Gamification: 3 Reasons to Try It

Gamification is a huge buzz word in higher education. It is essentially the incorporation of game-design elements into non-game contexts. Gamification can be attained with a wide degree of technological immersion: from hand-held printable QR codes like Plickers to full-scale Virtual or Augmented reality. In higher education, gamification is praised for its ability to engage students and promote deeper learning. Especially in online or hybrid courses, gamification holds the potential to transition learners from passive to active participants (See Kaufmann, Reflection: Benefits of Gamification in Online Higher Education, 2018).

Here are some compelling reasons to try it today!

1.High Tech or Low Tech- Gamification doesn’t require a great deal of technical expertise. Game design can be achieved with just a template and a PowerPoint. The success of the exercise lies in the commitment to the theme and not the technology used. That said, if you’re comfortable with technology, there are a wide range of online resources from Socrative’s Space Race to simulated immersion scenarios, like 360 immersive used for EMS training.


Socrative Space Race

2.Save Time with Templates– The best part of the uptake of gamification is the fact that many other higher education professionals are also attempting to incorporate these designs into their classrooms. There are a number of templates available online for a wide variety of games. Pick the game you want to emulate and start searching! Easy game-design templates include: jeopardy, board games, leader boards, and (coming soon to ATSU) virtual escape rooms.


Great Group Games “Jeopardy Powerpoint Template”

3.Keep your Learners on their Toes– The best way to keep learners engaged is to change the ways in which they interact with the material. This means that you don’t need to incorporate gamification into every class. In fact, using it infrequently will increase the impact of these novel game-based elements and help your students to build novel and concrete association between the content and the game.



Green Screen in the online lecture- how to make it work

First, lets be clear about WHY you’d want to add a green screen component to some of your lectures. It isn’t just because green screen is a pretty neat cutting edge technology. Let’s face it a homemade green screen isn’t exactly going to be cinematic quality. If you’re planning on moving quickly along your backdrop green screen is probably not the right technology for you.

So why would we want to implement a green screen? Essentially to boost student engagement. Johns Hopkins University Professor Ronald A. Berk argues that “multimedia learning provides an empirical foundation for their use in teaching… to increase memory, comprehension, understanding, and deeper learning” (Berk 14). Scholarship suggests that varying the format of lectures can improve student engagement. Another study on medical education and multimedia suggests that digital visuals can help students engage and later re-use the content (Bashet 871). Especially for online lectures, adding a green screen can boost engagement and make your lecture more memorable.




You really have two choices setting up a green screen:

  1. Do you want to project yourself over an image of your slide (or an image of the related material). I like to call this the “Weatherman Effect“. It essentially allows you to point out important features of a slide and generally direct student attention to the areas you are discussing.
  2.  You can use green screen for comedic effect. Suddenly propelling yourself into outerspace or onto the beach can grab student’s attention and re-focus it. It shouldn’t become your status quo unless you want to give your lectures a quirky, unusual quality. You’ll know if you are the kind of teacher who can pull that off.

Just keep these concepts in mind when you’re ready to start recording.



You will need:

A Zoom Membership – ATSU provides FREE Zoom Pro memberships so you’re already half way there!

A blank backdrop – I’d highly recommend buying a green backdrop. You can get them from Amazon for less than $15 and it means you don’t have to coordinate your outfit.

Pro tip: make sure you don’t wear clothing that is the same color as your backdrop or you will fade into it.

A video recording device– with the zoom app for your phone this could be a smart phone, a built-in laptop camera OR a usb camera.



(Just kidding!) The process to set this up should be fairly easy!

  1. Export the slides or backdrops you want into separate image files that you can easily find. (I take screen shots on my phone or I export my powerpoint to a PDF and save individual pages as JPEGs from there).
  2. Login to Zoom and go to Settings.
    1. You’ll see an option for changing your Backround
    2. if you don’t see this option contact IT to make sure they remembered to set you up with a Zoom Pro account
  3. Upload your images into your Zoom and open an empty conference room
  4. Record your zoom session using the different backgrounds (you can change backgrounds directly from your settings while the video is still running!)
  5. Import these videos into your lecture OR splice them into your lecture videos. (I’d recommend the latter)

You can find a quick tutorial for this process on the ETDC’s YouTube.

Questions? Contact the ETDC if you need help with this process!

