Apps for Librarians & Educators

Become an expert in the best mobile apps for education and content creation.
  • Lectures 74
  • Video 4 Hours
  • Skill level all level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion

How taking a course works


Find online courses made by experts from around the world.


Take your courses with you and learn anywhere, anytime.


Learn and practice real-world skills and achieve your goals.

Course Description

Mobile apps are empowering for people of all ages and abilities

As librarians and educators, we are passionate about learning and access to information for all. Contrary to the popular idea that apps are only useful for “consumption,” the best mobile apps are being used effectively as tools to enable learning and knowledge creation.

Got iPads, but no time to discover the best apps?

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the number of apps available and not sure where to start with finding the best ones, you’re not alone!

Many librarians have told me that they feel

  • excited about having new iPads, but not sure of the best apps to recommend and use.
  • overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps available.
  • unsure where to start with finding and evaluating the best educational apps.
  • worried about the digital divide and the loss of access to information for all.

You might have new iPads in your library or school, but what are the best learning experiences you can create with them? You know that just throwing technology at a problem is NOT the way to go.

When you become “app-literate,” you serve your community by becoming their go-to expert on mobile apps.

When you become an app expert, you become the go-to person for your community—evaluating, reviewing and recommending the very best apps for knowledge creation and active learning. You gain influence in your community by designing innovative programs and services that use mobile apps for learning.

What are the requirements?

  • You'll need your own smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android).
  • You'll need to know how to install new apps on your device.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Over 74 lectures and 4 hours of content!
  • Get experience using some of the best apps available and understand how they enable learning.
  • Understand how tablets are complementary to and different from laptops, and how their capabilities are creating new learning opportunities.
  • Understand how apps are being used by people with special needs, and get access to resources for learning more.
  • Get inspiration for creating your own app guides, offering workshops, and advising colleagues.
  • Get up to speed quickly: watch video demos and follow along on your own mobile device.

What is the target audience?

  • Librarians and educators who want to learn about the best apps for learning and for library programs .
  • Librarians from any kind of institution (schools, universities, corporate, law, government, medical, non-profit, archives)
  • Educators, academics, and other creative professionals (you don't need to be a librarian to sign up!)

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee

Forever yours.
Lifetime access

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion


Section 1: Introduction

Why mobile devices are not just desktop replacements, how they are enabling better learning experiences, and why app-literacy is important.

Smartphones are everywhere and there is an explosion of apps for productivity, research, reading, and studying. Librarians can better serve their communities by having expertise in mobile technologies. Take this course to learn about the best apps for library users, including Evernote, Dropbox, Inst…
"Apps4Librarians was a great online class experience. The video demos and lectures greatly enhanced the readings and self exploration. I appreciated all the practical tips Nicole included, as well as the insights of the other class members."  -  Michele Mizejewski, Web Initiatives Librarian, Univers…
By the end of the course, you should be: knowledgeable about some of the best apps in each category (reading, productivity, reference, multimedia) comfortable with using your mobile device and installing apps on it comfortable with updating your apps, both in iTunes and on your mobile device comfort…
2 pages

Read this for information on buying apps and getting technical support for your device.

2 pages

Basic things to know about Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

Section 2: Reading

Tips for using the Kindle apps, including how to get content from sources other than Amazon.


In this video I discuss the iBooks app. I also show two multimedia books made with iBooks Author. These have embedded media such as slide shows and 3D images. Books shown include Frankenweenie and NYPL Point: Frankenstein, Making a Modern Monsterby the New York Public Library. You can get each of these titles for free on the iBookstore (iOS only).


Many books are being published as individual apps. This allows them to take advantage of the multimedia features that apps can provide. Beethoven's 9th Symphony by Touch Press is an excellent example. For more multimedia book apps, see my resource guide, which lists many of these interactive book apps.

8 pages

Borrowing ebooks from your library using OverDrive and using Bluefire as an alternative reader.

1 page

Discussion of three services aiming to be like “Netflix for ebooks.”Oyster, Scribd, and Kindle Unlimited.


Reading magazines on iOS with Apple Newsstand.


Reading magazines on mobile devices with two excellent apps: Zinio and Next Issue.

3 pages

iAnnotate is an excellent app for reading and annotating PDFs and other documents.


Two good apps for saving web pages to read later, online or offline.


An excellent app for reading and organizing news feeds.


How to read news feeds with Flipboard, and how to curate content with Flipboard "magazines."


A few articles to get you thinking about e-reading and the future of books.

