Come in soon! This place gets hot!

So sing the undergraduate students in the Weigle Music Video (vintage 2007). Explore the excitement at our New Faculty Open House on Wednesday, December 9, 3:30 to 5 pm in the Weigle Information Commons and Collaborative Classroom on the first floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Join us for fun activities (iPads, videos, comic books), light refreshments, friendly library colleagues and program partners from around campus.  Please RSVP here.

Customize Your iOS Device to Fit Your Needs

iOS accessibility features are often regarded as tools exclusively for users with disabilities and sometimes portrayed as “secret” or “hidden,” but they’re really not!

As universal design plays an increasingly important role in our engagement with the complex digital world, iOS accessibility features are a prime example of how our technology devices can be tailored to fit our needs.

Graphic of iOS accessibility features categories

Many times our tech tools are not always customizable but rather come one-size-fits-all. Those users who cannot adapt, sometimes require supplementary assistive technology, which is often very expensive and challenging to learn how to use.

However, Apple includes accessibility features built in on every device that are designed to support ALL users. These features are found in Settings under General. Scroll down to Accessibility.

Here are some suggestions for you to trick out your device ;) :

Control your device with your face! Yes, really. This is a screenshot of where Switch Control is located on an iOS device.

Located under Switch Control, add a new switch to allow your device’s camera to track your head movement. By shaking your head to the left or right, you can execute a range of actions such as adjusting your volume, navigating to the home screen, and summoning Siri. After selecting “Switch Control,” choose “Switches” and “Add New Switch.” The camera source will allow you to assign actions to left and right head movements. Don’t forget to actually turn on Switch Control after everything’s set up!

This is a screenshot of where Invert Colors is located on an iOS device.Increase the screen’s contrast to give your eyes a break.

Ever feel like you’ve been staring at a screen for too long? At the end of a long day of researching and writing on a computer, the last thing I want to do is stare at my iPhone’s brightly lit screen. Turn on “Invert Colors” on your device to avoid the glare and enjoy a new aesthetic.

Let Siri read that article for you! This is a screenshot of where Speech is located on iOS devices.

Activate Speak Screen located under Speech, and swipe two fingers down on any speakable content. It works great with Safari and book reading apps. You can also adjust the speaking rate, choose different languages, and highlight content.

This is a screenshot of where LED Flast for Alerts is located on an iOS device.


Use your device’s camera to get flash alerts

Ever wish your call, text, email alerts were a bit more noticeable without having to rely on your iPhone’s sound, vibration, or screen light feature? Turn on LED flash to receive a distinct but unobtrusive notification.

Learn to use your device free from distractions. This is a screenshot of where Guided Access is located on an iOS device.

New to iOS? Guided Access will allow you to practice using the apps on your device. To encourage focused learning, Guided Access limits the distractions by turning off the extra options and locking the user into the app of choice.

Want to learn more? Join me for my Accessibility on iOS workshop on December 1st! And, of course, not everyone uses an iOS device, so stay tuned for later accessibility posts on other operating systems!


Make Comics at the Library this Weekend!

Making Comics copy.pngJoin us this Friday and Saturday in Van Pelt Library’s Collaborative Classroom to make comics and watch others make comics in our “24 Hour Comic Jam,” our delayed celebration of 24 Hour Comics Day.

We’ll have experienced cartoonists here talking about their work and making comics of their own while you watch!

We’ll talk about ways to produce, distribute or market your comics in today’s world.

And of course there will be opportunities for you to make your own comics and get help from seasoned professionals.

Check out the full details at

You’ll also want to check out happenings this weekend at two of the best comic shops in the city, Locust Moon and Atomic City Comics


Apple’s new emojis

Along with the much anticipated release of iOS 9.1 for iPhone and iPad – and its whole deck of tech specs – Apple appealed to wider range of audiences by releasing 184 new emoji characters. Texting is now easy and fun-filled with emojis for robots, unicorns, hot dogs, burritos, a nerd-bunny face and a super cute sick-face emoji. My personal favorite is the Sherlock icon. If you aren’t already updated about the new emojis, do checkout the emojipedia and let us know which ones are your favorites!

