LectureTools User Blog

Supplements of a LectureTools Testimony

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 @ 12:10 PM

LectureTools: An engaging presentation tool to use in the classroom

Jim Barbour, associate professor of economics, uses LectureTools in his introductory-level courses.

Jim Barbour, chair of the economics department and associate professor of economics, uses LectureTools in his introductory-level courses.

While searching for an alternative to clickers to use in his classes, Jim Barbour, chair of the economics department and associate professor of economics, stumbled upon LectureTools.

Run by a five-person team in Ann Arbor, Mich.,LectureTools is an engaging, web-based program that allows instructors to create interactive presentations.

“I was looking for something that was more robust,” Barbour said. “Think of [LectureTools] as a combination of clickers, Facebook and Twitter all rolled into one.”

Special Features

By uploading preexisting PowerPoint presentations to LectureTools, instructors can enhance classroom materials by incorporating multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides. Students can access presentations on their own devices by logging in to the program.

“All of this is like a clicker on steroids,” Barbour said. “But now, you don’t have to keep track of the clickers, and you don’t have to charge them up.”

Instructors can incorporate multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides.

Instructors can enhance classroom materials by incorporating multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides.

LectureTools is free for instructors, Barbour said, while students must pay a flat $15 fee at the beginning of the semester.

LectureTools works best on laptops, tablets and smartphones, Barbour said, though students can still participate if he or she has a mobile phone with texting capabilities.

Barbour said out of the seventy-odd students he has had in his LectureTools-based classes, only one did not have a laptop, tablet, smartphone or phone with texting capabilities. Because of this, Barbour is lending his Kindle to the student.

“There are places [students can] checkout [laptops] from the school, so I’ve run into that once out of 74 students,” Barbour said. “It’s probably going to be a problem less and less as we go forward.”

Students can control the view of their individual screens, take notes on slides, mark slides as confusing, bookmark slides to review later and direct questions to instructors by typing inquiries into a comment box.



Students can control the view of their individual screens, take notes on slides, mark slides as confusing, bookmark slides to review later and direct questions to instructors by typing inquiries into a comment box.



While logged in to LectureTools, students can control the view of their individual screens. Students can take notes on the slides, and because the program is web-based, students’ notes are saved online and can be accessed later.

Freshman Michelle Rich, a student in Barbour’s introductory-level economics class, said she likes the flexibility of LectureTools in that it allows her to control what slide is displayed on her screen. She said she likes the interactivity of the technology too, because it helps her to better learn the material.

“LectureTools is helpful, but I am still adapting to this new way of learning,” she said. “I really like how my professor asks us questions through LectureTools because it tests us while we’re learning.”

Students can mark presentation slides as confusing, and they can bookmark slides to review later. Further, students can direct questions to instructors by typing them into a comment box, and professors receive those inquiries instantly.

“It’s another way for me to communicate with the class, and that’s really what I’m interested in because at the core, we are storytelling creatures,” Barbour said. “This allows me to tailor the story as I go to match what the class seems to need. Any good instructor always does that.”

LectureTools records all student activity and converts the data into a report, which is sent to an instructor approximately 20 minutes after class is over.

Students in Barbour's economics class collaborate on a short-answer question.



Students in Barbour's introductory-level economics class collaborate on a short-answer question.




By Sam Parker 


To use LectureTools and start increasing engagement in YOUR classroom click here: 





Topics: LectureTools News, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Large Class, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, instructor communication, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, Student Participation, student response, Flipped Instruction, Clickers, educational networking, Guest Blogger

How I Use My iPad as a College Student and Educator

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 @ 11:09 AM

2012 09 11 1331

I'm currently working on my post-baccalaureate degree in speech language pathology, and I also work around 40 hours a week as both a freelance writer and early literacy tutor. I rely heavily on technology to help me accomplish my academic and professional goals. I can't imagine life without it. My first college experience, in the late 90s, was much different from my current one. I used the computers in the school library to type up my papers, but that was the extent of how I used technology. Now I spend what seems like all day on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop.

