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Student Technology Guide

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Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning applies to tools that change instruction based on the reported skills or knowledge of the student. Most often, it is seen in web applications that guide students through learning a concept by giving each student an individualized path. If a student is immediately proficient, his/her path may be shorter than a student who does not immediately grasp the concept. The latter student would then be directed to further questions to build knowledge before progressing forward. Examples of adaptive learning software are McGraw-Hill Connect, Pearson MyLab, or Cerego.

Adobe Flash

Flash is a browser Plug-in created by Adobe to add interactivity and video playback to web browsers. At UMSL, it is used for technologies such as VoiceThread and watching web-based videos on Blackboard and YouTube.
Download Flash

Assignment Tool

The Assignment Tool is a feature of Blackboard (MyGateway) that allows students to upload a file from their computer to fulfill a course assignment. The Assignment Tool automatically generates a corresponding column in GradeCenter.

Assignment Tool Resources for Students
How to Submit an Assignment (video)

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Blackboard is a Learning Management System that hosts the online courses taught at UMSL as well as electronic grade information. MyGateway is sometimes used synonymously with Blackboard as it is the name for UMSL's online academic services and is built using Blackboard.

Blackboard Resources for Students
About MyGateway (Blackboard) (video)
How to Navigate Course Areas in Blackboard
How to Take an Exam in Blackboard (video)
My Grades (video)
Uploading an Assignment (video)

Blackboard Collaborate

Collaborate is a web conference and collaborative tool developed by Blackboard. At UMSL, it is most often used in online courses to create synchronous learning in which all participants are present at the same time, though Collaborate sessions can be recorded for later viewing. More Information

Collaborate Resources for Students:
Using Blackboard Collaborate as a Participant (video)
Using Blackboard Collaborate Launcher (video) - required for OS X 10.8.4+

Blackboard IM (or BBIM)

Blackboard IM is an instant message system for faculty and students. The software allows instant text, voice, and video communication as well as the option to open a full Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing environment. The software can be downloaded and installed by logging into MyGateway and then clicking on the Blackboard IM link.

Blackboard Voice Board

Voice Board is a tool in Blackboard that allows students and faculty to leave voice messages for others. The tool organizes similarly to a Discussion Board where other comments can be created as replies to the originally posted voice recording. This tool can be used for asynchronous conversations in which one person posts an original recording and then others leave voice replies. The VoiceThread tool also accomplishes this so it may be a better option for some.


A blog (short for web log), is a chronological digest of writings, much like a digital journal or diary. Blogs are often reflective in nature and promote shared learning as they are read by others. It's easy to add images or videos to a blog as well. Blogs are usually public as they are intended for reading and feedback by others. 

Blog Resources for Students
How to Use the Blog Tool in MyGateway (video)


Blogger is a web tool designed to make it easy to set up your own blog. Some instructors may use it to have you create blog entries and submit them as an assignment. Blogger is part of the Google tool suite of applications so you can log into Blogger with your UMSL SSO ID and password as part of UMSL's integration with Google Apps for Education.

Blogger Resources for Students
Instructions to Set Up a Blogger Blog (handout)

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CampusPack Tools - See Blog, Journal, or Wiki entries.

Chat - See Instant Messaging.

Collaborate - See Blackboard Collaborate.

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Diigo is a free web-based bookmarking application that can be used to save, highlight, or annotate web pages. When saved pages are revisited, the highlights remain, making Diigo a great app for collecting educational resources and writing research papers. 

Discussion Board

A discussion board is an asynchronous, text-based tool for conversing in an online environment. In a discussion board, an original participant makes a post to the discussion board (based on the selected topic) for other participants to read. Other participants can then leave a reply on that original posting, leaving both the original post and the reply visible for future participants. 

Discussion Board Resources for Students:
How to Use a Discussion Board (video)


Downloading a file means moving a file stored on the Internet to a place on your local computer. 

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Email (short for electronic mail) is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet. It is also possible to send digital files as attachments via email but depending on the restrictions of the email service, these are usually restricted to 10MB in size. Email can be used for communicating with the instructor or your peers.


Excel is a desktop spreadsheet application designed for keeping data, completing mathematical equations, and setting up tables. Excel is part of the Microsoft Office Suite. It is installed on all UMSL computers and downloaded for home use at TritonApps.

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Flash - See Adobe Flash.

