Monday, August 16, 2010

25 Exciting Google Apps and Tools for Educators

Teachers at all levels are expected to be on the cutting edge of technology and Internet education, despite the level of technical or computer training they've received. But with these Google applications and tools, creating websites, collaborating with students and other teachers in real-time over the Internet, and staying organized through your cell phone has become a quick and easy way to bring technology to students, find more relevant information from specialized search engines and utilize multimedia tools to make learning more fun and a teacher's job just a little bit less hectic.
Staying Organized
Stay organized with these management and collaboration tools, including online calendars, notebooks and cell-phone friendly systems.
  • Google Calendar: Google Calendar is a Web-based version of the community calendar out in the hall or on your bulletin board. You can invite other teachers, club leaders or even students to put up events, birthdays and test dates on the calendar depending on your privacy settings. Google Calendar also lets you set up automatic reminders sent straight to your cell phone.
  • Google Desktop: If you plan to use several Google tools and applications, then using Google Desktop to keep you organized could be a smart move. Google Desktop lets users perform a quick search for items on their computer, keep a Google Gadgets button on their Dashboard and on their iGoogle page, search your Gmail account and web history, and enjoy the automatic indexing feature. Google Desktop is designed for Macs, but there are also versions for Windows and Linux available.
  • Google Pack: Google Pack is designed for PCs, but there is a Mac-friendly version available too. Software that comes in the Pack includes a Norton Security Scan, Picasa, Google Desktop, Google Earth, Real Player, Skype, Adobe Reader, Google Toolbar, StarOffice, and more. Google Pack is completely free and loads quickly, so all of your tools are ready to use as soon as you are.
  • Google Mobile: Google Mobile allows you to "take Google with you on the go." Teachers who have to commute to class can work on their lessons from their cell phones by having Google send them a mobile-friendly set of Google tools just for their phone.
  • Google Notebook: Google Notebook is a great tool for teachers organizing their lecture notes or lesson plans. While you're online, you can easily transfer images, text and links to your Google Notebook from your browser window. The tool also lets teachers manage several notebooks at once, publish their notes to the web and work with Google Notebook from a cell phone.
  • Google Reader: Get automatic feeds and updates from your daily online reads sent to your inbox with Google Reader. This method will save you time spent weeding through unrelated posts or news and lets you discard or star certain items at a glance.
Communicating with Students
Communicate with students in a nontraditional way through private websites for class projects, Google translators that help with distance education classes and more.
  • Google Groups: Google Groups are great for working on class projects and classroom camaraderie even when you're finished for the day. Teachers can set up a customizable group page, and students can discuss new ideas and post links to keep the dialogue going.
  • Translate: This easy-to-use tool can be a big help for distance learning teachers wanting to reach out to students around the world and for teachers who need to quickly translate a text from its original form.
  • Google Page Creator: Teachers without a lot of techie experience don't have to sign up for a web design class or stress about blogging when they use the Google Page Creator. This tool lets you "create your own web pages, quickly and easily," without needing to know HTML code or hosting. Your students will benefit from being able to access class information and view multimedia presentations even when they're at home, studying for a test.
  • Google Sites: Provide your students with a safe, private platform to discuss class materials, work on a project or ask you questions with Google Sites. This app lets you set up a secure group website that only certain people can visit and edit. Google Sites does not require any knowledge of website design or HTML code, and it's all free.
  • Google Talk: Choose to talk with students or other teachers by instant message, Gmail chat, file transfers or PC to PC voice calls. The Chatback feature "let[s] visitors to your site chat with you" if they have a question outside of class.
Teaching Tools and Designing Lesson Plans
For help planning your next class, turn to these Google apps and tools that will connect you to quality, relevant information fast.
  • Google Earth: Geography, urban planning, geology and social studies teachers can use Google Earth to zoom in on satellite images from locations around the world, giving you free and fast access to places just by typing in a keyword or address. The current version also has a sunlight feature, allowing you to view the area at different times of the day.
  • Writely: Writely was acquired by Google in 2006 and is now generally referred to as the word processer in Google Docs. You can create and edit documents while collaborating with other teachers or parents in real time through this application.
  • Google SketchUp: This 3D modeling software program comes in two versions: one for professionals and one designed just for educators and students. SketchUp for Education features a free or discounted offer on the software, and K-12 or college-level instructors who want to teach architecture, design, Web design, construction or other subjects will want to try it out.
  • Picasa: Google's photo editor is called Picasa, and it's totally free to use. Educators can easily organize and edit digital photos for presentations or for the bulletin board.
  • Google Finance: Math, social studies and finance teachers can easily design class projects that study the stock market and economy with this tool. Google Finance allows users to manage a portfolio, view market data in their iGoogle Tab or in charts, view a stock screener, do a company search for stock and mutual funds information, read related news stories, search for blogs from the companies you're studying and more, right on the same page.
  • Google Image Search: If you're doing a search just for specific pictures to match a presentation or lesson, you can cut your search time in half by using Google Image Search.
  • Alerts: Many teachers don't have time to research every little detail from their lesson plan, but wouldn't it be nice to pull great resources from the web without having to search for them yourself? You can set up several Google Alerts so that whenever an entry with your keywords shows up, Google will automatically send them to you in an e-mail. You can have the alerts sent daily, weekly, or as it happens.
  • Scholar: Search for scholarly journals, papers and citations from this quick search engine.
  • Google Patent Search: All types of educators can benefit from the Patent Search, which finds graphs, inventor information, issue dates, filing dates and patent numbers for over 7 million items and ideas.
  • News Archive Search: Uncover historical documents and old news stories with this easy search engine. You can search by topic or by time period, and Google automatically creates a graph timeline and organizes your search by date if you choose that option.
  • GOOG-411: Google's 411 service is free to use from any type of phone, and you can choose to get a map of the area and information about the business sent to your cell phone.
  • Book Search: Search any kind of book with this tool by browsing categories like philosophy, romance, women's rights, computer history, short stories, poetry, political science, classics, biology and more. When you select a book, you can choose the option to buy it from different online retailers, read or write book reviews, preview the book, and even read the whole text online.
  • Google Transit: Easily plan field trips around your city with Google Transit, which finds maps of public transportation along your route in cities like Detroit, Cape Cod, Irvine, Las Vegas, Tampa, Sacramento, Austin, Seattle, Pittsburgh and more.
  • Google Special Searches: Educators who teach one subject will love the Google Special Searches tool, which allows them to use search engines just for their niche. Examples of these engines include U.S. government, public service, university, and more.

