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Tech Tools and Tips During Distance Learning: Teaching Tools

A compilation of free and subscription tools and tips created by the hive mind of SAS teachers sharing suggestions

Schoology Help

Schoology: Formative Feedback

A few people have asked how to give feedback/comments to students in Schoology without a grade. Here are two strategies to consider:

1. Open, teacher and peer-to-peer feedback

Ungraded Discussions are a great tool for allowing students to give each other feedback (whether the teacher joins in or not). Feedback does not always need to be private, and open feedback tools give students a chance to practice constructive feedback in a safe, low stakes environment. Using a Schoology Discussion students can share text, links, images, and/or uploaded files for others to see and give feedback on.

Untick Enable Grading

Students can add links, files, and images

2. Private, teacher to student feedback

If you want students to submit something for individual feedback but do not want to give a grade, Schoology does not have a ready made tool for that. There is an Ungraded category for assignments, but this does not allow grades or comments. The easiest way to allow students to submit work in an assignment for feedback only is to create a Zero Points Assignment.

Click here to see how to create a "feedback only" assignment

(credit to Jason Tiefel)

Make & Edit Screencasts

Credit goes to the collective hive mind of David Gran, Larry Ehnert, and Dakota Cronin for this advice to teachers.

For Blogging

Premium Access to Meditation App

Many of us are experiencing the strain of having our routines and comforts disrupted, and finding balance and taking care of ourselves will likely require some adjustments. We need to take care of both our physical states but also our mental states, and fortunately SAS has free subscriptions to the very well-regarded meditation app Headspace.

To sign up for a Headspace Educator account click this link and use your SAS email address to sign up (your SAS email address is required - personal emails will not work). This will also work with student accounts, so please feel free to use the app with your classes as well.

eBooks on Distance Learning


For Interaction

  • Getting students to summarize and focus in on what is really important can be a challenge. Using the “Tweet” strategy can be a useful tool. Have students write an opinion statement about the concept being presented in an infographic, reading, video or presentation. The rules: It must be less than 140 characters and include a # statement - Just like Twitter. Have them Post their tweet on the wall in the classroom, message board, or using the backchannel template in Padlet.
    Example: Present the infographic below and have them summarize their reaction to the information presented.
    Example Tweet: Our lives are happening right in front of our faces but on a screen. #digitalrevolution, #Facebooksucks
    Click on the graphic below to add your own Tweet to the discussion
    (credit to Jerry Koontz)

For Videos

Will It Work Without VPN?

If you would like any websites, resources, or URLs checked to see if they will function properly within China without a VPN, please email them to The Helpdesk is checked 24/7.

YouTube Alternatives

Two China-based video streaming services house a variety of useful and relevant content, available in a variety of languages. Links to clips can be shared directly and be accessible to students, no matter their geographical location.

1. Youku, the digital movie platform similar to Youtube, is accessible for our students in and around Shanghai. There are a lot of videos on the streaming service that could be useful for students in your classes, including Khan Academy. Using the search command at the top, you can find videos covering a lot of topics.

2. Bilibili is similar, and works to organize videos by categories as well.

(credit: Tiefel and Higginbottom)

Make Videos Load Faster

Compress your files! It is easily done in Quicktime or in iMovie.

In Quicktime simply chose File > Export as > and pick the size you want, the smaller the number the smaller the file size...but the lower the quality. For most things even 480p will be fine, especially those instructional narration videos.

In iMovie when you begin the process of creating the movie (File > Share > File) you will have a handy popup window (see second screenshot) that not only lets you chose the Resolution (the numbers again) but the Quality as well. What's really handy is it also gives you an estimate of the file size on the left under the preview picture.

(credit Jason Tiefel)

For Podcasts

For Quizzing

Using TurnItIn

More Professional Learning