12 Apps of Christmas


For the next 12 days an app will be featured along with its educational uses. These posts will be republished here (mixed in with your own posts) and are also linked in the RSS feed widget below the ‘Your Course’ box on the right.

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May 2020: Etherpad

What Is It?

Etherpad is a simple to use, “multiplayer” text editor which supports synchronous document editing and collaboration. It is an open-source project, and when hosted in Canada complies with FIPPA. This is a unique quality not found in other collaborative document editors (like Google Docs), making Etherpad a solid option for teaching and learning.

What Can It Do?

Etherpad’s most notable feature is synchronous document editing, which allows multiple users to work on a document at the same time. The tools available within the app are very similar to what you will find in any text editor – text styling, list formatting, headings, font styles and sizing, etc. The layout of these tools also emulate that of commonly used text editors, making the learning curve minimal. Etherpad also allows users to leave comments on a document and mark them as suggested changes to support collaboration without infringement on an individual’s work. Sharing a document is as easy as sending an email invite or copying a shareable link, and new document collaborators automatically join anonymously and can choose a pseudonym to work under if privacy is a concern. Synchronous communication is made even more accessible through the chat feature, which facilitates real-time, casual discussion outside of the working document.

Asynchronous participation is also supported as users can access shared documents at any time, regardless as to whether the host is currently editing. This is good to keep in mind for participants in different time zones, who have busy schedules, or whose home internet is less stable.

Getting Started

The easiest way to get started with Etherpad is through OpenETC’s BC-hosted Sandstorm server that provides students and educators with access to 70+ open-source web applications. You can get started by creating an account with your institutional email address at https://apps.opened.ca

Once you have access to Sandstorm, you will be able to browse and search for web apps in their app market. Look for Etherpad and click Install, which will add the app to your Sandstorm dashboard. Click “create new pad” to begin working on your first Etherpad document!

How does it work?

  • Rename your pad by clicking on “Untitled Etherpad pad” on the top left.
  • Invite a friend or colleague to join your pad by clicking the “Share Access” button at the top. Send an invite via email or by copying the shareable link – use the drop down menu to change the permission settings before sharing the invitation.
  • Play around with the different text editing tools while you work simultaneously with your guest – notice how the text is color coded to flag who is writing what.
  • Try changing your display name by clicking on the people icon on the top right.

Using Etherpad

Click on the image to see a larger version.

A short task – challenge yourself!

Access Etherpad through your Sandstorm account, or join our pad at:


Try leaving a comment on the document to suggest an edit.

  • Highlight the section of text you would like to comment on.
  • Click the chat bubble icon to the left of the text alignment tools.
  • Type your comment into the pop up box that appears. Check the “include suggested change” to toggle another box which will allow you to leave your suggested edit.
  • Click the comment button to save your comment and make it visible to all users. Reopen the comment and click “accept change” to have your suggested edit replace the existing text.

Using Etherpad in Teaching and Learning

One of the bigger challenges instructors are facing with the shift to remote teaching is finding ways to facilitate group assignments. This often requires high immediacy tools to remediate the collaboration possible when teaching and learning face-to-face, which is often resolved using videoconferencing tools like Zoom or Collaborate. However, this approach can be problematic, as explained by Daniel Stanford in his article “Video Conferencing Alternatives: How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Will Save Us All”, where he writes “videoconferencing is one of the most inflexible and bandwidth-intensive activities we can ask our students to do.” In his Bandwidth Immediacy Matrix, there is an obvious gap in the “blue zone”, the area for tools with high immediacy, but low bandwidth. Etherpad helps fill in this gap, providing educators and students with a platform that allows for instantaneous collaboration, without needing a lot of bandwidth or all the tech gear necessary for video conferencing.

Bandwidth Immediacy Matrix by Daniel Stanford

Extend your learning

Check out the Etherpad Wiki on GitHub. Learn more about how it works and where it’s going from here.

Read Videoconferencing Alternatives: How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Will Save Us All, by Daniel Stanford. What zones do your technologies inhabit? What zones might be most appropriate for your learners?