50 Awesome Search Engines Every Librarian Should Know About

Students, teachers and the public turn to their librarians for help researching everything from technology to genealogy to homework help and lesson plans. Even if your library is equipped with subscriptions and memberships to top of the line databases and online journals, you've probably had to get creative during a patron's requested search for something unfamiliar. Next time, though, you can turn to one of these 50 search engines, designed to pull from the Web only the information you really need.

Meta Search and Multi Search Engines

These meta search and multi search engines can search numerous engines and sites at once, maximizing the number of results you get each time you conduct a search.
  • Ms. Freckles: Adorable Ms. Freckles can search online for different file types, definitions, translations, film, finance sites, and a lot more all at once.
  • Kart00: This cartoon-inspired search engine lets you hover over results to get a preview of the site before you open it. Results are also organized by topic so that you can narrow down your search and organize hits.
  • Fazzle: Search the web's best, the entire web, downloads, images, videos, audio or headline news. You can also select an advanced search to find incredibly specific results.
  • Trexy: This site saves your search memory so that you don't have search multiple times on different engines.
  • Mamma: Here at "the mother of all search engines," librarians search the web or video. Next to your results is an option to refine your search by choosing a suggested category.
  • 1-Page Multi Search: Type your search into one or several of the following search engines at once: Alta Vista, AOL, EntireWeb, Gigablast, Hot Bot, Lycos, Scrub, Yahoo!, Google, YouTube, Dogpile, Ask Jeeves, and a lot more.
  • iZito: Busy librarians who are constantly finding new reference sites and search engines will like iZito because of its ability to save your history in an easy drop down tab.
Multimedia and Interactive

For help finding pictures, podcasts, music and shareware, use these search engines.
  • Metacafe: Find videos on this site if you want a change from YouTube.
  • Songza: Patrons looking for music can use this search engine, which "lets you listen to any song or band." You can also search the featured list or top played list.
  • Picsearch: This large photo search engine has more than 2 billion images in its directory.
  • Get a Podcast: Search for podcasts all around the web in this directory.
  • Shareware: If you need to install new software programs on your library computers, turn to Shareware first, which pulls up tons of free programs and downloads.
  • Public Radio Fan: Find information for thousands of public radio stations on this site. You can find the times of different broadcasts, station names, podcasts and more.
Google Search Engines

A Google search doesn't just mean typing in a keyword on the homepage and seeing what pops up. Try out these niche search engines sponsored by Google to find books, images and more information that librarians will find useful.
  • Google Image Search: Ask Google to bring up the most popular images on the web with this engine.
  • Google Scholar: Get connected to scholarly journals and publications here.
  • Google Books: Search online copies of books on this search engine, which features categories like literature and science fiction to biology and linguistics to highly cited to categories organized by subject and keyword.
  • Alerts: Set up Google Alerts for any subject so that you'll get results sent to your inbox every time there's a new site, blog or keyword mention on the web.
Great Niche Sites for Librarians

From family friendly and kid-safe searches to science and medical search engines, these niche sites can help you with very specific research projects.
  • Scirus: Pull up science-related results on this research-oriented search engine. You can find "not only journal content but also scientists' homepages, courseware, pre-print server material, patents and institutional repository and website information."
  • Librarians' Internet Index: Here you'll be connected to quality, authoritative sites. Search by keyword or narrow down your search by browsing categories like business, government, media, health, computers, or the arts and humanities.
  • Family Friendly Search: Librarians at elementary and middle schools, as well as public librarians, may be interested in directing patrons to this site, which is safe for kids.
  • Intute: This British search engine lets you pick search options in the following categories for a specialized search: science and technology, arts and humanities, social sciences, and the health and life sciences.
  • PubMed: PubMed is one of the premier search engines for medical students and researchers. You can find journal articles, citations, clinical information and more.
  • Meta-Index for U.S. Legal Research: On the GSU College of Law site, librarians and patrons can take advantage of this meta-index which brings up judicial opinions, legislation and more.
  • Internship Programs: College librarians may want to direct students to this search engine, which connects searchers to internship opportunities.
  • Congoo: For current events and news searches, use Congoo to connect you to the latest in technology, industry, business, world news, finance, politics, Internet trends and more.
  • CataLaw: CataLaw is another law search engine that organizes "all indexes of law and government into a uniform, universal and unique metaindex."
  • USGenWeb Archives: Help your patrons with genealogy searches with this engine.
Custom Searches

Tailor your search to your daily needs with these search engines, which can be modified by remembering search history, customizing templates and more.
  • mozbot: Pick a language and customize your search with this engine. Mozbot can also add results to your favorites, send results by e-mail, display thumbnails of different sites, and provide suggestions for similar sites.
  • Curriculum Search: Help teachers find reference materials, lesson plans and tools by searching this Google custom search engine.
  • Computer Science Research: Use this search engine or adapt it to make your own to find computer science materials and references.
  • Rollyo: Choose to search categories like health, travel, tech, reference and others using Rollyo, a system that "create[s] search engines using the sources you trust."
  • Ujiko: This sleekly designed search engine lets you choose how you want your results displayed and organized.
Reference Searches

