I’m always on the look-out for new ed tech tools that are both useful and free (or at least inexpensive). Gliffy is one of those. Gliffy compares itself to Visio, except that it’s a whole lot easier to use with its drag-and-drop interface. Better yet, the online free option is reasonably comparable to the paid version. And if your institution uses Chrome, I highly recommend the Google app version.
Gliffy is particularly useful as an instructional tool because students do not need to have an account to use it – they just click on the ‘Try it Now’ and they’re good to go (the only caveat – for the online version, they need an account to save their work). So how can you use Gliffy for library instruction?
- Concept Maps. Have students create a concept map as a research planning tool. This helps them identify all key concepts and their connections, along with potential sources for information.
- Flow Charts. You can develop a flow chart to represent the research process for students. Or have students create one for what they think the research process looks like (that should be interesting).
- Venn Diagrams. Venn diagrams are a tried and true method of visually illustrating Boolean searching. They are even more powerful when put in the hands of students. Have students create a Venn Diagram to help them better understand their search strategies. Even if they don’t end up using Boolean operators in their searches, it is still vitally important to understand how databases (including Google) work.
- SWOT Analysis. SWOT analysis is a novel way to evaluate information sources. Students would be required to look at both internal factors (e.g. authority, inherent quality) and external factors (e.g. reviews, citation analysis) in evaluating the source. As a reflective activity, students could also use SWOT analysis to evaluate their own research skills.
It’s not often that I come across something that includes all the ideal elements of an ed tech tool: useful, intuitive, easy-to-use and free. So check it out, and spread the word!
For tech tips on using Gliffy, click here.