Archive for category Open Source Secret

Issuu: Self-publishing is easier than you think


Looking for a cool way to present information to your students, their parents, coworkers, or other audiences? Make any document into a flippable online magazine using Issuu!

Issuu is a free publishing tool that anyone can use to create polished, professional looking online magazines. Once you upload your document, you can embed it, share it directly via social media, or send the link. It has been a great tool for creating newsletters that my students will actually read, sharing information with colleagues in my department about different topics, connecting with parents, and more. Get more info and check out a few examples here!


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iTunes U in ResLife?!

What is iTunes U?

Most of you have probably heard of iTunes U. iTunes U is an app created by Apple where faculty and staff can post course content for free. Anything from recorded lectures, podcasts, video clips, homework assignments, readings, etc. can be listed on iTunes U. The best part is that these materials become available to anyone with the app- not just the students taking the class.

How can you use iTunes U in ResLife?

The better question is how can’t we use it! There are SO MANY “courses” available. It’s a great way to get materials for a staff training session, a door to door program, social program, newsletter article and more. You could also create a course on the app and list materials for your staff or students to access.

Here are some of my favorite courses to use with my students and staff:

          The University of Arizona- Social Justice Programs

          University of New England- Diversity Lecture Series

          University of Virginia- I Am Diversity

          UCL- Accomodating Religious Diversity in a Secular Society

          NCPDI Social Studies- Personal Finance Literacy

          Texas A&M- Wired Study Tips

          Stanford- Election 2012 (outdated now, but good to keep in mind for future elections)

        My institution also has several courses available that I’ve used for programming and in outreach to students:

–          UNH Health Services- Reflections Meditation CD

–          UNH Health Services- Video (overview of services available)

–          UNH Housing- several videos

–          WSBE- several courses have materials posted

More information:

Have you found a creative way to use iTunes U in your work?

–     Beth Poling is a Residence Hall Director at the University of New Hampshire and the Publications Coordinator for the NASPA TKC

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Conceptboard (@ConceptboardApp) is an on-line, open-source collaboration tool that gives users the ability to share and discuss documents, provide feedback, develop ideas, and organize projects and meetings all in real-time with colleagues or students. The program, based in Stuttgart, Germany, provides users with a nearly infinite amount of space on a virtual whiteboard to add content, comments and more. Dan Toma (@toma_dan), Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Conceptboard, adds, “(Conceptboard’s) usability is limited only by the imagination of the users.” When asked about how Conceptboard compares to other online collaboration software, Toma notes two main advantages. “First of all it makes the users think in a non-linear way and second of all it engages them in virtual team management.

I am currently using Conceptboard to collaborate with a co-presenter on a workshop to be presented at the NASPA conference in Phoenix this March. Lisa Endersby (@lmendersby) is a Student Experience Advisor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and our workshop discusses the need to create a more collaborative and connected campus. “The information and ideas we work with on Conceptboard come alive – making research and writing a much more dynamic, engaging process,” says Endersby. “I’m impressed,” she continues, “by the use of Conceptboard in collaborating on research projects as a single space to house multiple ideas and pieces of information.” The software allows us to communicate quickly and easily, live and in real-time, even though we are separated by several times zones and an international boarder. And this is exactly was Conceptboard was created to do. According to Toma, “We are all aware that in today’s ever changing global environment, the need for professionals that can ‘think outside of the box’ in a non-linear way and be able to manage, at the same time, cross cultural and cross continental virtual teams is greater than ever.”


Another gem of the program is its adaptive nature. “I appreciate that concept board can appeal to many diverse learning and communication styles,” Endersby noted.  “I often find myself wanting to see the big(ger) picture or hear myself ask ‘can you show me?’ and concept board allows those I’m working with to do both.” Users of different abilities are able to use Conceptboard in a variety of ways, and mold their experience to what they need out of the program. It is a game changer when looking at the development of collaborative campuses and projects. Endersby explains, “Working collaboratively becomes more effective and efficient when there is a space to share & discuss ideas in real time that can also capitalize on our own strengths in learning and communicating.”