The following list of search engines prove useful to all kinds of librarians in search of dictionaries and other reference materials.
  • JustCite: JustCite is a legal search engine and can help you find citations.
  • Online Journals Search Engine: Search scientific databases and journals here.
  • Powerset: For a basic Q&A session, use Powerset to quickly search Wikipedia entries.
  • Infoplease: Get information on any subject, from history and government to arts and entertainment to world news to biographical information to homework help.
  • Guide Star: This search tool is great for public librarians or librarians who work with teachers wanting information on grants and nonprofits. Type in the name of an organization or keyword to find nonprofit group information.
  • JoeAnt: You can get answers to research queries on any subject at JoeAnt, from computers to science to politics to the humanities to business law.
  • Find Tutorials: Find tutorials for practically everything on this search site, from education to culture to spirituality, to finance to the Internet.
  • RefDesk: RefDesk is known as the "fact checker for the Internet." You can search MSN, Google, Yahoo! or Wikipedia, as well as various dictionaries and periodicals.
  • OneLook Dictionary Search: Get detailed definitions, translations and more on this search engine, which pulls from over 1,000 different dictionaries.
  • The Dictionary of Free Online Books and Shopping: Look up and access books online for free using this search engine, which includes educational books, history books, children's books, biographies, political books and a lot more.
  • Thinkers: Wisdom: This site features a literary search engine called Wisdom that can search the web, images, audio, video, a dictionary and more.
  • Use the web search or search encyclopedias, blogs, articles and online groups to get creative with your reference search.
Library Search Engines

Check out these search engines that are designed to emulate or are sponsored by libraries and librarians.
  • Internet Public Library: Find references, search the collections by subject, check out the reading room or KidSpace when you visit this online public library.
  • The Open Library: Here, librarians discover "one web page for every book." This open source project also features an advanced search, connecting you to the exact book and full-text publication you're looking for.
  • Awesome Library: Find full-text books, journals, kid-safe sites, business information and more on this online library search engine.
  • LibDex: Search the indexes and other information for 18,000 different libraries here.
  • WorldCat: WorldCat helps patrons and librarians "find items in libraries near you." Search for books, DVDs, CDs and articles.

