Category Archives: Classroom Technologies

The Virtual Field Trip


Much of the  information for this post was adapted from the blog, Free Technology for Teachers.

You might not be able to take your students to all the places they learn about in your classroom, but thanks to the web you can take them on virtual field trips.  Take interactive tours of  the Grand Canyon, Van Gogh Museum, and Sistine Chapel right from your computer!

Practically every week more STREET VIEW imagery is added to Google Maps. Through Street View students can take tours inside the White House, visit research stations in Antarctica, virtually hike the Grand Canyon, or go under water to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Some of these places are also featured in the Google World Wonders Project.

AROUNDER gives travelers a vivid sense of what a city has to offer: historical cathedrals and works of art, museums featuring famous artists, local cafes and stores, breathtaking mountain-top views, quiet parks and gardens. Each issue contains a series of interesting panoramas giving you a full immersive view of the cities. Navigation is easy with Google maps of the city and surrounding area.

The GOOGLE CULTURAL INSTITUTE includes the Art Project which has partnered with museums in over 40 countries to offer over 40,000 images of works ranging from oil on canvas to sculpture and furniture. The World Wonders Project includes street views and 3D of sites including Stonehenge and Pompeii. Also, explore historic moments and cultural figures through the Archive exhibitions.   An extension of this is Hangout Quest on Google+. Hangout Quest is a game that allows you to go on a virtual scavenger hunt inside the Palace of Versailles. The object of the scavenger hunt is to find artwork and other objects in the palace. If you invite others to your Hangout you can compete against them in a race to find the objects first.   Another cool piece of technology added to Hangout Quest is facial tracking. The facial tracking technology allows you to move around in the Palace of Versailles by just moving your head instead of clicking around with your mouse.

You might not be able to take your students on a field trip to the SMITHSONIAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM  but you can take them on a nice virtual tour of the museum. The museum’s virtual tours are 3D panoramas of the rooms of the museum. As you go through each room you can click on small camera icons to get a closer look at various museum artifacts.

HISTORY BUFF is a website that teachers of US History should spend some time exploring. One of the best features of History Buff is a set of fifteen narrated panoramic tours of interesting and significant historic sites. Some of the panoramas you will find in the collection include Davy Crockett’s childhood home, Appomattox Courthouse, Thomas Edison’s birthplace, and Valley Forge.

The VATICAN’S MUSEUM website hosts a fairly detailed virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. The tour allows visitors to zoom in on small areas and details of the interior of the Sistine Chapel. Visitors on the virtual tour can turn 360 degrees to view the interior of the Sistine Chapel from various angles. In addition to the tour of the Sistine Chapel the Vatican Museums host virtual tours of five other places and exhibits. Those tours are the Gregorian Egyptian Museum, the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, Raphael’s Rooms, Pinacoteca, and the Ethnological Missionary Museum.

The Virtual JFK MUSEUM Tour takes you to view exhibits and artifacts in the museum. The tour is narrated and in some cases you hear Kennedy’s voice. The tour is divided into major themes and events of Kennedy’s presidency including his campaign, the Peace Corps, and the Space Race. The tour also includes some information about Bobby Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy.

How about going for an ecology tour at Yosemite or Isle Royal National Park?  Compare at conservation techniques at Mt. Rainier or Mammoth Cave?  Explore each Park through its own website or check out this site

Ever wanted to take a tour of Ancient Greece or try you hand at some Indiana Jones Style archeology?  The METIS PROJECT allows you to tour ancient archeological sites with some 360 degree views.  The tour also includes archeological site maps indicating position and special areas of the dig.

How to Incorporate these into the Class

A mistake that many teachers make is just giving the students a link and telling them to explore.  The tour will be much more engaging and meaningful if you give them a specific task, then let serendipity do the rest.  This could be something as simple as finding and researching a specific artifact or a full-blown scavenger hunt. Or you can have student evaluate and compare tours, the possibilities are endless!

More Resources:

Do you have a favorite tour or virtual field trip?  Tell us about it or share it with your colleagues.