Basic users (open-source category) can create and share up to 25 boards. Plans with increased functionality are also available for small monthly fees, and the company is exploring an educational licensing option that is currently in beta testing. Overall I find this software extremely helpful, and hope you will as well. Find out more at, and make sure to find the on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Keep the conversation going and share your favorite open-source programs on Twitter by using the hash tag #openoasis.

– Matt Brinton, TKC Chair

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VolunteerSpot: Doing good just got easier!

Today’s featured open source technology is VolunteerSpot (@VolunteerSpot). I was preparing to recruit a large number of volunteers for our annual homecoming week festivities and was killing myself working on developing a shared Google spreadsheet that had all of the positions I needed to fill and then an accompanying email listing those opportunities to be sent to campus. I told myself there had to be a better way. I typed “free volunteer management” into a Google search and the first result was VolunteerSpot. And from there, the rest is history. This is one of my top five favorite finds so far in 2012 and I wanted to find out more about what makes the online product so great. So I reached out to Founder and CEO Karen Bantuveris (@VSpotMom) to get the scoop.

Matt Brinton (MB): What is your vision for how VolunteerSpot can best be utilized?

Karen Bantuveris (KB): With more than 1.4 million volunteers and growing, VolunteerSpot is a simple online coordination tool that makes it easy for ANYONE to quickly organize service.  We save teachers, administrators and grass roots volunteer leaders valuable time in scheduling, signing up and reminding volunteers – while doing away with frustrating ‘reply-all’ email chains, Excel spreadsheets and paper signup sheets.  By making it easier to sign up to help, more people show up – up to 20% more!

MB: Have you worked with any higher education institutions so far?

KB: We’ve proudly supported groups at higher education institutions across the country – from Campus Kitchen – an anti-hunger program at U Mass in Boston, to organizing exam proctors at the University of Texas in Austin, to sports concessions and tournament support at Fresno State in Ca., to hack-a-thon invitational conferences for computer science students at Kennesaw State in Atlanta.

MB: What type of feedback have you received?

Recently we surveyed our VolunteerSpot organizers and learned that 99% would refer VolunteerSpot to a friend or colleague!  We’re very proud and humbled by their feedback.  When you save someone valuable time AND help them do good, it’s a win/win!  Our users are also very helpful with suggestions for improvement about what would make their experience even better, we’ve got some great new features planned in the coming year.

MB: What is the best way for a new user to get to know your product/service?

KB: VolunteerSpot was designed with tech-timid users in mind. If you can shop online, you can successfully plan activities and signup to volunteer.  Please try it out first as a volunteer would experience the website – Go to and click “Try Our Demo” and choose a sample signup. Like what you see? Create an account and get planning!

MB: Do you have any best practices from other users that you can share?

KB: When you ask for help, give people specific jobs and tasks to sign up for. Also include a few things to bring like food or supplies, so those who can’t show up can still participate. Invite volunteers to participate across multiple channels – directly via email, in an eNews blast, your website, facebook or Twitter. Ask for only the number of volunteers you need and be ready for them when they show up (they WILL show up, VolunteerSpot’s automated reminders help people keep their commitments.)  Make sure participants have a parking place and name tag on volunteer day! When you send a thank you note, include a few quick statistics about the impact of the volunteer’s work – e.g. the number of people fed, money raised or kids helped.  Send the notes soon after folks participate (via VolunteerSpot) so they consider coming back next time.

MB: I have seen some of the features and benefits on the website, but can you give me a quick rundown on what is free and what requires an upgrade?

Any activity organizer can quickly register for VolunteerSpot’s FREE service – it meets the needs of most groups and includes: 365 day calendar with easy planning wizard for shifts, jobs and supplies to bring; Participants sign up with a few clicks 24/7 – no account registration required; Quick multi-day copy; Automated email reminders; Easy smartphone signup and calendar sync; Print sign in sheets, calendar summaries and rosters, export data including basic hours; Send thank you notes; and one activity organizer

Premium service includes volunteer hours tracking reports, custom registration fields (e.g. to capture t-shirt size or group affiliation), and additional activity organizers (up to 10).  It’s priced at $4.99 – $29.99/month depending on the number of volunteers to make it easy for groups to afford the upgrade if they need it.  NASPA members can use promo code NASPA3 to get three months upgrade for the price of one, for any size group!