Top 100 Librarian Tweeters

Whether you work with a library, or just want to find out more about what's going on in your community library, Twitter is a great place to stay updated on the latest developments. On Twitter, you'll find librarians in schools, public libraries, and more, and even some working for organizations that have a lot to offer libraries. Read on, and you'll find some of the best librarians on Twitter.
School & University
Find out how librarians are making things work in schools from these librarians.
  • @heyjudeonline: Judy O'Connell is the Head of Library and Information Services at St. Joseph's College, Hunters Hill.
  • @joycevalenza: Read @joycevalenza's tweets to hear from a teacher-librarian and learner in Pennsylvania.
  • @griffey: Jason Griffey is a geek librarian at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
  • @kenleyneufield: This community college librarian is obsessed with the social web.
  • @askundergrad: This twitter account supports the undergraduate library at UIUC.
  • @BSULibrary: Stay up to date on the Albertsons Library at Boise State University through @BSULibrary.
  • @Library_Channel: @Library_Channel offers help and more to patrons of the Arizona State University libraries.
  • @amylibrarian: Amy Springer is an academic librarian fascinated by the Millennial student.
  • @heatherloy: @heatherloy is a high school librarian in South Carolina.
  • @acmorton: Andy Morton is the tech librarian at University of Richmond.
  • @OkStateLibrary: @OkStateLibrary features news from the Oklahoma State University Libraries.
  • @neerav: Neerav Bhatt is a librarian, former political candidate, and professional blogger.
  • @dmcordell: @dmcordell is a teacher/librarian in upstate New York.
  • @ekettell: This librarian serves Dentistry at the University of Rochester.
  • @ghardin: Greg Hardin is an academic librarian in Denton, Texas.
  • @chriskeene: Read @chriskeene to learn what's going on at the University of Sussex Library.
  • @jessnevins: Jess Nevins is an encyclopedia author as well as reference librarian at the University of California at Riverside.
  • @MrMLibrarian: @MrMLibrarian works to get boys to read as a school librarian.
  • @monarchlibrary: This K5 teacher librarian is addicted to technology.
  • @jennyluca: Check out @jennyluca to find a cool teacher-librarian.
  • @uncw_library: You'll be able to keep up with the Randall Library at University of North Carolina, Wilmington on @uncw_library.
  • @laurenpressley: Lauren Pressley is the instructional design librarian at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University.
  • @bookjewel: @bookjewel is an educator, teacher-librarian, lifelong learner, literature lover, and geek.
  • @mstephens7: Michael Stephens is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University.
  • @cathyjo: Check out Cathy Nelson to learn about a school library media specialist.
  • @srharris19: Steven R. Harris is the head of collection development at the University of New Mexico Libraries, and a dog lover.
  • @librarianmer: Meredith Farkas works as the Distance Learning Librarian at Norwich University.
  • @janettefuller: Janette Fuller worked as an elementary school librarian for 30 years.
  • @yalescilib: Check out @yalescilib for updates from the Yale science libraries.
Local & Public Libraries
  • Check out librarians in community libraries to see how they run things.
  • @RyanDeschamps: Ryan Deschamps is the e-Learning Services Manager at the Halifax Public Libraries.
  • @Librarian: @Librarian is the Twitterer behind the Itenerany Poetry Librarian, a non-static, special collections public library.
  • @jdarlinghess: Originally from NY, @jdarlinghess is a librarian in Columbus.
  • @RapidCityPubLib: @RapidCityPubLib shares updates and events from the Rapid City Public Library in South Dakota.
  • @GlendaleLibrary: Stay up to date on the Glendale Public Library system in Glendale, Arizona through @GlendaleLibrary.
  • @SueLawson: Get updates on Manchester libraries from @SueLawson.
  • @jessamyn: Jessamyn West is a librarian consultant in rural Vermont.
  • @webmaster_ref: @webmaster_ref is a librarian and webmaster for Elkhart Public Library.
  • @harriscountypl: Keep updated on the Harris County Public Libraries in Houston through @harriscountypl.
  • @AbingtonLibrary: You can learn more about the Abington Free Library from this Twitter timeline.
  • @cglibrary: @cglibrary will keep you up to date on all the happenings at Casa Grande Library.
  • @ASCPL_Events: Check out @ASCPL_Events to learn about the events going on at Akron-Summit County Public Library.
  • @tashrow: Tasha is the director of the public library in Menasha, Wisconsin.
  • @aclalibraries: @aclalibraries covers the federated system of libraries in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
  • @Cleveland_PL: Cleveland is the third largest public research library in the US, and is on Twitter.
  • @2nickels: Laura Koenig works as a children's librarian in Boston.
  • @ALD_Teens: Get updated on teen news throughout the Arapahoe Library District from @ALD_Teens.
  • @laurasolomon: Laura Solomon works as a web developer and librarian in Ohio's libraries all over the state.
  • @adalib: The Ada Library in Boise shares dreams, ideas, and information.
  • @camdencclibrary: The Camden library is updated by Olivia Nellums, reference and instruction librarian.
  • @gonty: This Australian youth services librarian is the brains behind
  • @mmrl: The Missouri River Regional Library serves the Cole and Osage counties in Missouri.
  • @AustinPublicLib: You'll be able to keep up with all things APL through @AustinPublicLib.
  • @jrriordan: Jim Riordan is the reference librarian at the Bangor Public Librarian in Bangor, Maine.
  • @Jantweepuntnl: Jam is a librarian and manager at City Library of Haarlem Netherlands.
  • @RoCoPubLib: Check out the Roanoke County Public Library system through @RoCoPubLib.
  • @BoerneLibrary: You can learn about the Boerne Public Library from @BoerneLibrary.
  • @skeskali: Cecily is the web services librarian at Vancouver Public Library.
  • @elizabethhdavis: Elizabeth works as a librarian in a children's library.
  • @wlgordon: @wlgordon is a professional librarian in Chicago.
  • @ScrantonLibrary: You'll find out about library industry news, events, and goings on at Scranton libraries through @ScrantonLibrary.
  • @younglibrarian: Katie is a young public librarian.
Other Libraries
  • These librarians work in law, medical, and other libraries.
  • @infobunny: @infobunny is a law librarian who blogs about Twitter apps.
  • @rtennant: Roy Tennant is a librarian, river guide, and father.
  • @lwu5: @lwu5 is a health sciences librarian in Memphis.
  • @sarchet62: Read @sarchet62′s tweets to learn about a medical anthropologist in a librarian suit.
  • @Philbradley: Phil is a freelance librarian, Internet consultant, writer, and trainer.
  • @ultimatelibrarn: Amy Donahue is an aspiring medical librarian.
  • @LPI_Library: Check out @LPI_Library to get updates from the Lunar and Planetary Institute Library in Houston.
  • @Jill_HW: @Jill_HW is interested in digital libraries, social networking, Web 2.0, and more.
  • @conniecrosby: @conniecrosby works as a guerilla law librarian.
  • @vjb: VJ Beauchamp is a web librarian in Northeast Portland, Oregon.
  • @PhilippaJane: Philippa is a librarian that likes to write and podcast.
  • @MegCanada: This librarienne loves technology.
  • @gspadoni: Gina Spadoni is a librarian and competitive intelligence professional, among other things.
  • @wickedlibrarian: This librarian's dream job is to be Neil Gaiman.
  • @olevia: Cheri Campbell is a librarian, union activist, and social progressive.
  • @pfanderson: Read PF Anderson's updates to learn about emerging library technologies and more.
  • @shamsha: This medical librarian is interested in evidence based medicine, librarianship, and social media.
  • @kgs: KG Schneider is a Community Librarian for Equinox, the support and development company for Evergreen open source library software.
  • @djleenieman: Check out Dan Nieman to learn about reference librarianship and more.
  • @glambert: Greg Lambert is a law librarian and geek.
  • @nprlibrary: You'll learn about the latest from the NPR library through @nprlibrary.
  • @stevematthews: Steve Matthews is a fun loving law librarian.
  • Check out these organizations and resources that offer lots of support to libraries and librarians.
  • @librarycongress: Check out the Library of Congress through this Twitter timeline.
  • @msauers: Michael Sauers is the technology innovation librarian for the Nebraska Library Commission.
  • @UtahHive: Learn about the Utah State Library Digital Library Services Team from @UtahHive.
  • @kishizuka: @kishizuka is the technology editor for School Library Journal.
  • @alscblog: The Association for Library Service to Children twitters here.
  • @lbraun2000: Linda Brawn is the YALSA-president elect, librarian, and more.
  • @eagledawg: Nicole Dettmar works as a medical librarian for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.
  • @LesaHolstine: Lisa Holstine is a Library Manager and contributing book reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery News, and other websites.
  • @yalsa: @yalsa provides followers with updates from the Young Adult Library Services Association.
  • @libraryjournal: Through @libraryjournal, you'll find news, book reviews, and more.
  • LJBookReview: Read book reviews and other news from Library Journal here.
  • @MLx: Marianne Lenox is a Gadabout Library Trainer.
  • @libraryman: Michael is the Libraryman, with nearly 20 years of experience in various library roles.
  • @AccessMyLibrary: @AccessMyLibrary advocates for increasing disoverability of library content online.
  • @andreamercado: Andrea is a former librarian making a shift.
  • @infogdss29: Beth Gallaway is a consultant for gaming, technology and youth services training.
  • @sljournal: @sljournal will fill you in on children's and young adult books from School Library Journal.

