Each month, Instructional Technologies is shining a spotlight on effective, engaging, or promising learning technologies. Each Spring and Fall semester, an iTech Spotlight video will highlight an application of innovative technology at PLU.

2020-21 Spotlights




Instructional videos are a great way to convey information to a variety of audiences. Depending on the topic, videos can vary in length and complexity. TechSmith, the creator of SnagIt and Camtasia, recently released a blog post The 7 Essentials of a Good Tutorial Video which outlines some critical components of a successful video. Pair that post with their Ultimate Guide to Easily Make Instructional Videos (PDF), and you’ll have a decent framework to start developing your own videos.

On the technical production side, PLU Instructional Technologies supports software, such as Screencast-O-Matic and Open Broadcaster Software, to capture and produce instructional videos. After the videos are produced, they can be shared with your audience via YouTube or Google Drive using your PLU Account. Review these and more articles in the PLU Knowledge Base. If you need additional information, guidance, or assistance in creating your project, send an email to itech@plu.edu.



Summer is a great time to get outside to enjoy the weather and get some exercise. Usually this means taking a break from screen time, but there are a few tech resources that can you help plan and enhance your time outside.

  • AllTrails – Robust catalog of trails. Keep track of favorite trails, learn about new places to go, and create custom maps that are sharable with friends.
  • Geocaching – Find treasure in the woods! Maps provide locations and navigation to hidden caches. Once you find a cache, write your name in the logbook, take a prize, leave a prize, and rehide for the next Geocacher.
  • Leafsnap – Learn about the vegetation around you. Leafsnap is a series of electronic field guides that helps identify trees using visual recognition software developed by university researchers and the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Cairn – Stay safe outdoors with Cairn. Real time tracking, estimated ETAs, and crowdsourced pinpoints where other hikers have found cell phone reception. It can also send alerts to selected contacts if the hike is taking longer than planned.
  • Ten Essentials – Technology aside, here’s a list of the ten essentials that every hiker should bring in the backcountry. Have fun and stay safe!

2019-20 Spotlights


Featured Video: PLUTO Teaching with Technology Grant

In 2019, PLUTO (PLU Teaching Online) offered grants for integrating technology into teaching. Four faculty, listed below, received the grant for their innovative ideas. Watch the video to learn more about how these professors used their technology in the classroom.

  • Claire Todd, Associate Professor of Geosciences and Environmental Studies, for the purchase of a weather station
  • Tom Smith, Associate Professor of Theatre, for the purchase of media production equipment.
  • Marnie Ritchie, Assistant Professor of Communication, for the purchase of 2 drones.
  • Bret Underwood, Associate Professor of Physics, for the purchase of electronic lab notebooks.



Sometimes websites and web services will load very slowly or not at all. Here are some ways to check to see if the problem is on your end or with the service itself:

  • Downdetector.com – Check to see if the product or site you are trying to access is having issues. This site also includes comments from users who may be having similar issues.
  • PLU System Notices – If you are having issues with services hosted by PLU, this page is the place to check to see if there are known issues.
  • Speedtest.net – If everything seems to be running slowly, this site will check your connection speeds. If it’s really slow, you may need to restart your computer, modem, or router. It may also be worth asking the other users on your shared connection to lower the amount of data they are accessing.
  • Restart Router & Modem – Sometimes the internet connection must be restarted to work. This article explains the process from start to finish.



FlipGrid is an easy-to-use video discussion platform for all levels of education. With FlipGrid, students can connect with each other and share their learning easily. Teachers can set up communities, called “grids,” and add topics for discussion. Students can then submit video responses to the prompt as well as to each other. FlipGrid can be used to facilitate conversation relating to course material, as well as to share and celebrate work, in a social way. See more details about how to use FlipGrid for remote learning.



Hypothesis is a free Google Chrome extension that allows users to highlight and make annotations on website text and online hosted PDF documents. The annotations can be viewed, shared, and commented on by all Hypothesis users, a specified group of people, or kept personally. Annotations can be shared via a direct link to point other users to exact locations of websites to assist with collaboration, website development, and information sharing. This tool might be a good fit for anyone engaged in web research and could be a game changer for group research projects. If you have questions about Hypothesis, contact iTech@plu.edu.