Say Adieu to the Red Pen and Bonjour to Turnitin


Help students turn around their writing using Turnitin.   It’s the next best thing to help student writers since the typewriter … Ok, that may be a stretch but we think that Turnitin has great potential to help our students get better feedback from instructors and peers.  Here is what it offers:

  • An easy and efficient way to deliver electronic feedback to students on their writing assignments.
  • An easy and efficient way to manage and monitor peer evaluations.
  • The ability to leave voice comments for students.
  • Access to rubrics to help your students understand what is being asked of them. 
  • Best of all Macomb has an institutional license and y
  • ou can access it through ANGEL … right now!

imagesCANGPB0EHow to use Turnitin

When people think of Turnitin the first thing that usually comes to mind is anti-plagiarism because it runs a diagnostic report using internet sources and Turnitin’s database of submitted papers for closely borrowed and plagiarized material.  While this tool can be helpful it should be used with care.  As one professor explained, “I don’t want to begin my new relationship with students assuming that they are going to cheat and that my job is to catch them at it. My students are not my adversaries.”  Kudos to this Macomb faculty member, who has her student’s best interests in mind.  So while you may be excited about this feature we strongly suggest that Turnitin should be used as a positive tool rather than a punitive trap.  So forget the originality report for right now.  It’s small beans compared to what else the program allows you to do … and don’t fret, we’ll address this tool in a future post. So check out these cool tools instead.

GradeMark - Allows for 5 different types of engaging and individualized feedback.  You can choose from a variety of pre-made comments,  create your own or leave voice comments.

PeerMark - Easily allows students to have access to each other’s papers and provides for interactive peer feedback.

Rubrics - Connect assignments with grade level appropriate rubrics or create your own.

To get started with Turnitin, access your ANGEL Master shell, go to Lessons and then click Add Content.  Scroll down to Turnitin at the bottom of the screen.  Give your assignment a title to get started. It’s that easy!

Click here for faculmacbook13red2ty focused tutorials

Feed Me: Adding and RSS to your Online Course

You may already subscribe to RSS feeds from your favorite blogs or news sites but did you know that you can insert RSS feeds into your ANGEL course? Do your students know that they can add their own feeds to their personal ANGEL pages?

Are you still wondering what exactly is an RSS feed? Never fear, all will be explained.

Q: What is an RSS feed?

A: Incorporating RSS feeds allows you to automatically stream news, podcasts or stats from other websites into your course. No need to go to the actual website, it get’s delivered to you.

Q: Why should I use RSS feeds?

A: RSS feeds help you stay top of interests and issues that are important to you and your students.  Because the feeds point to other sources they can help connect communities of teachers and learners.

Q: How do I add a RSS to ANGEL?

A: It’s simple. From your course page click the “Edit page” in the top left part of your screen. Click the “Add Component” and scroll down to the Course feed, scroll down and check the box for RSS feed. Open the Course RSS Feed component and using the pencil open the Headline Settings Screen, click “Add Feed”. You can search for a feed, or paste the link directly into the box to the right.

Q: How you can use RSS feeds to engage your class?

A: This all depends on whether you teach an online, hybrid or web enhanced course. Here are some quick ideas to get you started. If you are interested in more detailed ideas, you know who to call.

1. Both Sides of an Issue/ Track a Topic Take a current issue that has pros and cons. For an example lets say, Ethics and Biology. Divide the class into groups. Each group tracks a specific journal/news source. Each week the group reports on the coverage and comments on any prejudice or leaning tendencies of the website, author, or journal. This can be used as an in class or online discussion.

2. Show and Tell Have each student research and subscribe to a different RSS feed. Throughout the semester have each student submit a journal or give a two-minute presentation on a topic that pertain to the course. This lesson is an excellent platform for discussing reliable resources and a great opportunity to collaborate with the librarians.

3. Make it Real Keep your examples crisp and current by using examples from your course’s RSS feeds. Having your students find examples of theories put into a real-word context will enhance their understanding. Statistics, Economics and Marketing courses lend themselves to this method.  Instead of using a problem from the text-book, why not look at the news for the data and let your students apply what they learned.

Do you already use RSS feeds in your ANGEL course? If so, share with us how you used them for a project or an assignment. Are their other resources we should know about? Leave us a comment.


Six Swell Reasons to Create Your Own YouTube Channel

The Center for Teaching and Learning Presents:

 A Play About YouTube

Person A: Come here and look at this!
You: What?
Person A
: Just look at this, it’s SOOOOO funny.
You: I’m kind of in the middle of something-
Person A:  (thrusting laptop in your face) You’re going to love it.
You: It’s just a cat sleeping.
Person A: Wait for it… It really gets good in a minute (seven minutes elapse)
You: What am I suppose to be watching?
Person A: Maybe this is not the right one…. Wait a minute… Okay this is the one that I wanted you to see.
You: Sigh.


This may be a scenario that you have experienced with YouTube.  We all have. However, YouTube is not just for crazy cat people and adolescent boys blowing things up.  YouTube is a great way to make your lectures and video available to your students.  Here are six swell reasons why we think you should:

  1.  It’s easy and convenient.  Setting up your own account is simple and you don’t have to wait for some department to fill out a form.

