App of the Week: ScratchJr

Name: ScratchJr
Platform: iOS 7 or later/compatible with iPad
Cost: Free

scratchjr logoOK, I know some of you are saying, “Wait, I thought this was the YALSAblog for those working with teens. What’s up with a review of an app that’s for really young kids?” It seems crazy that the YALSAblog App of the week would review something like ScratchJr, but I have to say, there’s a lot to make it worth recommending to staff working with teens and to teens themselves.

  • ScratchJr is a perfect way for any adult – library staff member, parent, teacher, etc. – to start learning about why all of this talk about teaching young people how to code is important, to begin to understand what block-based coding is all about, and to be able to gain some skills so to be better prepared for STEM-based programs that might be rolled out that integrate critical thinking, problem-solving, etc. within a coding environment.
  • Any library that is giving teens the chance to work with younger children on coding projects will want to know about ScratchJr. It’s a perfect app for teens to use with kids to get the younger kids started on learning how coding works and on STEM-based activities that integrate critical thinking and problem-solving. If the teens you work with are working on this kind of project, it’s also a perfect opportunity for teens to have a chance to talk and think about how to present the information to children, how to plan and implement a program of this kind, and so on. It will take a lot of critical thinking and problem-solving on a teen’s part to put together a ScratchJr program for younger children, and that’s great.

Continue reading App of the Week: ScratchJr

App of the Week: Loop

Title:‘  Loop
Cost:‘  $0.99
Platform:’  iOS

As a teen, most of my notebooks were full of stick-figure flip animations performing stunts on the page edges.’ ‘  Loop is the digital equivalent of those over-doodled notebooks, allowing users to create hand-drawn, animated loops that can be exported as GIFs.

The app’s interface gives much of its screen space to a whiteboard-like drawing area with a grid of tools permanently situated at the lower edge.

Loop pic 1
Continue reading App of the Week: Loop

App of the Week: Wattpad

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 2.30.06 PM
Title: Wattpad
Platforms: iOS and Android, also web-based
Cost: Free

This spring, a student asked me if I knew about After, the One Direction fanfic “everyone was reading on Wattpad.” Then I saw Clive Thompson looking for people who were publishing on Wattpad… and I fell into the rabbit hole that is the reading/writing/commenting site.

After had already landed author Anna Todd a three-book deal, but that wasn’t the only interesting thing about Wattpad.
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Probably not surprisingly based on its fanfiction roots, YA is especially strong on Wattpad. The influences are somewhat predictable. One young writer named daven whose “story” (as all narratives as labeled) December I particularly liked, had a profile pic featuring her with Rainbow Rowell.
Continue reading App of the Week: Wattpad

App of the Week: FridgePoems by Color Monkey

Title: FridgePoems by Color Monkey
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free (for basic vocabulary set)

It’s National Poetry Month, and there’s no easier way to promote the creation of verse poetry than setting up a public access tablet with this fun app.

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When you launch the app, you get a “working” space with a handful of words, but you can zoom out to see more. Dragging the word boxes with your fingertips allows you to reorder things to create your verse.

Writers are not strictly limited to the words on screen. You can draw for new words or invest in themed WordPacks ($1 each for hipster tragic, redneck, hip hop, etc. or $3 for all of them). The provision of verb endings and plurals can add some variety as well.
Continue reading App of the Week: FridgePoems by Color Monkey

App of the Week: Waterlogue

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Title: Waterlogue
Cost: $2.99
Platform: iOS only

Instagram forever changed the mobile digital photography landscape, but for those who want to get a little more artistic with their camera snaps, the Waterlogue app, which offers a single version for both iPhone and iPads, offers a foolproof way to convert the photographic into the painterly.

Waterlogue provides a dozen options for rendering your photographs into lovely watercolors, from the draftsmanlike to the abstract. You can manipulate the sharpness of each image after the filter is overlaid.

