Category Archives: Resources

Periodic posts of good resources for online life.

NELA Diversity Summit Links

All the links from my presentation at the NELA Diversity Summit. If you have questions about any of them, comment below!

Celebration & Integration: Services to Immigrants & New Americans, Library Journal, June 2016
Includes an additional list of resources. Resources everywhere!

Libraries Mentioned in Presentation, in order

Astoria (OR) Public Library, website translation
Multnomah County (OR) Public Library, website translation
Carol Stream (IL) Public Library, website translation
Rochester Hills (MI) Public Library, Newcomers Book Discussion group
Intercambio conversation groups, Waukesha (WI) Public Library
San Jose (CA) Public Library, Family Learning Centers
Wee Play San Jose, play literacy for birth – 5 years
Los Angeles (CA) Public Library, citizenship
Buffalo & Erie County (NY) Public Library, naturalization ceremony
Queens (NY) Public Library, New Americans Program
Hartford (CT) Public Library, citizenship legal aid
San Jose Public Library, Life Skills Academy
Louisville (KY) Free Public Library, services to immigrants
Cedar Falls (IA) Public Library, Cultural Literacy Series
Hartford Public Library press release about Career Pathways program
ALLAccess in the Libraries, Rhode Island libraries collaborative program
Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative (RIFLI), another libraries collaborative effort
Boise Public Library, Hillcrest Branch has the most targeted programming for immigrants/refugees
Skokie (IL) Public Library, Civic Labs
Houston (TX) Public Library, MobileExpress
Grandview Heights (OH) Public Library, GHPL PopUp Library
“It’s Electric: a Pop Up Library on Wheels,” Library Journal article, 2016

Other Organizations/Initiatives

Citizenshipworks
New Americans Campaign
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Immigrant Justice Corps
Global Talent Idaho
Learning Lab Boise
Welcoming America, Welcoming Week September 2017
Networks for Integrating New Americans project, World Education
Programming Librarian, from the ALA Public Programs Office
Article: Immigrants Overcome Obstacles with Library Support

A Rocket in Your Pocket – Apps for Students

One of the ways to make any student’s life easier is to give her the tools she needs. With smartphone and tablet use rising, apps for students can be those tools. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the better apps for students of all ages.

Note: I’ve tried to find free or low-cost apps. There are higher-costs apps with more bells and whistles, but there might also be a free version that gives you the basics you need. Shop around.

Familiar Names, In An App

  • SparkNotes has a free app for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices. Access study guides online or offline, and check in to SparkNotes to find other students in your area studying the same thing.
  • Cliffs Notes has apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch that will help you review texts in English. The app is free, and each study guide is $1.99 (much cheaper than the print versions). They also have a free CramCasts, three-minute overviews of literary works in a podcast that you can subscribe to.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica’s apps are geared at kids, but anyone can use them to learn more about snakes, knights & castles, US Presidents, and the solar system.
  • Dictionary.com is a great web-based dictionary/thesaurus, now available as an app for iPhone and Android.
  • There are several graphing calculator apps out there, but here’s a few for iPhone (one for free and one that costs $1.99) and Android (free and also free)

New Tools to Try

  • Evernote is a note-taking and list-making app for iPhone, iPad, and any Apple computer. What makes it awesome is that it will sync up those notes and list from one device to the next, so you always have the same updated information in front of you. No more copying things over or emailing to yourself.
  • Quizlet is a flash card website and app that lets you create your own flashcards or study using existing ones.
  • Flash card creation apps like StudyDroid (Android) and gFlash (iPhone/iPad)
  • Outliner for iPhone and iPad easily helps you break any project or paper down into an outline and task list.
  • Adding to last week’s post on time management, here’s iProcrastinate, a Mac/iPhone app that helps organize and break down large projects.

Not an App, but a Neat Site

WebElements.com is a site for high school and college students of all levels that has an amazing amount of information about the elements in a useful format. You can also buy all sorts of posters and displays to help remember more about the elements.

Many, many many more

There are hundreds of apps out there that are great for students of all sorts. Use your favorite search engine to find one on a subject you need, for the device you have. Just type in the subject you want, then “app for” and the device you have. You should get a few great lists to start with. You can also search the iTunes App Store or Android Market/Google Play for more.