  2. Easy access for students.

  3. It’s free.

  4. You have complete control and ownership of your work and information.

  5. Security: You can make your videos available to everyone, keep them private, or allow limited access with a password.

  6. You can organize your channel as you wish, make playlists, add or delete items as you see fit.

One way integrate your video into class is by linking your videos to ANGEL. If you are interested in setting up your own channel to promote your course, your students’ work, or your narrated PowerPoint presentations, come and see us.  We’ll help you get started. P.S. We won’t make you sit through any videos of the staff’s pets or children doing ridiculous things…unless you ask.

Changes to Mediated Classroom Carts

Macomb Community College is in the process of updating its Mediated Classroom Carts. The new carts feature faster computers, Blue Ray DVD players, and updated document cameras. In keeping up with the rapid advance of technology, however, some older technology is being retired. The Blue Ray (high definition) DVD players no longer can play VHS tapes. Manufacturers of these players consider VHS tape an obsolete technology and, as they have done in the past with the players for 8 track tapes, audio cassettes, and video disks, they have simply stopped making them. Faculty with VHS tapes need to make other arrangements if they want to use the content on these tapes in their classes.

Possible alternatives include contacting the publisher of the tape to ask if a replacement in Blue Ray (high definition DVD) or streaming media format were available. Copyright law prohibits the conversion of media from one format to another without permission, but if that permission is granted (and the Library can help you with this) the CTL can often convert VHS tapes to DVD or streaming media. Conversions of this type, however, may take up to a week and copyright clearance can take much longer. Nor is copyright clearance usually free. The library may purchase materials in DVD or streaming formats. Any such purchases become part of the library’s collection. The librarians are always happy to assist other faculty in finding new materials in appropriate formats.

Questions about media conversion should be directed to the Center for Teaching and Learning,, 586.226.4774, and questions about copyright clearance should be directed to Bruce Bett at the Library,, 586.445.7880.

Another issue recently encountered with the new equipment is the inability of the Blue Ray players to correctly navigate the menu of older non-Blue Ray DVDs. Faculty experiencing issues of this sort should try to use the DVD players installed in the computers that are installed in the carts. Software to run DVDs from the computer is on the desktop of these computers and should give faculty complete control of the DVD menus. Questions about this issue should be directed to the Service Desk,, 586.445.7156.

“Flip” out!

In case you haven’t noticed, we have some cool technology in the CTL. Oops, sorry, I meant to say cool AND useful! The cool and useful instructional technology item that I’d like to highlight today is the FlipCam!

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Why care about instructional technology?!

The “internets” are full of great resources for educators. After a little searching, I’ve found another sister blog that is packed-full of great info. It’s called Emerging Ed Tech and it’s managed by the Director of Institutional Info & Tech from The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY. Check it out!

Specifically, this article caught my attention: 5 Reasons Why Educators Need To Embrace Internet Technologies. If you’re still unsure about technology and the internet’s place in the classroom, the points in the article may change your mind.

And as always, if you find any good resources, please share them with us in the comments section below!

TurningPoint EXTREME!

As we’ve mentioned before here, here and here, TurningPoint is a very popular and useful technology that allows instructors to collect real-time electronic responses from students. There are many applications for this technology, not the least of which being an increased level of involvement by your students during class. Some instructors have even used the “fun” word to describe TurningPoint. Scary, I know!

Today I’d like to share some additional info that we have gathered, which will help you take TurningPoint to the next level. Please click on the graphic above and review highlights of these additional features, then contact us when you’re ready to try it out in your class!

TurningPoint Tip – Easier Class Lists!

If you are a current TurningPoint user, then we’ve got a cool tip for you! If you’re not yet a TurningPoint user, read this and then contact us to try a kit out for yourself!

Most instructors use TurningPoint to poll students anonymously, getting quick feedback and keeping them awake engaged during class. However, TurningPoint also allows instructors to create “participant lists” ahead of time, so the responses can be tied to specific students. This opens up new possibilities, including scored competitions, games, quizzes, and more meaningful data reports. The reason that many instructors have avoided using participant lists, is simply because they didn’t want to take the time to type in each student’s name and device (remote) ID into a list. Well now, there’s a better way!

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PDF power – part 2

This is a continuation from the previous post, and includes an exciting conclusion to the “unofficial guide to everything that you need to know about PDFs… For Dummies… Cliff Notes… abridged edition 1.0! “

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