Section 3: Productivity

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage apps. I've been using it for a few years and love it. Box is also very good and is the recommended choice if your institution needs to be HIPAA-compliant. It works in exactly the same way as Dropbox. You could choose to use one or both of these apps -- they are both highly recommended.

1 page

I've been using 1Password for years and I like it. It does cost money though, so if you want a free password manager, try LastPass. 1Password has a slightly nicer interface and they both work well.

This video from 1Password does a great job of explaining how it works. LastPass works in a very similar way.


There are many good to-do list apps. My favorite is Todo. Watch the video to see why. Other very nice to-do apps are: Clear, Wunderlist, and Paperless. It's a personal choice -- they are all quite good. I use Todo for my daily to-do lists, and I use Paperless for grocery lists, packing lists, and other misc. lists. I like all the cute and pretty icons that are included with Paperless -- it makes your list of lists easy to browse.


I use Evernote for keeping track of EVERYTHING in my life. I love it. It's like a digital file cabinet with great tagging, keywords, search, and folders. The only downside is that it's not designed for pretty formatting. Because of that, I started using OneNote for a few things in my life where I want to format the text. I like it.

You can choose one or use both, like I do.


Penultimate is a useful app for handwritten notes and sketching.


Apps for speech recognition and speec-activated searching.


Like having a scanner in your pocket.


Scan book barcodes, generate QR codes, and more with Red Laser.


Apple's iWork suite for Mac and iOS includes Pages for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheets, and Keynote for presentations. In this video I demo Pages.

Here is Apple's info about compatibility with Microsoft Office.

1 page

Information about Google's apps for word pressing, spreadsheets, and presentations.

1 page

Two more apps for making your presentations look interesting (no more boring PowerPoint!)

1. The iPad for Academics  - Alex Golub 2. My iPad Day - Ann Kirschner 3. Apps: web apps or native apps? - Rob De Lorenzo 4. What Cloud Computing Means for the Real World - Keir Thomas 5.  Collecting, annotating & redistributing student work using an iPad, GoodReader & Dropbox  -  Greg Clinton 6. Re…
Section 4: Research & Reference

A dictionary with voice search and audio pronunciations.


Wikipedia now has its own official mobile app, and there are several other apps for Wikipedia. Currently, the official Wikipedia app is the only one that allows edits of Wikipedia from your mobile device.

The others are worth exploring because they have useful features such as: saving pages to read offline, bookmarks, history of your searches, reading the article out loud, location awareness - see Wikipedia articles about places nearby, and more.

If you are on Android, try LoboWiki, a similar app to Wikibot. It's getting good reviews.


Wikilinks has some unusual features that are interesting - a mind map view for related articles, links to related YouTube videos, and more.


Wolfram Alpha calls itself a "computational knowledge engine." A useful reference app.


Convertible is a unit convertor for currency and many other units (length, volume, etc.)


A quick look at the features of Google Maps and Apple Maps.


Languages is a foreign language dictionary app that includes multiple languages.


Duolingo makes language learning into a game.


IMDb for iOS and IMDb for Android are very useful reference tools for information about films.


Chirp Birdsong USA+ is a fun way to learn birdsongs. Versions of this app for Canada and Europe are also available.

3 pages

Learn about a few sample apps in this category, including apps for finding open access scholarly articles.

2 pages

Learn about Papers 3 for citation management, plus links to a few other recommended apps in this category.

3 pages

What librarians needs to know about jailbreaking.

1. Apple's guidelines for app developers are interesting to read, even if you aren't developing apps. They help you understand the care that Apple takes and what some of their goals are. Here are the first 4 sections of Apple's guidelines: (these are only 1-3 pages each) Introduction Platform Charac…
Section 5: Multimedia

Art Envi Deluxe

This video was made in 2012, but is still relevant - the app looks the same. I cropped it from that a longer video that showed two other apps along with it, so ignore the extra words at beginning and end, thanks!

1 page

Try searching the app stores for apps from your favorite museum. The best ones show many highlights from the collections, not just hours and basic information. This document has links to some of the apps from MoMA - Museum of Modern Art.

1 page

Two very good apps for drawing and painting.


Drawing and painting

1 page

These are the latest hardware tools from Adobe for the iPad. They are expensive, but it's interesting to see where the future of art and design on tablets is going


Create comic books from your images.

ToonPaint and Color Splash

Add fun filters to you photos and share them with friends.

1 page

Pro HDR lets you capture an image exposed for the highlights and another exposed for the shadows. It then automatically aligns and blends the images, giving you an HDR image up to 5 megapixels.

