Watch a brief video about the Pedagogy in Practice on this topic.

When the pandemic hit, we all scrambled to adapt to Zoom classrooms and a greater reliance on TCU Online (D2L). Faculty, staff, and students got creative and began implementing new technologies into classroom and independent work. When TCU returned to in-person classes, faculty members returned to traditional lecture-style courses with the same old PowerPoint slides. Returning to in-person learning shouldn’t mean eliminating all virtual tools. This workshop addressed how to use a variety of technologies to assess students in real time, create meaningful conversations, encourage equitable participation, increase peer interaction, and transition between in-person and virtual work.

The inspiration for this session came from my experience with a student, Allison Favoloro (Class of 2022). Allison is a member of the BNSF Neeley Leadership Program (NLP), which I direct. Faced with virtual case study competitions and online-based student recruitment, not to mention normal classes, I felt lost when it came to keeping everyone connected and engaged. Allison came to the rescue with her lightning-speed ability to create dozens of rotating Zoom breakout rooms, pre-assign students, and run slideshows (with music and videos) all at once! Our program would have been lost without her.

Now that our program is back in-person, our program is still utilizing the virtual tools we discovered over the last year – and we are not limiting ourselves to Zoom. By now, many of us know about Kahoot! and Zoom breakout rooms, but feel stuck in terms of how else we can engage students virtually. The tools shared here allow you to create impactful classroom learning every day or keep the class running in the face of illness or absence.

In addition to enhancing your classroom environment, bringing technology into your teaching prepares students for success beyond TCU. Says Favaloro, “Understanding a diverse set of technologies made me an incredibly valuable asset to my team during my summer internship. Polling apps like Mentimeter were used at almost every team meeting to gauge team sentiments, and I even introduced my boss to the amazingness of Canva and Miro to make presentations more engaging. As the working world adapts to a more hybrid environment, it’s more crucial now than ever that students know how to use and apply different technologies.”

Online Whiteboards

Online whiteboards are one of the easiest ways to engage and enhance lectures. Students can add ideas, virtual post-its, draw diagrams, and more. Our top choices are Miro and Jamboard, both of which are free to use. Miro is easy to share and includes unique templates to facilitate diagraming and brainstorming. Jamboard is another Google product, making it the perfect option to incorporate into Google Slides.

Student Participation

One of the biggest challenges to in-person learning is keeping students engaged and encouraging participation. One tool to boost student participation is EquityMaps. EquityMaps is an iPad app that allows you to track when students speak in class and provides you with robust data. EquityMaps displays class participation data around gender equity, individual contributions, and more.

Quizzing & Assessment

While many people are familiar with Kahoot!, the popular competition quiz site, Quizizz is a new spin on the concept. Quizizz allows you to create slideshows, or upload existing presentations, and poll or quiz students all within the same platform. Mentimeter and PollEverywhere are two other excellent tools for open-ended feedback from students. Create word clouds or pulse-checks for your students and display group results in real-time.


You don’t need to abandon all slideshows, but it could be time to enhance them. Canva is the best place to find visually engaging templates and collaborate with other authors. Prezi is excellent for mind-mapping and diagramming, although it can be a bit more cumbersome to prepare and present. It is most useful when you intend to show how different concepts relate to one another. Google Slides integrates with a wide variety of applications, including NearPod (great for creative teaching), Pear Deck (fun quizzing and open-responses), and Slido (fun quizzing and open-responses).

Storage & Collaboration

Storing all your files in a central cloud location is incredibly important and convenient. Backing up your files on the cloud will keep your documents safe and secure, and allow you to access them from anywhere. Cloud storage solutions also allow you to collaborate on documents with other faculty and staff and students, saving you from back-and-forth emails with different drafts of the same document. Through our TCU accounts, we have free access to Microsoft OneDrive and Box, and Google Drive is another great free cloud storage tool.

Pros Cons
  • Automatically included with TCU account; can share with others within TCU
  • Can use desktop applications of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint if logged into OneDrive account
  • Collaboration isn’t always up-to-date, especially if you use desktop applications
  • Online versions of word and excel have limited functionality
  • People outside TCU can’t access documents through links
  • Automatically tied with TCU account
  • Great for gathering files or creating a submission box that isn’t through D2L
  • Can share file and folder links with people outside of TCU
  • Not ideal for real-time collaboration
  • You can download the desktop application, but you won’t be able to collaborate with anyone else through the Word/Excel/PowerPoint applications
Google Drive
  • Best for collaboration
  • Integrates easily with other applications
  • Variety of fonts and designs
  • Need a Gmail account (most students have)
  • Must use Google Drive interfaces (different from MS apps but easy to learn)
  • Not supported by TCU IT

Annie CowdenThis article was written by Annie Cowden, Director of BNSF Neeley Leadership for the Spring 2022 Issue of Insights.