a holistic selection process centered on digital literacy


Tim Miller

Digital Media & Learning Librarian

Humboldt State University

All text, html, css & js CC BY, Tim Miller, 2019


Why Open? What is 'free'?

A digital literacy-centered approach to selecting software

Major Considerations

Teaching & Learning

What is 'free'?

If you're not paying for the product, you ARE the product.

Why free?

  • Paid services also serve ads, spy on your usage, and sell your data.
  • Free services are equally afraid of losing customers.
  • Lack of monetary cost allows for people without monetary resources to participate.
  • However, both will often try to keep you in their ecosystem.

Why open?

  • Many "eyes"
    • bugs
    • security
    • tutorials & forum posts
    • less loss of agency
      • usually easier to migrate/use with other programs (open formats)

Why digital literacy?

  • Work: adoption == training
    • software users
    • yourself
  • Education
    • tools to meet course needs
    • "actively participate in civic society and contribute to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community"

American Library Association. (2013). Digital literacy, libraries, and public policy. Report of the Office for Information Technology Policy’s Digital Literacy Taskforce. Retrieved January, 20, 2015.

Considerations - Open

On Campus

  • IT support
  • Updates
  • Campus buy-in

Considerations - Open

Off Campus

  • Downloading (malware...)
  • Options
  • Free =/= Open
    • Try out and test
    • Make recommendations
    • Model

Considerations - Open

Off Campus


  • Can be installed on personal computers
  • Not limited by tuition
  • Not an extra financial burden
  • No bloatware, no spam

Considerations - Privacy

What are you actually paying?

  • Usage
    • early adoption in attempt to
      • move to a paid model
      • establish ad value
    • sell data
    • use data
    • track your usage to set costs

Considerations - Accessibility

Who can use the software?

Who can create with the software?

Does the software prioritize accessibility?

Prezi vs PowerPoint vs Google Sites


Minimal 'free' services

  • make presentations


  • Offline access
  • Voice-over*


  • Analytics

*one of few ways to hack Prezi to make it more accessible


No 'free' services

Download model is moving to subscription

Likely the most ability to create accessible presentations.

Creator needs to understand accessibility to make use of the features.

Guides for accessibility

Google Sites

No 'paid' version

Storage limit on 'free' accounts

Simple interface, limits most options to those that keep the site accessible.

Creator needs a basic understanding of accessibility.

Guides for accessibility



  • PowerPoint - $100/year max
    • or $159 one-time
  • Google - 'free'


  • PowerPoint - computer ('free')
  • Google - $100/yr 2TB

Overview - Accessbility

What are your goals?

How much time do you have?

  • PowerPoint - more complex, but more in-depth.
  • Google Sites - simpler and easy to implement, but fewer learning opportunities.

Image editing


Health Ed 342 - in small groups, students make two flyers for nutrition supplements: one for general public, one for experts. 


Visualizing data, design for audience, persuasive 'advertisement.'


Vector Graphics Editor

  • Free & Open Source
  • Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Lots of tutorials online


Google Slides

Slide presentation software

  • Web-based
  • Free, HSU students already have an account
  • Collaborative
  • Any device with a browser*
  • Lots of tutorials online

A bit much?


Graphic design software

  • Web-based
  • Free, premium options
  • Any device with a browser*
  • Mobile apps
  • Lots of tutorials in the site
    • Design tutorials
    • Software tutorials

Emerging Technologies?

Virtual Reality

  • Web-based
  • Cross-platform
  • Learning

Web Development


  • Web-based
  • Cross-platform
  • Lots of tutorials online
  • Remix community
  • Integrates with GitHub
  • Works great with A-frame!

Web VR


  • WebVR
  • Cross-platform
  • Lots of tutorials online
  • Works great with Glitch.com!
    • Remix Aframe templates

3D Modeling


  • Web-based
  • Cross-platform
  • Remix & share
  • Lots of tutorials to get started
  • Export in .obj (works well with A-frame)

3D Modeling


  • Web-based
  • Cross-platform
  • Remix & share
  • File conversion to .gltf (A-frame)
  • AR option

3D Modeling


  • Web-based
  • Cross-platform
  • Remix & share
  • File conversion to .gltf (A-frame)
  • AR option

Emerging Technologies


  • Not all formats have to be accessible.
  • All information/content has to be accessible.

Thank you!

Tim Miller

Open Tools DIS 2019

By Tim Miller

Open Tools DIS 2019

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