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Google Drive: Docs, and Spreadsheets, and So Much More!

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Written by: Evan Sanderson

Google Drive isn’t just a great way to organize your personal documents and spreadsheets; it can be an extremely effective tool for the classroom as well! Drive includes a document editor, a spreadsheet creator, a form aggregator, as well as several other tools. Each of these tools synch to the cloud and can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection (and through any device).

Want to have students submit a paper to an online drive? Need a way of collecting student information? Have an spreadsheet that needs editing, but you don’t have your personal laptop on you? Google Drive can help with all of those issues and more!

To learn more, watch CTRL’s video on Google Drive here:

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WordPress: Making Blog Building Easy

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Written by: Evan Sanderson

Let’s reveal a little secret–all those fancy blogs you look at aren’t really that hard make. In fact, a good deal of the Internet is built on the WordPress platform. WordPress is a website building platform that is easy to use and elegant in design.

With WordPress, you can create pages, post updates, and manage comments. Visitors can post comments and share your posts through social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. And best of all? It’s basic functionality is free to use!

To learn more, watch the CTRL instructional video on WordPress here:

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Prezi: Put A Little Zing In Your Lecture

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Written by: Evan Sanderson

If placing slide after slide is starting to give you nightmares, we may just have the answer to your PowerPoint fatigue. Introducing Prezi ( a virtual canvas that allows you to deliver content in an interesting, new way. Instead of moving on a linear track (a la PowerPoint), Prezi allows user to zoom around between different pieces of content.

The idea behind this is to incorporate multimedia content in a more engaging manner. Not only does Prezi allow you to think outside the box when it comes to presentations, it also gives out free academic accounts for students and faculty. Just use your AU email address to register!

To learn more, watch CTRL’s video on Prezi here:

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Google Forms: Making Your Life Easier, One Form at a Time

Google Forms Icons

Written by: Evan Sanderson

You’re standing in front of class, passing around a sign in sheet, and thinking: There’s got to be a better way to gather my students emails. Or maybe you’ve just taught a particularly tricky concept, and you want to make sure your students have grasped (most of) it. Wouldn’t it be easy to have a system that designs and administers the form for you?

Google thought it would be, and that’s why the came up with Google Forms. Accessible through Google Drive, Google Forms allows users to design and administer “forms”. Pedagogically speaking, forms can take the shape of quizzes or polls, and Forms will even collate and organize the data for you.

To learn more, watch the CTRL instructional video on Google Forms here:

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Video is Worth A Whole Bunch of Words

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“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth ten thousand.”
That’s the theory, anyway, when it comes to online content. Video is increasingly becoming the lingua franca of the digital realm. As advertisements, educational technology, and entertainment all train us in the visual and auditory vocabulary of this content style, it becomes incumbent upon us as educators to incorporate this skillset into the classroom. It’s a powerful tool in the toolbox of the educator.

To that end, the Teaching and Learning Resource Group has unveiled a new project that will put this theory into practice. We looked around our office and saw not only a wealth of information on a variety of instructional technologies and methodologies, but a group of engaging and creative teachers. Why not (we asked ourselves) create a video repository to leverage our collective knowledge? And so we have begun to do just that, figuring that if video is the language of the Internet, then it can also serve our purpose to supplement our workshops, events, and trainings.

Beginning this month, we plan on releasing a series of videos illuminating some of our favorite instructional technologies. From Google Drive, to Prezi, to RSS feeds–we want to develop a range of content that will be accessible and useful to AU faculty and staff. The videos will function as both promotions for various instructional aids, and as primers for their specific functions.

Take, for example, our Google Drive promo. We created this video specifically for educators, focusing on how Docs can be used to comment on students’ work, how Google Presentation can be used in lieu of PowerPoint to develop classroom lessons, and how Forms can be used to administer tests and quizzes. These videos are selected and designed for you.

If you have any suggestions for future video topics, or questions about the process, please feel free to contact us at And stay tuned for our first video on Google Drive, to be released later next week!

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SPSS Tutorial Videos on YouTube

Need some last-last-minute help with SPSS?

California State University, Los Angeles, has a great YouTube channel that has several videos on how to use SPSS.  There are videos on how to download data files, define variables, entering data, and how to do various analyses, like crosstabs, t-tests, regressions, and more.

Below is an example of one of their videos. This one is a basic intro to SPSS:



This channel is also really handy if you need a refresher on how to use SPSS.  Most of the videos are between 4 and 5 minutes long, so they’re also really good if you need to remember how to do that one thing that slipped your mind. We have a more recent version of SPSS in the lab, but the steps to do these analyses are the same! Ask a consultant for help if you need additional assistance.

Statistics Video Tutorials (and more!) with The Khan Academy

Misplaced all of your statistics knowledge? Forgot which mental filing cabinet you stored everything you learned last year in the statistics class you aced (because you got help from the SSRL?). Or maybe all of your statistics books and notes “accidentally” fell down the garbage chute last semester…and you need your notes again?  Well, good luck getting those back.

Aside from what we can offer you (Even during the summertime!), check out this website that can help you brush up on your statistics or even help you learn something new:

The Kahn Academy is a non-profit organization that provides video tutorials on almost any academic subject out there – including Statistics!  Their videos are generally about 10 minutes or less, and the “instructor” (a casual, informative, and often humorous voice narrating the lesson) will guide you through the lesson using colorful visuals. There are no tests, just lectures. At the moment the Academy is striving to cover all the essentials of a first year statistics course. You can see on their webpage that they have already covered most of the basics:

These video tutorials can help you understand the fundamentals of statistics, but they won’t show you how to actually use statistics programs such as SPSS or STATA. For help on how to use these programs and more, feel free to visit us in the lab and we will show you how it’s done.

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Why Lynda can be your best friend

Have you met our good friend Lynda? Her face is one you can’t miss…she sort of looks like MTV’s cartoon character Daria with her best friend Jane’s haircut. She can help you learn most of the leading software out there to enhance your skills for that job you want to land or that term project to you want to ace. includes a collection of online video tutorials on how to use various software. The tutorials range from beginner level to showing more advanced features of the product. The video clips are generally short, usually between 2 and 10 minutes. And because they are videos, you can stop and go back at anytime to hear the instructor repeat the lesson. Unfortunately, doesn’t cover any statistical packages.

As an American University student or faculty member, you have free access to’s services online. Just log into your account >> Technology >> Web-based software training library. Some of the featured software that we do support in the lab that is found on are Dreamweaver and Excel (many of the media and design programs are supported by New Media Center, also located in Hurst). But don’t stop there! Make Lynda your best friend and learn a software you never knew before!