Best Practice

Tools to try in teaching

Pearltrees Screenshot

For this week’s post, three of us on the instructional design team have written a short piece about different tools we find useful that might be worth trying in your teaching

Claire Fennell | Roojoom & Pearltrees

The internet is fantastic resource for teaching but keeping track
of different pieces of content and organizing the various bits and pieces can be a challenge
. Roojoom and Pearltrees are two tools that can help with this task.  They both do much the same thing (so it is really personal preference as to which you use) they let you package various internet resources together organize them around a specific educational topic in a coherent way. 

From a pedagogical standpoint why is this useful?

  • Well by creating packages of internet resources, students can work through the materials without having to jump in and out of other materials to check links.
  • Also if they are working through a package they are less likely to be tempted away by sites such as facebook.
  • One of the final advantages (and possibly the biggest advantage) is that they allow you to place the resource in context, both roojoom and pearltrees allow you to write a couple of sentences along side the resource in question.

Furthermore, both are extremely easy to use, they pretty much just involve copying and pasting the relevant links. Below is an example of each type of package

  1. Roojoom
  2. Pearltrees

There are also some demo videos available here:

Once you have created  your content package, you can then make the link available to students or even embed it in Blackboard. I would encourage any of you to give it a try and if you have any questions on this please feel free to get in touch with us at and we will be happy to help.



Patrick Kiely | Adobe ConnectAdobe Connect Screenshot copy

‘Adobe Connect web conferencing software service offers immersive online meeting experiences for collaboration, virtual classrooms and large scale webinars.’. So says the Adobe website. To me, Adobe Connect is a veritable pedagogical Swiss army knife as it has a comprehensive feature set that can be tailored to various forms of synchronous learning. Sometimes with online or blended programmes a pedagogical case for the use of synchronous learning will arise – a scenario where student learning can be best facilitated by all or some of the class meeting in the same virtual space to demonstrate their achievement of a learning outcome or completion of Capstone module or programme project. Adobe Connect can be used for all of these synchronous scenarios from Medicine to Business and from Arts to Chemistry. Before I recount some of scenarios in UCC where Adobe Connect has been used two caveats should be included:

1) Adobe Connect is commercial software with quotations available on request from UCC’s preferred supplier Micromail and

2) Although Adobe touts this software as ‘immersive’ the level of immersion will be in most cases directly proportional to the level of academic and pedagogic engagement and planning.

Now for some real world UCC case studies of the use of Adobe Connect.

The online MSc in Technology Enhanced Learning in Healthcare which will launch in September 2016 will use Adobe Connect quite extensively but in very different contexts:

  • As a virtual office for virtual office hours for one-to-one discussion of research projects etc
  • As a presentation space to allow students to present their research proposals to their peers and supervisors for real time formative feedback and discussion.
  • As a tutorial space where academics can moderate a discussion on the trickier aspects of complex topics like statistical analysis and high fidelity full physics virtual reality medical simulation.

As an Adobe Connect user, you can design a series of virtual learning rooms for each scenario to better meet the pedagogical goals of each.

The one to one session could give primacy to webcam feeds of the participants and perhaps shared documents. The presentations would place the presenter webcam and presenter screen front and centre with a Chat module available for the audience to queue up questions. The tutorial space could include presentation screens, webcams, polling modules and more dynamic learning resources as needed.

In previous years the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health have used Adobe Connect to facilitate student induction onto wholly online programmes, to moderate the delivery of student presentations and to host and record guest lectures.

If have a pedagogical conundrum on your programme or module that you think a tool such as Adobe Connect might be the solution for contact and we will set you up with a trial license to test.

One final point while Adobe Connect is excellent at developing interactive learning online it is not the best option if you just want to record your lectures. UCC has a site license for Panopto that my colleague Sophie Gahan discusses below.


Panoptop ScreenshotSophie Gahan | Panopto Recorder

The downloadable Panopto Recorder is a great way for recording audio to accompany your
slides. Presentations are mostly used to highlight key points; most of which would make little or no sense to students unless someone is discussing them.

Lecture capture tools are very important when making the move online. They reduce the amount of hours spent in the classroom and allow students to study in their own time.

Most staff would be familiar with Panopto because of its recording facilities which are available in 87 of the 158 centrally bookable rooms on campus. Classroom recording facilities are great for capturing real lectures and including input from students.

Many academics however, also like the more informal option of recording audio over slides in their own time. This can be done by downloading the Panopto recorder to your laptop. You will need a webcam and microphone in order to use this software. Most laptops come with an in-built version of both. Keep in mind that a talking head (your head to be more specific) is not essential; you can opt for audio-only if you’re more comfortable with this.