Useful Tools for Teaching Online (and on campus!)

Rachèle DeMéo, MiraCosta College (French)

Useful tools can transform the experience in both teaching an online class and taking a class online.

Technology can make an online class captivating, fun and interesting.

When I was completing the Program for Online Teaching through MiraCosta College I discovered a plethora of tools–for online and on campus classes. I still absolutely love discovering new tools.

It’s important to find the RIGHT tools for your class. Since there are so many out there you have to, in some ways, “weed-through” to discover the ones that will make your online class successful.

I also believe it’s important to be consistenwith what tools you use in your classroom. Students like consistency. I believe it’s better to have less tools that are very useful and you use consistently in class rather than using a bunch of tools only once.

Here are some tools I’d recommend:

Screencast-o-matic records screen captures. I use Screencast-o-matic to create tutorials for my students. Here are some examples of some of the tutorials I’ve created for my class: uploads your Power Points and records a video of yourself. Why do I love Because I’ve been able to upload Power Point Presentations I already use in my on campus classes and record my lecture. It simulates what I’d teach in the classroom.

Here are some examples of videos I’ve create for my courses:

Google Drive uploads documents you’ve already created so you can share them. You can also create documents in Google Drive. Dropbox is another similar tool that uploads your documents. You can access both Google Drive and Dropbox from any electronic device.

Here are is an example of  a handout I share with my students early on in the semester:

You can also create surveys with Google. I receive feedback for my classes by asking my students to complete this survey at the end of each course.

Blackboard contains many tools I find useful for an online class. From creating surveys, tests, writing assignments, the Discussion Board, Voice Board (to record oral exams), Blackboard Collaborate. Each is worth exploring to find out what is right for your online class.

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YouTube may be a popular tool but also a very useful tool for instructors. I’ve found many useful videos for my students on YouTube.

Here are a couple I really like:

I really like creating movies using iMovie (Apple). If you’re unsure where to start, YouTube different tutorials to help get started. I’ve used iMovie to create videos of interviews of other French-speakers or daily scenarios. Here are some videos I’ve created using iMovie:

GoAnimate is a fascinating video maker! Create videos based on cartoon characters you choose. Use the voices available on GoAnimate or record your own. I’ve found GoAnimate helpful to show how you’d use something taught in class (for instance verbs).

Here are a couple I made:

SoundCloud records audio. Why do I like it? Because you can record using just your smartphone. A few Summers back I went camping with my family and I recorded audios for my online class while my children were napping! Since there’s an application for SoundCloud, students can listen to your audios from anywhere, pause, repeat, listen to the audio again.

I use SignUpGenius for my office hours. When students sign-up for office hours, they reserve the “spot” so others can see that that spot is taken already. They receive a notification two days prior to remind them. It’s helped me avoided having to go back and forth with emails. I also use SignUpGenius so students can sign-up for oral exams and the final oral exams.

Skype is a popular tool. I personally use it in my class for my office hours. If students can’t make it on campus, they can Skype me. I also use it for oral exams and the final oral exams.


There are so many tools out there and I believe finding the right ones for your class is essential. It’s worth trying each out so you can know which ones you prefer. Test them out and ask your students what they think.

I hope this post was helpful. Thank you for reading!

I would like to personally thank Lisa Lane for everything she taught me through the Program for Online 2013

-Rachele DeMeo


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