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


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!


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