Technology can definitely be a distraction at times, but it's mostly a lifesaver. I don't think I'd be able to work and study as effectively as I do without the help of my laptop and iPad. My iPad has been a particularly useful tool over the last couple of years. I use it in a million different ways in my day-to-day life. On an average day, here are some of the ways I use my iPad as a student, writer, and educator:

1. I check my class assignments on Blackboard while riding the subway to school to make sure I've completed them all. (I usually have).

2. I use my Evernote app to take notes in class and organize those notes. When I know a lecture is particularly important or just don't have the energy to take notes, I record what my professors are saying with a neat little app called Audiolio.

3. In between classes, I'll read eTextbooks for my courses. Unfortunately, not all my textbooks are available in eTextbook format. So, I do have to put my iPad aside every once in a while and crack open an old-fashioned book.

4. All of my classes are scheduled in the mornings. When I'm done with them I ride home on the subway and use my iPad to reply to emails from my editors/freelance supervisors. I also use Evernote to write out ideas I have for various writing projects.

5. I switch over to my laptop and complete writing assignments for work when I get home. Once I'm done, I'll usually spend some time on my iPad, going over my class notes for the day. I also frequently use my iPad to peruse SLP job postings. I'll be graduating this December, and I like to keep track of what sort of job openings there are.

6. At this point in my day, it's usually almost time to meet up with one of the kindergarten, first, or second grade students I tutor. I might call my boyfriend or one of my friends on the way to the subway to catch up and make dinner plans or other plans for the evening.

7. On the subway, I go over my lesson plan for whichever student I'll be meeting with that day.

8. I meet up with my student. We typically read and re-read a print book together and then read a fun, interactive book together on my iPad. This week I'm reading The Cat in the Hat with all of my kids. This classic book totally comes alive on the iPad. If you have or teach young children, you have to check it out!

9. Oftentimes, I'll end the lesson with my students by playing some sort of literacy game on my iPad and practicing sight words on digital flashcards (on my iPad, of course). I typically use the ABC Pocket Phonics app with my kindergarten students to practice their letters and signs. And I'll use apps like Early Reader and K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite with my older kiddos to work on their fluency and more advanced phonics skills. The young learners I work with pretty much love everything we do on my iPad, and I truly believe all of them have benefited from using this technology.

10. Once I'm done tutoring, I usually take a break from my iPad. I plug it in, and leave it alone for a while. I might meet up with my boyfriend or friends for dinner and usually spend some time unwinding with them at the end of the day. Before bed, I might research different literacy and speech therapy apps. I get excited about all the cool apps I'll be able to use once I officially start working in speech therapy, and I drift off to sleep, oftentimes still holding my iPad.

As you can probably tell, I'm glued to my iPad and technology in general throughout the day. As a student or educator, how do you use your iPad to optimize what you do? Let us know!


Angelita Williams is a freelance writer, student, and educator who frequently contributes to onlinecollegecourses.com. She strives to instruct her readers and enrich their lives and welcomes you to contact her at angelita.williams7@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

Instructors can use iPads in the classroom!

The 3 Most Important Statistics About the Impact of LectureTools

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 @ 01:04 AM

stanford laptops in lecture
Photo: Stanford EdTech

The University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching has already identified strategies to get the best learning outcomes through the use of LectureTools. Using interactive activities to engage students with material and using student responses to start classroom discussions goes a long way towards making students more engaged and attentive during class.

The CRLT also highlights a few statistics about the impact of LectureTools. LectureTools is only a means to the end result of student learning, engagement, and attentiveness. Accordingly, here is our list of the 3 most important numbers to know about LectureTools in the classroom:


1. 13% more students feel their laptop helps improve learning

When comparing classes using LectureTools against the control group, 13% more students reported that their laptop enabled them to learn more. In the LectureTools courses, 53% of students agreed or strongly agreed with the issue, compared to 40% of students from the control classes. This was a statistically significant different to p<.01.

This difference seems intuitive, given Carl Wieman's findings that more interactive teaching styles improve student learning.


2. Student engagement increases by 21%

60% of students in the LectureTools courses agreed or strongly agreed that their level of engagement increased due to laptop use. Only 39% of the control group students felt the same. This is a differece of 21%, significant to p<.001.


