Apps for Librarians and Educators

Become an app expert for your community

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. They are also making it easier for people of all ages and abilities to learn and create without having to focus on annoying technical problems.

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.

woman with iPad

So many apps, so little time!

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.

girl with iPad

Touchscreens make it easy to learn.

older woman's hands using touchscreen

Empowering for all ages

Before taking this course, I didn’t realize there were so many apps that could be useful in educational settings! I look forward to leading some workshops on specific apps.

Ellen Lutz, Librarian at University of Massachusetts Amherst

app workshops
online app guides:
Librarians + Apps: a great combination!

Why I created this course

After testing hundreds of apps, and seeing many inspiring examples of how they are being used in education and the creative arts, I feel optimistic about the potential of mobile apps for enabling learning and creativity.

For over a decade I worked as a librarian at MIT, first as a web manager and later as head of the user experience department. In that role, I studied what works well and what doesn’t work for learning experiences in many formats.

In my current role as an independent online educator, I’m bringing my knowledge of user experience practices to the world of mobile apps and learning.

I created this course because I see this area as a huge opportunity for librarians and educators to serve as leaders, and also because I enjoy inspiring others to create their own innovative programs and services using the best mobile apps.

What’s Included

Video Demos

40 video demos of recommended apps.



A set of readings for each unit with many examples of apps being used effectively for education.

Discussion forum

Thought-provoking questions about the readings that you can discuss with your classmates.

Reviewing Apps

Write your own reviews of recommended apps and share them with your classmates.

Live chats

An optional weekly live chat with the instructor and your classmates.


Resource Guide

The best ways to continue your learning without being overwhelmed.

What you'll need

To participate, you will need an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. You may also use Android smartphones and tablets, but not all of the apps we discuss are available for Android. I will point you to alternatives in those cases.

You should also have familiarity with the basic functions of your device, and know how to install new apps. Be prepared to spend between $2 and $20 on apps during the course, depending on which ones you decide to review.

When you finish the course you will...

  • have experience using some of the best apps available and understand how they enable learning.
  • know how to evaluate and review mobile apps.
  • 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 have resources for learning more.
  • have inspiring starting points for creating your own app guides, offering workshops, and advising colleagues.

Taking Apps for Librarians was time well spent for me. I started the class with a basic level of understanding and now feel totally empowered to use apps to improve my own teaching practice and assist others.

Lisa McNulty, Library Media Arts Specialist, Boston Public Schools

June 5 - July 9, 2017


American Library Association eLearning

Empower your users with mobile app literacy

Start and finish anytime


Take the self-study version of this course and work at your own pace.
No deadlines. Includes all future updates.

Become an app expert

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What if I don’t have the time for this course right now?
Try the self-study version—you can begin the course any time you like. You can work through it at your own pace and you’ll have perpetual access to all the course materials, including future updates.
2. A course about apps sounds interesting, but is it really important compared to other topics I could be learning about now?
Study after study shows that use of smartphones and tablets is growing dramatically, especially for education.

At the same time, libraries are re-defining and broadening their mission to include new roles, such as centers of culture, teaching and learning centers, and data services hubs.

Because of that, it’s more important than ever to get experience with these technologies. You can gain influence in your community by becoming the go-to expert about finding and creating information with mobile apps.

These skills can also help you design your own career as we move forward in an increasingly mobile world.

3. Do you offer any other online courses?
Yes! The Book as iPad App is a course about books that are published as mobile apps, and how these books are enabling better learning experiences. Both courses are very popular with librarians and educators. It doesn’t matter which order you take them in, either could be done first.

About Nicole Hennig

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

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.

Nicole 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 is an expert and working with her is a unique opportunity. Considering the fact that use of apps is expected to explode over the next few years, I feel organizations would benefit greatly by offering this class to employees. Thanks for a great experience!

Kathleen Schmidt, Director, Recruiting Services at AccuFile, Boston, MA

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