Check Me Out: SoftChalk

I used SoftChalk for a project in my Universal Design for Learning (UDL) class this summer, so I thought I’d take you for a little tour of it. First, note that you can get a 30-day free trial of the software, so if you don’t like it, the only thing wasted is your time. A student subscription is $150 a year, and an educator subscription is $495 a year. Kinda steep, I agree. It’s a great platform, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll get a year subscription.

It’s easy to build lessons using the UDL framework with SoftChalk. You can embed formative assessments as the lesson scrolls or goes from page to page. You can add activities, like flashcards, drag-and-drop matching activities, and all sorts of things, which are very easy to build using SoftChalk. There is also a text-to-voice add-on, which looks pretty interesting (but costs additional $$$). Your assessments can be graded and fed into Blackboard and other learning management systems as well, so it can be easy to see how everyone is doing.

The documentation and training materials are good, so you can get up and running right away. It’s worth a try if you have some time. I’m still deciding whether to get it for teaching 6401.

Ready to see some screenshots?

This is an example of a landing page for a lesson. This template is purple and white, but there are many color schemes available. As you can see, there is navigation on the right, and pages to click on along the top. For an online lesson, you would build it as a text-based lecture, then pop in formative assessments, exercises, and games as you go.

screen shot of landing page

Landing page for your lesson

Here is an example of a flashcard activity. It displays as a popup window on top of your lecture.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 9.19.06 AM

Here is a formative assessment in the form of an embedded quiz. It displays on the page itself. You can have it graded or not. You can send the grades to Blackboard.

Short Quiz

Multiple-choice quiz

Alternative to scoring, you can have your students print a certificate to PDF and email it to you.

Option to email certificate of completion to instructor

For grading purposes

Here is a summary table I added after a content-heavy lecture.

summary table

Summary table

After the student views the summary table, they can do a matching activity, which displays as a popup window.

matching activity

Matching activity

So, that’s what I was able to do in the time I allotted for this project (a full day—probably noon to 10 pm). If you already have your content, it’s not that difficult to enhance it using SoftChalk. I wanted to do more with it today, but alas, my 30-day trial ended today [sad face].

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