Jamboard is a collaborative digital whiteboard that can capture handwritten notes, brainstorm ideas in a group, or create simple slideshows. Multiple users can create content simultaneously on Jam projects. A Jam project is broken up into multiple boards, called frames. Each frame can contain imported images, digital sticky notes, or content drawn with a mouse or touch-enabled device. Jamboard is included in Google Suite and free to use. It is accessed via a web browser or App. Give it a try today and see if it something that will work for you. If you need assistance, contact iTech@plu.edu.


Featured Video: Podcasting

In addition to being a growing medium in pop-culture, podcasting can also be used as an effective pedagogical tool. Podcasting in PLU classrooms has gained popularity over the past few years, with faculty across campus integrating podcast assignments into their curiculuum.  Hundreds of students each year are now producing podcasts as part of their coursework. Watch the video below to learn more about how podcasting is being used in classes, and how these assignments have evolved at PLU.



Zoom is a popular web-conferencing platform that has video, voice, and text chat, as well as a variety of other web-conferecing and group collaboration features. Meetings with Zoom can be recorded as video, which can be saved and watch later for reference. It’s a good choice for webinars, trainings, and hosting online team/class meetings. The Basic version of Zoom is free and available to everyone. PLU has a limited number of Pro licenses, which you can request by contacting itech@plu.edu.



VoiceThread is a highly interactive, online discussion space. Instructors and students upload pictures, videos, presentations, or documents into an online collection. Then, they can respond and comment to each other in a variety of ways, such as with an audio recording, video, text comment, or PDF response.


ACCESSIBILITY APPS provide support to people with disabilities. Here are three examples of apps that can be used to make a positive impact on people’s lives:

  • Be My Eyes – App that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers for visual assistance (video).
  • P3 Mobile – Helping deaf and hard of hearing people make and receive phone calls by connecting to digital tools and live sign language interpreters (video).
  • Color Blind Pal – App allowing people with color blindness to see colors around them and simulates color blindness for content creators.



InsertLearning is a plugin for Chrome that faculty can use to turn any website into an interactive learning experience. It can be used to insert questions, discussions, and insight directly into any website. When students go to that website, they can respond to, and interact with, the added content, as well as take their own notes.


KEEP YOUR BRAIN IN GEAR! Classes are over, the sun is shining, and meals are being eaten outdoors. Although you don’t have to wake up to attend an 8am class, keep your brain running with the help of these tools:

Duolingo – Learn a new language (helpful for study abroad)
TED – Inspirational, informative, and entertaining speeches
Khan Academy – Videos, can supplement existing classes
edX – Stream free online courses and certificate programs
Coursera – Enroll in online courses

2018-19 Spotlights


Featured Video: The Lightboard

Introducing a new tool from iTech: The Lightboard. The Lightboard can be used to create written and drawn visuals for instructional videos, which can be especially useful to demonstrate complicated material, such as mathematic equations. iTech built their own Lightboard for campus-wide use – watch the video below to check it out! Visit our Lightboard page for more info.

Monthly Spotlights


FINISH STRONG! Final tests and projects are upon us. Be sure to drink plenty of water and take study breaks. Here are a few tools that may help you round out the semester:

  • Citation Machine – Create citations in multiple formats and scan papers for mistakes
  • Photomath – solves and explains math problems
  • GradeProof – improve writing, check for originality
  • Bitpaper.io – a collaborative whiteboard


GET ORGANIZED! It’s time for a little spring cleaning! There are only a few weeks left in the semester. Check out these apps to help manage your time, collaborate with groups, and hit the deadlines:

  • Evernote – Organizer of notes, lists, checklists, attachments, audio recordings, and other elements
  • Trello – Group organization and task management
  • CamScanner – Easily scan and share, turns pics into PDFs
  • Due – Due date tracker
  • MyStudyLife – Alternative to Due


Got an idea for a future iTech spotlight? Use this form to submit suggestions. Consider suggestions such as new mobile apps or learning hardware/software tools. Also tell us about any peers or faculty that are using tech in innovative ways.