The Archivist’s Nook: Get Off the Road to Digital Perdition

nun, slide projector and twenty-first century classroom with computers
Your grandmother’s Catholic school classroom has changed: Left, sister teaches with a slide projector in a Baltimore Catholic school, 1955. Right, a teacher in a fully-loaded Catholic school classroom in Covington, Kentucky, 2010.

… and come to this Conference!

Come all ye lovers of free things digital!  Teachers and archivists, archivists and teachers, we call you all.  The Catholic Archives in the Digital Age Conference takes place October 8-9, 2015 on the campus of The Catholic University of America.  And it’s FREE.

Perdition:  I don’t know how to digitize my collection materials. I don’t know how to get free online stuff for my classroom.

Let’s face it, resources are scarce—time, money, and staff are in short supply.  Most archivists would love to put their unrestricted materials online for researchers and teachers to use.  And most teachers don’t like spending hours online searching for excellent classroom resources.  But the fact is, archivists don’t usually have the time, staff, or equipment to make their materials widely available.  Teachers, for their part, don’t always know where to look for digital documents they can use in their Catholic history, religious studies, and theology classes. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Get Off the Road to Digital Perdition”

Appy Hour: Spotcycle

App: Spotcycle  icon175x175
By: 8D Technologies inc.
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on an iPhone

Welcome to DC, young Cardinals! As you take your fledgling flights into our wonderful city, you might be wondering about all those red bikes you see your fellow Washingtonians riding!

Here in DC, we have a bikeshare program that provides bikes for members to use around the city. It’s called Capital Bikeshare, and there’s a bike station right on CUA’s campus near the Brookland-CUA metro station. The bikes are reasonably priced and easy to ride. Whether you’re headed to an internship downtown or a walk through the lovely Rock Creek Park, Capital Bikeshare has stations close to your destination. Biking in DC is a great alternative to public transportation, particularly given that CUA is right near the developing Metro Branch Trail.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with an app called Spotcycle? Continue reading “Appy Hour: Spotcycle”

Appy Hour: PadMapper

App: PadMapper Apartments and Homes for Rent  unnamed
By: PadMapper, Inc.
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on an iPhone

Headed back to campus and looking for an apartment? You may have heard of the popular website Padmapper, which puts available apartments right on a Google Map for you to search. The website’s free app, available for iPhone and Android, is a great way to find apartments on the go!

Using Padmapper’s app, you can filter rentals by rent, number of bedrooms, or even if the apartment allows your furry friends! If you’re looking for a pool or laundry on-site, try using the keyword search. You can refine your results until you find exactly what you want, then view the units in either a map or a list. Selecting an apartment gives you contact information, pictures, and a link to the original listing. You can even save your favorites if you make an account! Whether you’re looking for a three bedroom house or a studio apartment, Padmapper is a great place to find relevant leads.

While finding an awesome apartment for an awesome school year at CUA is…well…awesome, there’s something even more awesome to consider. This app was originally just a mashup of Craigslist and Google Maps (which, incidentally, resulted in a lawsuit against Padmapper that was only recently settled). Putting information of two different types together can yield incredibly useful results: Map + Craigslist = MAGIC. Padmapper’s slogan is “We make apartment hunting suck less.” And, I have to say, I think they’ve succeeded!

So, if you have an idea to make something suck less, get out there and make it! We’ve got lots of Lynda classes to get you started!


Appy Hour: Coursera

App: Coursera  Coursera icon
By: Coursera
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on an iPad

Coursera is another comprehensive app that allows users to access free and in-app purchase content from universities and experts from around the world.

This app is very intuitive and sleek. There are only three functions on this app, which makes using it easy. There is the search function, a home function, and the options function.

When I open the app, I am brought to the search function. Coursera allows you to browse by discipline or search keywords. While browsing courses, I noticed a lot of overlap. For example, I’m not sure why “Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills” is under the Medicine discipline. Coursera seems to make it look as though they have more content than they actually offer.

However, the courses they do offer are broad and in depth. After you register for courses, you can view your courses from the home function. Here, your courses are listed down the right navigation. After you click on a course, the content picks up where you last left the course. In addition to the video lectures, many of the courses from academic institutions include activities and exams.

