New “Fun” Tools

A few days ago I posted about why it is important to give teens a chance to have fun while learning. In that post I mentioned that in my work I was finding that there didn’t seem to be a “next big thing” to get excited about. It’s true, I am still looking for that next big thing, but that’s not to say there aren’t some good new tools that I’ve discovered that are great for you and teens to know about. These include:

  • unigo logoUnigo is a five-month old web site that uses real-live students to create content about what life is really like in college. These first-hand accounts (primary source really) give teens who are considering college information that is different than what they might receive via a college tour, in a college catalog, or in a brochure. The site has a useful search feature so potential students (and their parents) can look for specific programs, types of students, interests, and so on in order to discover exactly what an institution has to offer. The CEO of Unigo was interviewed in a Net at Night podcast . It’s definitely worth listening to that audio to find out what the site is all about and how students are involved in its creation and use. (Note: Unigo is still in the development phase which means not every institution in the country is included with full content.)
  • Google News Timeline just launched last week and it gives searchers the ability to search a topic and view a timeline of news stories related to that topic. The Timeline tool by default searches Time magazine and Wikipedia Events. But, searchers can add blogs, newspapers, and other web-based sites in order to expand the resources included in the search. When results are generated, a timeline is presented with excerpts from content matching the search along with links to the actual content. The image below shows results for a search on “New York mayor” for the year 2009. (You can click on the image to see a larger version.)
    Google News Timeline results
  • The Library of Congress YouTube Channel isn’t a new site, but a new access point for Library of Congress (LOC) materials on the web. Just a couple of weeks ago, LOC launched this channel which provides search and browse access to videos including Pearl Harbor Oral Histories and a discussion of Langston Hughes and his poetry. Teens who are already on YouTube and comfortable with searching and browsing the YouTube interface, will be right at home using the LOC YouTube Channel.
  • Just last week the UN launched the World Digital Library (WDL), a site that makes it possible to view and read about primary source materials from around the world. Teens can browse the collection by type of material, place of origin, topic, or time period. They can also perform keyword searches in order to find resources. For example, the image below displays a search for “revolution.” On the left you’ll see links to different time periods, continents, topics, and so on. On the rightthumbnails of primary source images are displayed. Teens click on an image and see the real thing. (You can click on the image to see the actual search results in WDL.)
    World Digital Library Search

Obviously innovation isn’t dead when it comes to new resources and tools that meet teen academic and personal needs and interests. Go ahead and have fun with some of what’s new to use.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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One Comment

  1. Tamie Nickelson

    That sounds like a wonderful source of information. Most people make better decisions when they have a personal connection. Getting to know a college location from others personal experience sounds like a great idea.

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