Posted in 2020, App | Comments Off on May 2020: Etherpad

February 2020: Remind

Submitted by Keith Webster (suggested by Charlotte Webster), Associate Director for Learning Technologies, Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies, Royal Roads University

What is it?

Remind is a simple app that enables communication between a group of people. I saw this app used with great success by teachers and coaches at our local high school. It worked for both teacher-driven communications and for formal and informal groups that may or may not have included a teacher or coach.

What can it do?

Remind can facilitate communication across classes or within a community group. It’s a low barrier way to create a specific list for a specific purpose and communicate via mobile app or through your computer. Remind is specifically designed for K-12 education and is suitable to any group (teacher led or not) that needs to communicate with all its members.

Download the App

How does it work

  • As an educator go to remind.com or use the app to create a free account.
  • Set up a class and either share the link or add people.
  • As a participant download the app and use the course code to join a group.

A short task – challenge yourself!

Dowload the Remind App and join the 12 Apps of 2020 course by using the class code:


Once you’re in, I’ll send you a note and you can send a message to other participants.

An extra task – try out the teacher side

  • Go to the remind.com site and set up your own teacher account.
  • Create a class and share the code in the comments below.
  • Send a message to your class!

Extend your learning

Remind Tutorials

Remind Videos

Don’t forget to come back and add a comment below, write a blog post or share your results somewhere on social media. Use the hashtag: #12AppsBC

Posted in 2020 | Comments Off on February 2020: Remind

January 2020: Animoto

Submitted by Lisa Gedak, Teaching and Learning with Technologies Strategist, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

What is it?

Animoto is a cloud-based video creation tool that allows users to storyboard with video clips, photos, and music, for designing and producing impressive videos, slideshows, and presentations. Animoto is available for iOS (iPhone, iPad), Android operating systems, and runs in web browser. Educators can complete an “education application” and register themselves for free, as well as up to 50 students or colleagues. Animoto offers a beginner-friendly interface, and new users can begin to create dynamic videos immediately upon sign-up.

What can it do?

Animoto offers an outlet to create impressive videos, slideshows, and presentations. Videos can be “copied” and edited so making slightly different versions is easy. Users can add music, text, and voiceovers to slides and videos. Animoto videos can be created from scratch, or there are a variety of pre-loaded templates that can be accessed. Animoto houses over 1,000,000 stock Getty images and videos, ensuring enough content that users may not even need to upload their own files. Animoto can import a plethora of file types to add to the videos, including, MP4, AVI, MOV, QT, 3GP, M4V, MPG, MPEG, MP4V, H264, WMV, MPG4, MOVIE, M4U, FLV, DV, MKV, MJPEG, OGV, MTS, and MVI. Uploaded video clips can be up to 400MB. Completed projects can be exported in high resolution, and can also be shared through social media, URL, or embed code.

Download the App

How does it work

  • Download the app, or sign up online using an email address and a password (free for educators).
  • Begin to create! On the app, select “templates”, and on the web browser, click “create”.
  • Choose stock images and video, or upload your own content.
  • Share your creations on social media, via embed code, or URL.

Here is an example of an Animoto I created about the intersection between pedagogy and technology:

Intersection of Pedagogy and Technology

Extend your learning

Animoto has a blog where it houses resources, such as, blog articles, video tips, video examples, video ideas, news, marketing support and consumer trends. There are also links to various social media pages Animoto hosts.

Using Animoto in teaching and learning

Animoto offers educators the ability to register themselves, and up to 50 students for no cost, making it a desirable option. The mobile app allows users to capture and share moments when learning opportunities present themselves.

Video based activities and assignments can increase learner engagement, are easy to consume and can make it easier to understand topics, ideas, and concepts. Videos can integrate the outside world into the classroom.

The process of students creating and producing videos can promote autonomy, reflection, improved communication skills, research skills, collaboration, problem solving, digital literacy skills, and organizational skills.

As a bonus, videos can be utilized in future classes and as a resource for future cohorts.

A short task – challenge yourself!

