Doodle a Survey


If you haven’t heard about Doodle, then you might be doing your scheduling wrong.

Doodle is a scheduling tool that simplifies coordinating a meeting, call, conference, training, or whatever.

It allows you to schedule an event.

Doodle - Create an Event

Next, plug in options.

Doodle - Pick a dateDoodle - Times

Doodle - Settings

Then, send the link to anyone.

Doodle - Send the Link

The participants use the link to click on their availability.

Then, at a glance, you can see what times work for everyone and schedule your meeting.

You don’t even have to create an account, but you can if you’d like.

Check out for more info. – A Dynamic Tool for Your Classroom, Facebook, Presentation, Ad or Anything Else

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what happens when we make that picture interactive and clickable? Now it’s gotta be worth at least 2,000, right?

Well, that’s exactly what ThinkLink does.

According to the ThinkLink website, “ThinkLink is the leading platform for creating interactive images for web, social and advertising channels.” It says you can “make images come alive with video, text, images, shops, music and more.”

What that really means is that you can take a picture (any picture) and add links to it without cluttering it with words. You simply add clickable spots on your image that make it infinitely more informative.

Examples from the website are using it for storefront images, with purchase links layered directly onto the image, using an image of a map to “unlock narrative elements,” and using a personal photo enriched with video, audio and other online media.

You can use this as a way to flip your classroom. Rather than having your students simply read a text, you could provide an image (a real one or one you created, like a mind map or drawing, etc.) and have the students click on points on the image to learn more about the topic. The links could be other images, videos, audio, text, websites, or anything you can link to.

And good news, it works on all modern web browsers, the iPad, the iPhone and Android!

You do have to create yet another account, but you could always just create one by logging in with your Facebook, Twitter or Google+ accounts to make it easier.

You can “follow” people just like any other social media, but you don’t have to. The images you use can come from your Facebook, Flickr, anywhere on the web or even your computer.

Here’s an example of one using the college’s map and linking videos, news articles, photos and websites. Welcome to Centralia College!

The possibilities are endless!

Cool Tool Review – Trello Will Change Your Life

Trello Logo from Website

Let it first be said that I cannot express how unbelievably awesome and amazing this tool is! It’s a total game-changer.

Are you ready for a project management miracle?

The miracle is Trello – a ToDo list app on steroids!

First, Trello is available on Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows 8 Tablet and your web browser (so, whatever computer operating system you use).

Next, what the heck is Trello? It is a free web-based project management application.  It is an organizational tool that can help you with to-do lists, project planning and management, daily tasks, lesson planning, etc. But on top of that, Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, it tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. You can share boards with your whole office, department, organization, club, class, family, etc. You can all work on it at the same time and it’s so easy and intuitive, ANYONE can use it.

Not only could you create a to-do list, but you can manage projects, create lesson plans, plan the school play, and basically organize your whole life.

In your own account, you can create boards and organizations. Examples of Trello BoardsOn each board, you can create lists.

Trello Lists on Boards

Within the lists, you create cards.

Trello Cards on Lists

Then, on the cards, you can add members (who can have different permissions, whether they can just see or even edit), add labels, add checklists, add due dates, add attachments and pictures and then move, copy, subscribe or archive.

Trello Cards Possibilities

Here are some examples of how other people are using it.

Here’s a great image tutorial from the Heart of Wisdom blog post on how to Get Organized with Trello Lists.

Basically, the is the coolest tool I’ve seen since sliced bread and it has literally REVOLUTIONIZED the way we do business and track projects in our eLearning office. Give it a try and, as always, if you need any assistance, we’d love to help!

I Just Used Canvas to Coordinate a Hiring Committee

Do you ever have that problem where you’re on a committee or a group of some kind and you just can’t coordinate a live, in person meeting? All the time, right? I just had that issue with a hiring committee I’m on. We met for our first meeting and then decided to send out a supplemental questionnaire. Now we can’t find a time that fits into everyone’s schedules.

Answer: Create a Canvas course with all the participants of the committee. I created a simple landing/home page that tells members where to go and what to do right away. Since we have to discuss different candidates, I created a discussion forum for each candidate with their answers embedded and instructed committee members to read, comment with their thoughts and feedback, and respond to others’ comments. We can even keep from affecting each others’ initial responses by setting the discussion forum so that members have to post first before they can see others’ posts.

