Story by Elizabeth Juengling/Contributing Writer
MTSU students and professors were thrown a curveball when President Sidney A. McPhee and the on-campus management team determined that students would complete the remainder of the semester online due to the global pandemic of COVID-19.
Luckily, there is a plethora of free resources online to help students get through the unprecedented remainder of the semester, all while socially distancing.
Zoom and Discord are group conference applications with video conference and messaging capabilities across multiple devices. Zoom allows multiple users to share their screens and co-annotate. This tool can also create a searchable transcript based on all video meetings. You are even able to add a personal background to your video and use the “Touch Up My Appearance” tool to make sure you are ready for a class lecture or group meeting.
Note: MTSU’s Computer Science department has set up a “hotline” at 615-900-0744 to help answer questions regarding Zoom, Discord, or D2l remote learning systems. Starting March 23rd it will be available Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m; Friday 8 a.m.-Noon.
Google Hangouts provides video calls, voice calls and group or private messaging on computers and mobile devices. Users can organize their Google Hangouts into different group chats, which is great for an entire class or a group chat. Hangouts is also offered as a free Chrome Extension with added features.
Skype, a downloadable Microsoft tool, is great for group meetings and group messaging or individual video calls. It is free to download on computers and mobile devices. Skype, however, is not as supportive of file sharing as some other tools.
GroupMe is an online group messaging application that users can sign up for with their phone number or email address. GroupMe does not offer voice or video chat capabilities but it is a great way to message multiple people at the same time.
Probably the preferred choice for workplace communication, this messaging application is like GroupMe on steroids. After creating or joining a “workspace,” users can divide their group communications into multiple channels, as well as direct message others, all within one easy screen. Users can also join multiple “workspaces” to streamline their classes or jobs.
Problem solving and topics:
Khan Academy is a free learning resource that provides users with video and reading passages about specific topics. They specialize in providing example problems for all levels of math, even K-12, and science. Khan Academy offers “Mastery Points” for completing lessons as an incentive to learn and gain as many points as possible. Khan Academy is even providing schedule templates for those who need extra organization in their online studies.
Crash Course, created by John Green, Hank Green and friends, is a great resource to get a general overview on subjects in History, Science, Language Arts, Social Sciences and more. Each video, ranging from eight to 20 minutes, discusses one topic in that particular course. The hosts’ humor and entertainment value makes the content more interesting and easier to remember.
TED-Ed uses animated videos to explain topics in the Arts, Science and Technology, History, Language Arts and more. Additionally, teachers can use this website to create their own lessons. While the videos might cover niche and out-of-the-box topics, it is a great supplemental resource.
Quizlet is an online study tool that focuses on flashcards. Users can create their own sets of flashcards or utilize the thousands made by other users. Quizlet, using the information from the flash cards, has multiple learning techniques including quizzes, games and memorization activities. This tool is great for vocabulary, key figure and formula memorization.
Kahoot! is an online game based on multiple choice questions. Groups of people can use their individual devices to participate in a quiz game based on multiple choice questions that someone creates. The quiz game is timed and points are rewarded by choosing the right answer and choosing it the fastest. The competitive nature of this game makes learning fun and interesting.
Brainscape has flashcards about every topic imaginable. Users can make their own flashcard sets or use the sets created by professors, publishers, students and experts. Brainscape’s activities use the concepts of metacognition, active recall and spaced repetition. Through editing permissions, users are able to collaborate with other users to create flashcard sets.
Cerego is a paid flashcard application that uses the learning philosophy of distributed practice. Cerego spaces learning over time in chunks rather than learning all of the information at one time. While it is a paid program, some MTSU professors use school funds to create classes.
MTSU Provided Materials:
JEWL, which stands for James E. Walker Library, is MTSU’s online database. Through their MTSU login, students can access multiple research databases, digital collections, periodicals, e-books, government documents and more. While the physical library is closed to students, library staff are working to support students with their online studies through their Remote Services Page
All MTSU students have access to the New York Times for free. Students can use the NYT to keep up to date on the primary election, COVID-19 and other current events.
- Library Remote Services
- Continued Library resources
- Interlibrary loaning system
- Student Food Pantry
- Blue Print Solutions
- “Stay on Course” videos explaining all MTSU coronavirus responses and resources
- Need a laptop, or better internet access? Call ITD’s Robin Jones atJones@mtsu.edu or 615-898-2214
Other Online Resources:
Google Drive offers collaborative documents, presentations and spreadsheets. Through sharing, multiple people can edit, create and collaborate on all kinds of projects. Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Sheets are the equivalent to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, respectively.
Desmos and GeoGebra are free, online graphing calculators. Users can insert equations to see the visual graph associated with it. Additionally, Desmos offers an online scientific calculator.
IDroo is an online whiteboard tool that allows users to collaborate and watch presentations. All collaboration is done in real time. IDroo could be used to complete math problems, organize ideas, make outlines or just for fun. In addition to the whiteboard itself, there is also an integrated chat for discussion and questions.
These are only a select few of the thousands of online resources available. With some hard-work, dedication and perseverance, MTSU students can successfully complete a semester online exactly as they would on campus.
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