Resources

Classrooms Without Walls

As folks head back to school, let’s spend the rest of August finding ways to study and learn from wherever you are: still on vacation, away in a dorm room, or hanging out at recess. Watching TED talks is fun, but sometimes you need a little more structure.

What Is It?

After more than ten years of colleges and universities offering some kind of online access to courses for their students, today anyone can find lectures, courses, and more available online – some for free, some for a reasonable fee. Here’s a few to give you an idea of what’s out there.

Free Resources, Open to Everyone

  • Wikiversity was created by the same people who started Wikpiedia. Educators and experts worldwide offer free educational resources and courses on hundreds of topics.
  • Several universities are offering online courses that you can explore at your own pace, or take with a registered class of other students. Check out what’s available from MIT’s OpenCourseware project, Stanford’s Free Online Courses, Open Yale Courses, and Harvard’s Open Learning Courses.
  • Imagine searching for lectures as easily as you look for the latest pop hits? That’s the premise behind iTunesU. If you have iTunes on your computer, open it up and click on the iTunes Store, then iTunes U up at the top. Search for a subject you’re interested in and then subscribe to listen or watch it.
  • For online courses from around the globe, read through this list of 200 Free Online Classes to Learn Anything from the Online Education Database

Something brand new and very different is the edX project, a partnership between Harvard University, MIT, and University of California at Berkeley to offer free courses online. Unlike the resources above, edX does require registration and will offer a certificate after you complete a subject of study. Read more about edX and ‘the future of online education.’

Paid Courses

  • Looking to learn more about computer programs you need for work or school? Try Lynda.com, a resource for online training tutorials. For a monthly or annual subscription, you have access to nearly 1500 tutorials on everything from Microsoft Word to Adobe Photoshop and more.
  • Many colleges and universities offer formal distance-learning programs, but the University of Phoenix has one of the most well-known online degree programs.
  • The Museum of Modern Art in New York offers art courses online, both self-study and instructor-led. Discover art from MoMA from wherever you are!

How Is It Useful?

World-class education, for free, from whatever computer or mobile device you have that can get to the internet. Learn at your own pace, on whatever subject you like, whenever you have time, wherever you are. How isn’t this useful?

Try It Out!

Take a look at a class from any of the resources above and listen to a recorded lecture, read through the notes, or watch a video. Expand your mind and get back in gear for learning.

Help & Resources

TED Talks – Inspiring, Educational, Wonderful

Since the first week of August is apparently one of the busiest travel weeks of the year in the United States, let’s take a look at a perfect travel companion: TED Talks

What Is It?

TED logoStraight from the About page: TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

TED helps find and spread ideas worldwide in many ways:

Anyone can watch the hundreds of TED Talks available at the TED website. They range from just three to 20 minutes long, and are on every topic imaginable. Use the search facets on the left to find talks that appeal to you, or just keep browsing and clicking on whatever catches your eye.

There have also been at least two Boston-area TEDx events: TEDx Somerville and TEDx Boston. These self-organized events bring people together to share a TED-like experience, focused on locally-important topics. Take a look at the talks from TEDxSomerville and all four years of TEDxBoston.

Why Is It Useful?

Once you’re out of school, it’s harder to find lessons in life that will challenge you or get you to imagine new possibilities and consider alternatives to ‘the way things have always been.’ Watching TED talks online bring some of the most amazing thinkers from around the world to your screen, and can fill you with hope and wonder. It’s as useful as anything else that makes you think, dream, and play.

Try It Out

Unless you happen to have a TEDx event coming up nearby, the best way to get to know TED is by watching TED Talks. Try these on for size…

For the rest of August, Learning for Life Online will focus on getting ready for the school year and showcase ways to help study, learn, and discover online. Whether you’re heading back to school or just looking for something to do over the winter, LLO will have something for you.

Try One New Thing – Our 1st Anniversary Post

As we finish out June, we are also finishing up the first year of Learning for Life Online. For anyone who’s been reading along since the beginning: thank you. I’m going to work hard to make the second year of LLO as fun and fascinating as the first.

