Are you looking to incorporate some new tech into your life this year? Check out these tech tools selected by the ETS Managing Emerging Technology Committee to increase productivity, get organized, or boost engagement in the classroom.
What is it? A secure collaborative productivity tool that works with multiple file types (spreadsheets, images, video, audio, drafting, etc.) and devices. Think of an interactive digital storyboard/bulletin board. Great for course-related reference and instruction, planning events, and sharing ideas. Offers free and subscription access.
How it is being used in libraries? Andrea Pritt, Penn State Harrisburg, uses Padlet and has this to say, “As a librarian, I have used Padlet during both in-person and virtual library instruction sessions as well as during campus-wide workshops and presentations. I’ve found it is a great collaborative tool to incorporate attendee responses in an anonymous way; allowing users to share their real thoughts and ideas without fear of being “wrong” or potentially judged by others. During library instruction sessions I will often ask students to respond to open-ended questions related to the library and/or their research topics. During workshops and presentations Padlet is a great way to organize responses into larger themes that can provide additional context to the overall discussion.”
2. OrCam Read
What is it? A handheld smart camera that converts text into audio from any printed surface or digital screen. It’s for users with mild low vision, reading fatigue, other print disabilities such as dyslexia. The device is lightweight and about the size of a flash drive.
How is it being used in libraries? The St. Clair County Library System bought six devices for their patrons to use. The device is so sleek and compact so it seems much less clunky than other assistive technologies. I see it being extremely helpful to print disabled patrons.
Tutorials: OrCam YouTube Channel
What is it? Notion is an online workspace that can be customized in numerous ways – to serve as a wiki, as a habit or goal tracker, as a shared document and team information area. It’s free for individuals and team pricing is fairly inexpensive ($10/month). Free templates are available, or you can customize your own layouts and projects.
How is it being used in libraries? I don’t know of any libraries currently using this resource, but I think it could be helpful for sharing institutional knowledge or for project management. Even the free version could be utilized as an onboarding tool, since the links can be shared with others. Alternatively, there are applications for building newsletters, digital libraries and reading lists, or using kanban boards (similar to Trello).
Tutorials: Notion Help Guides
What is it? Canva is a web-based graphic design platform that can be used to create marketing materials, presentations, social media posts, and numerous other documents. It’s browser-based and easy to use, with many templates and graphics to choose from. The free version has limited use of predesigned templates and graphics; the paid version allows users to schedule content and create their own branding. Images can be uploaded from your own files or from sites like Unsplash. Canva has become extremely popular over the past few years and is even being advertised on television. It does not require any special skills, training, or software; multiple users can use the same login, or you can create a team. Pricing varies but is fairly inexpensive (and is free for classrooms and nonprofits).
How is it being used in libraries? The Rosalind Franklin University’s Boxer Library has a paid account (but used the free version for years). It allows the department to create posters and presentations using the University’s branding colors and looks professional with minimal effort. The Boxer Library has also used the graphics templates to make newsletters, infographics, and signage. (Other University departments have even asked if the Library could take over making their powerpoint presentations!) A caveat: the images are not necessarily accessible for screen readers, but it does enable non-designers to create materials quickly and without fear.
Tutorials: Canva Design School Tutorials
5. Mozilla Hubs
What is it? A browser-based, mixed reality environment. Mozilla Hubs allows for real-time interaction between individuals in a virtual environment. Hubs can be used as a virtual classroom or as a way for people to connect online. This open-source tool uses an editor called Spoke where you can upload your own images and files into different environments.
How is it being used in libraries? When the world shifted online at the start of the pandemic, the University of the Pacific Libraries used Mozilla Hubs to host a virtual poster session with students from their School of Engineering and Computer Science.
Tutorials: Get Started with Spoke Editor