards Student Success”, Adjunct Faculty participated in workshops to learn about the new Achieving the Dream Policies, S.A.I.L.S., Panopto, Dealing with Difficult People, Interactive Formative Assessment, and much more.  This event was the catalyst that birthed the Alexandria Campus Adjunct Development Project, an initiative that hosts professional development workshops and opportunities throughout the semester.


SMASH Pub – This Halloween, NOVA Students, Faculty, and Staff got App Smashed. Team ISD established a “pop-up” experience in the halls to release the power of smashing by re-mixing and synthesizing Apple Apps to create awesome multimedia products.  We provided a menu of “Tech Tricks and Treats” to choose from.  Some of the mixes included:

  • The NOVA Dew – Tellagami and DoInk
  • Writer’s Block on the Rocks – Dragon Dictation and YouTube
  • The Contestant – Tellagami and Kahoot
  • Traveling Artist – Garageband, iMovie, and Aurasma

The SMASH Pub will make a second appearance at ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia!

The award for the NOVA Event of the Year goes to…

Fall 2014 Convocation - Team ISD collaborated with the Provost’s Office  and the Fall Convocation Committee to make this year’s convocation, engaging and fun through the use of multimedia!  Using Camtasia, iMovie, Photoshop, and YouTube, Team ISD re-mixed television opening credits, past and present, to introduce NOVA Alexandria to its newest Faculty and Staff.  Students used multimedia tools (PowerPoint, MovieMaker) to present about their summer experiences conducting scientific research and study abroad.  We also got a taste of IGNITE; 2 students enlightened us and made it quick about something they were truly passionate about- Disney and Community Service.




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App of the Week: Skitch

Skitch is a free app for both Apple and Android devices that allows you to annotate on images.  Within this app you can write on photos that are already in your library, take a new photo with your camera, notate on a map, mark up a webpage, take notes on a PDF, or just draw on a blank page.  I know!  That’s a lot of options for one app!


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App of the Week: Coding


Just don’t consume things. Create things.”

President Obama


The buzzword this week is “Coding”. What exactly is coding? Coding is used to create apps, computer games, and websites. Does it sound too complicated? It doesn’t have to be. It actually can be a lot of fun and children as young as five can learn how to code with easy to learn coding apps and web tools.

In celebration of Computer Education Week, December 8-14, an organization called, Hour of Code, is challenging everyone to spend just one hour learning how to create something with code. This event was kicked off at the White house, where a group of middle students from Newark, NJ showed President Obama how to code.

Ready to get started? Visit the Hour of code website to try your hand at coding. They offer a lot of free tutorials and resources to get you started.

Here are other fun web tools that you can use to create apps and games:

MITT App Inventor for Androids


Platform: Web

Cost: Free

Allows you to design and program apps for your Android devices.

*Note: You will need to download the App Inventor Companion App to run your game on your Android device.



Platform: Web

Cost: Free!

Scratch is one of the first programming languages created. Students use a visual programming language made up of bricks to design games and activities.




Platform: Web

Cost: Free!

Similar to Scratch but was built to teach programming for kids. This app features lesson plans and other tools to teach your students how to code.






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