Week of App – Scribeasy

  Scribeasy is handy writing iPad app that allows users to add one background image, and drag and drop additional pictures onto it. The images can be moved and re-sized to create a visual story setting. Then users can write a story about the scenes they’ve created.

Scribeasy ask users to choose writing time (short, medium or large amount of time) so the writing process is timed activity.  it also provides a list of suggested words to use in the stories. The completed stories can be saved in the camera roll or in the app.

This free app could be a good tool for writing course that students write their own stories within certain time period. The faculty could guide writing by giving certain elements or rules that students need to follow.

Only for iPad users. Free

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Engagement Strategies


This article “Student Engagement Strategies for the Online Learning Environment” by Puala Bigatel is published on Faculty Focus March 14th, 2016.

The faculty development unit the author works for has collected the data from students about the meaning of engagement in online courses. The students’ comments on the meaning of engagement are very valuable. And the author also shares some teaching strategies in the article. Worth reading it.

Students believe:

  • Engagement means interaction and timely feedback. Students are looking forward to working as a team and sharing their life problem or experience so they could relate what they learned to their real life.  The strategies offered by the author is 1) present in the discussion forum asking probing questions; 2) use rubric to clarify the expectation; 3) provide good examples or models of assignment to guide students’ work in a larger class.
  • Engagement means relevance and real-world application. Again, the author suggests the faculty get to know the students through pre-course surveys and adjusting the learning objectives that will help students in the current or future workplace.
  • Engagement means motivation and interest. Making sure the content can be personalized by students so they want to know more about it. The author suggests to integrate new technologies into traditional text-based assignment and provide variety and choice to enhance interest.

Read the details and references at http://bit.ly/1QREFTn 

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Does Color matter?

Today, I’m going to share two articles regarding how color influence our brain. One article is from SHIFT’s eLearning Blog, called “The Psychology of Color: How Do Colors Influence Learning?” This article points out that colors can affect neurological pathways in the brain, which means that every color has a specific wavelength, and each of these affect our body and brain in a different way.

  1. Green is a good color for keeping long-term concentration and clarity, and people who work in green offices have higher rates of job satisfaction.
  2. Orange can be a welcoming and mood-lifting color for learners, which in turn promotes comfort and improves neural functioning.
  3. Blue is best used for learning situations which are intensely challenging.

The more details can be found in the above link.

Another article is really a news from Apple, who is going to release brand new Night Shift feature found in iOS 9.3 on March 16th. The scientific reason behind this is because blue light runs in the spectrum of light that signals the suprachiasmatic nucleus in your brain to stop producing melatonin — and that’s the hormone that regulates your sleep cycles. The following demo shows more details and how to turn on and off this feature in the devices too.


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Bb Student

Bb Student App

Bb Student is Blackboard’s newest mobile solution that specifically to enable students to have a robust course experience on mobile devices. Students are encouraged to use Bb Student in place of Mobile Learn to have the best mobile experience.

App Installation

Student can follow these steps to download and install the Bb Student app.

  1. From your device, access the appropriate online store.
  2. Search for Bb Student.
  3. Install the app on your mobile device.
  4. Open Bb Student and search for the full name of your institution.
  5. Log in with your Blackboard Learn username and password. These are typically the same credentials you use to access your Blackboard courses on a computer.


  • View a chronological stream of course activity in the following categories: Important, Upcoming, Today, Recent.
  • See previous, current, and future semesters.
  • Due Dates shows students a long-term view of upcoming assignments and tests across all of their courses. Work is color coded by course and grouped by day and week to provide a clear understanding of what’s due.
  • View and take assignments, tests, and quizzes in the course outline.
  • Review previously submitted assignments, tests, and quizzes.
  • See course grades.
  • See assignment and test grades.
  • Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive support. You can use your cloud-connected accounts to submit documents for class assignments.
  • Collaborate with the Ultra experience for iOS and Android. Real-time video conferencing allows you to share files, chat, and use an interactive whiteboard.
  • Open the following content items in the course outline:
    • iOS supports:
      • PDFs
      • Multiple video and audio formats
      • All major image formats
      • All Apple Office file types
      • All MS Office file types
    • Windows supports:
      • PDFs
      • Multiple video and audio formats
      • All major image formats
      • All MS Office file types
    • Android defaults to letting the user select an app to view a particular file type, using a preselected app, or using O365/Office Mobile if installed.
      • A web browser opens to whatever page it was on before and the file downloads to your tray. There is no notification other than smallDownloading… text at the bottom. Users must look in their trays by swiping down to notifications.
      • Opening an unsupported file type displays an error message stating that the file is currently not supported.
  • Users can click Give us feedback to report problems with Bb Student.
  • Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) Cache Expiration. Bb Student contains data caching for portions of the application. Cache expiration times are as follows:
    • 30 second expiration on course timeline, course outline, and activity stream. This is user specific.
    • 120 minutes on basic course information such as course id, name, and description; system-wide.
    • 120 minutes on school search with MLCS; system-wide.

The more details can be reviewed at Blackboard Release Notes here.

Source from: Blackboard Help

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This animation is created by PowToon, an easy use application to craft your story and turn it into an exciting Powerful animation to inspire and engage your audience.

What you can do with PowToon? Here are some ideas:

  • Advertise your course with fun animation
  • Explain some difficult topics to students with fun animation
  • Add your own voice to the presentation

Want to learn how to use this powerful tool? Here is the tutorials:

Tutorial page: https://www.powtoon.com/tutorials/

Still needs some assistance? Please contact us for your individual consultation.