Flipped Classroom (or Flip Teaching)

Flipping the classroom refers to modifying the traditional lecture format of many courses into a format where lectures are recorded and assigned to be viewed before each class period as homework. The class period, then, is used for active learning exercises, application of the material, or assignment feedback and assistance. The success of this model relies heavily on the expectation that students use the materials provided before each class so that class time can be used for effective application. More Information

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Google Chrome

Chrome is a web browser available for Windows, Mac, or Linux. It is supported by Blackboard 9.1 (MyGateway). It also has numerous extensions to add to its functionality.
Download Google Chrome

Google Apps - Drive, Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc.

Originally named Google Docs, Google Drive is a completely web-based office productivity suite designed to promote sharing of documents and resources. Google Drive offers a word processor, spreadsheet database, presentation creator, and form creator. Any document created on Google Drive will be stored online, but may be downloaded to a personal computer for offline editing. You can now log in to Google Apps with your UMSL account at Be sure to enter your full SSO ID ( and SSO password. Faculty/staff have unlimited storage on their Google Drive accounts. 

Google Apps Resources for Students
Logging on to Google Apps at UMSL (video)
Logging on to Google Apps at UMSL (handout)

Google Drive
Getting Started with Google Drive (video)
How to Share Files and Documents From Google Drive (video)
Using Google Drive (handout)

Google Docs
Getting Started with Google Docs (video)
Basics of Google Docs (handout)

Google Sheets
Getting Started with Google Sheets (video)
Basics of Google Sheets (handout)

Google Forms
Getting Started with Google Forms (video)
Basics of Google Forms (handout)

Google Meet
Joining a Google Meet Room (handout)

Grade Center

Grade Center is the electronic gradebook of Blackboard. It is web-based and has a spreadsheet layout with column names corresponding to graded activities, and row corresponding to student names. Grade Center allows file attachments to be downloaded in bulk for electronic homework. It also automatically grades objective-based questions on exams and quizzes. At UMSL, faculty use of Grade Center to maintain student grades for both traditional and online courses is strongly recommended so students can understand their standing in a course. More Information about using Grade Center is available here:

Grade Center Resources for Faculty
Organizing Columns in Grade Center (video)
Creating a New Column in Grade Center (video)
Creating a Calculated Total Column in Grade Center (video)
Creating a Calculated Average Column in Grade Center (video)
Creating a Calculated Minimum-Maximum Column in Grade Center (video)
Using Grade Center's 'Work Offline' Feature to Keep Grades in Excel (video)
How to Drop the Lowest Grade from a Group of Assignments in Grade Center (video)

Groups Tool

The Groups Tool is a feature of Blackboard that allows instructors to easily divide their students into groups and then provide each group with a personal area in which to communicate and work on group assignments. The Groups Tool is accessible in the Control Panel on the left-side navigation bar of a Blackboard course by clicking Users and Group and then Groups. Below is a video overview of the tool.

Groups Tool Resources for Students
Overview of Group Tools for Students (video)

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HTML (short for HyperText Markup Language) is a programming language used to create web pages. HTML allows text creation, table formatting, linking to other address, and much more. HTML is the backbone of the Internet. This table of commonly used HTML tags may be helpful for basic edits. More Information


Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging (IM) is a near real-time way to send text messages between two people. Sometimes referred to as "chat", this tool is used in educational context for student-to-student communication and student-to-faculty communication. UMSL utilizes Blackboard IM (BBIM) as its recommended IM tool. See Blackboard IM.

Internet Explorer

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) is a web browser packaged with the Windows operating system. Version 9 through 11 are approved for use with Blackboard (MyGateway) but it is also recommended that you download an alternative browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari. 
Download Internet Explorer 11

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Java is a Plug-in from Oracle that allows web applications to temporarily run as desktop applications and/or utilize your computer resources. At UMSL, it is used for Blackboard Collaborate and to view and create Kaltura videos. 
Download Java Plug-in


A journal is a digital tool used to create personal entries of one's thoughts, feelings, or learning. While similar to blogs, journals are usually not public, allowing for a different type of entry and personal learning. For more information about using Journals in your course, watch the videos below:

Journal Resources for Students
How to Use the Journal Tool in MyGateway (video)