For our 50th post, I’d like to challenge you to choose one of the tools or services we’ve looked this past year and sign up for it or try it out. Pick something that intrigued you but you never got around to it, or something that looked ridiculous and you want to see if you were just missing something. Doesn’t matter how big or small a thing it is – just do it. Review the basics of playing with a new online tool or playing with a new gadget and remember to have fun!

Try One New Thing and play around with it for the month of July. As you try it, comment on this post with your experience or thoughts, and any suggestions you have for using it.

Rather than make you go back through the past year to look for your one new thing, here’s a quick reference list:

It takes time to make a social tool a part of your life, including your life online. Whatever you choose to do, give it to the end of July and then see what you think of it. Let us know here if your opinion has changed, and how.

Thank you all again for following along, and enjoy your One New Thing! See you in July…

Where’s My Bus? How’s the Traffic? – Transit Information Apps & Websites

As the weather gets warmer and we spend more time outside, more people are out on the roads and on public transit. There are many tools to help keep tabs on when the next bus or train is due, and on traffic conditions everywhere. Some are websites you can visit from any mobile device or a regular computer, and others are apps for iPhones, Android phones, iPads and more. Since Learning for Life Online is based in Boston, we’re going to look at Boston-are resources, but there are similar tools for most areas of the United States and around the world. See the Help & Resources section at the end for more information.

Public Transit Apps & Sites

If you’re in Boston, the main public transit system is the MBTA, known as the T. Here are some tools to help you track buses & trains, or to figure out the best way to get somewhere by T.

    MBTA app center

  • First, start out at the MBTA website from your computer or smart mobile device. They’ve got a good trip planner, alerts about problems on the different lines, and a list of apps you can use to see bus & train schedules or to track them in real time. We’ll list a few of the apps below, but there are many more at the site. (Website, free)
  • Where is the T? is a mobile-friendly website (not an app) that gives real-time information about the Red, Blue and Orange lines of the subway system. Just visit the site on your phone or tablet, choose your line, and you’ll see icons for each train and when it’s due into the next station. Tap on a station name to see all the trains due into that station in both directions. Simple and easy. (There’s no information for the Green line because it doesn’t use the same tracking system as the others. Boo.) (Website, free)
  • NextBus is a website that does the same for all the bus lines. Visit the site, then choose the MBTA from the list of transit systems. Pick your bus route number, direction and stop, and you’ll get predictions for when the next two buses will arrive. You can also see them on a map. Each prediction page can be bookmarked for easy access later. (Website, free)
  • TLeave is an extremely simple and mobile-friendly site for the Commuter Rail (services from Boston to other cities in eastern Massachusetts). Select your commuter rail line, a starting and ending stop, and what day of the week it is, and you’ll get a list of all the trains that will get you where you need to be. Note: this is not real-time information, just a schedule list. (Website, free)
  • Catch the Bus is an app for any smart mobile device. You can see a list of routes, a map view for any particular route, get predictions for stops, and save stops to a list of favorites. (App, costs $0.99)
  • Boston Bus Map is an Android app that you can download to your phone and customize for the buses you take most often. Choose the route, set your favorite stops, and then just tap on a stop to see the arrival time for the next bus. (App, free)
  • Pocket MBTA is an iOS (iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch) app that works the same way for Apple devices. Pick your route, pick your stop, and get predictions and real-time information with a tap of the screen. (App, free)

Traffic Apps & Sites

  • Mass511 is a website from the MA Department of Transportation (MADoT) that has real-time traffic information across the state. You can visit the website and see a color-coded traffic map, or use the Android app or mobile website on your smartphone. (Website & app, free)
  • SigAlert (formerly SmarTraveler) is a website that shows real-time traffic speeds for all major roads in Boston and many other cities around the country. Just visit the site on your computer or mobile web device and choose an area by city or by road/route number. If you go by road number, you need to know what exit ramp you’re nearby to find it on the list. Note: This site now has banner ads at the top. Don’t click on them. (Website, free)
  • Google Traffic