Create a self-introduction video using Animoto:

  1. Create a new Animoto (if using app select “templates”, if using web browser click “create”).
  2. Upload a picture of yourself (or an avatar, emoji, image) or use a Getty stock image.
  3. Use voiceover or text to introduce yourself.
  4. Add music.
  5. Share your creation!!

Don’t forget to come back and add a comment below, write a blog post or share your results somewhere on social media. Use the hashtag: #12AppsBC

Comments Off on January 2020: Animoto

12 Apps of Christmas becoming the 12 Apps of 2020

The 12 Apps of Christmas hosted by BCcampus and ETUG for the last three years will transform into an app each month for the year of 2020. If you have an app you would like to share please reach out to us via email at keith.webster@royalroads.ca.

If you are interested in helping to organize or promote the 12 Apps of 2020 please let us know.

Posted in 2020 | Comments Off on 12 Apps of Christmas becoming the 12 Apps of 2020

Thanks from 12 Apps 2018

That’s a wrAPP!

Thanks for taking part in the 12 Apps of Christmas. You are one of hundreds that took part in this offering of the 12 Apps of Christmas. Please come back and check out Apps you may have missed as the lessons will remain open and available for your continued fun and learning. Also, take a look through the Apps from previous years.

Your feedback will make the next one even better

We’d very much appreciate your feedback in helping us make improvements for our next offering. Please take a few moments to complete our short evaluation survey. It will help us make next year’s event even better and more useful. If you’d like an early spot on the email list for next year, please indicate so on the feedback form or in a reply to this email.

Stay connected with ETUG

The Educational Technologies User’s Group (ETUG) is a grassroots community of practice, and we could always use a few more roots. While we’re focused on post-secondary education in British Columbia, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite all the 12Apps participants from across Canada and around the world to subscribe to the newsletter, join in our 25th anniversary activities, and participate in our workshops and conferences. You can stay in the loop if you sign up for our newsletter.

ETUG’s 25th Anniversary Conference

It’s been 25 years since the Educational Technology User’s Group started mixing the technology with the pedagogy. The anniversary conference is going be a special one. Mark you calendars to join us for the ETUG 25th Anniversary Conference (a Back to Future experience) June 20-21 at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops British Columbia.

Please, reuse these micro-lessons

All the lessons for the 12 Apps of Christmas are shared under a CC Attribution 4.0 International License. Please feel free to use and reuse with attribution to the creators of that days app.

The 12 Apps Gang

We’d like to acknowledge the contributions of the team who worked behind the scenes to get this show on the road. Organizing and administering the 12 Apps this year was Keith Webster with editing assistance from Bonnie Johnston. Wisdom and backup were provided by Robynne Devine and Clint Lalonde.

A diverse group of educators and students shared their favorite Apps and created the mini-lessons accompanying each. They include:

App 1: Jamie Billingham, Justice Institute of British Columbia

App 2: Aiden Gibson, Queen’s University Belfast

App 3: Grant Potter, University of Northern British Columbia

App 4: Lisa O’Neill, Delft University of Technology

App 5: Sylvia Riessner, Educomm

App 6: Ian Linkletter, University of British Columbia

App 7: Donna Desbiens, Royal Roads University

App 8: Lisa Ransom, Auckland University of Technology

App 9: Heather Wik, College of the Rockies

App 10: Ken Harmel, University of the Fraser Valley

App 11: Keith Webster, Royal Roads University

App 12: Emily Renoe, University of British Columbia

And special thanks to Robyn Humphreys (BCcampus) for the lovely graphics. Best Wishes from all of us for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2019!

Posted in App | Comments Off on Thanks from 12 Apps 2018

App 12: Dec 18 Mentimeter


Submitted by Emily Renoe, Educational Consultant, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, University of British Columbia

What is it?

Mentimeter is a cloud-based polling tool that allows you to engage and interact with your participants/students by creating questions, getting answers, and easily show the results in real time. Participants can use their mobile phone or any other device connected to the Internet.

