Collaborative Reading Online: Workshop Monday!

Are your students reading course materials on laptops or other devices?

Online annotation tools can support students’ close reading of texts in an online environment. These same tools can be used to support collaborative reading where students add annotations, questions, and discussion directly on the texts themselves! Intentional use of social annotation tools make texts come alive for students, create community, increase participation and comprehension, and, as a result, improve learning.

Join us Monday at our workshop, Close Reading Online: Social Annotation and Reading Tools. We’ll look at tools such as, CommentPress, and RefWorks. We will also discuss criteria for selecting tools and consider issues such as privacy and accessibility. Register here, or feel free to drop in!

Welcome to the public domain, 1923!

1923 calendar

On January 1, 2019, thousands of creative works published in 1923 were released into the public domain. This is the first time in 20 years that new material entered the public domain, including literary works, periodicals, dramatic works, movies, musical works, artistic works, and choreography. Now, every year on January 1st, a new batch of material will be released – next year it will be works published in 1924, and so on. Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain explains why, and also includes a list of creative works now available to the public.

1923 montage of released work
Duke Law School’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

What implications could the release of these materials into the public domain have for scholars and teachers? All public domain materials can be remixed, revised, translated, and explored in in new ways. For example, the literary works listed in this document can now be scanned (if they are not already available in Hathi Trust) and shared. Students can engage with the online texts in new collaborative ways – asking questions, discussing passages, and adding annotation to enhance understanding. Scholars can more easily perform new analysis of the texts using data mining and data analysis techniques, not to mention include rights-free images in scholarly publications. Artists and musicians can draw on previous works, remix and adapt them, creating new works that respond to the present. Literature can be translated into new languages, making them available to audiences for the first time. Books and short stories can be transformed into screenplays for the stage and film. In short, works in the public domain foster creativity and innovation by building on our cultural heritage.

Read more about Public Domain Day 2019:

What will you do with the newly released works?! Contact us with your ideas!


How to Make the Most of iOS: Speak Screen & Selection

Recently the Instructional Technology team hired a student assistant, Kristen Szuman. Kristen is a sophomore interested in art, politics, and loves animals. We asked Kristen to use and document the many accessibility features available on iOS devices. This is her first, of, we hope, several, blog post about useful technology tools.

Screenshot of Speak Selection on iPhone

Accessibility seldom gets the attention it deserves. Most of us go about our day without wondering how accessible an iPhone or iPad  is to the blind or the deaf, to those with autism or motor dysfunction, or how accessible the apps these devices run are. Yet, there are people who care deeply about accessibility; those who need iPhones and iPads to be ever-more accessible, of course, and those working to make these devices more accessible. Among technology companies, Apple not only implements accessibility features, but promotes and prioritizes them, and this starts in a very top-down fashion. Apple has built in many accessibility services, some intended strictly for accessibility and some seemingly everyday functions that can be used for accessibility needs as well. In addition, several app developers have also developed additional software in order to bolster Apple’s accessibility capabilities.

Speech Menu on iOS

Speak Selection and Speak Screen are two of those features which Apple has built in and which can be used both by people with accessibility needs or by those who just wish to utilize features that make screen reading easier. Speak Selection and Speak Screen are both able to read on-screen text. With Speak Selection enabled, the user must highlight the text first whereas Speak Selection will read the entire screen’s contents. Typically, an individual with low vision would use one of these accessibility features. Individuals who experience fatigue while reading, or those who would rather have text read to them than have to zoom into text to read, benefit from Speak Selection and Speak Screen. In general, the two accessibility features are very similar in function. Speak Selection and Speak Screen can be activated on any page that displays selectable text- so any webpage in Safari or other browsers, iBooks, Kindle, and some other apps.

To use either feature, you can find documentation available in Google Drive or watch one of the many videos available on YouTube.

Language Learning with Japanese “Tadoku”

Last semester my JPN 201 students learned how to communicate with Japanese college/university students in Japanese through the #CCJpn201 Twitter Project. I wish I could continue this project. However, the academic year in Japan will end in March. Furthermore, since months of February and March have no classes for students, it would be difficult for me to find Japanese students who are willing to work with my students.

Are my students having easier time in JPN202 because they don’t have to tweet everyday? Since the project during fall was so challenging, do you think they deserve a break? My answer is “Absolutely not!” There is no time for them to rest in terms of learning Japanese before their going to Japan.

I already started the “Tadoku” Project in JPN202!! What is “Tadoku”? “Tadoku” is a Japanese word. “Ta (多)” means “many,” and “doku (読)” means “reading.” What I ask my students to do in class is to read books written in Japanese. Why is it so special? Nothing. They just have to read books without a dictionary or without checking unknown words. Is their vocabulary large enough to understand a story? Are they not frustrated because they are not allowed to use dictionaries? Some students worry how they could read without using dictionaries.

Let me explain how “Tadoku” works. There are four rules for “Tadoku.”

  1. You must start reading books from an easier level.
  2. You must not use dictionaries to read a book.
  3. If you encounter an unknown word, you must skip it.
  4. If you cannot continue reading, you must stop reading the book, and start reading a new one.

Japanese ebooksI purchased graded books from level 0 to level 4 for a “Tadoku” activity in class. They are graded on the basis of vocabulary, grammar structures, and the numbers of words used in a book. I also asked the library to purchase “Tadoku” ebooks through EBSCO which students can access through the library catalog.