  • Google Maps has a traffic option that lets you see how fast or slowly traffic is moving on your route. When you use the site to get directions, just click on the Traffic menu on the right side of the map to see traffic speeds in red, yellow and green. (Website, free)
  • Bing Traffic

  • Bing Maps has the same feature, right on their main page. (Website, free)
  • Both CBS Boston and Fox Boston have apps for Android and Apple products that include traffic updates from these local news sources. (App, free)
  • Traffic Boston is an Apple app that uses the MA Department of Transportation traffic cameras to actually show you traffic conditions at locations around the city. It doesn’t give you speeds or additional information, but it does give you a live view for right now. (App, costs $0.99)
  • Once you’ve gotten where you’re going, PrimoSpot will help you find parking for your car or bike. Visit the site or download the app, then choose what kind of parking you’re looking for (on-street, garage or bike rack) and type in the address you want to be near. (For the app, you can just find what’s nearby.) See nearby places to park, and tap on a location for more information and useful photos. Highly recommended, and also good for New York City and Seattle. (Website & app, free)

Help & Resources

Finding Jobs & Careers Online

While we’re on the topic of finding things online, let’s look at some of the better job and career resources out there. From mechanic to teacher to nurse’s aid to architect, there are employment resources and job finding sites for every career.

What Are They?

Job listing/career sites tend to fall into three categories:

  • Job ads sites just have job listings – an online classifieds section.
  • Career resources may have some job listings, but they’re mostly there to help you with the skills of finding a job: writing resumes & cover letters, interviewing, networking and more.
  • Combination sites have lots of job listings and some skill-building resources, especially resume and cover letter tips.

Each type of site is useful, depending on where you are in your career and what your needs are right now.

Job Ads Sites

These online classifieds will give you tons of possible opportunities…and that’s it.

  • Craigslist.org – one of the most well-known places to find local job listings. There’s a special Craigslist for cities around the world, such as boston.craigslist.org. You can also find volunteer opportunities, internships and other non-primary employment listings.
  • Online newspapers – Most major newspapers have an online version and they still have their job classifieds.
  • Simply Hired – a new database of job listings, they also have average salary and job trend information.
  • Indeed.com looks and works like Google search, extremely simple to use and to save search alerts to be sent to your email.
  • USAJobs.gov is the official US government site for Federal jobs and employment information.
  • You can also look for job listings from organizations and associations. LISjobs is a national library job listing site; HCareers (Hospitality Works) covers any hotel or hospitality field, including cruise ships and resorts.
  • Different kinds of careers and fields have their own sites, like CoolWorks.com (“Jobs in Great Places”). Use a search engine to find sites for the jobs you’re looking for.

Combination Sites

Each of these sites has job listings, but they also have many articles on writing resumes and cover letters, interviewing dos and don’ts,

Career Resources

  • LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. It’s one way you can develop the connections you need to get recommendations and find jobs using those personal links.
  • About.com Job Search offers articles and resources for every part of the job search, from listings to acceptance letters.
  • Your local public library has many books, DVDs and online resources available to help you in your job search, and they may offer resume writing and interviewing workshops.
  • One of those resources may be Career Transitions, a career resources database that uses Indeed.com to find job listings as well. If your library has Career Transitions, definitely check out the Interview Simulator, where you answer questions and get feedback about your answers.

For Employers

If you’re not looking to find a new job, but to hire folks into your jobs, nearly every single one of these resources has something for you. Check out the listings sites for tips on getting good applicants using their site, and the career resources sites for thoughts on retaining good employees.

Help & Resources

Finding and Sharing…and Being Social

Last week, we took a look at using more traditional sources of news online to find neat stuff to share. Now, let’s look at the social news sites that make finding and sharing news a much more interactive experience.

What Is It?

Social news sites are places where users – anyone in the world – can post a news story that they’ve found online and share it. Then, other users get to vote on that story, making it appear higher or lower on the list of news items. In this way, the reading community decides what is more interesting or relevant. The same goes for any comments on a story – they can be voted up and down, depending on how interesting they are or what they contribute to the conversation.

