Category: Blog

Consolidate your cloud storage

MultCloud ( is a web-based tool that lets you consolidate all of your online cloud storage into one central location. By adding your individual cloud services like Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. to MultCloud, you can find and download any file without having to remember in which cloud you saved it. You can also easily move or copy files from one cloud to another without having to download and re-upload them.

Tools to help students organize their ideas before/while composing

While traditional outlines can be made on notebook paper or in a word processing program, these online tools may help some students better focus, arrange, and articulate their ideas.
  • Padlet ( is an easy-to-use virtual bulletin board that lets you post and visually arrange text notes as well as images, videos, attachments (limit of 25MB), and web links. Notes can be moved around, grouped, and even layered freely.
  • Trello ( is an online organization tool that lets you create “cards” containing text, images, attachments (limit of 10MB) or links, and arrange them into categories and groups just by dragging and dropping. Cards can be tagged with color-coded labels to add an additional layer of organization.
Both tools are completely free, allow you to log in with Google, and offer free mobile apps. Additionally, both Padlet and Trello allow users to share their ideas and collaborate with others, and both feature simple, interactive quick-start lessons.

Authentic video for language courses

LangMedia ( is a project that aims to offer free, authentic videos (with transcriptions and translations) for less commonly taught languages, as well as videos that highlight differences in regional dialects and usages for more commonly taught languages. Many of these videos focus on cultural points and can be a great supplemental resource for the videos and audio materials that accompany textbooks. And unlike YouTube, these videos are well-produced and designed with language learners in mind, plus they can be downloaded for offline viewing or integration into Blackboard.
Materials are available for many of the languages taught in LCSL – Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish!

Schedule office hours and meetings in Google Calendar

Google Calendar’s Appointment Slots feature ( – login with your UIC email address)  is a great way to have students sign up for meetings without the hassle of a paper sign-up sheet. Creating a block of appointment slots is as easy as adding events to your UIC Google calendar. Then, just share the link given in any slot to allow students to see all the possible options and sign up.
To make appointment slots even easier to use, you can set a large chunk of time, say two hours, and have Google automatically break it into smaller (5, 10, 15, 30, 45, or 60 minute) slots. If you want more than one student to sign up at a time – for paired oral exams, for example – you can create multiple slots at the same time. And, if you teach more than one class and want to offer different possible meeting times to different classes, you can simply create individual calendars for each class and create and share your slots accordingly.
Check out this video tutorial for a great demonstration of how to set up appointment slots and add them to Blackboard.
For more information on appointment slots, see here:

Visuals for Foreign Language Instruction

Visuals for Foreign Language Instruction ( is an online database of over 450 free illustrations designed specifically for use in foreign-language classes. These illustrations depict places, objects, verbs, and situations and can be customized to fit any language or task.

Distraction-free video viewing

ViewPure ( is a free, easy-to-use website that allows you to view YouTube videos without distractions. You can either search for your video or enter a link and remove all of the clutter – ads, recommended videos, comments, and more! Once you’ve got the “purified” video, you can use the new web adress just like a regular YouTube link, no special account required. Great for showing videos in class!

Web-based dictation tool for most any language ( is a free and easy way to go from audio to written text. Available in a multitude of languages including Korean, Lithuanian, Spanish (of many varieties!), Greek, and almost every other language taught in LCSL, this web-based transcription tool is surprisingy accurate when used with good quality audio and even uses context to automatically correct its errors. Other than simply dictating notes, can be very useful for creating a transcript of an audio podcast, a YouTube video, or even a film clip, from which you can create activities like dictations, quizzes, and worksheets – just play the audio and use your computer’s microphone to capture the sound.

Visual representations of data with Google Forms

Google Forms ( are a tool that you might already be familiar with, but they’ve just unveiled some new features that make them even more useful for teaching. The new Google Forms automatically create colorful visual representations of the data they collect, making them great for in-class use. One or two question forms could be assigned as homework allowing you to both prepare for discussion and integrate these visual representations into your lesson. You could ask students which character they found most sympathetic or most deceitful or to choose the elements of a text that make them doubt the narrator. You could also ask them to sort different aspects of the culture they’re studying as similar to their own or completely different, or you could ask them to rate their agreement or disagreement with a series of statements about a character, a story, or a cultural practice. The whole class’s answers to all of these can then be collected and presented as colorful, easy-to-read, dynamic graphs and charts that provide a wonderful starting point for discussion.

Online whiteboards for student collaboration

Limnu ( is free service that allows you to use your computer like a whiteboard. Just as with a real whiteboard, you can draw, insert images, and add sticky notes to your Limnu boards. This can be particularly useful for making tutorial videos or in cases where you simply need a whiteboard but don’t have access to one.

Limnu boards are also collaborative. You can invite people to edit your boards or allow them to edit as guests via link. This can be a great way to have students collectively brainstorm or add comments to images or notes.

With a free account, Limnu boards expire after 7 days, but Limnu offers free premium access to educators (, which allows you to keep your boards forever. This means you can post your boards to Blackboard or add them to other websites for your students to access.

Visit our sample Limnu board to give it a try! (Click Guest Login at the bottom of the page.)

Interactive timelines – no dates required!

Hstry ( is an easy-to-use tool for creating interactive timelines. Unlike other timeline tools that use dates to organize events, Hstry doesn’t require or even use dates. This means that you can use Hstry to have students summarize and retell events from a novel or a film in their own words, to write stories using course vocabulary, or to create self-presentations. Additionally, you can post any media (text, audio clips, YouTube videos, pictures, etc.) in a timeline. There is also an option to include small quiz tiles with ungraded multiple choice questions that allow you to give instant feedback and check comprehension, and “Did you know” pauses for supplementary information.
Hstry allows for sign-in via UIC Google Apps and has step-by-step instructions for everything including setting up the timeline and
account management that anyone – instructor or student – can follow.
With Hstry, you have multiple options for sharing with your students. You can create and manage a class in Hstry where you can post class timelines you create and have your students, who must create a Hstry account, post their timelines. Alternatively, Hstry timelines can be shared through a link or embedded into most areas of Blackboard, which does not require students to create an account.