Not only does the app allow you to output frame-worthy personal momentos, but it offers countless options for inventive library signage and brochures — and, as the Waterlogue FAQ states, if you own the image, you are free to do what you want with the watercolor produced, including commercial applications.
Painted in Waterlogue
Continue reading App of the Week: Waterlogue

App of the Week: Whisper

whisper
Title: Whisper
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

When I read the New York Magazine article about Whisper, comparing it to one of my favorite blogs, PostSecret, the author waxed poetic about it hearkening back to the golden age of’ anonymity in online sharing. I had to try it.

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It’s a simple app. Compose your message, the app will suggest images based on the words you use, or you can use the camera on your device. It will give you a variety of fonts to choose from as well.’ The app auto-generates hashtags based on your text input, but you have the ability to remove or add more. Continue reading App of the Week: Whisper

Tech Trends to Watch in 2014

Which technologies are likely to gain more traction in the new year? Some modest predictions about the tools and trends with appeal to teens and the librarians who serve them.

leo

Really ephemeral social media
Adults, like teens, are grappling with finding self-destructing social media which won’t haunt them into adulthood. First came Snapchat, with its associated imperfections, now Leo is all of-the-moment, but the platforms will likely change over time as adults cotton on to them. But, as TechCrunch points out, that need is not just about privacy:

Yes, its messages self-destruct after a few seconds, but the rationale behind doing so isn’t necessarily about privacy. For Leo co-founder Carlos Whitt, the ephemeral nature of the app is more about getting rid of the “cognitive load” that comes with photos or videos being saved or shared in public. People act and share differently when they know that a photo or video will live forever, the thinking goes. One need only look at Instagram and the all-too-perfectly filtered photos that appear there to know what Whitt is talking about. The impetus behind Leo, then, is to be able to share what you’re doing without having to worry too much about what happens to it.

Fuss-free augmented realities
This was the year augmented realities finally got some traction in the edtech world. Right now, most augmented reality is still a bit clumsy through interfaces like Aurasma and Layar. For now, augmented reality too ofter requires you to run a specific app to pull up applicable virtual content when you happen upon associated places in the physical world, kind-of like QR codes, which I find way too fiddly. I like Chirp, which uses an auditory, rather than a visual clue, to signal availability of digital resources.

Pebble Watch
Wear-able wearable computing Continue reading Tech Trends to Watch in 2014

App of the Week: Nearpod

nearpod

Title: Nearpod
Cost: Free, though many slidedecks are available as supplemental purchases
Platform: iOS and Android

As enthusiastic about tablets as I happen to be, I’ve been leery of the educational technologists suggesting mobile devices can replace more robust computers for teaching and learning. Nearpod was, quite frankly, the first tablet-based technology to make me gasp at its possibilities.

The backend is not unlike slideshare — you upload your files and publish them through the nearpod interface, and have the ability to embed assessments, too. A “live” session generate a PIN for students to follow along, and stydent viewers are visible in-app from a roster. Nearpod instructors have persistent access to anything uploaded into their library, but you can also purchase NPPs, sets of canned presentations on curricular topics, for an average of $10 for 12 in themed collections. Continue reading App of the Week: Nearpod

App of the Week: Explain a Website

Title: Explain a Website
Cost: $.99
Platform: iOS 5 or later – iPad compatible

About two years ago I reviewed Explain Everything, a great app for iPads and Android tablets that gives users the ability to create videos comprised of images, screenshots, and more. While I love Explain Everything it wasn’t all that I wanted it to be. I was still looking for an easy to use app that made it possible to create screencasts that showed how to use websites. And showed that by recording actual screen movements, navigation from page to page, and so on.

That is why I was really happy when I discovered Explain a Website. It’s exactly what I was looking for. As you’ll see in the video below using Explain a Website users can screencast web content straight from an iPad.


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Apps, Apps, Apps – From Discovering to Utilizing

Are you a fan of YALSA’s App of the Week? Looking to incorporate more apps into your library programming? Wondering how to get apps into the library at all? Join Erin Daly, YALSA blogger and Youth Services Coordinator for a look at apps in the library. You’ll get an introduction to some of the post popular apps, program ideas, and tips for staying up to date in the wide world of apps. For a sneak peek of what’s in store, grab your tablet or mobile device, download Letter Press from the app store, and then get ready for more ideas during the January 16th webinar at 2 pm EST. To register, click here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/apps-apps-everywhere.

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