3. Student attentiveness due to laptop use jumps 12%

When presented with the statement "My attentiveness has increased due to laptop use," 37% of LectureTools students agreed or strongly agreed, a 12% jump over the control group, where just 25% of students agreed or strongly agreed. Through deliberate engagement of laptops and an easier path to communication with instructors and teaching assistants, it only makes sense that more students find incentive to pay attention and interact with lecture.


Read More About U-M CRLT's Findings

crlt 50 logoDownload the occassional paper "Use of Laptops in the Classroom: Research and Best Practices" from the University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching to learn more about LectureTools' impact on several U-M classrooms, and tips for beneficial laptop use in the classroom.

Download the CRLT Paper (PDF)

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Educational Technology, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Laptops in Education, Learning Outcomes

4 Types of Image Quizzes to Get Your Students Thinking Critically

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 @ 06:03 AM

Wondering more about the image quiz activity type inside of LectureTools? Here are four ways to use these activities that might fit in with your class:


Test for Understanding with Basic Identification Questions

basic identification image quizBasic recall questions are great for checking whether your students remember important information they will need going forward. These types of questions are related to multiple choice questions written to test vocabulary or recollection of simple facts. In the image quiz context, students would be presented with an image and would simply have to click on the point representing the correct answer.

A biology class might quiz students on where the nucleoid is in a diagram of a cell, while a history or geography class might quiz students on which country the Netherlands is on a blank map. This allows you to make sure students are remembering key information that is essential for new material that requires students to build on "old" material.


Encourage Critical Thinking with Multi-Dimensional Questions

Unlike basic identification questions, multi-dimensional image quizzes require students to do more than recall certain pieces of information. Instead, these questions have students engage with material in class that requires them to identify the appropriate concept and apply it to a problem they have never seen before.

Asking students in a biology class where in the cell ATP is produced, for example, may require them to remember both that mitochondria produce this energy as well as where they can find a mitochondrion in a cell. In a class about weather, showing students an aerial image and asking them where they would expect temperatures to be the hottest requires them to understand what conditions cause hotter surface temperatures to make an educated guess. These questions are more conceptual in nature, and are a great way to test whether students are making the bridge between reading information in a textbook and being able to apply it to a variety of situations.


Spark Discussion with Spectrum Questions

Open your class up to spectrum of possibilities, rather than confining it to a predetermined set of multiple choice answers. Spectrums can range from a simple strongly-agree-to-strongly-disagree scale to more philosophical or theoretical spectrums specifically drawn from course material.

spectrum questionWe’ve already written about how Mika LaVaque-Manty, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, uses LectureTools to pose questions geared towards humanities. Most notably, he used the image quiz feature to present a timeline to his students and ask them, in their opinion, when the United States became a democracy. The question generated a discussion, as some students chose important historical dates like the Emancipation Proclamation, women’s suffrage, or the Civil Rights Act. Other students indicated that the US had not yet achieved this ideal. Open-ended questions such as these force students to think on their own and to develop arguments for a wide portfolio of choices. Spectrum questions have no correct answer, but rather, force students to think critically in the context of your course. They are also great for preparing students for exams with open-ended essay prompts.


Introduce New Concepts with In-Class Experiments

Student response systems need not only test students’ knowledge. They can also introduce brand new concepts like regression. A blank set of axes with two defined variables makes for a great image quiz question, as students can plot their data point. The results of the activity would then be the aggregation of the entire class’s data, which could be a good way to introduce regression as a way to measure correlation by drawing a line of best fit and labeling the β and error terms.


Have another idea for image quiz questions? Leave your idea in the comments!


making the switch ebookMaking the Switch: How 4 Professors at Michigan Embraced Laptops and Made Class Interactive

Download our free ebook to learn how professors at the University of Michigan are using LectureTools, an interactive presentation tool, to provide an in-class learning platform for student laptops.

Get the eBook

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, student engagement, Student Response Systems, Student Participation, Clickers, image-based questions

1 New Way to Identify Misconception with LectureTools

Posted by Jason Aubrey on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 @ 12:03 PM

It's difficult to get students to raise their hand, interrupt your lecture, and ask a question. The deer in the headlight approach is one way to identify potentially confused students. We've made it a bit easier and introduced a more engaging way for you to read their minds. 