Books in JapaneseLast Friday my students had their first “Tadoku” class. I brought the level 1 books with me. Each of them picked up a book which appealed to them. After finishing a book, they picked up another one, then another one, then another one. The ticking from the clock on the wall was the loudest noise in the room. When class was over, there was an assignment for them to reflect on what they read.

I created this assignment by using Google Forms. They need to tell one’s own name, the date of reading, the titles of the books they read on the day, the title of the book they choose to recommend; and to describe easiness to read by scale from 1 to 5, how interesting the book is by scale from 1 to 5, and their recommendation by scale from 1 to 5; and lastly they have to write a comment in Japanese on the book.

Would you be interested in knowing how I used Google Form for this purpose? When you create an assignment by using Google Forms, you will email the form to the students. After your students respond to the assignment, you can see responses collectively as well as individually. When you click “individual” on the page of their responses, you can find how each student responds to your questions. It is very convenient for me to use this form because I want them to use a scale to describe certain things and to write a paragraph about their reflection on the same page. And students’ responses will be kept in a folder in my Google Drive. There will be more “Tadoku” activities throughout this semester. I’m looking forward to reading their ratings as well as their comments.Comment in Japanese from Google Form

Research on the Go: Conn College Libraries App

IMG_1400The Connecticut College Libraries App is now available! Download and install the free app on your Apple, Android, Windows, or Amazon device. The app is designed to connect you to research services and resources at any time from anywhere. Use the app to quickly find library hours, find the date and register for the next Teaching with Technology workshop, renew movies or request materials from Shain Library. Or, use the app to conduct research by searching the library catalog, access databases. I personally like the BookLook feature, which lets you scan the barcode of a book and tells you if the book is available through the library!

We hope you enjoy the flexibility that the library’s new mobile app gives you. For more information, visit the app information page, scan the QR below on your mobile device, or contact your Library Liaison with any questions.


Workshop Recap: You got an iPad. Now what? Research Apps

NASA Visulization Explore (APP)We had a great Teaching with Technology workshop yesterday, “You got an iPad.  Now what?  Research Apps.” Thanks to all who attended! If you were unable to attend but are interested in what we discussed, you can find the list of topics below.  The workshop was divided into three areas: ebooks, mobile apps for research, and mobile friendly databases. Feel free to contact your Instructional Technology Liaison if you need assistance with using your iPad or other device.
  • The library catalog is optimized for mobile devices.  Simply click on “Mobile-Friendly” at the bottom of the regular library catalog or open this URL.
    • We recommend adding the icon to your home page, see these instructions.
  • Bluefire Reader: This friendly and easy to use app allows you to read DRM protected ebooks.  Download ebooks from ebrary, Ebsco, and EBL platforms directly into the Bluefire Reader App.  You will need to set up accounts for ebrary and Ebsco, plus an account for Adobe Digital Editions, but once the set-up is complete and accounts created, the download process is easy.
    • Note: All ebooks found through the library catalog are available full text online, these steps are only required when downloading an ebook offline.
Research Apps
  • Science Direct: You will need a Science Direct account to initially log in and authenticate.  Searches full content of ScienceDirect.  Article content is displayed in sections in tabs and can be saved or emailed.
  • iSSRN:   Free from the Social Science Research Network.
  • Google Search:  Supports voice searching and gives you easy access to apps, including Google Books.  You can set up Google Scholar to to export citations to Endnote or Refworks, and link to Conn library resources. Here’s a short video with instructions.
  • Easy Bib: Scan books and see the title formatted in APA, MLA or Chicago format then email citations to yourself.
Mobile Friendly Databases Access all databases through the library’s website (“Link to Individual Databases” in Supersearch tab).  If you will revisit any database again, it might be worth creating an icon for your home page (instructions under Mobile catalog above).
  • Ebsco
  • ARTstor
Our next workshop on using an iPad for teaching is next Friday from 1-2pm.  See you there!

Image credit: NASA Visualization Explorer (iPad) from

How Much Are Your Textbooks? Could They Be Free?


Technology can help people do amazing things.  OpenStax College is one of those amazing things.  Haven’t heard of it?   OpenStax is a nonprofit organization founded at Rice University and supported by some big foundations (ex. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), that creates peer reviewed, high quality introductory textbooks and provides them online free of charge.  To anyone.  For free.  Faculty who select OpenStax titles can also customize them to fit their specific needs.  If students prefer a print copy, they can still purchase print copies for a small fraction of what other textbooks cost.  Read a Chronicle article about this endeavor, or visit the OpenStax College page for faculty.

We anticipate more conversation surrounding the high cost of textbooks.  Just recently two U.S. Senators introduced the Affordable College Textbook Act which aims to encourage the creation of free and low-cost textbooks.

How to use that ebook!

Série Cube

Today, Connecticut College students, faculty and staff have access to over 250,000 ebooks.  How do you find these ebooks?  How do you use them?  Can you print or download a book you find?  These are some of the many questions we are asked every day.

To answer your questions, we created an online guide, Ebooks at Connecticut College.  The guide includes short, 30-second videos that will help you get started with any type of ebook you encounter through the library, explains the printing and downloading policies and includes step-by-step instructions.


Image Credit: E-Book. By Jean Guillaume Le Roux [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons