A Tech Tool Summer

This summer I worked with some wonderful librarians on considering opportunities for non-traditional professional learning opportunities as well as exploring some easy and fun technology tools to use in their libraries and library instruction. One of my favorite simple tools to use is Thinglink. You can upload any image to Thinglink and tag it with links out to websites, images, videos or just plain text. Below is an example I created with a few of the topics we discussed during our summer library workshops.  Unfortunately, Thinglink isn’t embedding correctly with my WordPress hosted site, so you’ll have to click the image below to be redirected to the Thinglink site get the full effect of the tool.  This is a frustrating pattern I’m noticing with WordPress, a tool I recommended to the librarians in my workshop this summer who are looking to start blogs, but one which I am reconsidering recommending.  Seems like embedding shouldn’t be so complicated.  But what do I know?

On a side note, I created the main image above in Piktochart, another of my favorite tech tools for creating pretty and informative images.  The downside to both of these tech tools is the branding that is so common to free tools.  This free thing is also probably the source of my WordPress limitations and frustrations.  The upside:  did I mention these tools are FREE?


Eating iCrow

I’m a PC person.  I have always used PCs and Windows products.  I know my way around them, I am comfortable with their functionality.

Other than an iPod, which I originally purchased in 2004 (it was green) to access my music on a trip to Japan and have stuck with ever since, I eschew Apple products.  I have been notoriously vocal in my eschewance (I made that word up.  I do that.) of Apple products.  They’re just pretty.  They’re not functional.  The company is elitist…image snobs.

When I first transitioned into my current position of providing professional development for teachers around educational technology I purchased an iPad.  There was (is) a huge movement around iPads in the classroom, and I knew if I was going to be poised to assist teachers in maximizing the academic outcomes of integrating technology into instruction, I’d best educate myself on the tools of the trade.

The iPad was cool.  Convenient.  Easy.  Pretty.  I use it A LOT for my own personal productivity, but not because it’s an “iPad”.  It does everything you’d expect a mobile device to do; its provenance is irrelevant.  Other than my (Android) phone I have no other mobile devices to compare it to, so I cannot assume its superiority in its field.

Then.  THEN.  I came into possession of a MacBook Pro.

A coworker in my department moved into a different position, and I became the recipient of his company purchased MacBook.  As stubborn as I am, I can also be open minded.  I realized that it is in everyone’s best interest for me to become what I love to call “bilingual” in Operating System.  All personal bias aside, it’s a very valuable thing for a person (especially our students) to be flexible and fluent in all modes of technological literacy.  In that spirit, I began my MacBook journey.

People.  I might be in love.  I can’t put my finger on why, but when it comes to online work I now gravitate to the MacBook first.  Is it a visual thing?  An ergonomic thing?  It’s not a functionality thing, because it does the same thing as my Dell laptop does.  It’s a mysterious thing.  It’s probably some magic Apple juju powder that flies off the keys as you type and releases chocolate cake endorphins.  I really don’t know, but the other day I found myself looking up MacBook Airs online the other day.

Moral:  critical thinking + open mindedness = good.  (Except where my bank account is concerned.)