Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching


Online Timeline Software

If you want to create a timeline project in your class or organization, there are many free tools online that make this process easy. Highlighted here is a list of free timeline software that we recommend.

If the assignment is a group project, then the simplest tool to use and edit with groups of students is Timeline JS. Students can enter their data or event into a shared spreadsheet. Once the spreadsheet is filled out by all participating students, it can be uploaded to the Timeline JS site and is automatically converted into a timeline.  Information on the format of the spreadsheet can be found here.


There are other options where the creation tools are in the software itself. Some of these have paid versions, or can only be accessed by individuals, so these tools are best for individual projects.


In-class engagement –> polling / clickers

There are many ways to engage students in class, one can create better ways to present material, ask direct questions, create small group activities, employ ‘active learning’ techniques, mix teaching styles, use polling tools …

This post addresses tools for polling your students. There are hardware solutions, solutions that work via mobile devices and those that work as hybrids.

Some options for polling in classes

  • plickers – probably the simplest and cheapest way to set up class polling. Your phone is used to collect responses,  each student has a card with encrypted A, B, C and D answers. The cards can be printed from the website. Both app and cards are free.
  • iClickers – Standard around Oberlin used by a number of faculty.
  • Socrative by MasteryConnect – web interface (Chrome web browser), mobile apps
    user guide
  • Poll everywhere – txt messaging polls
  • Turning technologies – polling and response systems. Similar to iClickers




Transferring Information in Google Calendar

Did you know that you can transfer events from past year’s Google Calendar into this year’s?

You will need to ‘edit’ the original event. From there you can follow these 5 steps to set it up to appear on the calendar year after year.   You will notice that there is a ‘Yearly’ option under repeats. If you use this feature, you will not be able to set it for ‘day of the week.’  That feature only allows you to set it up for a particular date.

Here is a screen shot of the setup:



Adding media to local online media server space

There are many ways to put media online so that your students can have access to it.  The ones listed below have been suggested because they have ways of restricting access and thereby facilitating Fair Use compliance.

  •  Local Media Server managed by OCTET – contact OCTET to set this up. Content on this server is only accessible from oncampus computers.  Instructions for uploading to the media server. VPNcan be used if you are off campus.
  • Other options
    • Google Docs/Drive
    • YouTube on your google apps account (you can request the ability to store content that is longer than 10 minutes)
    • Free educational Vimeo account
    • dropbox

    Network file share managed by CIT – contact cit@oberlin.edu to set this up


Creating a survey

We do have licenses for and support 3 other tools for conducting surveys:

  • Blackboard
  • Qualtrics
  • Google Forms
  • Survey Monkey is a very easy to use survey tool. However, Oberlin College does not have a license for this product nor do we have the expertise to support it properly.
  • Woofoo is another unsupported option

Be sure to check with the Institutional Research Board before conducting any studies where you are asking people to provide information.


Qualtrics at Oberlin College


The Qualtrics Research Suite is a powerful online survey software available to all faculty, staff and students at Oberlin College.

The Research Suite allows you to build complex surveys that fulfill a variety of research needs. You can use this tool to build surveys, distribute surveys and analyze responses, all from one convenient online location!

Be aware that most studies, including surveys, done on human subjects should be cleared through the Institutional Research Board (IRB).
Read More


Create a survey using Google Docs

In google docs one can create a ‘form.’  This form can then be used to collect data from users. Information on how to create and deploy such a survey can be found in google’s support documentation.

Google will provide a very basic report, the data will be stored in a google spreadsheet and the information can then be downloaded and analyzed using Excel or any other tool that accepts comma separated data.

Be sure to check with the Institutional Research Board before conducting any studies where you are asking people to provide information.

Watch how to construct a survey and learn more about the tools available in Google Forms in the video tutorial below:


R and rStudio is available – open source statistical package

R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It compiles and runs on a wide variety of UNIX platforms, Windows and MacOS. To download R, please choose your preferred CRAN mirror.
If you have questions about R like how to download and install the software, or what the license terms are, please read our answers to frequently asked questions before you send an email.


Mathematica tutorial

“Hands-on Start to Mathematica” is a free, two-part online screencast that introduces Mathematica basics to get you started
with your first calculations, visualizations, and interactive examples. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1
here: http://url.wolfram.com/7751iZe/

Many students have asked for more in-depth training, so we now also offer “M10: A Student’s First Course in Mathematica,” a
self-paced video training course providing step-by-step instructions on the basic features of Mathematica for students.
Through the included videos and practice exercises, students learn how to navigate the user interface, build calculations,
create graphics and dynamic models, work with data, and more–for under $30: http://url.wolfram.com/7Z-GW2c/


Creating digital materials for your courses/organizations

Instructors can add file attachments to different areas in a course, such as to a content item, an assignment, or a Discussion Board post. Users open a file by clicking a link to the file that appears in the course.

Creating Audio files

  • When creating and saving audio files, be sure to save it as an MP3.
  • If at anytime you have questions or concerns about creating audio files for courses, please contact OCTET.

How can I acquire audio from different resources to use in my class?

  • You can link to audio files on the Internet.
  • You can import audio selections from CD’s using built in computer software (such as iTunes).
  • You can create your own audio using Audacity or Aviary (part of OCApps) to  record and edit audio files.

Creating Video files

  • When creating and saving video files, be sure to save it as an MP4 or MPEG.
  • If at anytime you have questions or concerns about creating video files for courses, please contact OCTET.

How can I acquire video from different resources to use in my class?

Creating PDFs 

  • When creating PDFs for distribution to students, it is recommended to save the file using the “Reduce File Size” option. Be sure to make the file compatible with Acrobat 4.0.
  • Try to scan documents in Black/White.  Scanning documents in greyscale or color increases the file size.

How can I make a PDF document to upload into Blackboard?

  • Articles and images can be scanned on OCTET’s scanner and converted into PDF files for easy access. These files can be posted on Blackboard for class use.
  • Most academic departments on campus have scanner/copies that can scan documents and send PDFs to your email address.  You’ll need to contact your departmental AA to verify if this is possible.
  • You can upload documents to GoogleDocs and export them as PDFs.

PowerPoint /Slides

Embedding Audio/Video files within PowerPoint:

If you plan to use audio and video within a PowerPoint presentation there are several things to consider:

If you just plan to show the PPT in class:

  • be sure that the audio/video clip is located somewhere on the computer (or media) you plan to use for the presentation
  • when you insert an audio/video clip in your PPT, it doesn’t actually add the file to the PPT.  Instead, it creates a link to the file, so it is very important that the file remains in the same location, otherwise PPT will not be able to locate it.

If you plan to show the PPT in class and make it available in Blackboard:

  • You will need to post the audio/video through Blackboard separately from the PPT.
  • If you create the PPT on a MAC, students using a Windows machine will not be able to view any inserted videos; if I am on a Windows machine, but the PPT was created on a MAC, it’s going to try to open QuickTime–which isn’t the default system player on a PC.
  • If you create the PPT on aWindows machine, students using a MAC will not be able to view any inserted videos; if I am on a MAC, but the PPT was created on a Windows machine, it’s going to try to open Windows Media Player–which isn’t the default system player.

Other file types for courses

Any file type can be uploaded to Blackboard.  However, remember that students need to be able to access the file when they download it.  This means that they need to have software that can open the file.  This can be especially useful to faculty who want to share files with students for specialized software that is only available in public labs on campus.  Students can access the files from their course sites while in the public lab.

Click here for more information about file attachments and recognized file types.