Anonymous Filter Enables Instructors to Verbally Address Questions During Lecture

If you want to show your class questions submitted from other students during class, just open the instructor dashboard. The names of students that digitally submit questions will be hidden from the class. 

Hide Name resized 600

LectureTip: The Instructor Dashboard is located in the present tab and enables instructors to draw on slides and monitor student questions and comprehension, taking advantage of classroom engagement strategies.

Dashboard resized 600

Create an Account to View Live Questions During Lecture.

Ready to upload PowerPoint slideshows, add activities, and create multimedia slides? Create a free instructor account to begin making your lectures more interactive.

Get Started with an Instructor Account Now

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology

Updated Instructor Interface Opens Up a Larger Workspace

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 @ 22:03 PM

One of our main goals at LectureTools is to constantly refine our software to provide the best possible experience for our users. We’ve made some fairly significant updates to the instructor interface. The end result is more screen space dedicated to the tasks you spend the most time on.


Space-saving top navigation integrates a variety of settings

To give the interface more vertical space, the course tabs and the help button now live with account settings and other administrative functions in a common header, providing a noticeably more efficient utilization of space.

prepare interactive lectures


The course menu displays the course you are actively viewing. Expanding the menu allows you to select a different course, or to create a new course.

select or add a new course


For many sessions, users worked only on setting up or presenting a single lecture. To reflect this, the lecture dates menu now displays the selected date. To present or edit content from a different lecture, or to set up a new lecture, simply select it from the menu. Lectures that have already been configured display with their title, while an entry with only a date denotes a lecture that has not been configured yet.

lecture date menu


Click your name to logout, access typical account settings or manage the courses you teach. Find support documentation or submit a request using the Help menu.

account menu 


An open canvas for your lecture content

In addition to the new top navigation, the second major change you will notice is the absence of the Prepare, Present, and Assess tabs on the left-hand-side of the instructor window. To provide a more continuous workspace for your material, they have been moved to the upper-left-hand corner.

In Prepare, the other drop-down menus might look different, but they function exactly the same as the ones you are already accustomed to.

create interactive activity


These changes also mean your slides get more space in the Present window as well. A new set of presentation controls behave as before, with the movement of the Presentation Dashboard toggle to this group, which eliminates the space-hogging bar of the old version.

presentation controls


We hope that you enjoy these changes. The best way to learn is always hands-on, so login or create an account now!


Need Help?

You can read more in-depth information about how to use our new interface by visiting our support documentation. If you are still left scratching your head, please email support so we can help you get on the right track.

Topics: LectureTools News, New Features

Interface Upgrade Makes it Easier for Students to Get Things Done

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 @ 22:03 PM

Instructors aren’t the only ones who received an interface upgrade. We have also renovated the student interface, making it easier to use and opening up more space for slides and notes.

new student interface


Navigating lectures is a breeze with the new top menu

Like instructors, students will now find all of their account settings and course management functionality built into a common top menu.

 student top nav

Selecting the lecture date through the top navigation allows all remaining space to be dedicated to slides, activities, questions, and notes.

student lecture dates 


Usability enhancements

Our developers managed to sneak in a few usability tweaks amongst the aesthetic changes. Students can now ask a question while viewing slides without having to go to the questions tab.

ask new question


Additionally, when students are navigating through slides, they can use their arrow keys to quickly move ahead or backwards in the presentation. The shortcut works as long as students aren’t using the notebook, indicated by the lack of a cursor in the text area.

The Browse Slides tool also received a tweak that enables students to scroll quickly through the slide thumbnails. By using the native horizontal scroll bars from students’ browsers, students can horizontally scroll using their laptops’ trackpad.

browse slides


Still Confused by the New Designs?

If you are having trouble getting things done within our new interface, please email support@lecturetools.com or call (734) 794-3012 for support. We will be happy to get you back on track.

Email Support

Topics: LectureTools News, New Features

How to Flip Your Class with LectureTools!

Posted by Katherine Pfeiffer on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 @ 06:02 AM
Are you being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, or are you dancing with joy when you find a new and cool education technology?