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The Kaltura tool is a video storage solution for Blackboard (MyGateway). Kaltura has a few different purposes: it can store video files from your computer that you wish to share with students; it can be used to record instructor lecture videos; and it can be used as a tool for students to record videos of themselves. For more information about how to use Kaltura in your course, watch the videos below:

Kaltura Resources for Students
How to Record a Video from Your Webcam Using Kaltura (video)
Using Kaltura to Record a Video From Your Webcam (Word document)
Using Kaltura to Record a Video From Your Webcam (pdf)
Viewing, Editing, or Deleting Videos Made with Kaltura (video; requires Microsoft Silverlight Plug-in to view)
Using Kaltura CaptureSpace to Make a Screen-Recording (pdf)
Using the Kaltura Mashup Tool in a Discussion Board (pdf)

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Learning Module Tool

The MyGateway Learning Module tool is an alternative way (to the folder) to organize course content. It arranges the content in series with an internal table of contents. Click to view a video showing how the Learning Module tool operates within MyGateway.


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Microsoft Silverlight

Silverlight is a browser Plug-in created by Microsoft to assist with viewing web-based videos and using other interactive applications.
Download Microsoft Silverlight


Mindomo is a web tool for building concept maps to explain complex ideas and relational topics in a visual diagram. Students can sign into Mindomo using their Google Apps for Education login credentials. The tool is free for creating one concept map. 
How to Create and Share a Mindomo Concept Map (pdf document)


Module has two definitions. In general educational terms, a module is a grouping of like-minded course content into a content area folder or calendar period. A module is also a tool in Blackboard (MyGateway) that allows faculty to group content into a designated area that adds an individual table of contents for those materials and allows the option for sequential viewing of the materials.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is a web browser for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It has been approved for use with Blackboard (MyGateway) and has a library of add-ons that can increase its functionality. Firefox also comes with a built-in PDF reader. 
Download Mozilla Firefox


MyGateway is the faculty and student portal used to connect with UMSL. MyGateway can also help you find your grades, student supports, and other resources. MyGateway is hosted on the Blackboard learning management system. 

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NetTutor is a web-based tutoring tool that allows students to get real-time, personal tutoring via video conference. It is available for the following disciplines: Biology and Life Sciences, Business and Economics, Chemistry, Math, Physics, Writing Center, and World Languages - Spanish. NetTutor is accessible through the Tools link in UMSL online courses.

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Online Testing Center

The Online Testing Center is an on-campus location where students of online course can take proctored exams (if required by the instructor). Students must arrange a time to take their exams with the Center.

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Panopto is a lecture- and screen-recording tool licensed by UMSL to assist in the creation of educational videos. It is most often used for asynchronous online courses. Silverlight, a browser Plug-in, is required to view Panopto recordings. To record a lecture or screencast, users must download and install the Panopto Recorder here: Windows  |  Mac

Panopto Resources for Students
How to Use Panopto - Students (video)


Short for Portable Document Format, a PDF is a file format used to represent documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. PDF reader software is required to view PDF documents but comes with some browsers such as Google Chrome. 
Download Adobe Reader


PowerPoint is a desktop application, created by Microsoft, that allows users to create slideshow presentation from text, images, video, graphics, or a combination of these. PowerPoint presentations are often used as a supplement to lectures. PowerPoint is part of the Microsoft Office Suite. It is installed on all UMSL computers and downloaded for home use at TritonApps.

PowerPoint Resources for Faculty
Quick Ways to Improve Slides in PowerPoint (video; requires Microsoft Silverlight Plug-in)


A podcast is a serialized audio recording often used to teach a concept or inform listeners. Podcasts are useful because they are readily accessible on computers, smartphones, and can be downloaded to audio players like iPods. Podcasts can be created in a Blackboard (MyGateway) course using the CampusPack podcast tool. 

Podcast Resources for Students
How to Record a Podcast for an Assignment (video)

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QuickTime is an Apple video-playing software that plays MPEG4 and MP4 videos locally and on the web. It can be downloaded here:

Quizzes - See Exam also.

A Quiz is an assessment tool used in Blackboard (MyGateway) to test student retention of material. It is shorter than an exam and may be composed of a variety of question types including: multiple choice, multiple answer, short answer, fill in the blank, true/false, and others. Below is a video overview of how to make a quiz in Blackboard.