Think about this for a department, a committee, a team, advising, a group, a club, an organization…

So, now my question is…What can’t we use Canvas for?

“The More of Me I Put in My Classroom, the More My Students Engage”

I went to an amazing session at the Washington Canvas User’s Group conference (WACUG) right before spring quarter and I heard the MOST AMAZING statement from a faculty. They said, “I found that the more of me I put into my classroom, the more my students engage.” The context was that this was a session about adding video, audio and images to “enliven” your online classroom.

This statement completely blew me away.

Think about what that statement is actually saying.

Consider this. How hard is it to read from a book? Let’s assume there are no literacy issues or at least few enough that reading a book is not a great feat.

Now, ask yourself, how hard is it to teach?

There should be a huge difference between those two answers. People could just pick up a book or do a Google search if all they were looking for was information. People go to school and take lessons from teachers for a different reason. They want to understand. They need to engage with the material. How do you get people to engage? Even better, how do you get lots of different people with different learning styles, interests, and backgrounds to engage in material?

Ok, first off, if you can definitively answer this question, you will have solved a billion dollar question that schools of all grades from all over the world are already clamoring for.

Besides that, think about what engages you as a person. Most people would not say that listening to someone talk in a monotone voice for 50 minutes is engaging. According to this article from Smart Classroom Management, students get bored (aka not engaged) for  a variety of reasons. It lists students sitting too long, teachers talking too much, making simple things complex, and making the interesting uninteresting among others.

According to this guest blog post written by a student on the Teaching Channel blog and website, the difference between “lessons [that] go on forever [and lessons that] fly by…lies in the sometimes vague but crucial concept of engagement. When I am engaged, I don’t even pay attention to the passing time. However, when I am not engaged, it can feel like a class is never-ending.”

If students are just waiting for your class to end, they sure aren’t retaining anything you’ve been teaching, whether you’re teaching online hybrid or face-to-face.

Ok, so we know what has a tendancy to disengage students. Now, what DOES engage students? Is it simply the absence of the things that bore them or is it more? According to this article written by Vito Perrone, Director of Teacher Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, among the top common elements that students of all ages and levels of academic success identify what engages them in educational settings is “teachers [being] passionate about their work.”

Well, that’s huge. First, and most important, ask yourself. “Am I passionate about what I’m doing? About what I’m teaching?” If the answer is no, then you may need to do some soul-searching as to what would make you passionate.

If the answer is yes, how do you translate that to the classroom? Well, that sounds like putting more of ourselves into our classrooms.

Here are some tips and suggestions on how you can start doing that.

1. People who are passionate are constantly learning more about and immersing themselves in what they’re passionate about.

  • Keep up with current trends in teaching your subject. Have there been new techniques, new theories, reinvented aspects?
  • Listen to and leverage your students. Because there’s only one of you and only so much time in a day, use your students to keep up on trends. Create assignments where they are the ones doing the research on new or reinvented ways of looking at issues in your field. A lot of times students can ask a question or think about a subject in a way that is surprising and a totally different way than we ever could have thought. Embrace that.

2. People who are passionate are excited about their content and can’t help but spill over that excitement to others.

  • Is it obvious when students log in to your online, hybrid, or web-enhanced class, or when they walk into your classroom what they’re going to be learning, why it’s important to them, and that you care a great deal about it?
    • In a face-to-face classroom, if you don’t have a designated class that you can decorate or arrange any way you please, bring props or important items to the classroom.
      • Check to see if you can store items in the class or nearby, or enlist help of students, aids, etc. to help you transport the items.
      • These items don’t have to be huge or complicated. Think about what’s important to your subject. Teach your students that it’s not just a warehouse they’re coming to and that the environment doesn’t matter.
      • Enlist help from your students on ideas as to how they could make the environment more engaging and exciting or what objects or tokens they or you could bring.
      • Don’t underestimate using an online environment to enhance your face-to-face classroom. Even if you’re doing work that you don’t want students to turn in online, you can use an online classroom to set up the environment you wish you had in your face-to-face classroom. Decorate it, provide supplementary materials, provide links to work done in class for student who missed or need to review material. Don’t just throw it in there. Design like you’re passionate about it.
    • Hybrid
      • First, check the tips from the face-to-face classroom above.
      • Absolutely use your online environment and don’t just throw things in there. You need to keep in mind form and functionality. Directions need to be clear, but students also want to be engaged. Give them a reason to engage. Use images, videos, audio files and design elements to get students excited about doing their work.
    • Completely Online
      • More than any other modality, you need to make sure your expectations and how to navigate your online classroom are COMPLETELY transparent. Students should not need outside help to understand how to navigate your classroom.
      • Don’t just throw your content in. Structure it in a way that not only makes sense to you, but elicit feedback from students and make sure the layout makes sense to them as well.
      • Design matters. After you’ve made sure your content is completely functional, don’t stop there. Students in online classes are more likely to feel disconnected and disengaged from their courses, instructors and peers. Designing excitement and passion into your online classroom is EXTREMELY important. Use general design principles, videos, presentations, audio, and images to create a dynamic, exciting and engaging environment. The goal is for students to WANT to log in to the classroom, not do it because they have to.