Either way, LectureTools offers a fantastic and easy solution to flip your classroom.  Some of you may ask what I mean by flipping a classroom, check out my last blog: The Flipped Classroom: Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

Have you been thinking about how to flip your classroom?  Are you not sure what technology to use?  Let’s take a look at how LectureTools can help support your flipped classroom.

lecturetools flipped classroom

LectureTools is an interactive student response system.  It was designed to connect instructors with students in a synchronous face-to-face interactive environment.  However, take a new technology like LectureTools mixed with bright innovative teachers, and, voila!  You have an awesome and easy way to FLIP YOUR CLASS TODAY!

You may ask “what is so special about LectureTools?”

LectureTools offers everything the instructor needs to present materials to their students for a flipped class. 

  • EMBEDDED VIDEO - With the ability to embed both native (your own recorded video) and YouTube videos directly into the lecture slides students can seamlessly review their lecture, video clip to slides, then back to video clips.
  • ORGANIZED NOTE-TAKING - LectureTools also offers a very organized place for students to type their notes along side the lecture slides.  This keeps everything together in one neat place.
  • INTERACTIVE ACTIVITIES - LectureTools was designed to be an interactive student response system, so there are interactive activities that the instructor can insert to test the students’ understanding as they are going through their lecture.  Teachers can assess any misconceptions and address them in the next in class session.  These interactive activities are multiple-choice question, free response answer, re-ordered quiz, and our all-time favorite, the image quiz.
  • QUESTION & ANSWER INTERFACE - Finally, one of the greatest features that LectureTools offers both students and instructors is the question interface.  As students sit in their lecture (whether real time or synchronous) they may type in questions to their instructors.  All questions will be answered and shared anonymously with the entire class.  This is the virtual way of raising your hand and hoping to be called on, however in this format students’ questions can always be recognized.

Sign on to see what my flipped lecture of the study of the cell looks like:

Go to: https://my.lecturetools.com/ and use the following credentials:

email address: icon20@lecturetools.com

password: icon2011






Topics: emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, Student Response Systems, Flipped Instruction, Laptops in Education, The Flipped Classroom, Cloud Computing, Using Multimedia During Class

Greetings From the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas!

Posted by Jason Aubrey on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 @ 23:01 PM


It's LectureTool's first visit to Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES 2012) and so far so good! Higher education reps and corporations were excited to see the education offerings of our presentation, student response, and note-taking tool. It's also the first time we've publicly displayed our LectureBook etextbook product and our upcoming iPad application. 

CES Photo resized 600

(From left to right, Rich Boys (Director of Customer Experience), Zach Wick (Software Engineer), Bret Squire (Software Engineer), and Jason Aubrey (Director of Sales of Marketing).

Our team knows the competitive nature of CES and what's being presented, so we thought we'd play along and show the world how cool education can be, too.

We took this opportunity to show a sneak peak of the first student response and note-taking iPad application. The app allows students to use the Apple iPad to respond to activities, swipe through lecture slides, ask questions, and the other things students can do on LectureTools. The plan is to allow for online and offline access to LectureTool's materials for students. As long as they have their iPads, they have their course materials. 

Stay tuned as we'll be officially launching our iPad application in the near future, available for all students with LectureTool's subscriptions. 

From Las Vegas,

The LectureTools CES Team!

Booth 73305 in the Venetian Ballroom

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, student response, Student Assessment, CES, ipad application

Just Push Play: Engage Your Students with Audio and Video Slides

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 @ 13:01 PM

If you want to show video clips or play audio for your class, you can now insert multimedia directly into your slide deck using new audio and video slides.

You can embed videos from YouTube, or upload an audio or video file from your desktop by selecting “Audio/Video Slide” from the Create Interactive Activity menu.

 select multimedia slide


When presenting, the multimedia items will show up in their own slides with a full suite of playback controls. Your students will also be able to play the media when they are reviewing their notes after class. Just push play!

video slide standalone


LectureTip: Wondering how to use multimedia to further improve student engagement? Try following an audio or video slide with an interactive activity to get your students to think critically about the material.

video slide thumbnailCreate an Account to Add Multimedia and Interactive Activities to Your Lecture Slides

Ready to upload PowerPoint slideshows, add activities, and create multimedia slides? Create a free instructor account to begin making your lectures more interactive.

Get Started with an Instructor Account Now

Topics: LectureTools News, New Features, interactive classroom technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Using Multimedia During Class