MB: What benefits do you believe that VolunteerSpot can have for higher education institutions?

KB: There are clear benefits to making it easy for more people to participate in service – volunteering makes a meaningful difference in the communities where our schools are resident, introduces students to new interests and career paths, powers many of our campus-life activities, and feels good!

Find out more at, and make sure to find the on Twitter (@VolunteerSpot), and Facebook (  Keep the conversation going and share your favorite open-source programs on Twitter by using the hash tag #openoasis.

– Matt Brinton, NASPA TKC Chair

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Some Open Source Secrets from a Student Affairs Pro… Asana, GmailMeter, and Infogram

There are literally hundreds of thousands of apps, free and paid web applications, plugins, and other software suites designed to help us be more productive and “do more with less” in our work as we aim to help students succeed. Here are a few free tech tips that have helped me be better organized and more effective in the office.

The first is Asana (pronounced uh-SAHN-uh). In a nutshell, Asana is a task management system that allows you to organize your work. It’s basically a giant “to do” list and is great if your work involves a lot of collaboration or complex projects with moving parts and multiple people working on those different parts (sound familiar?). It works incredibly well to track student workers and provides a great way to assess what work the student has done. My office uses it to track applicants for positions as well as a document flow tool to manage documents coming in and going out of the office. We have also started using Asana to track committee work, particularly for large committees that have multiple subs. Try it out at

Do you ever wonder what your email habits are? I do! GmailMeter is a simple script that allows you to get analytical data on your own Gmail account (it also works if your university’s email is hosted by Google). GmailMeter gives you stats on your email volume, your daily traffic, patterns on how long it takes you to respond, and more. It was especially useful for me in determining when I should set aside time in my day to respond to emails and if I should be picking up the phone more (yes, I should). This script can be set to send you periodic reports. Here is the link on how to install

The last free application to help with your work is Infogram ( In a world where we are constantly assessing our students, Infogram is a site designed to help you make your data look great. Many of us don’t often share our data to tell “the story” of the way we are impacting students. Infogram can help with this. Here is how we recently used it to organize data from last summer’s Orientations:

What apps, scripts, web applications, or plugins do you use to be more effective and productive in your work?

Author: J.R. Tarabocchia, Outreach & Advancement Coordinator, Portland State University

J.R. Tarabocchia serves as the Outreach & Advancement Coordinator for the division of Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at Portland State University. His focus has been to enhance the learning opportunities and development of students, especially those who may not have had every advantage. He earned his Juris Doctor and Masters of Intellectual Property from the University of New Hampshire and his Bachelors from Rhodes College.


Open Source Secret: Eventbrite


Eventbrite  is a service that helps you “manage, promote and sell out” your events using very simple, but very powerful tools.  With over 28 million tickets sold, this is a great tool to add to your toolbox. This site helps you break down your event registration into four easy steps: publish, promote, manage and sell out.

With the software you are taken step-by-step through a very simple process to publish a professional looking event registration page. You are then able to promote your event through a majority of the most popular social media networks. The easy to use tools in the system help you manage your event by displaying graphical representations of your registrants, sending emails to registered attendees, the option to print name badges and check in lists and much more (as a side note, the free Eventbrite app lets you check in participants with their confirmation and the camera on a smart phone).  Selling out your event becomes simple and easy and for a nominal fee you can collect payments and donations through with the help of on-line tools.

Eventbrite is FREE to use for events that do not have a cost associated with them, or fees that need to be collected up front. If you do have an event where you are charging a registration fee, you can choose to build the nominal Eventbrite fee into the registration cost, or have it added after. There are a multitude of uses for this program, I have been using it for a while now and it is great!

– Matt Brinton, NASPA TKC Chair

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