Category: Mobile Free, Web-Based Clicker System is a new, free, web-based clicker system. After uploading a pdf, students can see the pdf on their web-enabled devices. Students tap (mobile) or click (computers) on the screen to vote.

This is what it looks like for a typical multiple choice question.

On this question, I asked, “Which scatterplot represents a positive correlation?”

Setting it up.

After creating an account on the website, I need to upload some pdfs. The developers suggest saving PowerPoints as pdfs and just using to do the presentation. I have two problems with that. 1.) I use animations. Rather than have 7 slides, I gradually click through to reveal content on one slide. When converted to pdf, all of the content appears on one slide. There’s no way to reveal as I go. That turned out to be a pretty solvable problem. PPTSpliT is a PowerPoint add-in that will, well, split all the slides that have animations into their own individual slides. After the split, save the PowerPoint to a new file, and then save the file as a pdf. 2.) The second problem was more of an issue. My PowerPoints contain hyperlinks. Plus I like PowerPoint’s presenter view which allows me to see my notes and easily jump to other slides. (See this blog post for more about presenter view.) That all is lost in a pdf.

For now, I have pulled the slides I’d like my students to click on into their own PowerPoint files and saved them as pdfs. I’ll use PowerPoint as I normally do, and then switch to my web browser for the interactive content. makes it easy to upload files. After logging into my account, I just drag my pdf into the “drop zone.”

Running it in class.

All of my uploaded files appear like this. I just hit the play button (bottom, right) when I’m ready to run it in class. I run my PowerPoint slides, then hit ALT-TAB (on my PC keyboard) to switch to my browser. I press ALT-TAB again to return to my PowerPoint presentation.

This is what appears in my browser window. Students go to If they are on a mobile device, they’ll be immediately prompted to enter the access code, the six letters prominently displayed at the top of the page; JNZNAF, in this case. On a computer, students need to click on a tab labeled “Slideshow” in order to enter the code.

This is what it looks like on mobile devices. The blue dot is where a student has tapped. Notice the different access code. Every time runs, a different access code is generated.

To show student responses, I tap on the eye icon at the top of the browser window. This also locks student responses.

When I’m ready to move on to the next slide, I can click on the arrow keys at the top of the browser window, press enter on the keyboard, or use the keyboard arrow keys.

After class.

If I’d like to revisit student responses after class, say, for assessment purposes, I can go back to the main screen, and for the pdf I’m interested in, click on the people icon. automatically created these files; I didn’t need to save anything when I was done with my presentation.

This will show me the dates and times I’ve run the pdf. Clicking on the double-square icon allows me to look at the student responses for each slide.

Comparison to Socrative.

I like that allows for images. When showing a neuron for example, I can ask students to tap on the dendrites or tap on the section that releases neurotransmitters. You’ll notice that on the mobile view there are icons for a pencil, letter, and an arrow; all are greyed out. I suspect these are placeholders that portend future functionality.

Socrative allows me to collect student names on premade quizzes. (currently?) is completely anonymous.

If idle too long on student devices, students have to re-enter the code to see the screen. is built using HTML5, so it’s limited to browsers that can handle it. Opera on mobile devices will not work. Firefox, Chrome, and Safari all seem to work just fine.

Have a favorite?

Do you have a favorite free, web-based clicker system?

Dropbox: Two-Step Verification

Dropbox recently enabled two-step verification. With two-step verification, when you log on using a new device, you need both your password and a code from your phone. (Use it for your Google account, too.) If someone does get hold of your password, they won’t be able to get into your account without this second code.

How it works.

When I log into my Dropbox account from a new computer or mobile device, I first enter my Dropbox password, and then I am asked for a verification code. I run the Google Authenticator app (Android/iOS/Blackberry) on my phone. (Download the app from wherever you get your apps.) Every 30 seconds a new code will appear. I enter the current code to log into Dropbox. That’s it.

Enabling two-step verification.

First, download the Google Authenicator app for your smartphone and a QR code scanner. I use one for Android called Scan. If you have a phone that’s just a phone, you can have codes sent to you via text message; see instructions below.

Go to and log in to your account. Click on your name in the top right corner of the screen. Select “Settings”.

Select the “Security” tab.

Scroll down to “Two-step verification” and click “change”.

Decide how you’d like to get the codes. If you have a smartphone, Google Authenicator is the easiest route, but there’s nothing wrong with text message. Click next.

Open your QR code reader (Scan, for me; “bar code scanner” does not seem to work with Google Authenticator.) Scan the code.

