As part of the MSU Empower Extraordinary campaign, the MSU College of Arts and Letters received an in-kind gift valued at more than $100,000 from College of Arts and Letters alumnus Peter Stougaard (’81), a former studio executive for DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox.


Peter Stougaard (right) demonstrates an early prototype of his PopBoardz Apple app to a student in Wells Hall.

The gift is in the form of 4,000 software licenses for PopBoardz, an innovative Apple app Stougaard developed. PopBoardz allows users to create, organize, and present ideas in the form of video, images, websites, or any file type, all on one screen. Stougaard, now an entrepreneur, is providing the licenses to the College of Arts and Letters to use in its classrooms as a tool to help students collaborate and present effectively.

"Over the past few years, I’ve been working with College of Arts and Letters to find ways to bring real world experiences to students who want to pursue their creative passions for a living," said Stougaard. "That being said, I felt that providing the value of PopBoardz to faculty and students would enhance the thought process to help solve creative challenges."

Linear PowerPoint slides limit presenters to telling their stories in only one way. PopBoardz is a flexible tool that is untethered to the Internet and designed for realistic presentation environments that are much more interactive and open ended, reflecting the way conversations realistically happen. "Now users can create much more diverse, dynamic and impactful presentations than ever before, from any Apple device," said Stougaard.

Beginning in spring semester 2015, several classes introduced the PopBoardz application as part of their curriculum. Daniel Trego, coordinator of Technology-enhanced Instruction, is one of those who began using PopBoardz in the classroom.

Encouraging active learners

"I decided to use it in hopes it would be a single solution to my current situation in which I am using multiple programs and apps to share content with my students," explained Trego. "The biggest impact that I see PopBoardz having on students is that of encouraging them to be active learners. Because students and instructors can both create and interact with different boards or screens, it may well be the perfect tool to help motivate students and facilitate access to learning."

Matthew Handelman, a professor of German and faculty member in digital humanities, who also will be introducing the application in 2015, said he thinks PopBoardz can make a much-improved impact on language learning.

"We’re interested in using PopBoardz because it will allow for the decentralization of language learning in MSU classrooms," Handelman said. "Even though communicative language learning has worked to take the focus away from the instructor, the use of a single projector or computer usually reinstates their primacy. Possibly one of PopBoardz’ major advantages is that it offers students a helping hand, guiding them as they access the material directly and quickly."


Matthew Handelman (left), a professor of German and faculty member in Digital Humanities, and Daniel Trego, coordinator of Technology-enhanced Instruction, have already begun using PopBoardz in their courses.

In 2013, the Creativity Exploratory (CE), an idea incubator located in Linton Hall on the MSU campus, was offered a test of the first version of PopBoardz. Students used the application as part of their brainstorming sessions and presentations to rousing success. Former College of Arts and Letters Dean Karin A. Wurst led the initiative to work with Stougaard to incorporate this technology with students.

"PopBoardz incorporates form, functionality, and mobility into one. We have used PopBoardz as a learning tool in various areas of the College, and the feedback is that it has truly enhanced the students’ learning experience," said Wurst, a professor and Special Advisor to the Provost at Michigan State University.

"This is such an exciting new tool—I can hardly wait to use it in my own classes. There are times when one needs to move rapidly between images and video from multiple sources in order to keep the ideas flowing in a class discussion, and PopBoardz’ capabilities could make all the difference," said Elizabeth H. Simmons, then Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

For more information on PopBoardz or to download the app, visit



Featured Articles:

Other articles in this issue: