Tag Archives: Tool Review

Volunteer Management with VSys Live

VSys Live is a customizable browser-based portal that allows volunteers within an organization to complete everyday tasks. It is one of multiple components of the VSys Family created by Bespoke Software. Other members of this family include VSys One, a windows-based application that allows administrators to control and track volunteer activities on VSys Live and VSys Anywhere, a browser-based version of VSys One.

With VSys Live, volunteers are able to sign up for shifts and opportunities, check in and out of their shifts, enter hours, upload photos and documents, complete online training, run reports of their hours, schedules, accrued travel expenses and much more.

Because this tool allows volunteers to complete so many tasks on their own, administrators are relieved of these duties and are able to focus on other tasks within the organization. This increases productivity and growth within the organization as a whole.

So how does VSys Live actually work? When organizations inquire about the software on the VSys One website, the first step is to schedule a demonstration by completing an online form or calling a phone number to Bespoke Software. Pricing quotes are not available on the site since every organization’s needs will be different and dependent on the necessary features of their particular portal. VSys will work with each organization to build and customize their VSys Live portal based on their specific needs.

Morgan Johnson. “Screenshot of VSys Live Homepage, Smithsonian.” February 13, 2020.

When the site is finally live, ready to use and volunteer accounts have been created through VSys One or VSys Anywhere, volunteers will sign-in with their credentials and their organization’s Vsys Live homepage will greet them with a few key icons. These icons include a button to Check In/Out, a button to Report Past Hours and a Calendar view of their activities for the current month. Across the top of the page are multiple drop-down menus that include My Info, Check-In/Out, Find Opportunities, Online Trainings and Documents. The Find Opportunities tab is one of the most important functions for users since this allows them to sign up for different shifts and events throughout the organization.

VSys Live and the remaining VSys Family are all powerful tools that tremendously benefit organizations with a large number of volunteers. Putting more control into the volunteers’ hands allows administrators to put more focus into other areas within the organization.  This is extremely helpful and important to the organization’s pursuit of fulfilling its mission.


Charms Office Assistant is an office assistant and managerial tool designed to help arts organizations and public-school music programs with the management of finances, inventory, communication, and other logistical aspects. This particular tool is not free, as it requires the registration for a fully functional trial account, and upon completion the organization in question can request a quote or an invoice in order to purchase an account for either a one- or three-year subscription. The pricing does change from organization to organization according to Charms’ website, but those prices are not listed for the general public. It is accessible online through its website or on mobile devices, and there is an app called “Charms Blue” which is designed to help students access Charms through their mobile devices. Charms is most useful in terms of being able to have all important logistical information for an organization in one easily accessible central location, and makes keeping track of a multitude of finances like fundraisers or organizational purchases incredibly clear.

Image of Charms' library tab home page and featured tabs on left-hand side (Charms 2).
Caroline Schwark. “Charms 2 Library.” 19 February 2020. Charms.
Image of Charms' featured tabs on left-hand side (Charms 2).
Caroline Schwark. “Charms 2 Library 2.” 19 February 2020. Charms.

The most common type of organization to use Charms is public school music programs, such as wind bands, orchestras, or choruses. Most Fairfax County Public Schools (such as J.W. Robinson Secondary) use Charms throughout their music programs to keep track of uniforms, pieces of music, and financial materials, to name a few examples. Charms is currently used by the George Mason University School of Music by the music librarians in order to help organize pieces of music owned by the School of Music. While Charms is an acceptable option for that organization, its design is best suited for larger groups who make use of more of the features, as the music librarians only use the library tab (meaning that the other 11 tabs and their features are not used at all).

Image of Charms Legacy (the old version of Charms before its recent update to Charms 2).
Caroline Schwark. “Charms Legacy.” 19 February 2020. Charms.

Websites about the User Experience

User experience (abbreviated as UX) is how a person feels when interfacing with a system. The system could be a website, a web application or desktop software and, in modern contexts, is generally denoted by some form of human-computer interaction (HCI). I listed 7 webs from the article “What is User Experience Design? Overview, Tools, and Resources.” (Smashing Magazine. 5 October 2010.), and I also found another web of UX named UX collective which one  becoming increasingly popular, and with that comes a lot of clutter, noise, and disorientation. 

Zec Zec Taiwan- 嘖嘖 台灣

Zec Zec Taiwan  is an online crowdfunding platform that helps creators fund their creative projects. It is a website that is similar to Kickstarter in the United States. Through the crowdfunding process, the artists or the art organization can get budget support. The slogan of Zec Zec website is “An online platform to help creators achieve their dreams.” Online crowdfunding became the popular funding tool in recent day. The title of Zec Zec clearly shows the main purpose of the website. Zec Zec provide the online crowdfunding experiences for creators in Taiwan. Zec Zec help creators an online platform to presenting the contents of the creative project, the original design and the creative works on the Internet.

The Image of Zec Zec Taiwan
Zec Zec Crowdfunding website from Taiwan

Continue reading Zec Zec Taiwan- 嘖嘖 台灣


Kickstarter is a website that offers a platform for product crowdfunding. It provides people who work on artistic projects with crowdfunding opportunity to increase their funding budget. Artists and designers give funders rewards in the form of unique experiences or products. Kickstarter is the crowdfunding tool that bypasses the traditional investment process and establishes the general and public platform to raise small amounts of funds. Crowdfunding is the action that artists and designers use to promote their projects, program contents, original designs, and creative works to the public as well as to achieve their works by raising funds via the internet. In other words, it offers a platform for artists to display their products to the world, and to bring people together to support the works. People who are willing to support, participate and make purchases can help making the project successful as they would help artists with their budget. Setting a goal and collecting fundraising in advance can help artists and designers start their projects.