Bashet, A., Kirchhoff, C. & D’Alba, A. (2015). “Effects of Multimedia Video in Learning Human Anatomy”. In D. Rutledge & D. Slykhuis (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2015 (pp. 871-876).

Beck, Ronald A. (2009). “Multimedia teaching with video clips: TV, movies, YouTube, and mtvU in the college classroom”. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 5(1), 1–21.

Beyond PowerPoint- Boosting your Presentation Technology

As Faculty, you are probably familiar with PowerPoint. We’d like to show you some alternatives and options to make your presentation more engaging! With a wealth of technology available, why not take your presentation skills to the next level? Many of these examples draw upon PowerPoint, so you can easily adapt old slides and creating new ones will feel familiar!



Articulate Studio ’13 and Articulate Storyline are an add-ons to Power point that allow you to add quizzing, narration, and other interactive features into your slides. With Articulate you can publish your presentation in three different ways: in Flash; HTML5; and mobile, which is viewable, with a free app, on mobile devices, including iPads and iPhones.  You can import Powerpoints and do simple voice-overs, or you can create fully interactive scenarios that engage the learner.  Published files can be big, so they may take some time to upload to blackboard, but if you are familiar with PowerPoint, articulate should be just as easy. We have purchased licenses for this product for use by the ATSU community.

Your ATSU Lynda account offers training materials as well as this Articulate support site. We’d recommend checking out this site since it offers some great articles on course creation and improving student interaction.



Prezi is an innovative PowerPoint alternative that allows you to visually move through a timeline. You create content along the way in a manner similar to using PowerPoint. The Prezi conveys a greater sense of movement and interaction throughout the presentation. Like PowerPoint slides though, Prezi is not designed to be too text heavy. What is great about Prezi for classes is that it can be shared through a link. The link adds not only the presentation (with an audio option)- it provides access to slide notes too.

You can download Prezi here.



Camtasia is an integrated video and audio editing software that allows you to add captions, text, titles and transitions into your recordings. You can cut, edit, and split videos without having to re-record.   It can be used to capture screen activity with your narration and save it as a recording that students can play back. It also offers the ability to edit the video and audio after it has been recorded. Our instructors get free access to Camtasia, and it is installed on our ETDC computers if you wish to record in our offices. Camtasia also offers quiz features.

The ETDC has produced some quick tutorials and guides for using Camtasia.



Adobe Captivate is an amazing resource if your department has purchased a license. Adobe captivate allows you to use fairly standard Adobe Photoshop editing tools on slides. The software allows you to add and upload content. It also supports responsive movement, quizzing and drag-and-drop elements.Captivate also offers an iPad app and an asset store.



SlideDog is the perfect example of a way to create a glitch-free presentation that pulls from multiple resources. If you’ve ever wanted to open a link to a browser window half-way through class and then had difficulties either connecting to the Internet or navigating seamlessly back to your presentation, this may be something you want to look into. It works really well for transitioning between different formats (and diversity in formats can help improve student engagement). You can also live stream or record your presentations.




Projeqt allows you to weave together multiple sources into a single presentation. The website pushes live content, however you can add audio notes, stream videos and include web links. This is the perfect tool to pull in online resources that you’ve come across or that you previously had your students look at outside of your presentation. It doesn’t offer many layout options, but it does make for a visually compelling narrative.

Want to see an example? Check out WebMD’s executive creative director’s John Weiss portfolio.



Are you uncomfortable or tired of having your face on all your video recordings? You can easily create animations to talk in your place to add to your other presentation software. You can upload audio and in a couple steps manipulate your avatar to lip sync it, and then load your avatar into a variety of compatible presentation software.We don’t necessarily recommend adding an Avatar, but if you want to switch it up, we threw in this resource as a bonus!

Not sure how what programs you can use to record the audio or add screen capture to these presentations? Check out our LibGuides on Windows or iOS resources!

On TOP of the Literature- technologies for Students and Teachers

Staying up to date on the literature is key for the 21st Century Medical Professional. We’re highlighting THREE technologies that can help alert you to new developments in your field! Share these with your students or incorporate them into your lesson plans/ course LibGuides to encourage your students to keep up with new publications.


RSS Feeds

Why we love them

RSS feeds are a great way to get news and article notifications on your phone or right next to your inbox! Because ATSU has a Gmail-based mailbox, you can literally get all your news and article alerts whenever you check your mail on your desktop. If you prefer a phone app, there are a variety of RSS reader apps available!

