Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LibX by Jen Holman

The LibX toolbar is an indispensable tool in any researcher’s toolkit.  If you haven’t yet heard of LibX, it’s an amazing grant-funded, open-source project from Annette Bailey (digital assets librarian) and Godmar Back (assistant professor in CS) of Virginia Tech University. Our LibX toolbar links you back to Murphy Library resources and librarians whether you are browsing books at, doing research in Google, or reading the New York Times online.
LibX Main Features:
  • Toolbar (quickly search the library catalog, Google Scholar, or FindIt! by title, author, keyword, etc.);
  • Context (right-click) menu (highlight text from any web page or PDF and right-click for a list of options);
  • Reload any page through the library's proxy server (EZProxy);
  • Access to our FindIt! services;
  • Embedded links (available on sites like, Wikipedia, etc.).

To illustrate the utility of this toolbar here’s a quick story: Sitting in a coffee shop in downtown La Crosse, you find a great JSTOR article through a Google search.  You know that Murphy Library licenses JSTOR content, but JSTOR is asking you to pay for content. With LibX installed, you simply right-click on the article web page, select “re-load page via EZProxy,” authenticate, and then read the article. In cases in which Murphy Library doesn’t have access, the toolbar will redirect users to the FindIt! menu from which they can easily and quickly request the article via ILLiad (interlibrary loan/document delivery service).
Want to see LibX in action?  Here’s a quick video showing the re-load feature with PubMed and Elsevier. More information and installation instructions are available at:

Submitted by Jen Holman, Murphy Library

Today's Meet by Jen Snook

A technology that I like is Today’s Meet - This is a free, web-based microblogging application (microblogging meaning that posts are limited to 140 characters) that is much like Twitter but requires no account creation or signing in. The real time microblogging space in Today's Meet is called a room and can be created by anyone and accessed by anyone who possesses the unique link to that room. Posts can be accompanied by a user name or posted anonymously. Rooms can be open from one hour to one month and at any time (during the time the room is open) a full transcript of activity in the room can be saved or printed.

Today’s Meet offers the ability to instantly create and post to a temporary and focused space. I have used this application to collect evaluative information from students about my course - taking advantage of the ability to post anonymously, as a backchannel during lectures where students are able to ask questions or make comments as I am speaking and as a low stakes classroom assessment tool collecting information about the “muddiest point” or concise summaries of main points of lectures and readings.

Submitted by Jen Snook, CATL

Podcasts by Grace Deason

Do your students ask for real-world examples and varied classroom activities? Do you sometimes suspect that your students have not completed the assigned reading? Podcasts are a fun way to bring course topics to life and promote student engagement. Especially at mid-semester, when students are burned out on reading textbooks, podcasts provide a refreshing alternative to the “usual” course activities.

A podcast is a type of digital media that can be downloaded or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. Some podcasts provide original content and others are archived episodes of radio programs. Some of my own favorites are Radiolab, which combines stories and science, and This American Life, which tells stories related to a central theme. You can even create your own podcasts to which your students can subscribe, or ask students to create podcasts of their own as a class assignment. To find existing podcasts relevant to your course: search Google or the iTunes store, listen to NPR and make a note of stories to look up later, and/or subscribe to podcasts yourself and listen regularly for relevant content. Once you’ve found an existing podcast you’d like to use, there are many ways you can incorporate it into your course. Here are some ideas:
  • Assign the podcast in place of a textbook reading
  • Design a short assignment for students to complete after listening
  • Play the podcast in class followed by a group discussion
  • Explicitly ask students to connect the podcast content to readings and lecture
In my experience, students find podcasts novel, approachable, and memorable. They help students understand concepts from class through vivid examples, and encourage them to apply course material to understand their daily life. If students become fans of an episodic podcast, it can be a source of lifelong learning. I created a GoogleDoc to keep an on-going list of podcasts that I can use to teach psychology. You can view the list HERE.

Submitted by Grace Deason, Psychology