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eLearning Tools

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many on-campus departments and resources have modified operations and business hours.  For the most up to date information on the availability of these resources, please contact the offices directly or head to their websites.

In response to growing concerns over COVID-19, UC Merced is asking all lecturers and TAs to move their classes to an online platform.  There may be students who might find this transition difficult to achieve, and so we would like this page to assist you in the process.

For starters, it would be helpful to list some tools that will allow everyone to preserve classroom and organizational functionality.  Many of you may be wondering what tools are available for holding classes remotely, and what limitations may be present in each of them.  Here is a preview of the tools that exist out there.

  1. Video Conference Tools - Here are some options for moving your in-person class to the web.

  2. Notetaking Tools - Now that your class is being held online, how do you keep a record of what is being discussed?

  3. Student Interactivity - You now have some of the tools needed to get the main points across, but now would be a good time to consider the students who want to interact with the lecture.  What are some tools that will allow students to become more engaged during the lecture?  

 


 

1. Video Conference Tools

 

Looking for tools to host your class or a meeting?  These are some of the commonly used large-scale video conference tools used to bring everyone together in one place.

 

Services Used on Campus

 

Zoom

This is the primary service that UC Merced staff and faculty use to host online sessions.  You can request access to the Zoom Pro or Education account from IT to continue conducting university business.

(Google Play)     (App Store)

Update: Zoom has removed the 40 minute time limit on meetings of up to 100 participants on the Free Plan for those affected by COVID-19.

Free Version

  • Host up to 100 participants in a single session for up to 40 minutes (when there are 3 or more people)
  • Have unlimited 1 on 1 meetings (2 people or less)
  • Break session into 50 separate discussions to make groups

Pro Version

  • Host up to 100 participants in a single session for up to 24 hours.  This is useful for all TAs in their discussions, and lecturers who teach classes with no more than 3 discussion sections.

Business/Education Version

  • Host up to 300 participants in a single session for up to 24 hours.  This is useful for transitioning even the largest size classes on campus to the web.

Need more participants or features?  See other available plans.

 

Kaltura

This is a service provided through Canvas for use in video lectures when there are a large number of participants.  Using the Conferences tool on Catcourses, instructors and TAs can host a class completely online.

Learn more about Kaltura here.

 

Other Services

 

Skype

Another commonly used video calling service available to everyone for free.  A business version is found further down this list.

(Google Play)     (App Store iPhone, iPad)

Free Version

  • Group Video Calling with up to 50 people for free

Learn more on their website.

 

Microsoft Teams

Formally known as Skype for Business.  This might be included with your office 365 subscription.  We will update this section once we confirm this to be true.

(Google Play)     (App Store)

Free Version

  • Collaborate with other users on Office documents.
  • Integrate services such as Google Drive directly into Teams
  • Allows online audio and video calls

Business Essentials Version

  • Host up to 250 people at once, or up to 10,000 for online events.
  • Schedule and record your meetings

For other plans, see their website.

 

Google Hangouts and Google Meet

Google Hangouts is a free video calling tool that allows for up to 150 people in a single call.  This can be useful for holding discussion sections.

(Google Play)     (App Store)

Google Meet is a more secure paid conference tool offered as part of Google's business service GSuite.

Free

  • Host up to 10 participants per call

Basic

  • Host up to 100 participants per call

For business and enterprise plans, see their website.

 

Cisco Webex

A conference tool primarily used for businesses, but with the capability to be used in a classroom setting as well.

(Google Play)     (App Store)

Free Plan

  • Up to 100 participants in each meeting
  • Unlimited number of meetings
  • Can audio-connect to conference through your phone through 52 different countries

Starter Plan (upgrades below)

  • Up to 150 participants in each meeting
  • Advanced administrative features in meetings, such as chat and conference recording

For other plans, see their website.

 


 

2. Notetaking Tools

Okay, you have a way for everyone to find your lecture online.  Now, you might be wondering, how can I lecture without having to keep running back and forth between my computer and the whiteboard behind me?  An alternative answer would be to avoid running to the whiteboard at all, and write on your own screen.  However, using physical markers on computer screens can be disastrous.  Instead, find an application that emulates a board, specifically one which has a plethora of tools available to you, and share what is on your screen to everyone in the class.

Here are a few popular notetaking applications that you can use for your class:

 

Microsoft OneNote

This popular app serves as ones own personal or shared notebook for a variety of subjects.

Advantages:

  • Available for free on most devices
  • Can have as much space on a page as needed, with the ability to organize pages into sections
  • Can export notes as a PDF
  • Can insert photos, videos, and many other formats
  • Can share notebook with others with read-only permissions

Disadvantages:

  • A bit complex
  • Potential issue with importing documents on Mac

 

Zoom Whiteboard

Zoom has a whiteboard function built in.  All you need to do is share the whiteboard instead of your screen when hosting lectures.

Advantages:

  • Easy to use
  • Don't need to open another program to use

Disadvantages:

  • Fixed space, cannot scroll
  • Cannot import files, images onto whiteboard

 

Evernote

Another quick and easy notetaking app that can be used on any device, including phones.

Advantages:

  • Many tools available
  • Notes sync across all devices connected to your account
  • Record and store audio from meetings or classes

Disadvantages:

  • Limited features in free version

 

Notability

One of the most popular notetaking apps on Apple devices.  It is not free, but it's simplicity and versatility makes this a powerful tool.

Advantages:

  • Fast and easy to use
  • Can search through and import files with ease
  • Capable of recording audio

Disadvantages:

  • Mainly used to store notes locally.  However, iCloud can be particularly useful in this case.

 


 

3. Interactivity Tools

 

You should now have a method of preserving records of your lectures.  As such, your students will be happy knowing what has transpired in the class and can refer back to the content later.  Now, let's focus on ways your students can interact directly with the lecture as it's happening.

Note: If you are a TA, we suggest you contact your instructor of record to see if they have access to polling software that can be used for your classes.

 

Zoom Tools

If you are currently using Zoom to stream your lectures, then you should already have a couple additional tools at your disposal.

  • Annotate: Use the Zoom whiteboard to write what you need, and allow other students to make annotations.  The host can choose to clear his or her own annotations, or clear everyone else's.  Allowing access for other participants to annotate is best suited for small classes.
  • Polls: This tool becomes available when there are 2 or more people in a session.  You can use this tool to send individual questionnaires to students during your lecture, after which everyone can see how the class performed in general.  To make things more convenient, meeting hosts have the ability to pre-load their poll questions before the meeting begins, which is great for class prep.  Note that you can add up to a maximum of 25 polls per session.  

 

Etherpad

This free, open-source tool allows for real time collaborative editing.  In addition, each participant's text is highlighted with a color of their choosing, meaning you can track who performed each and every edit.

 

Poll Everywhere

A well-known option, allowing users create as many questions as they need, with responses that can be sent by text.  This is a very interactive tool for hosting online meetings with many more polling options than Zoom.  Compatible with the PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Keynote.

Intro Plan (Free): Up to 25 participants per session, unlimited questions

Present Plan: Up to to 100 participants per session, unlimited questions and email support by the company.

For more information about other plans and pricing, click here.

 

Aha Slides

Sophisticated polling software designed for classroom engagement.  Unlimited polls are available with every plan.  Can also be used to create quizzes.

Free plan: Up to 7 live participants per session

Essential Plan: Up to 100 live participants per session

For more information about other plans and pricing, click here.