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Tips and Tricks: Spice up your courses by adding interactive elements!

Bring your itslearning courses to life with talking avatars, interactive lessons and Twitter newsfeeds! Interactive features make lessons more entertaining and increase student engagement. You can easily add these elements to itslearning dashboards, discussions and assignments. The videos below will show you how.

Talking Avatars

Make your courses more engaging by including talking avatars. 

An avatar is a character used to represent a user. Many people use avatars instead of their photos in discussion forums, blogs and games. They’re easy to make and students love them!

Talking avatars add a visual and audible dimension to courses, which leads to better retention of information. I use free avatars from voki.com but there are a lot of other webpages you can use. Record your own voice for a personal touch, like I did below (press play):


 

Avatars can be used to introduce new topics, explain homework assignments, announce class news and pretty much anything else. You can use them in language classes to record yourself teaching pronunciation. Students can play the sound files as many times as they want.

Encourage your students to express themselves by having them make their own avatars. They can customize them to look and sound like themselves, or to assume a different identity. Here's an example of such an assignment:


 

Blendspace lessons

Blendspace lets you create interactive, engaging lessons in no time; making it simple to differentiate assignments for your students. 

Combine web resources into one lesson and add them to itslearning. Blendspace has a built-in search engine allowing teachers to simultaneously search for instructional videos and other resources on Google, Vimeo, YouTube and Educreations. Just drag resources from the search results list onto the lesson page, then add headers, instructions and other notes. Here's how a Blendspace lesson looks in the platform:

 


 

Get a free Blendspace account and you can share and collaborate on lessons with other teachers. You can create quizzes in Blendspace that align with itslearning’s reporting tools. Easily embed your finished lessons into itslearning content blocks and assignments by copying and pasting a snippet of code from Blendspace. See how easy it is by watching this video:

 

 

Twitter feeds

Is there an election coming up or an international debate going on that you’d like to bring into the classroom?

If you want to spark a conversation among students about a certain topic, one good way is to embed a Twitter feed into your itslearning dashboard. After that, you can start a discussion thread about it. Watch this video and learn how easy it is to make your own Twitter feed widget:

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips. If you’d like more of the same, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your own tips as well!

 

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