100 Serious Twitter Tips for Academics

Getting Started
  • If you are new to Twitter or could use a few more basic pointers, check out these tips.
  • Set up an account for your class. Academhack has excellent step-by-step instructions for getting your class set up with a Twitter account.
  • Explore ways the class can communicate with Twitter. Doug Belshaw outlines three ways to use Twitter with students here.
  • Learn about the benefits. This article profiles three professors' use of Twitter with their classes and watch this video about Twitter at college.
  • Learn from others' experience. Some of those who have used Twitter in an academic setting have graciously shared their experiences and resources. Get started with Howard Rheingold's delicious bookmarks on Twitter usage.
  • The Beginner's Guide to Twitter. Read this blog post for great advice on getting started with Twitter.
  • Ten Top Twitter Tips. Find helpful Twitter tips, including understanding the different types of messages.
  • How to Use Twitter: Tips for Bloggers. Get some basic tips here.
  • Twitter 101: Clarifying the Rules for Newbies. This article takes a look at three Twitter mistakes those new to Twitter can make and how to avoid them.
  • Lunch n Learn: Twitter for Beginners. Watch this video presented by Birmingham City University.
  • VIDEO: A beginner's guide to Twitter. The article accompanying this video offers great suggestions for those just starting out with Twitter.
Twitter Etiquette
There's nothing worse than finding out you unwittingly committed a faux pas, so brush up on your Twitter etiquette here.
  • Keep direct messages private. If someone sends a direct message, be respectful and continue this conversation privately.
  • Don't post one-on-one chatter publicly. It's a waste of everyone else's time to read about your plans with a friend to meet up for coffee. Keep those conversations private and you won't risk burning out other followers.
  • Ask questions. Remember that Twitter is at its best as a communication tool, so don't just write what's on your mind, also ask questions to open the dialog to others.
  • Be nice while tweeting during a presentation. This blog post recommends only tweeting something you would be comfortable saying face-to-face.
  • Be prepared to feel the sting. Not everyone thinks before commenting on Twitter, so be prepared to have others tweet comments about you that may not be so diplomatic.
  • Make dedicated accounts for each class or project. Don't try to lump more than one group together. It can get confusing and too overwhelming.
  • Don't send messages just to make a post. Make sure what you are tweeting is relevant to the discussion happening on the feed.

  • Learn the etiquette. This wiki page offers plenty of information on Twitter etiquette as well as ways to help manage your Twitter experience.

These strategies will help you use Twitter smarter.
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags, or the # symbol before keywords, can add order to what may seem Twitter chaos. This article describes three ways to use hashtags.
  • Play BackChatter. BackChatter is a Twitter game that draws those attending a conference into becoming interactive participants.
  • Find and use apps. Applications can enhance your Twitter experience, so learn how you can find the latest apps for Twitter here.
  • Join Twitter Freaks. This Diigo community offers a great selection of resources for using Twitter.
  • Twitter Tweets for Higher Education. Find some interesting suggestions for using Twitter in academia here.
  • TwiTip. This blog features advice for using Twitter to your best advantage.
  • 35 Twitter Tips from 35 Twitter Users. These tips ranges from being honest to recommendations for apps to better manage your Twitter use.
  • 100 Totally Free Twitter Power Strategies. Find tips lots of strategies and tips here.
  • Twitter tips – tools for your tweets. Not only can you find tools to enhance your Tweets, you also learn some basics about using Twitter here.
  • Top 10 Twitter Hacks. Learn more than ten ways to make Twitter work for you with this article.

Ideas for Instructors
Instructors can benefits from these Twitter tips.
  • Present a faculty forum. Once you have a semester or two of Twitter use in the classroom, host a presentation for fellow faculty members to help educate them on how to use Twitter in the classroom.
  • Live blog a conference. Use Twitter to live blog a conference or lecture. Not only are you keeping notes for yourself, but you have created a record for others to access as well.
  • Notes after class. Twitter can serve as a notepad to record thoughts and ideas after class.
  • Lesson plans. Twitter your lesson plans so you, your students, and even other instructors can see what you are doing.
  • Collaborate. Geography no longer has to divide good instructors. Learn from and share with other instructors at your own campus or at campuses around the world.
  • Instant feedback. Especially in a large lecture class, Twitter provides instructors an opportunity for instant feedback on the class as it is occurring.
  • Find support. Reaching out for advice or feedback on a specific task or project is easy with Twitter. Read Tom Scheinfeldt's description of an outreach community created around Omeka users.
  • Increase class participation. Having students use Twitter invites more class participation, from acknowledging their attendance to finding a daily schedule.
  • Problem solving. If you have run into a snag, post your problem on Twitter and watch the creative solutions roll in.
  • Testing new technology. Easily find participants on Twitter to help you test new technologies like Jeff Utecht did.
Benefits for Students
These tips offer benefits for students, improving their learning environment.
  • Asynchronous class conversation. Students can discuss topics relevant to what is happening in class as something happens away from traditional class time.
  • Create community. Students who come together as a community are generally more open to communicating and learning from one another in class. Twitter promotes a sense of community through its sharing of personal information.
  • Create a greater depth of interpersonal understanding. Getting to know small bits of someone over time provides a greater picture of who that person is, therefore developing a deeper sense of understanding that promotes more openness and sharing in the classroom.
  • Make better connections with professors. Students and professors can communicate through Twitter to open up better working relationships.
  • Post questions about assignments. If students are stumped, posting a question on Twitter opens up opportunities for other students to help clarify or for the instructor to step in.
  • As questions without raising a hand. Standing behind Twitter is sometimes less intimidating than raising a hand and having an entire class staring at you when asking a question. Twitter can encourage asking questions or finding clarification.
  • Provides "backchannel". The term "backchannel" refers to the conversation occurring secondary to the main lecture or presentation. Read about some of the benefits of the backchannel in this article.
  • Brings together online communities. Creating a sense of community in online classes can sometimes be challenging. Twitter can help create this sense of community.