All of the course are up to date and you can preview upcoming course that have not yet been released.

Overall, Coursera offers a good bit of supplemental courses for your education and is easy to use.


Appy Hour: iTunes U

App: iTunes U  iTunes U icon
By: Apple Inc.
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on an iPad

iTunes U, by Apple Inc, is a very comprehensive app that allows users to access free education content from universities around the world. It is currently only available to iOS devices.

There is a private courses option for schools that participate. The Catholic University of America is not a participant. However, public content is voluminous.

When I opened the app, I chose to browse the catalog and was taken to a screen with a lot of content. Across the top you can choose categories from various academic disciplines. Standout courses are the first section, though it’s not clear what makes them standout. Some of them are clearly promoted, for example there are three “i” related courses. The next section down offers Learning Resources. These simply take me to prepared lists in the App Store. The next section is New & Notable. Again, not sure what makes some notable, but there is content added last month.

Basically, the best way to get to real courses is to search your discipline at the top of the app, or browse the discipline lists. When you find a course you like, click “Get it” and it will be added to your library.

I downloaded the BB450 and BB451, Biochemistry for Pre-Medical Students, from Oregon State University, from August 2012 and February 2013. The content is incredible. The syllabus, and the weekly lectures on video, and audio are provided. Course exams are also included. There is a link to the text book chapter for that week, however you are asked to pay to view it. I was really surprised by how substantial and comprehensive the course content included. It would make a great supplement, especially the exams, to the biochemistry for pre-med course here.

Overall, there is a lot of great content in this app, it just takes a little practice to locate the content you would like after wading through promotional material.

Appy Hour: TED

App: TED  TED logo
By: TED Conferences
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on an iPad

TED, by TED Conferences, allows users to view lectures from TED conferences held around the world.

When I have 15-20 minutes to kill and nothing better to do, I like check out a TED talk lecture. I am certainly not picky as I find most of them, if not fascinating, then slightly interesting. So I open up the TED application and click the “Surprise Me” option. I’m offered a few choices, “Ingenious” and “Jaw-Dropping” are my favorites. Next I choose how much time I have to watch, some talks are as little as 3 minutes. Finally I’m asked to watch now or watch later. The latter option downloads the talk for later viewing.

TED also features playlists by notable speakers and celebrities. Do you like the television show Lost? Watch 6 talks that help Carlton Cuse to create. Fan of magic? David Blaine has 7 suggestions for you. There are also playlists curated by TED around various topics.

Of course you can star your favorite talks and watch them again later.

Overall, the TED app is a great application that delivers the content it promises.

Appy Hour: BrowZine

App: BrowZine™  BrowZine
By: Third Iron, LLC
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on an iPad

BrowZine™, by Third Iron, LLC, allows users to easily access free and licensed content from scholarly journals available from CUA Libraries.

BrowZine™ promises to deliver your academic journals to your tablet in a way that’s “fun, practical, and intuitive.” And it kind of lives up to those claims.

Before I could use the app, I had to sync my device with my BrowZine™ account. BrowZine™ sent a confirmation email. Once I clicked on the link, I was ready to go. When I open the app, the menus are at the top and the dashboard is along the bottom. I went into settings to make sure I was logged in. You need to use My Library Account login to authenticate. What’s nice about this app is that once you add your login information in the settings, you won’t have to authenticate again later.

I decided to build up a bookshelf for myself. I started browsing subjects and could not locate any on Library & Information Science. But that’s no problem because there is a subject search box and I was able to locate library journals by searching. If you know the title of the journal you’d like to peruse you can use the title search function.

You can put journals on custom bookshelves by clicking on “Add to my Bookshelf” and arrange titles where you want them. It’s a little clunky. My bookshelf disappeared a few times after I closed the app and then went back in. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t. The best feature of the bookshelf is that when new content is added to a journal title on one of your bookshelves, you receive a push notification. That’s a very easy way to keep up with your favorite journals.

The saved articles feature allows you to read articles you save later, even when you’re offline. If you are online it offers the option to browse the journal title from the saved article.

