LodeStar is an eLearning authoring tool that uploads to Metro State's Desire 2Learn. LodeStar enables faculty to use instructional strategies that are not available in Desire2Learn but add value such as presentations with inline questions and videos, flashcards, branching scenarios, decision making, ebooks, RSS feeds and more. Instructors choose from a wide variety of templates, fill in their content, and export to their online course.

To get a free license, please install the app, launch the app, start the license registration process by selecting a template or File > Open, register with your metro state email address, and wait for a permanent license to be emailed to you.




Flexibility - Instructors can create: drag-and-drop exercises; self-assessments that are multiple choice, multiple select, true and false, and short answer; one or more categorization and matching questions that can be increasingly more challenging.

Branched Instruction - Create scenarios where students must make choices based on new knowledge, or that support remedial and enrichment tracks.

Quick Access - Students can check their answers instantly, gaining immediate knowledge of results.

Ease-of-Use - Instructors can quickly add video, animation, images, different layouts and assessment items to their instruction.


Powtoon is a web-based service that allows users to create animated videos using just an internet browser.  Instructors can use pre-made templates for fast-and-easy videos, or build from scratch using the elements that their access level provides, and/or their own elements (uploaded images, etc).  The interface also incorporates a storyboard option, giving the user a chance to map out their ideas before they get started.  Once created, videos can be published or exported, YouTube and/or downloaded in mp4 format.




Multiple Export Options - Powtoons can be uploaded to Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, and Wistia, and can be downloaded in the mp4 (at paid levels), PPT, and PDF formats.

Ease-of-Use - The PowToon interface uses drag-and-drop interaction to control the elements.  Swapping assets is as easy as just a few clicks.  The flow of the video is managed using a timeline at the bottom of the screen, allowing the user to move elements forwards or backwards.

Audio Overlay - Instructors can record their own audio to play with the animations they create, or use one of a selection of looped or static music clips.


Timeline JS is a tool that allows user to create a timeline that is graphically-rich, interactive, and embeddable.  Timelines are a good way for instructors to display information sequentially, and Timeline JS enhances this process by helping to create a strong, story-driven narrative.  The interactivity of Timeline JS allows students to explore individual elements in a deeper way, then draw back and think about them in a larger context.     

No download or registration is needed, but the tool does rely on Google Sheets.  You can use Google Sheets for free by logging into a Google account. 



Broad Multimedia Compatibility - Timelines can be visually-enhanced with multimedia in many forms and from many sources, including:  videos from YouTube or Vimeo, Google Maps, clips from SoundCloud, still images, animated gifs, links to websites, Wikipedia articles, and even Twitter posts.

Free - Timeline JS is a free, open-source tool that does not require any purchase, downloads, or registration to use.  Advanced users can make modifications or enhancements through JSON, and integrate their timeline into a webpage using Javascript.

Ease-of-Use - Both instructors and students can create a timeline through Timeline JS by following four basic steps. 


Insight Maker is an open source, web-based, general-purpose simulation and modeling program.  Users can map out concepts, draft casual loop diagrams, and create rich pictures.  A drag-and-drop interface makes these maps easy to create, modify, run, and share.     




Multiple Model Types - Insight Maker supports both system dynamics and agent-based modeling.  Users can use one or the other, or integrate them both into one model.

Free - Insight Maker is free to use and does not require any software download, running straight out of an internet browser.  As an open-source project, users can see the source files and modify them as appropriate.

Easy Sharing - Once a user creates a model, they can share it with others by sending them the link to their model.  Individual colleagues or students can be given view or edit permissions, and models are updated immediately as changes are made.  There is also an embed feature to create HTML code for insertion into webpages or a Brightspace course.