There is a long, winding yellow brick road to set out on when exploring good tools for librarians in education. Here are some thoughts/discoveries from my exploration this past week. I couldn’t include it all here, but have divided the highlights into three categories: organizing stuff, finding new stuff, and keeping track (and finding new) books. I have to add that the issue of the difference between tools and apps (Kellet article) hurts my brain a little bit. One can argue tools perform multiple tasks and apps perform a single function, and I see that perspective, but I also think a lot of tools have app versions (ie. Gmail, Prezi, Canvas). Then the lines between them get fuzzy to me. I guess I tend to be in a mindset where a tool is something helpful you can use, that will progress your work along whether it is a multifaceted or simple.
Tools for organizing:
I already love Pinterest. I use it for everyday life (realistic or not!) and I created an account as a student over the summer where I am putting library/edtech related pins. I need the visual Pinterest provides – not just the title or URL of the site. I like that you can edit the caption to contain the info you value and make (pin) boards of categories that make sense to me. It is easily searchable, my pins can be shared, and I can follow boards of other Pinners that share interests (why reinvent the wheel). As I mentioned in this week’s class discussion some of the educational links I find do not necessarily have a good graphic to pin, but Pinterest has improved and even without a graphic I can usually still pin it (a custom name I enter becomes the image.) Also, I struggle when I feel like things I want to bookmark overlap into more than one category – it’s not always clear cut. I feel like I might have this problem with any social bookmarking tool though? So on to try others.
When I went to try del.icio.us I actually got this message…
Insert Price is Right losing horn here. I know this tool has been around a long time, however this did not impress. I decided to spend more time with diigo to see why it seems to have taken the lead.
I spent time with Diigo and I see it has strengths. Like Pinterest I can put an extension in my Chrome browser for good usability. I think that it is pretty cool that I can highlight the actual content of the webpage that I am saving to my Diigo account, I can put sticky notes, and edit these later. Saved items are saved by title so they’re displayed in text (no image unless actually saving something that is an image file itself). Being able to tag my content helps with organizing it and I like that you can sort, make lists and even headings and sub-headings with it. I also think the potetional for collaboration is huge, and it would be fun to experiment with either as an instruction librarian in a group such as Ed Tech Talk or by having students share resources as they complete a group project. While I see that Diigo has its uses, I think primarily Pinterest is still “it” for me social bookmarking-wise. Here’s the best way I can put it – a social bookmarking tool that is more visual is great for grabbing something you are looking for at a quick glance, while Diigo (where it is heavily text) I feel like you have to sift through more. For the simple purpose of organizing bookmarks in order to access them easily I’ll be sticking with Pinterest for the most part. Collaborative work on an article or group project is when Diigo may make more sense for me because of the extras like hi-lighting, annotating and greater level of collaboration that can take place.
Tumbler to me is much more social networking than organizing. It is unmonitored and pretty public (you might want some privacy). Users tend to post under wacky names and Tumblr may even suggest such names to you – posting under this kind of anonymity is hurts the credibility of this source. It’s layout is very visual (which I normally like), but there is a lot on there. When I have used Tumbr it has been for locating images or memes I can use.
I have used Padlet to add an interactive element to my collection deevelopment Wiki and enjoy the visual it projects, but I am not sure how much interaction I will get (have to count on others to know how to use it). I like that it has the potential to be used by my faculty and students as well, and think collaboration could be a strength – for example, as a collaboartive bulletin board for ideas/resources for a group project.
Regarding Google tools… I use Google daily. As I sometimes tell my shocked students – The Librarian says Google it! I firmly believe that if they are going to use Google than I better know how to use it well, so I can help them use it better (mostly I see this from an information literacy, searching for and evaluating info p.o.v.). I started using Google Docs a couple of years ago, it is great for collaboration or for use on my my Mac that does not have Word on it. I held workshops on “Everything Google” when I first started out but my workload and the ever-evolving nature of Google offerings has made it hard for me to keep up. This week’s content gives me reason to!