Tips for the Class
Implement this tips in class for a new way of finding and sharing information.
  • Twitter search. The search tool on Twitter will immediately provide you with any tweets including your given keyword, so go explore with topics from class.
  • Direct tweet. Professors and students can contact each other through direct tweets without having to share cell phone numbers.
  • Collaborate on projects. When working together on projects, set up a group using an app like Tweetworks to facilitate communication between everyone.
  • Make announcements. Professors can send out reminders about upcoming tests, project due dates, or any other class news.
  • Brainstorm. Brainstorm on class topics any time and anywhere ideas occur by posting them on Twitter and seeing who else contributes.
  • Take a poll. Take opinion polls or get feedback by using an app like PollDaddy.
  • Share interesting websites. Both professors and students can post interesting websites that are relevant to their class.
  • Use tools to find answers from tweeters you don't know. It's one thing to gather information from your followers, but it's a totally different opportunity to find answers from among a larger group of Twitter users. This article offers five suggestions to do just that.
  • twiggit. Find interesting news articles or articles relevant to a current topic in class and share the results with this tool that combines Digg with Twitter.

Assignments Using Twitter
Try some of these assignments utilizing Twitter.
  • Use it to teach a foreign language. Conversing with native speakers is an excellent way to reinforce foreign language lessons. See how this professor used Twitter to teach Italian.
  • Learn from professional journalists. Study how these journalists use Twitter to enhance their careers or see what other teachers are doing.
  • Do community service. Become inspired by this story of how Twitter helped bring water to 50 remote villages.
  • Write a thesis. Consider writing a thesis (or a smaller research paper) on the effects of Twitter like this student did.
  • Writing succinctly. Have students practice sharing complex thoughts in 140 words or less for a great writing lesson.
  • Play Telephone. Play this old childhood game with a new twist by having students create a story chained together by their tweets or use twittories to accomplish this goal.
  • Learn probability. While this math lesson was originally done for younger students, it is an excellent example of using Twitter to deliver hands-on learning.
  • Study geography with Twitter and Google Earth. Follow this teacher's lead to incorporate these two technologies into a dynamic geography lesson.
  • Connect with classrooms in a different geographic location. Collaborate with another classroom to expand the possibilities of learning.
  • Twitter-specific projects. Help students learn how to use Twitter by offering assignments such as this one from this Georgia Southern University instructor.
  • Have a Twitter treasure hunt. Follow the example given here to create a treasure hunt with students' prize being the completion of the assignment.

Follow These
Here are suggestions for people and things to track on Twitter.
  • A professional. Keep up with what professionals in your area of interest are doing through their Twitter feed.
  • A famous person. Many politicians and celebrities are on Twitter. Follow them to keep abreast of current events.
  • Mentors. If professors or other key figures in your field of study are on Twitter, follow them to keep up with their research and activities.
  • The news. Twitter has quickly become a recognized resource for up-to-the-minute news from well-respected news sources.
  • Citizen journalism. World events, such as the recent protests in Iran, are beginning to unfold on Twitter. Students and instructors alike can follow citizen journalism right alongside the mainstream news reports.
  • Track a word or phrase. Track a word or phrase to see how it is being used by others. This is a great way to learn the nuances of words and phrases.
  • Check out the recent public updates. The recent public updates shows the most recent posts from all Twitter users. This is a great place to spot trends and see what others are talking about.

Twitter Tools
These tools can help your Twitter experience become easier and more dynamic.
  • Twhirl. This powerful desktop client helps manage your Twitter experience through such helpful features as URL shortening, new message notifications, image posting, and much more.
  • TwitterNotes. This tool lets you make private notes for yourself among your tweets.
  • QuoteURL. A great tool for summarizing a Twitter project, this tool will put different Tweets together on one page.
  • TwitPic. This tool lets you share photos on Twitter.
  • Shorten URLs so that you use fewer characters when sharing web links on Twitter.
  • Tweetree. Groups entire conversations together to help put tweets in context.
  • TweetGrid. Create a customized search dashboard to enhance you Twitter searches with this tool.
  • TweetScan. Have tweets emailed to you based on keywords you select with this tool.
  • TweetDeck. This app allows you to create groups of Tweets to better manage all the information you receive.
  • TwitterFone. When you are busy, use this tool to leave a voice message that will be turned into a tweet.
  • Tweet Later. This tool lets you write tweets that you can schedule for posting in the future. Write reminders, then schedule them to post closer to when they need to be used.
  • Great Twitter Tools for Use in Academia
  • The following tools lend themselves to the learning environment of academia.
  • Outwit Me. This site offers "intelligent Twitter games" and is a great way to have students get comfortable using Twitter.
  • Atlas. Explore the world with tweets that are shown on a map.
  • Twrivia. Get a new trivia question each day with this tool.
  • weather. Science News Blog post frequent weather news and events occurring around the world.
  • EarthquakeNews. From the USGS Earthquake Center, get tweets about any earthquake that registers over 2.5 anywhere in the world.
  • Tweetizen. Find specific groups on Twitter or start your own group.
  • GeoTwitterous: Personalized Twitter on a Map. This article describes how GeoTwitterous works as a great tool to map your Twitter network.
  • Plinky. Each day this app provides a prompt in the form of a question or challenge, then you can reply by posting text, photos, maps, or whatever you can use to answer the prompt.
  • Finding People in Academia to Follow
  • Take these suggestions for finding professors, students, and more on Twitter.
  • Colleges & Universities Directory. From Just Tweet It, this directory will connect you with both professors and students in academia.
  • Professors :: Twellow. Professors on Twitter can add themselves to this directory.
  • Twitter Professors: 18 People to Follow for a Real Time Education. Mashable offers a list of 18 professors you should follow and why.
  • Twitter Grader. This tool will grade your Twitter presence, but it also provides a listing of the popular Twitter users in your area, providing an excellent opportunity to find people to follow.
  • Follow Fridays. This popular activity of Friday recommendations of others to follow provides an opportunity to find interesting people to follow.
  • WeFollow. Add yourself and find others in this user-powered Twitter directory where you can search by hashtags.
  • TwitterLocal. Used in conjunction with Adobe AIR, find local Twitter users based on whichever geographic location you supply.
  • Twubble. This tool searches your friend graph and selects others you may be interested in following. This is a great way to discover others associated with your school

