Online Tools

Tools to help you accomplish your committee work virtually.

 


 

Scheduling, Calendars, and Task Tracking

When working virtually with a group, coordinating calendars and scheduling virtual meetings can be challenging. These tools enable groups working online to get organized and stay on track.


  • ALA Connect has many features that are helpful for keeping track of projects. When you are logged in and on your committee or community page, you will be able to start discussion posts and add/manage files to the library. 
  • Doodle is a simple scheduling tool where one person creates a survey of potential meeting dates, invites participants to respond with their availability, and the result shows the days that work best for the most people.
  • Google Calendar enables users to set up multiple calendars and share individual calendars with others. Paired with using Google Docs for project collaboration, it can be useful to simplify by using one resource for multiple aspects of collaboration. Google Calendar can be used for task tracking as well by setting up a calendar with the project timeline and deadlines and sharing it will all the team members.

Project Collaboration

Tools for sharing work with others. 


ALA Connect

ALA Connect will be especially likely used by ALSC committees and workgroups with a designated workspace on ALA Connect.


Document sharing

Google Docs lets users share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, drawings, and tables in real time. Google Docs works well for small groups and is one of the most commonly used tools for collaborating on documents and spreadsheets.


Presentation sharing

Slideshare allows you to share presentations online and view others presentations as well. 

Prezi is a fun and different way to create a presentation online, free for educational users, that allows for collaboration and is easy to share over the web.


Project Management

Stoodle is a whiteboard that allows your team to type, draw, and upload images at the same time. You can also chat and connect Stoodle to your computer's microphone and talk with your collaborators while sharing the whiteboard. Stoodle does not require you to create an account; you just click "launch a classroom," name your room, and share the URL assigned to your room.

Toodledo allows you to create to-do lists, add notes to your tasks, organize tasks into folders, and prioritize tasks by date or importance. You can also invite collaborators to see your task list with a free account. To assign tasks to team members, you must upgrade to a paid account.

Asana is a work management platform teams use to stay focused on the goals, projects, and daily tasks.


Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking sites can be used to share links within a group or with the public. Committees may find social bookmarking useful to track and share resources relevant to their work. Popular social bookmarking sites include DeliciousPinboard and PinterestDiigo is another useful bookmarking tools that allows you to make lists for sharing, tag and categorize items, make slideshows from your bookmarks, and even save your favorite tweets.


Wikis

Wikis work well if you want to develop content that anyone can edit (or anyone within a defined group, if desired), and if you want to share that content with a large audience. Keep in mind that much of what you can do on a wiki can also be done on ALA Connect.

PBworks is a free and easy to use wiki site.

Meetings and Communication

Information to find places to meet virtually, in real time.


Chat

Online chat involves committee members typing messages back and forth in real time. Most chat tools will enable you to archive a transcript of the chat. This can be very helpful for future reference and eliminates the need for a note taker during the meeting.

  • Slack provides free chat and with the app can easily be used on smartphones
  • Tinychat is another free tool you can use that also has video capabilities. To facilitate chat and communication, you can also establish a group on Facebook. Access can be set to private, and members can be contacted quickly this way. If you don't use ALA Connect, make sure you save a transcript of your chat and post it to your committee's Connect space.

Voice & Video Chat

Video chat will require participants to have a webcam and in general, requires more bandwidth than voice alone so you will need to make sure all required participants have the necessary technology. A test session is suggested before using this for an official meeting. An external microphone is not usually required, but if you have multiple participants in a voice call then the sound will be clearer if participants use a headset with microphone.

  • Google Voice and Video Chat requires a Google ID to participate. It also requires a software download and installation.
  • Google Hangout allows participants to collaborate on documents, view websites, or view videos while they are chatting. This interactive feature may be a very productive way to collaborate online but it also requires the most bandwidth. 
  • Skype offers free voice and video chat options. Your library may already have a Skype ID; if not, you will need to download Skype and set up an account. Video chat will require greater bandwidth capabilities than voice alone. If you are having difficulty Skyping with more than one person, changing to voice only instead of video sometimes fixes the problem.
  • FaceTime is a videotelephony software application developed by Apple for supported mobile devices running iOS and Macintosh computers.
  • Zoom is a video conferencing software. Basic plans are free for you to create and allow you to: have up to 100 participants join a meeting, simultaneous screenshare, a chat feature, and join by telephone call-in. The basic plan limits you to 40 minute meetings. If you would like a full hour, please fill out this form to request a meeting through the ALSC office. 


Conference Call

Freeconferencecall.com and Wiggio offer free conference call capabilities. The phone number used is not toll free so there may be toll charges from your phone company.

Don't forget to investigate conference calling using technology you already have. Have your members check their organization's phone system to see if placing conference calls is possible. Many business phone systems allow users to place conference calls. Check the manual for your phone system. If you don't have access to the manual, Google the make and model to try to find the manual online. Many smartphones, such as iPhones, also have the capability to conference call by merging up to five calls at once. See iPhone: Using Conference.


Find useful Conference Call Tips in this great article on conducting conference calls.

Idea Sharing

Resources for sharing ideas among committee members in a virtual space.


Brainstorming

  • Mind42 enables collaborative mind-mapping. Create a brainstorming mind-map and invite others by email address to edit.
  • Mindmeister is another collaborative mind-mapping site. Offers various templates for brainstorming formats. Invite others by email - they will be prompted to create an account if they do not already have one. Track changes by "history view" at the bottom of the screen.

Polling

  • SurveyMonkey allows creation of very complicated surveys with a variety of ways to invite responses. Not ideal for simple small group polling, but very good when collecting data from a large, dispersed group.

Whiteboard

  • Cosketch allows multiple users to simultaneously draw, markup, and write on a blank canvas.