Continue reading Kickstarter:Crowdfunding

Gallery interactive Using in Arts Museum

Information and details of the painting displayed on iPad
People use handheld devices to stand before paintings

The development technology over the past few years have brought the issue of how can technology enhance a visitor’s experience to forefront of the conversation. Nowadays, the application of handheld device in the museum is common thing for the audience. The use of handheld devices in museums has great potential, advantages including: variety of interpretation, engagement of visitors, outreach to new audiences, support for orientation and flexibility with content distribution.

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor (CM) is an online HTML email marketing tool to turn customers into loyal customers by personalized email campaigns and automated customer journeys. It helps drive real, bottom line, business results. As an easy-to-use tool, CM allows their customers to create, send, and track advertising or fundraising emails to their customers. Unlike other majority email marketing tools, the pricing of CM is reasonable and flexible. There is no registration fee. Any company can get started for free if the company send emails to no more than 5 clients. You can choose one of four plans right for your company. It will depend on how many clients that you will send to. If you send emails to a large of number customers frequently, only need $29 you can send unlimited emails and can use other additional features. You also can manage your emails online and download Campaign Monitor Application for monitoring your clients.

     The view of Campaign Monitor's home page
The view of Campaign Monitor’s home page. Screenshot by Yuhan Zhang, March 8, 2018


You won’t want to miss it. The first impressive thing is the simple process of sending your email. You can just follow the Campaign Monitor Website to set subject line, campaign title, and the email addresses of senders and receivers. Another thing is that CM prevents your emails from getting trapped behind firewalls or spam filters if the campaign emails are sent from a paid email address. The last impressive thing is that every sender can get the “Google Analytics” style-report to track your clients’ response and have a clear interaction and prompt campaign feedback.  Up to now, lots of organizations have benefited from Campaign Monitor. For instance, the one of the largest performing arts organization, Broadway, send weekly news to their biggest fans and subscribers by CM.  Campaign Monitor has been increased ticket sales and built loyal audiences with email marketing for the Broadway. Every subscriber can know what is hot on the Broadway and can start their Broadway experience from a musical to Tony Awards.

The case of Broadway in CM
The case of Broadway in CM. Screenshot by Yuhan Zhang, March 8, 2018

      An example of the weekly newsletter
An example of the weekly newsletter. Screenshot by Yuhan Zhang, March 8, 2018

The view of biggest events' announcement
The view of biggest events’ announcement. Screenshot by Yuhan Zhang, March 8, 2018





Shiftboard logo
Sponsorship Assets.” 2 April 2017. Shiftboard

Shiftboard is a software developed to help organizations manage their employees and workforce. Founded in 2002, Shiftboard has grown since and is now known for providing an efficient and effective way to schedule shifts in a shift-based workforce environment. The Shiftboard website states that it has supported over 160 million shifts being scheduled and $2 billion in wages earned. Continue reading Shiftboard


Periscope is a free application that is accessible for smart phones and online. Periscope was created with the intent of sharing experiences visually around the world. Directly from their website, they state that “a picture may be worth a thousand words, but a live video lets us explore the world together.” Periscope has direct links to Twitter, and many similarities. Periscope is essentially a live video format of Twitter. Many popular applications have adapted and created a “live” feature lately, most notably Facebook. But Periscope differs because it is strictly visual, that is its purpose and that’s why users have it. They want to see these people that they are following along with news, events and experiences around the globe.

Tyler Hansen. “iOS Media Banner.” 2016. https://www.periscope.tv/press

Periscope is easy to gain access to. You can directly link it with your twitter account if you have one, your email, or just your phone number on your smart phone. There is a trending/popular page so you can see big experiences that are currently happening, you can also search for specific people or companies, as well as by locations around the world or certain categories. It is incredibly accessible, and if you miss the live stream, the videos are also saved. They don’t disappear, so you can see feed that is live, or has already happened. Periscope can be used to document what is currently happening in any part of an arts organization. It’s like an all access application where users can see the behind the scenes or backstage. They can see all the components of what makes art happen.

Arts organizations are using this tool to help give first hand experiences to their followers. I was specifically looking at theaters and they use it primarily to show how their productions are coming along in order to market for it and build hype. They show rehearsals, design elements coming together and quick little shout outs from the company. The Public Theater is one that I follow that was especially good at doing this, they even went as far to show snippets of shows. (Click Public Theater to connect with their channel on Periscope.)

My experience was great, there’s a lot of room for curiosity. I enjoyed my experience on the phone app much more. It offered more room for searching and categories for specific places.



Google Drive

Google Drive Logo
Blunkswife. “Google Drive logo“, 15 July 2015. Flickr.

Google Drive is a file management tech tool that is widely used not only in arts organizations but also many other organizations. It is simple and easy to begin on all the practical functionalities. Arts organizations, especially small ones, prefer to use this tool because it can store some less important large files on web drive and share with a simple click for free. It is free to own 15GB storage room if you have registered. You can also pay for more storages. You can either use Google Drive on web or download app to manage files on desktops and portable devices, and they are all synchronized.

As we all know that large file cannot be sent by email, the biggest advantage for Google Drive is to store it and share it. Especially for arts organizations which would have a large amount of photos and videos to share. Among the family of the online drive, Google Drive is competitive because it has more users from the Google family, such as Gmail and YouTube. So you can easily access Google Drive if you have a Gmail account. Moreover, it supports more files than others.

I recently interned in an arts organization called DC Beauty of Beijing Opera. It is free to use Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides for them to do things that are usually done in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. For a small organization with a relatively low budget, they work at home. In this case, an efficient file sharing function is so important for them to ensure them to view photos, revise documents and contributes to data sheets.

Easy, Efficient and Free, let’s try Google Drive right now!!