How they work

Think of a RSS feed reader as a daily newspaper published specifically for you. Each day you’ll see the titles and descriptions of articles, blog posts, or news
specifically curated by your expressed interests. By subscribing to a RSS feed you will get notifications of new posts all in one place. You can set up the RSS feed parameters to reflect your specific interests.  You’ll only see a brief synopsis of each article, but if you want to read it the feed links directly with the full text! The downside is that you have to take the time to set up the feeds you want to follow. RSS feed readers are great for websites, etc… with content that you already like to look at.ETDCnotes

How you can use them

Create a Feedly account by logging in to their FREE service with your ATSU email. From there you can pick some broad subject areas OR search for discipline specific key terms. From there you can organize your feed by categories you create.

RSS Readers like Feedly allow you to save articles for later, and help you stay on top of the news. All you have to do is click on an article to mark it as read. The reader will also let you mark or un-mark multiple feeds as read.

You can also share your RSS collections through email, and you can export content from your feeds into Google docs!


Get your students involved!

Once you determine which RSS feeds you like, these feeds are a great resource to share with your students. Get them to engage by having them search for new feeds to follow! This is a great opportunity to help teach them how to 1. manage their time while they stay on top of the literature and 2. evaluate online sources for their reliability. It will also create new feeds to add to your collection.



Browzine Shelves


Why we love them

Browzine is easy to use AND it syncs across platforms! You can access all the journals that ATSU subscribes to in one place, organize them, AND pull them up on your phone, tablet or desktop. Our library search also has a Browzine feature so each time you search and find a journal you want to follow, it is easy to add it to your online library. More importantly, Browzine will send you notifications when a new Issue is published!

How they work

You can register for Browzine with ANY email, however you will want to authenticate your library access with your ATSU login. From there you can search for a specific journal title OR browse by subject. Although the journal display is set to alphabetical by default, you can also display the journals based on their SCImago journal rank. With each journal you can add them to your shelf AND you can label each of your shelves by category. (Note you can drag and drop books to different shelves on the APP but for now you have to right click and Move books to new shelves on the desktop.)

How you can use them

What is GREAT about Browzine expanding to desktop access is that searches AND bookshelves all create durable links. You can share a specific course bookshelf with your students in your lectures, course site, or LibGuide. Much like your RSS feed reader, your Browzine shelf will show you when there are new titles published by each journal in your shelf. This is a great resource for online scholarly journals, and a great way to encourage students to stay on top of published literature.

The setback for Browzine shelves are that they only reflect what ATSU has access to. Other journals, or journals with embargos will not show up on your shelves and you cannot receive notifications for them. These are great static resources, but less individualized.

twitter pic



Why we love it

Using Social Media in your classroom doesn’t need to be another gimmick. Used well, twitter can help to create a virtual archive or pictures, links, and commentary on a given subject. Twitter helps keeps students engaged and it opens up classroom discussions beyond the classroom or BlackBoard walls. It also makes tagged information accessible indefinitely and can help keep it current! What is also great about using twitter is that many students use their personal accounts and end up interacting in new ways with the course material outside of school.


How it works

Twitter allows you to post links, pictures, and comments online and connect with people with similar interests. Signing up for a twitter account is free, and you can always maintain both a professional/educational and a personal twitter account. Your posts will show up on your timeline, along with comments other people make in response to them or posts you are tagged in. More importantly, adding #hashtags to posts makes your content searchable.



How you can use it

Some of the best examples of using twitter within the classroom come from creating either specific hashtags or a twitter account.

Creating a class account will allow students to tag the account and will create a timeline that reflects the course content. “@ATSU_PT2016” for example could be an account used specifically for the Physical Therapy cohort. In a class account you need to create guidelines for students regarding how to appropriately tag the account. You should encourage them to tag the account for articles related to the class and for comments or questions about the material.Encourage them to think of it as an informal discussion board for them to pin articles or ask ideas when they come across them.Note that managing a class account can be time consuming, especially if you want to reply to the posts and post content.

Creating a class hashtag allows students to search for related course content, questions, and comments. A class hashtag needs to be as short as possible but also unique. (The shorter the hashtag the more space for the students to comment). The class hashtag requires students to search for course material, but it also consolidates all hashtagged material into a single location. This hashtag will work so long as the students once again think before they tag. Posts should be informal but relevant.