1 page

Two excellent photo editing apps for both iOS and Android.


Create and share panoramic photos (360 degrees)


Create panoramic photos and share them on (Microsoft)



Diptic is one of many useful apps for making photo collages.


SoundHound (Android and iOS)

SoundHound is an app that can listen to music playing nearby and identify it (if it's in their database).


TuneIn Radio Pro (Android and iOS)

TuneIn Radio is an app for listening to streaming radio stations from around the world. You can also use it to record specific programs and save them on your mobile device.


Pandora (Android and iOS)

Pandora creates streaming radio stations based on particular songs or styles that you like, matching similar music by its metadata from the Music Genome Project.


Bloom HD

In addition to Apple's well-known GarageBand app, Bloom is an excellent, fun app for creating music.

This video about Bloom is cropped from a longer video that I made in 2012, but it's still current and Bloom works in the same way. Bloom was created by Brian Eno.


ThumbJam is a fun app for creating music.

Another fun app is Ocarina 2 (free). See the  videos on their site  and  learn how to play .
1 page

Podcasts are a series of regularly published audio or video programs. They are almost always available for free.

Read this document for my thoughts on the best podcast apps.


Podcasts are a series of regularly published audio or video programs. They are almost always available for free.

Apple has a very nice Podcast app, see: Learn more about Apple's Podcasts app. Apple's Podcasts can display audio or video podcasts.

There are several other excellent podcast apps for both iOS and Android:
My favorites are Pocket Casts and Stitcher Radio. Stitcher Radio is audio only, but it's my favorite, so that's what's shown in this video.

2 pages

iTunes U delivers free educational content from universities and schools in 30 countries. Courses may include video or audio lectures, assignments, readings, presentations, and links to apps and iBooks textbooks. Learn more in this reading.

1 page

A few recommended apps for watching educational video content on your mobile device.

1 page

For iOS, learn about iMovie in this reading.

If you are on Android, VidTrim is recommended for editing movies.

1. In defense of digital play - Andy Russell 2. Storytelling, creativity, and the new frontier of digital play - Andy Russell 3. See this blog for reviews of apps that push the boundaries of new media:      Creative Applications Network - iPhone apps   | iPad apps 4.  30 second video showing an arti…
Section 6: Accessibility
1 page

The good news is that accessibility features of mobile devices are making life easier for people with disabilities.

There is a lot to learn in this area—it could be a whole course. So here’s a brief introduction with suggestions for learning more.

1. All Technology is Assistive Technology
Why everyone should pay attention to disability matters.
2. Re-Enabled: iOS's Impact on Those with Impairments isn't Just a Marketing Slide; It's Profound
Good news about how iOS is working for those with disabilities.
3. iOS: a wide range of features for a wide range of needs
Get the overview of Apple's accessibility features for iOS.
Section 7: Keeping Up
17 pages

Read this for ideas on the best ways to keep up with new apps and find the best ones.

1 page

A list of resources for continuing your learning after the course.

Section 8: Feedback

I'd love to hear how you are using the information in this course.

Instructor Biography

Nicole Hennig , User Experience Professional

Helping librarians and educators effectively use mobile technologies

Nicole Hennig is an independent user experience professional, helping librarians and educators effectively use mobile technologies. She is the author of two books, Best Apps for Academics, and Apps for Librarians: Using the Best Mobile Technology to Educate, Create, and Engage.

She offers a variety of instructional resources that bring people from novice to expert, and helps spark ideas for creative uses of mobile technologies.


She worked for the MIT Libraries for 14 years as head of user experience and web manager. She has designed and conducted user experience research, usability tests, websites, web applications, and online instruction.


She has won several awards, including the MIT Libraries Infinite Mile Award for Innovation and Creativity, the MIT Excellence Award for Innovative Solutions, and the ASIS&T Chapter Member of the Year.

Nicole loves teaching, presenting, and inspiring people to use technology effectively.

Join the biggest student community


Hours of video content


Course Enrollments




Average Rating
  1. 5 Stars
  2. 4 Stars
  3. 3 Stars
  4. 2 Stars
  5. 1 Stars
    • Catherine McDonald

    Quickly & Easily Learn All About Apps.

    Concise information, clearly presented, with plenty of additional resources provided. The structure of the course makes it easy to go at your own pace and review what is important to you. Public librarians seeking to become familiar with the many categories of apps available - both to discover new tools and to understand what patrons are using - will find this informative and time-saving.

Ready to start learning?
Preview this course