This is a short aside from my customisation theme to introduce a few ways of providing more interactive support to learning and teaching activities. Libraries are starting to use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to reach clients in their online worlds rather than expecting them to visit the library website (which in a way is related to customisation). While this is a smart move, it could be redundant if not managed well. What is the point of being there, what are you posting, what is the benefit? Below are some ways interactivity can be embedded not just in social networking sites but in any teaching and learning space.
Screenr: Web-based screencasting tool. So easy! All you need is a microphone so you can record your voice over the screencast. What this is good for is demonstrating a website, catalogue, databases or lecture slides while you talk through what to do. This tool allows you to create a screencast up to 5 mins that could be in response to a reference question you received or as a quick tip on how to better use resources. When you've finished recording your screencast: screenr can tweet the description and link for you, you can email the link, you can embed the video in a powerpoint slide, blog, website or upload to your WebCT. Overall, this is a very simple tool requiring no technical knowledge with the potential to make short informative messages more interactive and engaging.
Twitcam: You may have seen my first attempts at this today! The Elton John style glasses were actually memorabilia from the Sydney 2000 Olympics Games. In case you haven't seen it yet take a look below. This simple web-based vodcasting tool requires nothing but a webcam and a microphone. This would be great for recording short messages, updates and news items that would be more engaging than text based messages. For example, to quickly update library clients on new services and resources or conducting short interviews. When you've finished recording your video, twitchat has the same possibilities as screenr but also allows live chat which is tweeted. This means you can get live discussion going about the content presented. Overall, this is a great alternative to more complex video editing software.
Tinychat: "Create an instant web-based chatroom with a unique short URL... at the drop of a hat." Downloadsquad. This web-based tool is great for creating a temporary chatroom with screensharing capabilities. You simply give your room a name and you can share the link with Facebook and Twitter followers or you can email it to a select group. Up to 12 people can join at one time and you have control over access etc. It is possible to use this tool without a webcam - but not as interactive. This would be great for group meetings, team work, classes for rural and remote students, follow up to lectures, etc. It is best to have a purpose for the chatroom such as a topic, theme or reason for the online meeting. Basically, just another option for supporting teaching learning and research.
Have fun playing with these tools and figuring out how they could be used in your context. I will be sure to keep you updated when new tools are available.