3. People who are passionate aren’t afraid to show their weird or quirky sides.

  • Use videos.
    • YouTube, Vimeo or other videos to demonstrate a concept in class.
    • Video of the lecture for students to review later or if they missed class. If you’re in an online class, students widely report that having “a real person” on the other end of the computer really helps them engage.
    • Funny videos that punctuate a point or (appropriately) lighten a mood or show a commanality between you and your students.
    • Create and edit your own videos.
  • Use presentations.
  • Use personal anecdotes.
    • Just like comdiens, the material is more engaging to the audience when it comes from a real place.
    • Talk about your own struggles with or ways you learned the material.
    • Bring up funny stories in your life that help convey your point.
  • Use audio files.
    • Audio lecture
    • Audio file of content – an example would be a radio broadcast
    • Audio clip from movie or tv (or elsewhere) to punctuate a point or (appropriately lighten a mood or show a commanality between you and your students.
  • Use images, GIFs, or quotes.
    • To demonstrate a concept
    • To decorate and make the classroom more engaging/exciting
    • To punctuate a point or (appropriately lighten a mood or show a commanality between you and your students.

4. People who are passionate aren’t afraid to do the work to make it right, or do the research to make it accurate, or ask for help if there’s something they need.

Try not to get overwhelmed and ask for help and feedback.

If you would like help or more information on any of these tools or topics, just let us know. We’d be happy to help.

Happy Teaching!




Focus On Apps in Canvas – 3rd Edition

Here’s a list of more apps available in Canvas and how you can use them.

Click here if you missed the first edition, or click here if you missed the second edition.


This is a cloud based application that requires no software to install. It does require an up-to-date version of Adobe Flash. This is an application that allows you to have group conversations asynchronously. You can upload documents, presentations, images, audio files and videos, which creates a slide show of content. Then other users who watch the content can add comments using a microphone, webcam, text, phone or audio-file upload. You can use it to have students comment on each others work, peer review, group projects, presentations, etc.

Adding this app in Canvas allows students to click on a VoiceThread presentation that an instructor has loaded into their Canvas course (like any other media presentation), and allows students to seemlessly comment without having to log in to their own account or register for a new one. The content opens right on the Canvas page without directing the student to another site to complete the work.

You, the instructor, have to create an account, but it’s free (or you could sign up for more premium accounts).

Try this out if you’re interested in a new take on the the asynchronous class discussion.


According to WikiPedia, itself, it is a “collaboratively edited, multilingual, free-access, free content internet encyclopedia that is supported and hosted by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.” Wikipedia has become a widely used internet tool across the globe since its creation in 2001, with people accessing it to learn information about anything and everything. While some instructors do not allow students to use WikiPedia as a reference in papers because articles in it can be edited by any user, the cite is one of the most visited sites behind just Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and Google. The site has standards and requirements for citing content and is supported by editors across the globe.

Adding this app in Canvas allows students or instructors to click on the icon in the editor toolbar within a discussion forum, quiz or page and search for an article, preview, and then link or embed an article directly into Canvas.


According to our trusty pal, Wikipedia, Wiktionary is a “collaborative project to produce a free-content multilingual dictionary. It aims to describe all words of all languages using definitions and descriptions.” It’s designed as a companion to Wikipedia and has grown to include a thesaurus, a rhyme guide, phrase books, language statistics and extensive appendices. It includes etymologies, pronunciations, sample quotations, synonyms, antonyms and translations.