One takeway from this was an appreciation for GoogleSlides. It is user-friendly (like most Google tools) and I have free access with my Gmail account. It seems to have all the bells and whistles of a PowerPoint even with options to put in animations. It is free and available any time for me to work on since it is connected to my Google account. When I opened Slides in my account I saw that I had a presentation some of my students had done in my Summer Bridge course last year. This shows that my students are using it too. Google Hangouts was another exciting find for it gives me an option other than Skype for people without iPhones and FaceTime. A number of Johnson’s LiveBinder links were useful as well. One in particular was on using Google Forms in the classroom. I’ve used interactive options in my LibGuides, Survey Monkey, and Poll Everywhere to get student input (whether Q&A or feedback). I have always wanted to work with Google Forms. This article gave me some ideas for its use and the video gave me a good tutorial. For a free tool, Google Forms does a great job summarizing your data – graphs and everything. Of course, I like that students could use it too.
With so many tools and so many accounts to make to use them – while I am not for monopolies – I find myself wishing I could just get everything I need from Google (especially since they do things well). One giant
Swiss Silicon Valley Army Knife. I’ve even branded it for them.
Finding new stuff:
As an instruction librarian I use LibGuides and create them for my academic areas or for specific classes. I can easily embed RSS feeds and think they have incredible potential for classes looking at news literacy, students needing to follow news on a current event or topic, or students looking for topic ideas for an assignment. For example, following reliable news sources can be useful. The NY Times (among other publications) have numerous RSS feeds that can fit your need. The possibilities are endless: professional organizations, government resources, and trade publications more.
As far as using an RSS reader to collect a lot of RSS feeds in one place (for me) I have only used FlipBoard for iPad and it is a beautiful tool. I love the visual display (there I go again!) and ease of use. I went to 4 different RSS feed readers and all wanted access to my Google account info if I used them, so I finally gave in to Feedreader. It was ranked number 2 in the article (by Gube) mentioned in this week’s class content . At first glance here’s what appealed to me: it was simple, the appearance of the page was easy on the eye (RSS can be a lot of text to get through), and it had options to star things to be read later and to filter unread results. Feedreader made it easy to add feeds and link to their stories. It was a little wonkier figuring out how to categorize them, but it could be done. I would like a way to limit how many can appear in the feed from each site, but I could not immediately find such an option. Again, it becomes a lot of text to sift through. Info-overload! But if you are smart about what you choose to follow it could be really useful in the battle to keep up-to-date on things that matter to you. As Richardson explains in our text (71) RSS feeds help you become a more efficient consumer of info and we need all the help we can get!
Organizing and Finding New Books:
I found this article “Good Reads v. LibraryThing – Part One” by Amanda Nelson for bookriot.com that was helpful (although written 4 years ago some features may have changed). I wish I did more reading than I do, but these days I do not have a huge need for organizing my books. (My son’s books might be a different story, although I tend to do this through Pinterest mostly so people know what to buy him or not.) I do not have a need for organizing my academic area collections through one of these tools as our consoritum catalog does that.
I set up accounts for both, but there is so much with each to look at. For personal reading I just do not do enough, and for collections I deal with books primarily from academic publishers which I don’t see having a strong presence here. The ability to get stats on your reading is cool and the social potential is huge between reviews to give and read, groups to join, quizzes to take, lists to look at, etc. I liked taking a look at LibraryThing’s Zeitgeist and its cover view. Ultimately neither tool is necessarily filling a need I have at this time.
Other: An infinite number of additional tools and apps were available to check out. I have DropBox and it has proven useful for cloud storage of files I need to access anywhere from any device and for collaborating. That is until I noticed a file that looked like a compromise to my account, so I downloaded a password protection app that adds an extra level of security by texting me a code to login. Unfortunately, I then had issues with my Apple account and that app disappeared (as did my memory of what any passwords could be). I recently got a “your account will be deleted for inactivity” message, so I have to go figure it out before December – there is a double-edged sword to “free” tools and apps and its name is instability.
The apps and tools that I find most intriguing are ones that I can use in the classroom. For example, I took a look at the free version of Socrative which allows you to set up a classroom where your students can take quizzes composed of multiple choice, t/f, and short answers. You can also do quick polls and see reports of results. It’s most interesting feature is “Space Race” in which groups of students can take quizzes in a competitive format – makes a game out of quiz taking. I could see this being useful for making review fun.
Stux @ Pixabay (public domain) https://pixabay.com/en/tools-logo-work-equipment-pictorial-191794/
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