Q and A: Discussing some popular EdTech tools for UA instructors

Student typing on a laptop and smart phone on a desk
Published: Friday, August 12, 2022

What are the most popular educational tech tools that UA instructors use to actively engage students?

Instructional Technologist Cheryl Neal recently met with Riley Iosca, a UA Alum and former adjunct professor, to discuss this question and more about some of the instructional technologies that are available to UA instructors.

Riley: Of all the different tools that your team supports, do you have any favorites that you think could be utilized more fully?

Cheryl: I’m a member of UCATT’s D2L and InTech Team. Some of our most popular tools that we support are PlayPosit and VoiceThread. Instructors, especially given the teaching challenges of the pandemic, have found that those two tools are great for engaging learners asynchronously. They offer nuanced ways to build discussions around video or visual media, such as images, articles, or PowerPoint slides. These tools also add a more dynamic level of interaction than just passively watching a video. A lot of instructors use these tools but may not be aware of how many other features these tools offer. Meanwhile, there may be instructors who have never heard of the tools. We’re here to help facilitate that understanding and offer training and support!


Riley: What is PlayPosit, in a nutshell?

Cheryl: I see PlayPosit as a kind of video ‘wrapper’ that instructors can put around a video to build interactive activities. For example, instructors can embed mini quizzes into a video and get real-time data on how their students have responded to each question and use that information to tailor their lectures. The multiple activities within PlayPosit are relatively modular and adaptable to different teaching needs.


Riley: How about VoiceThread?

Cheryl: VoiceThread is an interactive discussion tool. It’s a great way to do asynchronous teaching because it allows users to comment on or respond to questions within lecture slides, for example. Anyone who is utilizing the VoiceThread environment can use video, audio, or text, which really enhances communication efficacy, especially in classes with larger numbers of students.


Riley: Can both PlayPosit and VoiceThread be used to enhance either in-person or virtual classes?

Cheryl: Definitely. If you're doing in-person teaching, you can focus on deeper discussions based off what you might introduce within either PlayPosit, or VoiceThread prior to class. If you are not meeting in person, and you're fully online, VoiceThread provides a wonderful way to build camaraderie with classmates who may not ever meet physically in person.


Riley: What do you think is the most underutilized feature of PlayPosit that instructors can benefit from?

Cheryl: That's a good question! I’d have to say live broadcasts, a feature within PlayPosit that can be used during in-person classes or lectures. Attendees can use their devices to respond to pop out quizzes or activities throughout the lecture.

In fact, even if everyone is meeting up together virtually, you can still use this live broadcasting feature. The instructor or meeting host can have quizzes or interactions pop up during the meeting for attendees to interact with or respond to. And if this sounds complicated, we’re here to help facilitate using these tools!

To learn more about all of the educational technologies available to instructors, please contact:

D2L and Integrated Technologies (InTech) Team

Email: D2L@arizona.edu

Phone: (520)626-6804

Website: https://teaching.arizona.edu/

Authored By:

Cheryl Neal

Cheryl Neal
Instructional Technologist III
Guest Author(s):
Riley Iosca
UA Alum and Former Adjunct Professor