Download the App

How does it work

  1. Sign up through your Facebook profile, Google account, or with an email address and password that you choose, and create a New Presentation
  2. Select your question types incl multiple choice, image choice, word cloud (my favorite!), quiz, and open-ended.
  3. When you create your presentation, a voting code/presentation ID used for voting appears on top of the screen. The most usual way for your audience to start voting is to go to https://www.menti.com and enter that code. (See image 1 at right)

As results start tricking in, both you and your students see the real-time results. (Image 2 at right, is an example of an open-ended question).

Mentimeter in Teaching and Learning

Mentimeter is a fantastic polling solution that allows an instructor/presenter to actively engage with students/participants because it adds dynamics to the classroom/presentation! The beauty of this tool is that it is super easy to use and accessible on a mobile phone – which most, if not all students have with them at all times! Some of the benefits of using polling as a low-stakes active learning strategy are:

  • gauges students’ comprehension of concepts
  • instructors can adapt instruction as and where needed
  • encourages participation for students of all comfort levels
  • builds flexibility in classroom session based on student responses

Extend your learning

Mentimeter has a great selection of https://www.mentimeter.com/how-to to get you going! There’s also a Mentimeter YouTube channel.

A short task – challenge yourself!

Try Mentimeter

Try it for yourself! Go to menti.com and enter code 94554. Please contribute a response to the question “What are some tried and true active learning strategies that you use and why?”

Then check for contributions from everyone here. (Note: You can also embed the results in a variety places such as a website, blog, and an LMS. The beauty of embedding the polling results, in say an LMS, is that students can return time and time again and see the results updated as new responses come in.

Make your own Mentimeter poll

Sign up for a Mentimeter account and create your own interaction. Post the details here in the comments area to share.

Don’t forget to come back and add a comment below, write a blog post or share your results somewhere on social media. Use the hashtag: #12AppsBC

Posted in 2018, App | Comments Off on App 12: Dec 18 Mentimeter

App 11: Dec 17 HP Reveal

HP Reveal (formerly Aurasma)

Submitted by Keith Webster, Instructional Designer, Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies, Royal Roads University | @keithatwork1

What is it?

HP Reveal (formerly called Aurasma) is an augmented reality development and distribution platform. It lets you create ‘Auras’ that display content on a smartphone when it scans an object or image in the real world. While HP Reveal does have a paid version, it is fully functional with a free account. HP Reveal is one of the recommended apps in the Apple Educator program.

Download the App

How does it work

HP Reveal works by pairing one thing in the physical environment with another media piece in the online environment. You upload an image of something in your physical space and then upload a media piece (100 mb limit on the free account) to be paired with it. A learner with the HP Reveal app on their mobile device scans the object in your physical space (this can include an image displayed on a monitor) and the paired media piece will be displayed as a layer over top of it.

Extend your learning

There is a substantial number of tutorials out there for HP Reveal. Remember that this tool was recently purchased so some materials will be found by searching for ‘Aurasma’. Two official tutorial collections are:

HP Reveal ‘How-to’ Articles

HP Reveal YouTube Channel

Teachers: How to use HP Reveal app

Using HP Reveal in teaching and learning

HP Reveal offers an excellent platform for linking real-world objects with online resources to extend or enrich learning. It is similar to using QR codes, but offers a more seemless and vastly better experience.

HP in a K-12 classroom

A short task – challenge yourself!

Try out the app

Jeremy Sutton is an artist who uses HP Reveal. Go to his web page at:


Download the HP Reveal app and follow his instructions to interact with some of his art (you don’t need to print anything, you can scan directly from your monitor). Comment below or share on Twitter (hashtag #12AppsBC), your experience using this app and how it might fit in your teaching.

Make your own Aura

Sign up for an HP Reveal account and follow the steps laid out in the tutorials above to create your own aura. If you use an online image or webpage as your target image, you can share your aura online just like Jeremy Sutton has. Share the info in the comments below so others can check it out. People will need to know your username so they can follow you on HP Reveal and they will need a link to the target image. Let us know what it was like creating your own aura.