Digg was the first general social news site to be well-known beyond the computer industry. It was also one of the first to introduce the “voting” feature. Digg now has Newsrooms specifically tailored to different topics. Read more About Digg.

Reddit (say the name out loud to get the joke) has been around nearly as long as Digg, and it still has the very personal feel it had at the beginning.

Slashdot was one of the first social news sites, focused mainly on science and technology. It’s still one of the go-to places for geeks to get their news, and the conversation in the comments is usually as good or better than the posts.

Fark is a social news site with the motto: “We don’t make news. We mock it.” Try Fark out if you’re a fan of sarcastic humor and weird news.

Now Public is a website for citizen journalists – everyday folks who actively try to find news near them and report it, especially when it doesn’t appear on big media like newspapers and television.

Newsvine was originally focused on political news, but has expanded to include any sort of news from around the world.

Social to Personalized

StumbleUpon is a site that lets you you vote on what you find, and then the site will suggest other stories based on what you tell it you like and dislike. It’s a great way to discover things you would never have known to search for on your own.

Pulse is a social news app for iPhone, iPad and Android that makes news visual. You can choose news sources to create your own personalized news reader from around the web. Read more about how Pulse works.

Digg has also added a customizeable section: the Newswire lets you fine-tune your Digg experience according to your likes and dislikes (not just the community’s). Get more of what you want by choose filters or seeing what’s Trending. (More about Newswire)

How Is It Useful?

Even on the web, major news outlets like newspapers and television news programs can only cover so much, and they don’t often point to all the fun and interesting things in blog posts, on image sites, and in little-known corners of the internet. Social news sites show that by distributing the work among millions of readers (otherwise known as crowdsourcing), much more information can be found and shared than if a single organization tries to do it all by themselves.

Help & Resources

Finding Neat Stuff Online

Last week, we described many of the ways you can share the interesting links, images and videos you find online. Before we look at some places to find that neat stuff, let’s answer a reader question first:

Why Share?

What’s the point of all this sharing? Who cares, and who has time?

Remember: the internet and the world wide web are just another form of communication, like a telephone conversation or a billboard. Just like you’d share tidbits from the news or a little bit of celebrity gossip with your friends and family on the phone or in a letter, you can do it online via email, a blog or in a social network. The chitchat hasn’t changed much, but now we can share the original works with audio and video, too.

Where to Find It

Searching for topics using a search engine like Google or Bing can give you hundreds of links to choose from. Fortunately, there are many sites out there that have gone through them and found some of the niftier ones.

Technology News – The New York Times has a great Technology section that covers new tools, gadgets and some of the culture of life online. The Personal Tech section and Gadgetwise blog focus on things important to regular folks, while the Bits blog talks about tech business. For everything mobile, check out the Mobile Apps index to articles.

Wired has been reporting technology news for nearly 20 years, and is still one of the best places to find what’s new. It and CNET are also fantastic places to get reviews of that new gadget you’ve been thinking about buying. (And then you get to play with your new toy!)

General News – Every major newspaper and news station worldwide has a website, but there are some web-only news sources. Search engines like Google have news searches built in to offer a wide variety of news sources. The Huffington Post calls itself “The Internet Newspaper,” and it is one of the biggest and longest-running, and Five Thirty-Eight is a political analysis blog focusing on election results. The Daily Beast is the online home of Newsweek magazine, and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) is a good first stop for international news. Finally, BuzzFeed pulls hot news from hundreds of sources on the web, and it’s a great place to see what resources out there.

Interesting and Fun – There are more good sources of nifty things online than we can name, but here’s a shortlist of favorites:

  • Boing Boing is a geeky source of news and neat things (Note: occasional strong language)
  • Neatorama, also geeky, but without the edge. Just good fun.
  • This is Colossal showcases amazing images and videos of art and design. Highly recommended.
  • I Can Has Cheezburger is an extremely silly site, full of pictures of animals with funny or ironic captions often in LOL-speak.
  • And, best for last: Cake Wrecks, “When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong…”

This is only the very tip of the “neat stuff” iceberg online. Next week, we’ll look at social news networks and “placeblogging” (blogs focused on places rather than people). In the meanwhile, please share any other sources that you enjoy.