After scanning, your phone will ask you if you’d like to save it. Say yes. On your phone, you will see Dropbox: your@email.address with a number below it. Every 30 seconds that number will change. On your computer, Dropbox will ask you to enter the code.

After entering the code, this message will give you an “emergency backup code.” Put it someplace safe. If you use LastPass, create a “secure note” and save it there.

Creating a secure note in LastPass.

Log in to LastPass, and from the menu on the left, select “Add Secure Note”.

Name your note something useful; in this case, “Dropbox authenticator code.” Paste the code in the big box. Click the save button.


The number one threat to your online life is password security. With two-step verification, even if your password is compromised, your account cannot be accessed unless the person has your phone, too.

Time to Text? SendHub

New data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project finds “63% of all teens say they exchange text messages every day with people in their lives. This far surpasses the frequency with which they pick other forms of dailycommunication, including phone calling by cell phone (39% do that with others every day), face-to-face socializing outside of school (35%), social network site messaging (29%), instant messaging (22%), talking on landlines (19%) and emailing (6%).”

Next quarter I’m trying out SendHub, a group texting service. This will allow me to text all of my students at once. Students can sign up by texting a word I’ve given them to the phone number SendHub has assigned to me.

In the free version, you can have up to three groups with up to 50 people per group, and send up to 1,000 messages per month. (One text sent to 50 contacts counts as 50 messages.)

To send a message to my students, in the “To:” line I start typing the name of the relevant group, and SendHub gives me everything that matches what I’ve typed. Then I type my text message. If I’d like to schedule it to be delivered at some later time, I can click “Schedule Delivery.” Finally, I click “Send.”

To create a group, on the “Contacts” tab, click the “New” button on the left. Type in your group name. If you’d like your students to be able to add themselves to this group via text, check the box next to “Enable Text to Join.” Enter a keyword. This is what your students will text to your SendHub number to join the group. The keyword defaults to your group name, but you can change it to whatever you’d like. Don’t worry about whether some other SendHub user is using that keyword. Since students are texting to your SendHub phone number, SendHub knows that the student belongs to you.

To unsubscribe a student, you can do it by selecting “All Contacts,” clicking the checkbox next to the student’s name, and selecting “Delete.” A student can unsubscribe by replying to any text from your SendHub number with the word “stop.”

To access your settings click the cog icon in the top right corner.

In the “Plan” section, track your usage.

If someone calls your SendHub number, the call will be forwarded to the phone number you have on record (“My Number”). If you don’t want the call forwarded, check the box next to “Disable voice.” Want to add a signature to your texts? Add it in the “Signature” box.

If you send out a text to your class, and a student responds, you will receive the text at the number you have on record. Texts back to you in this way will count against the 1,000 free texts, however. If you don’t want to receive texts through SendHub, check the box next to “Disable Incoming Messages.” If you disable incoming messages, add an auto-response that will be sent to everyone who texts this number, something like, “This number does not accept texts. Email me at…”

When you’re done with your changes, click the “Save” button at the bottom of the page.

Are you using text messaging to communicate with your students? Why or why not?

The Horizon Report in Action: Emerging Technologies Today and Tomorrow

Live blogging from EDUCAUSE’s session on the Horizon Report. The Horizon Report “review[s] various emerging technologies likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression over the next five years and highlight how institutions across the world are implementing these technologies.”

View the audio recording, slides, and transcript. View the report and other resources on the Horizon Report wiki.


Wrapping up.

The presenters encourage people to use the Horizon Report as a leaping off point for discussion on our campuses about emerging technologies and what we can do to prepare for and take advantage of those technologies. Much, much to think about.



More trending technologies.

#5 – Gesture-based computing. Includes touch, such as touching a touch screen, and motion, such as Kinnect. Must be intuitive to use and the computer response to gesture must be pretty immediate.

Very useful for addressing accessibility issues.


#6 – Internet of things. These are objects that connect to the internet on their own. Google’s driverless car is an example. Check out the Internet of Things Comic Book.


11:08 am

To learn more about learning analytics, visit the Society for Learning Analytics Research.



More on learning analytics.



More trending technologies.

#4 – Learning analytics. Both summative and formative. With formative analytics, can we make changes mid-stream to increase student success?



More trending technologies.

#3 – Gamification of education. Check out this infographic.



Trending technologies.

#1 – Mobile apps. Created by both educational institutions and private companies. “iPhone and Android have redefined what we mean by mobile computing.”

What do students want in mobile technology? More content, more help in using it, streamlining access to the content.