Adding this app in Canvas allows students or instructors to click on the icon in the editor toolbar within a discussion forum, quiz or page and search for a word, preview, and then embed a word directly into Canvas with its part of speech, definition and link to more about the word.


Vimeo is “a video sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos” (just like YouTube). Videos include indie, professional, and novice filmmakers.

Adding this app in Canvas allows students or instructors to click on the icon in the editor toolbar within a discussion forum, quiz or page and search for a video and embed directly into Canvas.

Wiris Editor

ATTENTION MATH AND SCIENCE TEACHERS: THIS ONE’S FOR YOU – According to the description in the Canvas App Center, this is a “visual math editor that allows inserting mathematical equations based on JavaScript technology. It runs on any browser, including the ones in tablet PCs.”

Adding this app in Canvas means you have no more excuses for not putting your Calculus tests in Canvas. It gives the instructor and the student access to icons in order to create formulas.

In case you can’t tell, I’m really excited about this one and HIGHLY recommend it. I’ll be personally sending it to the math and science instructors on campus.

USA Today

Adding this app in Canvas allows students or instructors to click on the icon in the editor toolbar within a discussion forum, quiz or page and search for an article in USA Today using a keyword search and embed it directly into Canvas.


Start adding and experimenting with these apps in Canvas. If you need help, have questions or suggestions, just let me know!

Stay tuned for the next edition of Focus on Apps…

Have suggestions? Post a comment.

How to Survive Summer Quarter!


“Summer-Glasses” by David Sky CC BY-NC-SA 2.0,

Phew! The dust has settled and we’ve (hopefully) all survived the first two weeks of summer quarter!

Summer quarter has always been a bit challenging for me because it’s only 8 weeks long and as an instructor, you have to fit the same amount of content from 10/11 weeks into 8. Talk about stressful. Students are stressed out too because of the truncated schedule.

Plus, let’s not forget all that beautiful sunshine that makes it so hard to be good and do what you’re supposed to…like work 40 hours in a week, or grade papers…or write a paper. True confession: I have a paper for my master’s program that I’ve been sort of, kind of, but not really writing for a week and a half.

Since the quarter goes by so quickly and we can get so (ahem) distracted, here’s a couple of helpful hints to keep your summer quarter on track:

  1. If you’re not using Canvas for your gradebook, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. A main benefit is providing students with more immediate access to their grades and being less dependent on you, the instructor. Students call, email or walk in to the eLearning office ALL the time with questions about why their grades aren’t in Canvas for all their classes. Another HUGE benefit of you using Canvas for your gradebook is that it’s easy to share student grades and reports with organizations on campus that need to keep track of student progress as part of eligibility in their program. If student grades are in Canvas, then we can also identify students who are at risk of dropping out or failing, so that we can intervene earlier. If you use Canvas for nothing else, use it for your gradebook. If you would like to explore how to make the Canvas gradebook work for you or would like help setting it up, call, email or come on down to the eLearning office. We’d love to help you!
  2. Be intentional about your gradebook now and don’t leave it for panic time in week 8. If you’re using Canvas, don’t rely on how you set up your modules. Check your “Assignments” in the left hand navigation. Everything listed in your Assignments will be listed in your gradebook. Alternatively, whatever you don’t see in your Assignments isn’t listed in your gradebook. Also, check for duplicate assignments, if all of your assignments are labeled correctly, or if they all have points. Read this blog post to give you more tips on the gradebook and setting up extra credit.
  3. Think about how you’re students are interacting with your content material. If you’re not getting the desired response from students, think about how you could make it more effective in the future. Start with the end. What result do you want? Then, work backwards from there, how could you get your students to give you the desired result? Tweak these assignments in your master class in Canvas.
  4. Do you have a master class in Canvas? A master class is an awesome place for you to tinker and tweak things, to experiment, fail miserably and then try again – without the danger of messing up your students or your grades in your live classroom. It’s also a great place for you to perfect your lessons and assignments based on student feedback throughout the quarter. Then, you simply import your material into your live class when you’re ready. You can create your own master class, as many as you’d like. For help on setting one up, contact eLearning.
  5. Finally, if you need help or your students need help, don’t hesitate to ask! Don’t suffer in silence, whether you’re struggling with technology, instructional design, student engagement, student behavior, accessiblity, etc. Ask for help and encourage your students to do the same.

Have a great summer quarter!

We look forward to serving you!