Don’t forget to come back and add a comment below, write a blog post or share your results somewhere on social media. Use the hashtag: #12AppsBC

Posted in 2018, App | Comments Off on App 11: Dec 17 HP Reveal

App 10: Dec 14 Xodo


Submitted by Ken Harmel, Educational Technologist / Sessional Faculty, University of the Fraser Valley | @harmelken

What is it?

Xodo is a PDF reader & annotator that can also read other eBook formats.

What can it do?

There are a lot of PDF readers and annotators but Xodo facilitates annotation by groups by synching updates when documents are shared via Google Drive or OneDrive so that no one needs to download or keep track of versions.

Download the App

How does it work

Post downloadable readings, typically in MS Word or PDF, into a folder in your Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox. Everyone then opens the document in Xodo on their mobile or computer for a comfortable read and annotate it with highlights and comments for later reference. And then simply close it (no sync is required so no lost markups which is why I love this app!).

For accessibility, PDFs can be read “Reflow” mode so fonts can be enlarged.

Extend your learning

When you’re ready to write your assignment or need to reference your highlights and comments just go into your Google Drive or OneDrive folder, find the PDF and you’ll find it all marked up with your valuable references.

Learn more about the mobile app: http://feedback.xodo.com/knowledgebase/articles/614835-getting-started-xodo-basics

Using Xodo in teaching and learning

When reading is assigned, convert it to a PDF and recommend Xodo to students. Typically, students still read on their PCs, which makes online learning cumbersome. Some read using the default Adobe Reader, but highlights can easily get lost as they are stored locally and don’t sync well to PCs. This was my frustration when I was a student. Students should not get frustrated trying to read.

Xodo is an app that supports learning on an ongoing basis as instructors and learners interact with the resources they have found. For example, when posting a reading assignment you can recommend Xodo to students so they can better manage their online readings, such as this posting in a Blackboard learning object:

For reading eBooks I highly recommend using XODO (I wish I had found it earlier in my postgraduate studies). Install it on your mobile devices for easy reading. You will find it as intuitive as highlighting and writing notes in a physical textbook. Upload articles to your Google Drive or OneDrive and you can access all your markups from your PC when you’re ready to write your assignments.

If you’ve signed up for a Xodo account, you can share access to your PDF. Send it to your students to share your annotations (if you share via email address, you can share annotation permissions as well).

A short task – challenge yourself!

Annotate a shared PDF

Use the link below to open a PDF in Xodo (on your mobile device or desktop, with the app or in the web view), and do some highlighting and commenting of your own. Let us know how it worked, and how this might be something you could introduce to your courses.

Caplan, D. & Graham, R. (2008). The Development of online courses. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The Theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Athabasca, AB. AUpress.

Start your own collection

Download the Xodo app and create an account. Use it to highlight and comment on a document you use in teaching and learning. Share a link to the Xodo version of this document in the comments below so other can chime in.

Don’t forget to come back and add a comment below, write a blog post or share your results somewhere on social media. Use the hashtag: #12AppsBC

Posted in 2018, App | Comments Off on App 10: Dec 14 Xodo

App 9: Dec 13 Zoom


Submitted by Heather Wik, Child, Youth and Family Studies Coordinator, College of the Rockies

What is it?

Zoom is a web conferencing application that can be used with a desktop computer or mobile device.

What can it do?

Zoom can support one-to-one or group video conferences with video, audio and chat support.

Download the App

How does it work

You can create a free account for Zoom on your computer or through the app once it is downloaded. Once you have your app you can create a ‘Zoom Cloud Meeting’ and invite others to join you.

Extend your learning

Zoom Android tutorial

Zoom iOS tutorial

Using Zoom in teaching and learning

Students can use Zoom to quickly meet and plan for group activities or projects. Zoom can be used to bring your teaching presence to students located in another location, for remote cohorts or for distance learning. You can use Zoom to bring a remote guest speaker into your classroom. Zoom is also a great way to host office hours whether your class runs on campus or online.

A short task – challenge yourself!

