Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


“Internet Archaeologists Reconstruct Lost Web Pages”

Almost as quickly as it is created and shared, electronic information (particularly that on social media) can also be lost. This article from the MIT Technology Review  describes reseachers who are developing methods to reconstruct the missing information from the clues left behind. Interesting and relevant for librarians and library staff interested in the preservation of digital information. – Kim

Crazy Egg

One of the biggest questions that always comes up when discussing websites is “What are people clicking?” Crazy Egg gives quick, direct answers to exactly this question by tracking click data and displaying that data as a heat map (among other things). You can get to this data using tools like Google Analytics, but the heat maps make it so much more apparent where user behavior both matches and confounds your expectations. This can help raise questions like, “Why did they click that?” which can lead to usability testing and interviews to answer those questions. Subscription plans are available ranging from $108 to $1188 per year.  – David

A Sub-$100 3D Printer?

Due to prohibitive costs, we sometimes see 3D printers owned and seemingly guarded by specific academic departments for use by only a sub-population of an academic community.  This article from Engadget about a Kickstarter campaign for a $99 3D printer suggest success of this company could make 3D printing technology more accessible for a wider number of libraries.  For what purpose?  That’s for libraries to decide. Regardless, a 3-D printer that costs less than a scanner noteworthy is noteworthy for libraries. – Matt B.

Turn Your iPad into a 3D Scanner

Speaking of 3D technology, this article from Mashable highlights another Kickstarter project, this one aimed at producing Occipital – a 3D imaging camera for your iPad. What could libraries do with 3D imaging? Aside from it simply being pretty cool, I could see technology like this improving to the point of offering more realistic 3D maps of our spaces and our collections. How about some 3D digital browsing before visiting the library? Although the current project doesn’t promise anything close to this, it’s an interesting future to consider! –  Kim

Google Forms, Now with Video

Earlier this month, Google announced “Four new ways to customize your Google forms.” Among the changes includes the ability to embed YouTube videos into the form. Many of our librarians currently investigating the “flipped” classroom structure have been using Google Forms to deliver links to videos along with some “check for understanding”-type quizzes. Now, instead of sending them out to another site, videos can be presented along with the questions. – Kim


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

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Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


Idea Scale

Brainstorming. Sharing ideas. Making group decisions. These are all things that are valued by organizations, but are difficult to do in practice. I’m constantly looking for tools to facilitate this and have had my eye on IdeaScale for some time. I finally had a chance to use it and think it has a lot of potential for improving the idea management portion (a.k.a. the fuzzy front end) of the innovation process. As a “Community” moderator, you can create Campaigns (i.e. categories) to which users can add ideas, comment on other ideas, and vote for their favorite ideas. The free account is a little limiting and takes some planning to set things up in a useful way. The paid accounts are pricey for an individual. But, if your library values idea, then the investment should be well worth it.

Submitted by David

Type Form

Do you use Google Forms? I do all the time, to get feedback from my students, to gather information quickly from the department, to accumulate major amounts of data for a study. The simplicity of Google Forms is what makes it so appealing. However, I am happy to have found another survey creation tool that gives me a little more control. Yes, there will always be higher quality survey tools out there, with stronger data analysis and more robust programming (LibQual, NVivo, Survey Monkey). However, it’s always nice to see design elements added to any tool and Typeforms intuitive interface does just that. Currently, Typeform is in beta, so we shall see how long it takes before some of the features become exclusive to paying members. But for now, try it out and enjoy!

Submitted by Laksamee

Grovo

Last week, I came across Grovo, an online collection of short video tutorials that promise to “sharpen your Internet skills in 60 seconds.” After setting up a free account, which allows access to 3,500 lessons (paid accounts offer more content), I was asked a series of questions about what I want to do on the Internet. Based on the results of this feedback, I was presented with trainings for using several web-based tools like Evernote, Twitter, and Facebook. Each training includes a series of video lessons (each between 30 seconds to 2 minutes long), as well as supporting content like quizzes, transcripts, and PDFs. In addition to being a potential resource for staff or user training materials, I thought Grovo’s model could be an inspiration for libraries considering how they provide online instruction. For some time now, librarians have been trying to provide online, asynchronous  instruction through videos, screencasts, tutorials, etc. that aim to help our users improve their research skills. I think we could learn something from a site like Grovo about chunking our content into smaller, discrete sections that  guide users through a particulare research process or tool. Additionally, we could be inspired to consider how we organize and tailor the tutorials to fit users needs, and how we can include short bits of assessment.

Submitted by Kim

Oyster Impressions

This article from Joshua Kim’s Technology and Learning blog over at Inside Higher Ed discusses the author’s initial impressions of Oyster – a subscription service which allows unlimited access to a selection of over 100,000 electronic books for a price of $9.95/month. Some of the considerations discussed, such as the improved user interface and reading experience or lack of title selection, are also issues libraries have been discussing regarding ebooks for sometime now. My own initial thought about Oyster is simply: I already do this for free through my public library’s Overdrive and 3M Cloud Library app.  However, with increasted competition in the business sector, libraries need to continue to think about is how we can improve user experience in our own applications, and how we can continue to advocate for ebook access in libraries.

Submitted by Kim


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


The Novelist

School has started for many academic libraries out there. And if you’re involved in orientation events you know it’s a crazy time for students. Sometimes it can be useful to help incoming students consider how they are going to balance school with all the fun they plan on having. Consider sparking the conversation by bring up this developing game, The Novelist . This game allows players to influence a family, however if you focus too much on one family member’s success, the other family members will be unhappy with their own lives. Finding a balance is a life lesson applicable almost anywhere. Consider teaching balance in the research process, if you gather too much information or biased information, your research will be flawed.

Submitted by Laksamee

 

Recite

I first came across Recite on the Maryland Library Association Social Media User Group (SMUG)’s Facebook page. Recite allows you to input your own quotation or select from a bank of quotes, and then choose an attractive template in which to display the chosen quote. Finished products can then be shared via various social media platforms, emailed, or downloaded as an image file. This site could be useful for librarians looking to create materials to share on via their social media accounts, to liven up instruction presentations or discussions, or perhaps beautifying an office space. However, this librarian did notice that the quote’s attribution is regrettably not included.

Submitted by Kim

O.K., Glass, Teach

We’ve posted about Google Glass and interesting implications for academic libraries or higher education more generally in previous Tech Roundups. This article from Inside Higher Education discusses how medical professional are beginning to use Glass for teaching. As more testers begin to report back on their experiences, it’s interesting to start considering how this technology might some day impact academic libraries.

Submitted by Kim

Three Tools for Improving Flipped Video Lessons

The “Flipped Classroom” model has become one of the hot topics in library instruction. Although there may be several definitions of what it means for a classroom to be “flipped,” as well as several models for how to “flip” your classroom, the basic premise is that at least some instruction happens outside of class (usually through videos) and class time is used for homework or other activities (here’s a great infographic with more on the Flipped Classroom). One of the biggest questions from our librarians and other faculty is – “What tools should I use for delivering my flipped content?” This article from Free Technology for Teachers includes three lesser-known tools that could be useful for constructing your own videos for a flipped classroom lesson.

Submitted by Kim


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!