Quiz Resources for Students
How to Take a Quiz on Blackboard (video)

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A rubric is a document, usually in a grid-style, that conveys the expectations of an assignment to a student. The grid is made up of the components of the activity on one axis and the levels of achievement on the other axis. MyGateway has a rubric-building tool that helps make it easier to grade online activities with the Blackboard GradeCenter. Below are some video resources about the rubric tool and how to implement it into your online course.

Rubric Resources for Students
How to Make a Rubric in MyGateway  (video)
How to Attach a Rubric to an Assignment in MyGateway  (video; requires Microsoft Silverlight Plug-in)
How to Grade an Assignment with a Rubric  (video; requires Microsoft Silverlight Plug-in)

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Silverlight - see Microsoft Silverlight.


StudyMate is a games-based learning tool. It allows instructors to easily create flashcards, crossword puzzles, and other word games using text documents. 

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Turnitin is a plagiarism verification service that helps educators and students ensure that content in written documents is cited properly. Papers submitted to Turnitin may be compared against billions of Internet documents, archived Internet data that is no longer available on the live web, a local repository of previously submitted papers, and subscription repository of periodicals, journals, and publications. TurnItIn is available for student use through the UMSL Writing Center.


TritonApps is a remote service technology that enables us to provide some of our applications and software to students and faculty anytime, anywhere. Applications available through the TritonApps remote delivery include: AMOS, GARS, SPSS, Mathcad, MATLAB, STATA, and Microsoft Office 2010. Search Triton Apps

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Moving a file from your local computer to a storage place on the Internet is called uploading. 

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VoiceThread is a collaborative slideshow web application where faculty or students can upload media content (images, videos, or documents) and leave a voice comment on them. Others can then leave follow-up comments. The tool uses a Blackboard (MyGateway) building block and has a gradual learning curve. The tool is used at UMSL for lecture recording, group collaboration, and student presentations.

VoiceThread Resources for Students
How to Comment on a VoiceThread in Your Online Course (pdf)
How to Comment on a VoiceThread in Your Online Course (video)
How to Create a VoiceThread (pdf)
How to Create a VoiceThread (video)
How to Edit a Shared Group VoiceThread (video)
How to Change Your VoiceThread Account Profile Image (video)

If you are still having problems with VoiceThread, click the Help button on the VoiceThread homepage (as pictured below):
help button

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A Wiki is a web document which allows people to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser. Wikis often include images or other multimedia and can also include external links to other websites or files. Because a Wiki has multiple authors, there is less chance of incorrect information remaining in the document (multiple proof-readers). Wikis are often used at UMSL for group projects within a course where a group of students is assigned to create a wiki explaining a concept or idea. 

Wiki Resources for Students
Wiki Overview (webpage)
How to Use the Wiki


Wimba is a set of collaborative tools for Blackboard. It has been purchased by Blackboard and its features are being adopted into other Blackboard tools. Wimba tools are no longer supported.

Windows Media Plug-in

Windows Media is a Plug-in used to play web-based Windows Media videos (.wmv). The Plug-in is included when installing QuickTime for Windows users, but Mac users may need to install the Flip4Mac Plug-in (free version)


Microsoft Word is a word processing desktop application for creating and saving documents. It is part of the Microsoft Office productivity suite and is installed on all UMSL computers. It is installed on all UMSL computers and downloaded for home use at TritonApps.

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YouTube is a video-hosting website, owned by Google, that allows users to upload recorded video for public viewing. YouTube is a resource for educational videos, lectures, and how-to explanations. Users that upload video have the option of sharing it publicly, sharing to only those to whom a link is distributed, or sharing to other specific YouTube accounts.

YouTube Resources for Students
How to Set Up a YouTube Channel (handout)

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Zoom (Web Conferencing)

Zoom is a web conferencing tool used to meet virtually with others using video, audio, and chat. Participants can make use of screen sharing, a whiteboard tool, breakout rooms, and text chat. Zoom sessions can be recorded and automatically added to Kaltura My Media in Canvas.

Zoom Resources for Students
Using Zoom for Virtual Meetings (pdf document)


Zotero is an Internet bookmarking and citation application that gathers referential information from an article, website, ebook, or other document for later review. The tool is very helpful in creating works cited or bibliography pages as it can easily output MLA, APA, Chicago, or other reference styles from saved materials. 

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This site is maintained by Dylan Herx, Instructional Designer in the Center for Teaching and Learning. If you find any mistakes or would like to request additional videos or documents, please contact or 314-516-4209.