Overall, I’d say this app is not exactly fun, but it is practical and fairly intuitive. I can go up to 4 stars on this one.

Appy Hour:

App: logo
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on an iPad

The app, by, allows users to access their content from mobile devices.

While offers a wide variety of education videos, my experience with has been learning about desktop softwares and applications. What makes this application great is that I can watch the videos on the iPad, or other mobile device, while simultaneously working with the software on my desktop.

When you open the application, you see “recommendations for you” on top half of the dashboard and a combination of new and recently viewed courses on the bottom half. The triple line icon in the upper left intuits options. When you click, you are asked to log in. Once logged in, your courses, assignments, playlists and history are there on a left side menu. In addition, you are offered courses by subject, a settings option, and a contact option. Meanwhile, you can still see the dashboard on the right.

The true value of the experience is the content. This application offers a very accessible and uncomplicated space to view their content. I usually disregard the star rating on reviews if there are less than 100 reviews. This app has 22 reviews in the App Store averaging 4 ½ stars. Considering the app experience, I agree with the high rating.

Appy Hour: Blackboard Mobile Learn

Welcome to Appy Hour, a series in which we review apps related to learning, reading, or that may be of special interest to the CUA community.

App: Blackboard Mobile Learn™  Blackboard, Inc. logo
By: Blackboard Inc.
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on an iPad

Blackboard Mobile Learn allows users to access their Blackboard content from mobile devices.

With a 1 ½ star iTunes rating, I went into this app with some skepticism. My initial reaction is that it is sleek looking and intuitive with the menu bar on the right and the dashboard down the middle. After I clicked on a course, the course content links appeared down the middle.

At this point I decided to look at my course reserves. When I clicked, a Safari browser opened in the app and I was essentially using Blackboard in a web browser, but within the app. So, I decided to try the discussion board–same thing.

As far as I can tell, this app has a sleek beginning for looking at your Blackboard content, but really, you just see it in a web browser after all. I also feel that Blackboard’s interface is best utilized on a PC or laptop. I’m afraid I agree with the low rating for this application.

Tech Fair 2014 – October 23, 10 am – 2 pm

Tech Fair 2014 - Mullen Library - Thursday, October 23 - 10 am - 2pm

On Thursday, October 23 from 10 am to 2 pm, the University Libraries will host a Tech Fair. The entire CUA community is welcome to attend!


10:00 am – 2:00 pm – Vendor Fair (Reading Room, 2nd Floor)
Featuring:, Blackboard, Piktochart, BrowZine, The Sunlight Foundation, Tanya Gupta (, ArcGIS, QOMO, Extron, Epson, Panasonic, RTZ, Computerware, Audio Associates, and CUA Technology Services.

Breakout Sessions
10:00 am – 10:50 am – Sunlight Foundation (MERIC Classroom, 1st Floor)
10:30 am – 11:20 am – Blackboard (FYE Room, 2nd Floor)
11:00 am – 11:50 am – ArcGIS (MERIC Classroom, 1st Floor)
11:30 am – 11:40 am – Password Reset Tool – CUA Technology Services (FYE Room, 2nd Floor)
11:45 am – 12:00 pm – Adobe Connect – CUA Technology Services (FYE Room, 2nd Floor)
12:00 pm – 12:50 pm – (MERIC Classroom, 1st Floor)
12:05 pm – 12:20 pm – Panopto – CUA Technology Services (FYE Room, 2nd Floor)
12:30 pm – 1:00 pm – 3D Printing Demo (Digital Arts Lab, 2nd Floor)
1:00 pm – 1:50 pm – Google Docs Add-ons (MERIC Classroom, 1st Floor)
1:15 pm – 1:45 pm – 3D Printing Demo (Digital Arts Lab, 2nd Floor)

Giveaways and door prizes, including a free year of Piktochart Pro!

The purpose of the CUA Tech Fair is to provide members of the CUA community a chance to engage with cutting edge, interactive technology and showcase the university’s academic tools. Technology and software vendors will be on site to demonstrate their products and breakout sessions will be hosted by professionals. The goal of this University Libraries hosted event is to entertain and inform the greater CUA community about new electronic resources.