100 Ways to Improve Usability in Your Library

With the popularity of Library 2.0, libraries are getting more complicated these days, and it's becoming harder to make sure that everyone is happy. You have to stay on top of online collections, new library programs, websites, and more. Read on to find out how you can make these and other components of your library better, and make life easier for yourself and the people that visit your library.

Consider these tips when looking at overall ways to improve usability in your library.

  • Conduct a usability study: Gather some of your patrons, ask them to find something in the library, and analyze their behavior.
  • Make use of what users already know: Model your design after things that your user is likely to be familiar with already.
  • Use descriptive wording: Instead of using project names for something, call it what it really is. For example, instead of calling a search engine "Find It!," simply call it a search engine, or "Find It! Search Engine."
  • Avoid overwhelming users: Give enough information to provide guidance, but not so much that they'll be confused.
  • Be friendly: No one wants to visit a library where the staff is rude and unhelpful.
  • Consider your users: When creating usable design, think about your users and how they'll be utilizing what you create.
  • Use common terms: Make sure the words you're using are easily understood by users.
  • Aim to save time: Make it a goal to help your visitors navigate information quickly.
  • Make your library desirable: Design and market your library in a way that makes people want to use it.


Make your website easy to use and navigate with these tips.

  • Be consistent: Use the same fonts and design elements on all of your library's pages so that users always know they're still on your site.
  • Put a help link on every page: Don't leave users stranded. Give them a way to get help no matter where they are.
  • Use templates: Create a template for your site, and base the design of all pages on that template.
  • Make your catalog search incredibly easy to find: Most visitors to your library's website will be looking for items, so be sure to make it easy for them to find what they're looking for right away.
  • Check for errors: Make sure that your site does not have any broken links or grammatical errors that will undermine the quality and authority of the library.
  • Create effective navigation: Use navigation that is simple and easy to understand.
  • Put your most important information up top: Avoid making your patrons scroll to find information. Put all of your most used functions and information high in the display field.
  • Check for accessibility: Ensure that your website is usable for everyone by assessing your site's accessibility.
  • Be action-oriented: Let users choose what they want to do, like "reserve an item."
  • Meet specific goals and tasks: Consider what your site's visitors are coming to do, and make it easy for them to do it.
  • Design for quick loading: Don't make users wait around for information. Create a quick loading website.
  • Create a footer "mullet": Put all of your fun stuff like Flickr images, news, and events in your footer.
  • Leave bread crumbs: Show your users where they should go by putting lots of links in your website's text.
  • Use lots of white space for important elements: Place a good deal of white space around important site elements like your search box in order to draw attention to them.
  • Create a task-centered home page: Instead of overwhelming visitors with information, give them areas where they can do tasks like search for a book or get directions to the library.
  • Make your search as Google-like as possible: Most visitors will intuitively understand how to do searches on Google, so model your search after theirs so that they'll be able to use it easily.
  • Offer larger font sizes: Allow users to choose what size text they'd like to use for your site.

Catalog & Search

Follow these tips, and you'll make finding information incredibly easy.

  • List your availability: When users search for an item, let them know how many you have available, or when they're expected to be back in the library.
  • Offer a reservation system: If you don't have an item currently in the library, allow users to sign up to get it when it comes available.
  • Offer filtering: Allow your visitors to place filters on their search, like non-fiction and poetry, to find exactly what they're looking for without working through a lot fo what they don't want.
  • Provide a search history: Help your patrons remember what they were looking for by offering a search history function.
  • Share with other libraries: If you don't have a book or item within your library, offer a function that allows users to connect with a library that does.
  • Use search suggestions: Pre-populate your search field with ideas for what users should be searching for.
  • Check your logs: Take a look at what your patrons are searching for on your site, and whether or not they're able to find it.
  • Offer a site search: Go beyond a catalog search and allow visitors to do a search of your library's entire site.


Make your library a more open and available place for patrons with these tips.

  • Make your most often used items prominent: If you have certain selections that are used frequently, make sure they're highlighted and incredibly easy to find.
  • Weed out your selection: Create a protocol for weeding out unused or unnecessary items so that the ones you actually need will be more prominent.
  • Use statistics: Find out what parts of your collection are most popular, and expand upon them.
  • Offer ebooks: Make ebooks available in your collection, and users can take advantage of a new way to enjoy books.
  • Put as much as you can online: Library patrons like the instant information and ability to make use of resources on the Internet from home and work, so be sure to facilitate this.
  • Make your help desk obvious: Put a well-staffed help desk in an obvious place so that users will be able to approach it easily.
  • Make sure users know they can get a book: Many people do not realize that they can reserve or order books from the library.

Ask your staff to make these improvements for the sake of usability.

