Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stuff I've been playing with recently

Things at MPOW have been very, very chaotic and busy these past couple of months and will probably continue to be through the summer. Here is a short list of some tech I've been experimenting with or implementing recently for various projects:
  • LibraryH3lp: this is our replacement for Meebo for chat reference (which is now our main avenue of reference interaction). It is cheap and several steps above meebo as far as flexibility, functionality and stability. Any library doing their own chat reference should look at this. 
  • WizHelp: great web-based tool for screen sharing and taking (or giving) control of a screen from someone else. Going to use this for online research assistance program. 
  • Setster: the scheduling piece to our research assistance program. It lets you easily create a site and set an online schedule and generate code to display a schedule widget on any web page. Basic functions & limited scheduling are free, but for some uses and functions you need to subscribe.The best thing about this tool is that it removes time slots that have already been reserved automatically.
  • Wallwisher: in a low effort effort to gather feedback from our users, I've put a link to one of these on our home page. It is basically an online post-it note board. Users post simple text notes (anonymously by default) onto a shared web space. The notes can then be moved around, group into categories, etc. I thought it might be a low-barrier, fun way to gather some open-ended feedback on our services and web site. Needs more promotion.
  • VoiceThread: this is more a theoretical thing. I've been thinking a lot lately about ways to pull students into the online library. One idea I had was to use VoiceThread (or similar platform) to build an online book and video discussion club. For example, we subscribe to Films on Demand, so it might be cool to pick out a good documentary from our collection and see if we can get students and faculty to participate in watching it and creating a multimedia discussion across the college community about the issues involved. A similar thing might be done with an e-book from our collections.
  • Prezi: dynamic presentation tool. This is (so far) a failure for me. For my last presentation (SUNYLA 2010: Marketing Library Services at a Distance), I tried, but failed, to convert my presentation ideas into this medium. Part of the problem was my material (lots of images, sequential) and part was just my limited thinking patterns: I'm just not used to thinking of my presentations in ways that play to Prezi's strengths (in my view, it's real strength is showing scale). I'll try again, but was a little frustrated with this tool on my first try.

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