#2 – Tablet computing. Tablets are being used by users to supplement smartphones, not replace them.

How are they being used? Digital textbooks, campus services apps, library navigation apps.



What are the current trends in teaching and learning in higher education?

Drawings: David Sibbert, The Grove International

Applying Psychological Science: Practice at Retrieval

A group of psychological scientists have identified 25 principles of learning. Of those 25, this group identified 9 to explore in greater depth as they relate to instruction. In this series of posts, I’ll look at each in turn, discussing some of the relevant technologies that can be used to take advantage of those principles.

The first in the list: “The single most important variable in promoting long-term retention and transfer is ‘practice at retrieval’—learners generate responses, with minimal retrieval cues, repeatedly, over time.” In short, if students are going to be able to retrieve what they learned later they have to practice retrieving now (the testing effect), and they have to space out that retrieval (the spacing effect). Practicing retrieval for 4 hours straight is not as effective as spacing those 4 hours out over the course of a couple weeks or more.

The authors make 4 recommendations.

  1. “During lectures, ask students questions to elicit responses that reflect understanding of previously introduced course material. This serves the dual purpose of probing students’ knowledge, so that misconceptions can be directly and immediately addressed in the lecture.”

    Ways to do this.

    1. 4-question technique. Dietz-Uhler and Lanter (2009) found improvement in quiz scores by asking students four questions following an in-class activity.
      1. “Identify one important concept, research finding, theory, or idea in psychology that you learned while completing this activity.”
      2. “Why do you believe that this concept, research finding, theory, or idea in psychology is important?”
      3. “Apply what you have learned from this activity to some aspect of your life.”
      4. “What question(s) has the activity raised for you? What are you still wondering about?”
    2. Fill-in-the-blank, content-based questions. Gier and Kreiner (2009) found improvement on exam scores when students were periodically asked to respond to fill-in-the-blank questions over course material during class.
    3. End-of-class questions. Lyle and Crawford (2011) found improvement on exam scores in a stats class when their students were asked to respond, unassisted, to a few questions over the day’s material at the end of class.

    Useful tech tools.

    1. Pen and paper. There is nothing wrong with this old school technology. Depending on the size of your class and how often your class meets, you could be wrangling a lot of paper.
    2. Student response systems. If you don’t currently use a system. Try Socrative (max 50 students, free). This tool is easy to use and allows both multiple choice and short answer questions. The data is downloadable via an Excel spreadsheet.
    3. Forms in Google Docs (read more about how to use this feature). Give students the URL to the form via a link on a website or in your course management system, a shortened URL (I recommend, or a QR code for your mobile users (read more about QR codes). Students enter their names, their email addresses, their class time, and then whatever questions you’d like them to answer about the course material. The data is dumped into a spreadsheet that you can download from Google Docs. When I do this, I add a column for my comments and a column for my grade. Then I create a form letter in Word, link it to my spreadsheet, and do a mail merge to send my feedback to students (read more about mail merge here).


  2. “On homework assignments, have students retrieve key information from lectures and readings. Chapter summaries, for instance, may include study questions that ask students to recall major points or conclusions to be drawn from the reading.”

    Useful tech tools.

    1. Forms in Google Docs (read more about how to use this feature). For each reading assignment, I ask students to answer four questions. The first two questions cover the content. Question 3 asks what was the most difficult part of the reading and what questions they may have. Question 4 asks what was the most interesting thing they read. I use the mail merge procedure discussed above to send my feedback to students. This is my first quarter using this approach. On the first exam, I saw no difference in exam scores compared to last quarter. I saw a statistically significant jump in exam scores on the second exam – a full letter grade. In my perception, students wrote more and wrote better responses during the second section of the course leading up to the second exam. That may be due to my feedback, to my asking better content questions that require more synthesis of information, or to something else entirely.
    2. Word documents. If your students submit assignments by attaching them to email messages that you get in Outlook, I highly recommend SimplyFile, an Outlook add-in (read more here), to quickly file the messages in a folder so they’re out of your inbox. And then use EZDetach, another Outlook add-in (read more here), to save all of the attachments with student email address and student name appended to the filename to your “grade these” folder.


  3. “Encourage group studying in which students actively discuss course topics. In these groups, students have an opportunity to explain difficult course concepts to one and another, engaging in ‘practice at retrieval.'”

    Useful tech tools.