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Student Survey: Looking for Volunteers!

942 responses to our student survey surprised us this October! We posted a summary in advance of our symposium student panel. (Event videos will be online soon. Photos and a great DP article by Stephanie Yang are up now.)

We would like to assemble a team of volunteers to help analyze the results. We expect it will be a fun project!

As a  teaser, below are five student responses to our question: This year’s theme is Ed Tech 2020. What technology can you imagine in use for Penn courses in 2020?

  • “An iPad like system that automatically has the slides on it and the notes that the professor takes are automatically synched into your iPad.”
  • “Laptop, phone, lecture chats to ask questions such as a Slack or a better form of GroupMe.”
  • “Touchscreens and smart boards should replace whiteboards and chalk for more functionality and student interactivity available to the teachers.”
  • “Ungraded coding workshops for people who want to learn but not sacrifice their GPA! /  / 3D printing, modeling workshops, excel tutorials, bloomberg terminal info.”
  • “make use of the ever-growing field of tech devices worn on the wrist/head.”

Interested? Please email me for details.

Instagram, Vine, & Snapchat: Storytelling Through Social Media

The power of a compelling narrative has always been an easy draw for me, particularly in the travel narratives of others. Wanderlust piques my interest, but the story captures my attention, and I’m not alone. Narratives and storytelling are fundamental to human experience. Doris Lessing writes, “A story is how we construct our experiences,” and as products of an increasingly digital world, this sense of construction is nowhere more tangible than in our engagement with social media.

Each time we post, tweet, or snap to impart information to others,  we also contribute to and shape the narratives of our lives. In turn, our followers interpret, engage with, and respond to what we’ve shared. As an information student, I am especially focused on the information habits of others: how do other people interpret information, and, consequently, which methods are best to reach the widest audience?

This past summer, I wanted to share my own travel stories easily and instantaneously with family and friends. Before and during my travels, I wondered how best to translate these experiences for others beyond a photo album or the occasional post of media on Facebook.

So I investigated and considered the storytelling capabilities of three social media apps: Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat.

Collage of Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat Logos

Instagram‘s optional filters and simple editing tools enable users to design a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing narrative. Its accessible interface fuels creativity in its users, and interesting angles, unusual subjects, and attention to details are all hallmarks of Instagram’s most attention-grabbing photos and videos. Videos may last from 3 to 15 seconds, providing for a momentary glimpse into the user’s experiences. I also found the add a location feature helpful to connect with other users, who also linked their posts to my location. In this way, our media becomes a collaborative effort in sharing our diverse perceptions of the landmarks we encountered.

Twitter’s Vine is the app I used least during my travels. Vine videos last approximately 6.5 seconds long and usually require some preparation beforehand, which is not often an option for the on-the-go traveler. However, this length is ideal for followers, who can review posts with ease while scrolling through their feed. Vine also offers little in terms of editing, but the initial planning required before recording combined with the time constraint, challenges Vine users to be innovative in their design. The products are often highly addictive and hilarious, and because they are experienced at lightning speed, it is much too easy to get lost in the Vine vortex.

I had initial reservations about Snapchat. Mostly because many of my friends use it almost exclusively to exchange hilarious selfies. I  mean, have you seen the rainbow mouth feature?! Yet, I soon realized that posts on Snapchat or snaps introduce a temporal element in a way that Instagram and Vine posts do not. Videos sent directly to followers may last 10 seconds at the most, and once viewed, they disappear. Users may also post their snaps continuously over the course of 24 hours to be compiled in the “my story” feature. These, too, will disappear after a 24 hour period. This ephemeral in-the-moment quality demands that your viewers follow your stories closely and nearly contemporaneously. But fear not! Users may save their snaps to their device for later viewing. Snapchat’s editing features are less extensive than those of Instagram, but in some ways, the shakiness of the camera and the background noise provide for a more authentic narrative.

Instagram, Vine, Snapchat Infographic
Created with Piktochart!

What do you think? How do you share your stories?