A is for Applications


Image from Kristina Alexanderson https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/6612252585 

While I have to let Valenza’s concept of “app smashing” sink in, I 110% agree with her statement that “a new, and critical element of our mission as librarians is the curating of apps to meet the needs of specific grades, projects, classes, teachers and administrators.” (2014).  Yup!  Yes!  Affirmative!  You-betcha!  We did an iPad pilot project at SSU Library and for my part I researched, tried and then shared apps that could be good for the social sciences and for library research and library use in general.  I maintain a page for each of my academic areas.  I did workshops with two colleagues and faculty feedback was: we want to use this stuff – please tell us what to use.  I see apps as a logical extension to collection development – we are vetting books, databases, e-readers, streaming film collections, etc. why not apps too?!  They are often resources for learning or tools that get you to resources for learning.  It can be hard to keep up, so here’s an exploration of this week’s class assigned 11…

Flickr http://flickr.com

I created a Flickr account here is a link to my photostream: https://www.flickr.com/gp/143895336@N06/A72NRS

Setting up my Flickr account I am annoyed that it makes me a Yahoo! account.  Once I get past that I could see it as a professional tool for outreach.  For instance, we took pictures of our move into our new library building and Flickr provided us with a nice visual display of a grid of images for our website.  I could see Flickr being a way to post student created images for an assignment, library contests involving photos, etc.  

Recently I have heard of photovoice being used in lessons for students in social work and education, so Flickr could be good for that. Beyond photovoice I thought the mapping could be useful for an imagined class trip across the US or sites of the Civil Rights movement through historic public domain photos, etc.  

I have taught students how to search Flickr using Creative Commons to find usable images for presentations they are doing, blog posts they are writing, or Wikipedia articles they are editing.  I would like to be more confident about choosing images with the right copyright.  For instance Wikipedia suggests images with CC BY-SA but these seem harder to find.  On the other side of the coin, in certain situations you may want to have some level of privacy with what you are putting out there.  I like Richardson’s point that one of Flickr’s strengths is that you have choice in how you set viewing access (p. 103).  I sometimes find myself suggesting that instructors include image citation in requirements for their student assignments.  As a librarian it is important that the instructors are on-board with setting the same standards for images as they do for other citations. 

BigHugeLabs http://bighugelabs.com/ 

I thought this had a lot of fun options.  I made a movie poster using my own photo and it was pretty easy to use.  I would like more options like font size, but still for a free version you did get some good choices (different fonts, colors). 

salem snow poster.jpg

I read on teachwithweb2.wikipsaces.com that you can get a free educator account so students can be pre-registered.  This way they can sign-in without an email address and other extras.  That is a big extra for me – I typically have no time for the logistics of sign-ups in a class session.  I also like that it is set to work with Flickr which I just signed up for.

The photo collage options, the map maker, and the movie poster, trading card, & magazine cover creation choices have a lot of potential for use in lessons.  A number of the features offered would also be good for library outreach efforts (adding special fx to photos, funny motivational posters for the library during finals week, etc.)

Timeline http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/timeline-30007.html

This application is certainly good for doing one specific thing – making a timeline.  It is pretty basic, but sometimes that is all you need (especially if your time with students is limited!)  Considering it is free you get a nice application – you can even add photos to your timeline and there are three fields for text which can be useful if you want to include an event name, date and short description.  I occassionally ran into a letter limit and had to reword what I was typing to fit it and occassionally it took some fumbling clicks to get where I wanted to be, but I’d get there and for the most part it was easy and intutitive.  It is nice that you can save, email and print what you create.  I wish you could make your title bigger – it is dwarfed by the preset header of “TIMELINE”and I wish you could do more with colors/fonts but beggers can’t be choosers  ; )  This could be a good application for any of my subject areas covering the history of a topic: US social policy (a regular course for me) and (more recently) the Black Lives Matter movement come to mind.

Glogster  http://edu.glogster.com/

This is an application I will be sure to share with faculty in my subject areas.  This is an application I would be sure to share with faculty in my subject areas if it was free.  As I looked into it more and more I realized there wasn’t a free option any more (except a 7 day personal account free trial), so it cannot make it to as high on my list of suggestions as I might like.  (Tell me if I am missing something!?)  

Making creative, enagaging presentations can be a challenge for anyone.  Glogster’s cool interface (reminiscent of social media tools they use in their social life) could motivate students more and (according to Glogster’s website) promote higher-order thinking. It is nice to have students experiment with more than PowerPoint, and it is nice to have more than Prezi or HaikuDeck to offer as alternatives.  The fact that it is a multi-media interactive poster (combining text, graphics, images, audio, video and the web) puts a nice twist on a traditional static physical poster or even a slideshow.  (The name sounds like a clogged blog though!)