Get started with Zoom

Download the Zoom app and use of these links to join a Zoom meeting. Heather and Keith will try to pop into the Zoom meetings as often as possible. Note that these meetings are set to be open for 4 hours but, as they are setup on a free account, if they have more than three attendees they will only persist for 40 minutes.

12 Apps of Christmas meeting, 10:00am to 2:00pm (Pacific)
Password = 12AppsBC

12 Apps of Christmas meeting, 2:00pm to 6:00pm (Pacific)
Password = 12AppsBC

Setup your own Zoom meeting

Start your own account and setup a Zoom meeting. Share the details and link (Zoom will even create custom email content for you to share) in the comments below to invite people in.

Don’t forget to come back and add a comment below, write a blog post or share your results somewhere on social media. Use the hashtag: #12AppsBC

Posted in 2018, App | Comments Off on App 9: Dec 13 Zoom

App 8: Dec 12 Microsoft Teams

App Name

Submitted by Lisa Ransom, Learning Technology Advisor/Trainer, Auckland University of Technology

What is it?

Microsoft Teams is a tool in the Office 365 suite of tools. This “Introduction to Microsoft Teams” youtube video explains it all:

What can it do?

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool that provides global, remote and dispersed teams the ability to work together to share information in a common space and real time. It allows for combined workplace chat, meetings (video and voice), notes and file sharing. It cuts down on continual emails going back and forth and not have to go to 15 different places to collaborate.

Available for iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android operating systems. Also runs in web browser.

Download the App

How does it work

  • Download the app and install (on either iOS or Android)
  • You will be prompted to “Sign” in or “Sign up” when you open Teams for the first time
  • If using “Sign in”: Sign in using one of your presaved accounts, otherwise enter your details and tap “Sign in”
  • If using “Sign up”: Enter your email and tap “Get started” – you’ll need to follow a few steps on the next screen to get your account set up
  • Once you’re signed in, you can begin to use Teams

Note: If you have Teams in your Organisation, you maybe prompted to use your institution credentials.

Extend your learning

You can set up “channels” to start a project to collaborate with other users. You can use this for sharing important “online” documents/powerpoint files. Incorporate other Office 365 tools into Teams. Set up strategic plans for technical updates. Search for files across all “channels”. Conduct group (or one on one) meetings via video and voice.


Microsoft Teams Best Practices (this is 29:23 minutes long but worth watching)

Here are some further resources to start using Microsoft teams

Lynda.com. Microsoft Teams Essential Training (Preview)

Microsoft. Get started with Microsoft Teams

Using Microsoft Teams in teaching and learning

Students can be put into groups and can collaboratively work on shared documents for group assignments.

Lesson plans can be developed for different subjects using effective communication and collaboration among teachers across your institute.

Organise classroom discussions and create personalised learning environments.

A short task – challenge yourself!

Join the 12 Apps Team

Once you’ve created a profile in Microsoft Teams (or if you have one through your institution already – you might not even know about it), forward the email used for your account in the comments below (break it up to avoid spamming) or send it to: keith.webster | at | royalroads.ca

Create a team

  1. Click on JOIN or CREATE A TEAM – (on the bottom left of the team screen)
  2. Click on Create a team
  3. Create a team. (A team is a chat-based workspace).
    Teams are made up of channels. Users can create different channels to organize their communication by topic in each team. Each channel is built around a topic, like “Team Events,” a department name, or just for fun. Channels are where you hold meetings, have conversations, and work on files together.
  4. Fill in the details for Creating a team. In this example I have named one called: Discussion on Christmas desserts.
  5. Select the privacy area – in this example I have selected only team owners can add members.

    Click on NEXT. You can add users – you may need their email addresses.
  6. Your screen should look like this:
  7. Start a conversation under the conversation tab.
  8. Upload images, files, etc under the FILES area.
  9. Click on the GET LINK button to share the link to the files area.
  10. Make it interactive and fun ?

Don’t forget to come back and add a comment below, write a blog post or share your results somewhere on social media. Use the hashtag: #12AppsBC

Posted in 2018, App | Comments Off on App 8: Dec 12 Microsoft Teams