UH Hilo Distance Learning

Educational Technology Tools for Student Engagement

Need assistance with your Online Course(s)?

View the UH Hilo Distance Learning website or email the UH Hilo Distance Learning Team at uhhilodl@hawaii.edu.

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Distance Learning Word Cloud

Are you teaching online? It's all about engagement. Simply loading your Laulima site with a ton of information won't provide an effective way for your students to interact with you. Interaction is the key. Students will engage if they feel that a real live person is responding to them, whether you or another student. Below are a few tools designed to improve student engagement and retention.

Recommended Applications (UH System/UH Hilo Campus Licensed)

  • Mac OSX - Preserves web links in converted documents
  • Conversion to PDF
  • Editing capability
  • Form creation
  • Most current version
  • Up-to-date accessibility tool
  • Online collaboration
  • Access anytime on any device

Only the online browser-based version of Microsoft Office 365, which includes the full suite of Office products, is offered free to educators and students (suite is online access only; suite should not be downloaded and installed on your computer). You need to sign up with your UH email.

ScreenPal (UH Hilo Site License)

ScreenPal Premier is screen capturing software.

ScreenPal Training

  • Best for creating short videos and modules
    • Real time screen capturing
    • Video editing
    • Auto closed captioning

Turnitin (UH Hilo Site License)

Turnitin: a web-based, plagiarism prevention program

Turnitin Training

  • Best for evaluating written work
    • Identify occurrences of plagiarism
    • Students can identify and correct possible occurrences of plagiarism in their own work
    • Improve student academic writing

VoiceThread (VT) (UH Hilo Site License)

VoiceThread (VT): 2-way multimedia engagement software

VT Training

  • Best for lectures and student presentations
    • Creates interactive (2-way), asynchronous (recorded), PowerPoint like presentations
    • No screen capturing; requires complete videos, PowerPoints, Word, Photos, etc.
    • Videos created in ScreenPal (screen captures) can be uploaded
    • Auto closed captioning
  • Best for hosting videos
    • Easy to use
    • Accessible on most devices
    • Auto captioning
    • Auto resolution scaling to the end user's device (Desktop, tablet, and mobile devices)
    • Does not require specialized video codecs or software

Zoom Conferencing

Zoom is a widely used video conferencing platform.

Zoom Training

  • Best for synchronous (live) lessons
    • Works on Mac, PC, iOS, and Android

Other Applications

Augusta ADA Solutions

Automated captioning tool

Augusta ADA Solutions offers automatic closed captioning software.

  • Best for generating downloadable text captions
    • Recommended for creating transcripts for audio files
    • Not recommended for captioning videos

Flip (formerly Flipgrid)

Video discussion platform

Flip is a video discussion platform that allows students to record themselves on video, watch, and respond to classmates. Each class has its own account, which may be open or locked.

  • Great for discussions and groups
    • Responses can consist of text, images, video, Giphys, emojis, or attachments
    • Easy to use


Assessment and Quiz Tool

Kahoot ! is a game-based learning platform that makes it easy to create, share, and play learning games or trivia quizzes in minutes.

  • Great for formal assessments
    • Excellent for increasing student participation
    • Exciting and Fun!


Diagramming tool

Lucidcharts is a visual workspace that combines diagramming, data visualization, collaboration, and mind mapping to accelerate understanding and drive innovation.

  • Great for explaining complex concepts
    • Process mapping
    • Brainstorming with mind maps
    • Real-time collaboration
    • Whiteboarding
    • Data visualization

Microsoft Whiteboard

Virtual Smartboard

Microsoft Whiteboard is an application designed to allow people to collaborate by drawing and refining ideas on a digital canvas (board).

  • Great for explaining formulas, equations, and diagrams
    • Virtual smartboard
    • Handwritten annotations and notes
    • Real-time collaboration
    • Recommendation: Capture lessons with ScreenPal Premier


Visual discussion platform

Padlet is an online virtual "bulletin board" where faculty and students can collaborate, reflect, share links, and pictures in a secure location.

  • Great for collaboration
    • Virtual "post-it" format
    • Student presentation alternative
    • Fun alternative to a discussion activity

Integrating Third-party Tools or Add-ons into Your Online Course

To help faculty better protect themselves and students when using third party online tools, UH Information Technology Services reviews these tools and provides a spreadsheet with extensive information. The ITS Approved Third Party Online Tools or Microservices review provides information that includes privacy, accessiblity, cost, and important notes.

Don’t see a tool you are interested in using on the ITS Approved Third Party Online Tools or Microservices list? Submit your tool for review.

For questions about the approved tool list, contact the UHOIC at uhoic@hawaii.edu.

Updated 11/02/22