    1. Doodle (read more here). A lot of students say they’d like to form study groups, but they don’t quite know how to do it. Create a Doodle poll that asks students to mark the times they’re available for a study group. Students can see who is available when they’re available. Let the students take the initiative to contact those other students.
    2. TitanPad (read more here). For students whose schedule or location makes it difficult to get together, they could use this tool to explain concepts in their own words or provide their own examples. Groups of students can work together on the same ‘pad’. With the time slider feature, you can easily see who contributed what and when if you’d like to assign a participation grade.
    3. Google+ hangouts with video or Skype. These are good tools for students who’d like to get together to study at a particular time, but are unable to be in the same place.

  4. “As with probing questions during lectures, test questions offer another opportunity for ‘practice at retrieval,’ thus, potentially enhancing knowledge of the material being tested. Ideally tests should be cumulative and test items should probe for understanding of the material.”


    In terms of test performance, it doesn’t matter if you give a paper-and-pencil test or a computer-based test (Frein, 2011). Whichever you use, I encourage you to look at how your students perform on each question. If a lot of students missed the question, what incorrect answer did they choose? This will give you valuable information about common misconceptions.

Whatever changes you decide to make in your course, I strongly encourage you to track the impact your changes have made on student learning, however it is you choose to measure it. Your institution may be interested for their assessment reports to their accreditors, and I encourage you submit your results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or a conference that’s interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). This site provides some resources for locating those journals and conferences.



Dietz-Uhler, B. & Lanter, J. R. (2009). Using the four-questions technique to enhance learning. Teaching of Psychology, 36(1), 38-41. doi:10.1080/00986280802529327

Frein, S.T. (2011). Comparing in-class and out-of-class computer-based tests to traditional paper-and-pencil tests in Introductory Psychology courses. Teaching of Psychology, 38(4), 282-287). doi: 10.1177/0098628311421331

Giers, V. S. & Kreiner, D. S. (2009). Incorporating active learning with powerpoint-based lectures using content-based questions. Teaching of Psychology, 36(2), 134-139. doi:10.1080/00986280902739792

Lyle, K.B. & Crawford, N.A. (2011). Retrieving essential material at the end of lectures improves performance on statistics exams. Teaching of Psychology, 38(2), 94-97. doi:

EDUCAUSE: Emerging Technology Today and Tomorrow

The following is copied from the EDUCAUSE website. Hope to see you online at this webinar!

EDUCAUSE Live! Webinar

March 5—The Horizon Report in Action: Emerging Technologies Today and Tomorrow


Malcolm Brown, Director, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, EDUCAUSE 
Veronica Diaz, Associate Director, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, EDUCAUSE


March 5, 2012


1:00-2:30 p.m. ET (UTC-5); convert to your time zone 
*Note: this webinar runs for 90 minutes.


During this free, one-and-a-half hour session, “The Horizon Report in Action: Emerging Technologies Today and Tomorrow,” Malcolm Brown and Veronica Diaz of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative will discuss what’s new in mobiles, electronic books, learning analytics, and other emerging technology areas as they review the annual publication of the Horizon Report.



Reserve your seat now—virtual seating is limited.

Thanks to Our Sponsor

EDUCAUSE Live!webinars are supported by Dell, a Platinum Partner.

Dell’s Connected Campus can centralize disparate data centers using virtualization strategies to optimize deployment, management and scalability of core IT services and applications while enabling departmental autonomy.See how.

About EDUCAUSE Live!

Interact with today’s leaders in higher education IT while learning about emerging trends with Diana Oblinger and Marc Hoit as they alternately interview a special guest during this free webinar series.

Find Adobe Connect technical requirements; past webinar archives; instructions for attending webinars using an iPhone, iPad, or android; and suggestions for making webinars a collaborative event on your campus on the EDUCAUSE Live! website.

Socrative: New Features

In July 2011 I wrote about Socrative, a web-based student response system. (See the blog post here.) The brief version: The instructor logs into the Socrative website and gets a room number (change to whatever you’d like). Students visit the website on whatever web-enabled device they have (smartphone, iPod, tablet, laptop), and enter the room number. The instructor can ask multiple choice, true/false, or short answer questions. Ask them on the fly or create quizzes in advance. These quizzes can be teacher-paced or student-paced. Responses are collated into a spreadsheet and emailed to the instructor.

Socrative has added several very useful features to begin 2012.

On the premade quizzes, you can now randomize the answers. This is very handy if you want to make cheating a little more difficult.