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Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative

Here is an exciting news about OER initiative for community college faculty and students.

After VCCS 23 Zero-Degree OER initiative, Achieving the Dream announced today that over the next three years, the Open Educational Resources Degree initiative will be adopted national wide and even beyond US borders. Two year public higher education institutions and systems in the U.S. and Canada can apply for this three-year grants to support the creation of new OER Degree program.

The details can be read at: http://achievingthedream.org/press_release/15113/achieving-the-dream-requests-applications-for-open-educational-resource-degree-initiative

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.  Its website is: http://achievingthedream.org/ 

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Visions of Education Futures by Jackie Gerstein

From: https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/visions-of-education-futures-floating-around-in-my-head/ 

Jakie Gerstein gives her vision of the future education inspired by new technologies and social culture as below:

  • Information is abundant and education will become more evenly distributed.
  • Social based and networked learning
  • Personalized learning with the help of new technology
  • Holographic Meetings
  • Augmented and virtual reality simulations replace textbook and lectures
  • Project Based Learning and DIY (do it yourself) will replace drill and kill instruction
  • Interest and passion-based learning groups will replace old classroom concept with mixed ages and genders
  • Global stewardship will permeate all aspects of education

To read the details, please click the above link to access the blog article.

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Movie Making Apps

Looking for some creative way for students to demonstrate their understanding? Want to try something different from the text-based report and allow students’ imaginations fly? If you’re brave enough to allow students create a movie that includes video, text, images, and other elements as a dynamic learning artifact, you might want to try these movie maker apps.

Splice - Video Editor & Movie Maker - Trim and Cut Clips & Photos Splice – Video Editor & Movie Maker – Trim and cut Clips & Photos:  Splice lets users create and edit videos on their iPad/iPhone. Users tap the “+” button on the top right of the screen to start a new project. Once Splice is granted the access to the camera roll, users can import videos and images easily. Users can add project name, choose the format (landscape or portrait), set up background color, transitions between slides and photo duration. The video can be easily shared over social media, email or  a text message. It can be saved to camera roll. – iOS

 VivaVideo: Free Video Editor This app allows users to record the video or import photos to create a video from their devices. The project can be shared through email or posting to social media websites. – Google Play



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When a Door closes a Window opens

Due to Blizzard 2016, the college was closed for a long period. In order to help faculty catch up missing class time, we sent out the email regarding some lecture capture tools so faculty could record some mini lectures. The tools are:

  1. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is one of Blackboard build in blocks:  https://en-us.help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra Go to any content area in your Blackboard course site, mouse over Tools tab and choose Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, you will be able to create a session into your Blackboard course. Here is the tutorial on getting started: https://en-us.help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/030_Get_Started
  2. Office Mix. This tool is a free add-on for the MS PowerPoint, which allows you record voice over the existing slides and add the assessment into it.  You can download it from https://mix.office.com/en-us/Home by clicking Get Office Mix button. And use your NOVA Gmail account  yourusername@email.vccs.edu to sign in. Here is the link for the tutorials: https://mix.office.com/gallery/category/how-to
  3.  Panopto. College purchased licenses for faculty and staff use. Some configuration needs to be done before you can use Panopto. This PDF tutorial will show you the steps for the configuration: http://www.nvcc.edu/woodbridge/_files/Panopto-Lecture-Capture-Faculty-Guide.pdf  The server addess needs to be updated to nvcctv.hosted.panopto.com. You can download Panopto from https://nvcctv.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Default.aspx. Choose Sign in using Blackboard option on the right top corner and use your Blackboard account to log in. Once you log into the site, you should be able to see an icon on the right top corner under your name with the label “Download Recorder. ” Click the label and download the recorder to your own computer and follow the instruction for the installation.
  4. Screencast-O-Matic is web-based free tool for lecture capture. You can signup a free account at http://screencast-o-matic.com/home and record on its site or download from: http://www.downloadfree3.com/screencastomatic/index.php?kw=screencast-o-matic. Here is the tutorials: http://help.screencast-o-matic.com/
  5. Google Hangout.  With your college Gmail account, you can use Google Hangout to record the lecture and even broadcast yourself.  Here is the tutorial: https://apps.google.com/learning-center/products/hangouts/#/list
 For those who carry iPad around all the time, you might want to try Educreations or ShowMe, two free apps for creating content on the go.
  1. Information about Educreationshttps://www.educreations.com/features/
  2. Information about ShowMehttp://www.showme.com/
Hope everyone gets some free time to explore those tools.  You might find a whole new world over there. 🙂
Stay warm and safe!
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Music Apps

Here are a few popular music apps for your mobile devices.

Cover art Spotify Music

With Spotify, you have access to a world of music. You can listen to artists and albums, or create your own playlist of your favorite songs. You can choose a ready-made playlist that suits your mood or get personalized recommendations.

Cover art Shazam

Shazam is one of the world’s most popular apps. It can identify music and get song lyrics instantly.

Cover art  Pandora Radio

It creates personalized stations that play only music you will love. The user starts with the name of one of your favorite artists, songs, genres or composers, and the app will do the rest bringing an entire world of music.


  Apple Music

It replaces iTunes Radio and with monthly charge $9.99 per month for a single-user account.

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