  • Build camaraderie: Create a staff that enjoys working together, and they'll be better prepared to serve the needs of patrons.
  • Encourage blogging: Allow your staff to evangelize for your library and get connected with patrons by encouraging them to blog.
  • Be available: Make sure that you always have enough staff on hand to meet the needs of your library's users.
  • Support professional development: Encourage your staff to seek out additional education in new media, technology, and other courses that will help them in the library.
  • Use a wiki: Utilize a wiki for content management so that you can have an effective internal sharing system.
  • Cross train: Have staff in different departments train with each other, so that everyone has more knowledge to help library patrons when needed.

Library Environment

Make your library an easier place to learn and work.

  • Manage noise: Create quiet learning areas so that patrons aren't disturbed by talking, cell phones, and other distractions.
  • Use signs to make areas clear: Use large signs to tell people when they're in the childrens' section, or a no cell phone zone.
  • Handle conflict between patrons: Be sure that your patrons aren't driving each other out of the library.
  • Be positive: Make sure that your signs do not give off a negative or limiting feeling. Tell patrons what they can do, instead of what they can't.
  • Offer lots of power outlets: Encourage users with laptops to come into the library by offering them an easy way to stay powered.
  • Make your signs readable: Use a large enough size and clear font to get the point across.
  • Create stations: Devote an area to reading magazines, another to doing research, yet another to individual studying, and so on.
  • Offer individual and group spaces: Create areas where individuals and groups can devote their time to study and discussion separate from the main library area.
  • Create a clean presentation: Don't leave books cluttered on carts and on tabletops–put them where they belong.
  • Use signs to announce tools: If you have a self checkout machine, make it easy for people to find it with a sign.
  • Consider acoustics: If you're undergoing new construction or a renovation of your library, ask your architect or contractor to design with sound in mind.
  • Create a bookstore-like layout: Make your library look like an inviting bookstore to encourage reading and visitors.
  • Make use of windows: Make the library a more comfortable place by using large windows for natural light.

Improve communication in your library with these tips.

  • Ask staff to wear name tags: If patrons need help, make it easy to find someone by an identifying name tag.
  • Offer tours: Familiarize users with your library by giving regular tours.
  • Have an active email address: Be available through email, and you'll be able to help more patrons.
  • Ask users what they want and need: Get to the root of what your patrons are looking for by simply asking them.
  • Blog: Keep patrons updated on what's going on with the library by maintaining a regular blog.
  • Create exciting events: Get your library's visitors to come in for more than just books by hosting fun and interesting events.
  • Make use of social networks: Be available and open up interaction on social networks like Facebook.
  • Use IM: Make your library available for assistance via instant message, so you can be helpful in a quick and easy manner.
  • Encourage user-generated content: Make it easy for your patrons to be involved in the creation of content.
  • Hold training classes: Not every visitor to the library will intuitively understand how to use it, even if you've designed an incredibly usable library. Hold training sessions to make it easier for people to navigate your stacks.
  • Offer RSS feeds: Make it easy for users to stay updated on new additions to the collection, library news, and more by implementing RSS feeds anywhere they fit.
  • Reach out to visitors: Ask your staff to always be on an active lookout for patrons who seem like they need assistance.
  • Improve service to remote visitors: Make your library's availability from outside of the library easier and more effective for patrons to take advantage of.
  • Improve staff's demeanor: Explain and encourage appropriate body language, voice tone, dress, observation, and listening in your staff.
  • Train regularly: Keep your staff's skills fresh with regular training sessions.
Follow these tips, and you'll make your library's computers even more useful.

  • Install Firefox: With Firefox you can set up a custom experience, including the ability to put links to your library's catalog on book names.
  • Designate catalog and Internet computers: Make it easy for users to know which computers are for browsing the catalog, and which can be used for the Internet.
  • Offer more laptops: Users want to make use of laptops, so be sure to have enough to give them what they want.
  • Allow patrons to use the tools they want: Make instant messaging, YouTube, gaming, and other resources available on your library's computers.
  • Offer Wi-Fi: If you aren't already, make free Wi-Fi available in your library.
  • Make your library's tools more useful with these tips.
  • Be available for troubleshooting: Have a prominent help desk, and offer a sticker with directions on your equipment.
  • Check out mp3 players: Make listening to podcasts and ebooks easy with mp3 player checkouts.
  • Offer a simple checkout system: Don't put a lot of restrictions on how and when patrons can use equipment unless it's entirely necessary.
  • Offer CD and DVD players: If you're going to offer CDs and DVDs in your collection, make sure your library has players available for patrons to use.
  • Stay on top of maintenance and repairs: Always make sure that the equipment available to patrons is in good working order.
  • Lend tools: If you're going to offer how-to books for checkout, make your library a one stop shop and offer tools to do the job as well.
Kid Friendly

Make children feel welcome and encouraged in your library by implementing these ideas.

  • Provide child-centric visual design: Offer animation and sound effects to get their attention.
  • Use multimedia for navigation: Show children images to suggest where they should go next.
  • Create reading nooks: Kids want a comfortable place to sit and read, so devote a few corners to comfortable bean bags and other implements that encourage curling up with a good book.
  • Give instructions: Studies have found that when given written instructions, children are willing to read them and will make use of them.
Fun Tools

Use these tools in your library, and you'll be able to better connect to and serve your patrons.

  • Flickr: Let users see photos of the library in action and get excited about visiting.
  • Make it easy for patrons to save their bookmarks to the web with
  • Librarything: Create a social catalog for your library on Librarything.
  • Facebook: Get connected, share news, and spread information with patrons on Faebook.
  • Diigo: Make it easy for patrons to save information with highlighting and sticky notes right in the browser.
  • Twitter: Use Twitter to publish mini updates about what's going on at the library.
  • This online bookmarking site allows you to create bookmarks for an entire group.
  • LibGuides: With this app, you can create content, share knowledge, and promote resources.
  • Wikipedia: Encourage users to take advantage of and participate in this user-generated encyclopedia.
  • YouTube: Post videos of your library on YouTube to get patrons excited about visiting.

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