The feature I really like is that you can choose whether you want students to get immediate feedback or not. After each exam, I identify the 4 most-missed questions. I push those questions back out to my students at the beginning of the next class session. Students can use their books, notes, and the other students near them to answer the questions for half credit. With immediate feedback turned off, students can’t share the correct answers with those around them.

Reports from quizzes used to be automatically emailed to instructors. Now you can choose to have it emailed, download it right now, or even choose not to have a report at all.

When building the premade quizzes, it is now possible to reorder the questions. That will be a huge help!

Another Socrative feature that I haven’t seen in other systems is the ability to push short answer responses back out to students for voting. The new addition is the ability to keep specific short answer responses from being sent back out for voting.

Read more about Socrative’s new features.

EDUCAUSE Live! ECAR National Study of Undergrads and Information Technology 2011: Liveblog



The presentation has moved into the Q&A session, so I’m going to wrap up here. Be sure to check out the report and the 2011 study infographic. As we slide into the winter break, I hope to have time to read the report myself and write about some of their findings in this blog.


11:41am PT

Where do students say they learn the most?

Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011


11:34am PT

Basically, students don’t think instructors are using technology effectively. How can we make better use of the technology we have?

Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011


11:29am PT

What do students want instructors to use more often? The top three.

Email: 39%

Course management system: 32%

Ebooks/etextbooks: 31%

Interestingly, Facebook: 15%.


11:26am PT

How are students using their smartphones?

How about registering for courses? 22% have. Does your institution have a mobile-friendly registration process?

Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011


11:24am PT

The most valuable technologies for the students in the survey sample?

Word processors: 76%

Presentation software: 66%

College library website: 45%

Skipping down the list…

Ebooks or etextbooks: 25%

Online forums: 16%


11:20 am PT

Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011


11:18am PT

How many of these devices do you have?

(“Susan Grajek, EDUCAUSE: It is uneven. As you’ll see later, more students at masters and doctorals use mobile devices; more at community colleges use desktops”)

Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011


11:14am PT

Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011


11:11 am PT

Check out the 2011 study infographic.


11:08am PT

Two studies conducted in 2011: Traditional study with 145 institutions participating and a “national sample of undergraduates drawn from a consumer panel.”


11:03am PT

Read the report here.


11am PT

“In this free hour-long session, “ECAR National Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology, 2011,” Susan Grajek and Eden Dahlstrom will discuss the groundbreaking year for the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research’s annual National Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology and plans for 2012.”

EDUCAUSE Live! Web Seminar: ECAR National Study of Undergrads and Info Tech 2011

The ECAR survey folks always have interesting information to present. Free and online. Hope to see you there! For those who can’t attend, but are interested, I’ll be tweeting live during the event. Follow me on Twitter by clicking the ‘t’ icon on the far right side of your browser’s window.

From the EDUCAUSE website:

Speaker: Eden Dahlstrom, Senior Research Analyst, Data, Research, and Analytics, EDUCAUSE
Susan Grajek, Vice President, Data, Research, and Analytics, EDUCAUSE (Moderator)
Date: December 15, 2011
Time: 2:00 p.m. ET (UTC-5); convert to your time zone
Topic: In this free hour-long session, “ECAR National Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology, 2011,” Susan Grajek and Eden Dahlstrom will discuss the groundbreaking year for the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research’s annual National Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology and plans for 2012.

Reserve your seat now—virtual seating is limited.

“About EDUCAUSE Live!

“Interact with today’s leaders in higher education IT while learning about emerging trends with Diana Oblinger and Marc Hoit as they alternately interview a special guest during this free online seminar series.

“Find Adobe Connect technical requirements; past seminar archives; instructions for attending web seminars using an iPhone, iPad, or android; and suggestions for making web seminars a collaborative event on your campus on the EDUCAUSE Live! website.”

Decode a QR Code

On the “Tech Handout” page I now have two documents. One is my general tech handout; the other focuses on collaboration tools. At some point I’ll probably merge them into one big document, but until then I have two. Both have a QR code at the top. I noticed that they were different codes. I wondered where they went.

At this point I had a number of options. Leave them as is and continue to wonder. Go find my phone and scan them. Or search the internet for a QR code decoder. I opted for the latter and used Esponce as my decoder.

I saved both codes to my desktop, went to the Esponce website, then dragged one code into the box,

And it gave me this.

The other one, for the curious went directly to the tech handout page.

Want to try it yourself? Right-click on each of the QR codes above and save them to your desktop. Go to, and drag and drop each in turn.

To generate a QR code, on the Esponce website, select the Generate” tab. I’ve also recommended for such a purpose. For more on QR codes, see this earlier blog post.