Zamzar http://www.zamzar.com/index.php

Zamzar is great!  I have used it for converting Word files to PDF and converting long, awkward links to more manageable ones. (I keep waiting for the lizards on the home page to talk like the funny, old Budweiser commercials.) The number of formats they offer is very impressive.  It has a number of applications for my use in creating instructional and outreach materials – I could see it being useful for my faculty and students for the same purposes.

SurveyMonkey http://www.surveymonkey.com/

I have used SurveyMonkey a lot and been happy with it. I like the ease of use, the Q&A options, and the stats it can generate after.  I have used it to survey students as a means of assessment at the conclusion of a class.  I have been happy with this because it allows me to create questions that can also act as a review for students (while giving me more in-depth understanding of how much they are actually grasping what we went over).  For instance, I can have a required open-ended question where I ask them to list a certain number of search terms to see if they got the concept of brainstorming for keywords and synonyms related to their topic.  I have used it to collect feedback on the circulating e-reader and iPad pilot I ran; and I have used it to survey faculty needs related to the library.

Classmates in this week’s discussion seem to prefer Google Forms, which is always something I have wanted to become more proficient in – so I will spend time trying that. 

Doodle http://www.doodle.com/main.html

I use Doodle all the time for scheduling meetings for the MANY committees I am on.  It is quick and easy.  It let’s you put as little or as many options as you want for dates and time blocks – so very flexible (although you still may not find one time everyone can attend!). You are provided with an easy URL to share and notifications when people have replied. Big pointer – when you send out a Doodle put a respond by deadline!  Most people “get it” and readily respond.  Then there are those that never open the email to begin with – I need a different app for them…

Bubbl.us http://www.bubbl.us/

I recommend Bubbl.us to students although I find it to be a bit wonky.  You go to click to add a bubble and you end up with two or a sub-bubble where you don’t want it. It is a little touchy.  I like that you can do just enough without making an account.  I don’t want the creation of an account to prevent a student from using a useful tool – it can be a hurdle for individuals (account overload today) and it can take time from class I do not have to give.  I also like this concept mapping tool from Northwest Missouri State University Library (you can save and print without an account) and the app Popplet for iPad. 

Voki http://www.voki.com

While the look of the avatars here are a little basic or early-web (retro?) looks wise there are a lot of choices and details you can adjust and add to really personalize.  (Everything from accessories for your human or monster etc. to the background behind you).  It is easy enough to work with and it is nice that there is a free option.  I could see this as being useful for an online classroom situation (thinking February 2015 snow) or a little something extra in a presentation.  I think it is useful for anyone uncomfortable being the talking head themselves or just wanting a unique touch to the material they are presenting I could see using the Voki created avatar for an welcome/intro to a new lesson or resource guide. I like that you can do text to speech because I couldn’t get the microphone option to work.

Here’s a goofy attempt at a free one – none of them said Tara how I say it and I am pretty sure she has the “Rachel” for a hair-do.  Scottish accent and some Harry Potter references of course!  http://tinyurl.com/jc832c3


Jing http://www.jingproject.com

I attended a lesson on Jing back when Mass Library System had regional offices (NMRLS was mine).  And it is a useful tool.  It does a great job capturing what is going on your computer screen so it is great for tutorials.  You can add voiceover and it provides you with link to share or embed.  I have created a Jing tutorial on how to set up Google Scholar settings to find SSU materials, so my Jing tutorial flips the classroom for me.  Not everyone uses Google Scholar so I don’t want to go into it depth, but I can mention it in class and point out the tutorial so that those who do use it can learn to use it better.  I have tried things like Captivate and Camtasia which are fancier and therefore $$$ and Jing seems to do the job for me – I do not necessarily have the time for fancy unfortunately.

Animoto http://animoto.com/

I had played with Animoto awhile ago a NOBLE consortium tech session, so it was nice to revisit it.  It seems much more sophisticated.  The music choices are nice as are the themes to choose from.  There are a lot of options for uploading your pics whether directly from your computer or from various platforms (Flickr, Facebook, etc.).  I signed up for a trial, so while there were some limitations it was nothing noticeable or problematic. (Although I am stuck with a watermark on my creation.)They give some editing options even with the free version and many options for sharing (Voki and other tools for instance limited some sharing options to paid-for accounts).  I created a short video as a trial (actually used personal pics for a change, I am a little cautious about my digital footprint). Animoto provides a nice embed link, but I do not have that level of a WordPress account to be able to use it – doh!  It could be nice for outreach at our library, however I am not sure marketing would allow it (or they would at least need oversight).  I can imagine some uses for students and certainly promotional materials for academic departments.


Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Valenza, J. (2014, July 26). “Librarians wanted for smashing, building, toolkit building.” School Library Journal. (Blog) Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2014/07/26/librarians-wanted-for-smashing-blending-toolkit-building/ 


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