Shrewsbury EdTech

Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators


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Step 2: Curating and Sharing Open Educational Resources

Okay, let’s assume you have found some great educational resources for our classroom. Now what? 

Dictionary.com defines curate as “to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation…” I couldn’t have said it better myself. You must collect and save these resources, then organize them in a way that makes sense to you. 


I would like to stress the “sharing” component. Teachers often do things in isolation and re-invent the wheel. Especially with the Common Core and new science standards, it’s essential for teachers to be more social and share resources with each other. We’re all in this together.



There are many tools out there for curating resources. I have long used the social bookmarking site Diigo for this purpose. (See our prior post on social bookmarking in the classroom.) It’s great for collecting resources, but not so great at sharing. A lot of teachers currently use services Google Drive, Evernote, and/or Edmodo to share resources with students. Their drawback is the limited types of resources they can handle (for now at least). I went searching for a way to curate and share all types of digital resources. I have found the perfect solution in Learnist. 

Learnist 

Learnist is relatively new service and clearly modeled after Pinterest. In fact, it is often referred to as “Pinterest for education”. Users create “digital learning boards” on varying topics. They can then add endless digital resources (“learnings”) to each board. 

It is very easy to add and organize content in Learnist, either directly on the website or through a browser bookmarklet. Learnist allows you to add a wide variety of content: PDFs, websites, blog posts, Google Maps, YouTube videos, simulations, Google docs, and Google forms to name just a few. The cool part is that all resources are viewed within the Learnist site. You can even click through presentations and complete surveys. You can even add entire Google Drive folders or link to other Learnist boards. Pretty much every digital resource I have collected can be organized and shared!


Check out my Learnist profile page to get a sense of how I am currently using it. So far, I have created a few learning boards for various science units and projects and have started to add materials to these boards. I gave Learnist a test drive recently to share resources with my students for their roller coaster energy project. They seemed to like it. 


Some Learnist features and classroom applications:

Re-position learnings in a board. 

As you add “learnings” (the various resources you collect) to a board, you can rearrange their order. For example, you may want the most important information at the top of the list. 


“Marked done” feature


As you look at the resources in a board, each one has a checkmark at the top right where you can check off a resource once you have looked at it. Imagine you have a board that includes five resources for students to look at. This feature is helpful for students to keep track of resources they have already looked at.  


Re-add learnings to a different learning board. 


This is probably my most favorite feature of Learnist. Not only is Learnist my favorite tool to curate and share educational resources, but it’s also an excellent place to find resources! You can search for content and find some great resources being shared by other teachers. For example, I found a learning board created by another teacher on renewable and non-renewable energy. Each resource in that board has a “re-add” button that allows me to quickly and easily add that resource to one of my own learning boards. 


Each board can have multiple collaborators.


Multiple teachers can share resources together on a single board. These combined resources can then be shared with all of their students. Another great potential of Learnist is to have students use it. This is a great way for students to collaborate on group research projects.



Learnist is social

Learnist provides many sharing opportunities. You can “like” resources and “follow” other users. If your students decided to use Learnist to curate their own resources, they could “follow” you to get quick access to your materials. 

Suggest learnings

Learnist users can suggest possible “learnings” to other users. I have already had a student suggest a website for me to add to one of my roller coaster physics board! 


Learnist iPad app


Learnist recently came out with a free app which makes viewing resources on an iPad a breeze. Students do not need an account to view your resources. You are also able to add pictures from the camera roll to a specific learning board. In the future, I expect you will be able to share even more. 


Learnist Resources

How to use Learnist on the Web

How to use Learnist on the iPad


Special learning types that can be added to Learnist


Using Learnist in the high school classroom


Why I love and use Learnist (and why you should too)

My 10 favorite Learnist boards built by teachers
These learning boards created by teachers range from Ancient Civilizations to Speech and Drama)

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LiveBinders: An interesting way to share online content

While link hopping the other day, I stumbled across this little Web tool – with some interesting potential for the classroom.

Basically, it allows you to create tabbed pages that resemble a digital standard accordion binder:

In each tab, you can upload or link to content that is thematically related to your binder’s topic – up to a total of 100MB per account (this is the free version – it’s still in Beta, and they will eventually have a pay version with more bells and whistles).

Consider this example:

Here, the teacher has created a binder for students in a social studies class.  Each tab covers some aspect of the unit, and – within the tab – you can even have subsections if you choose.  Some tabs contain images, links, and videos… others can contain handouts and guides. 

What do you do with the binders you create?  You can store them on your digital “shelves”  What is a shelf, you ask? A shelf is where you can save any binders you find interesting – whether created by you or others – making it easy to access the content that most interests you.You can then embed either binders or entire shelves into your webpage.

 Creating a binder is easy, using their fairly intuitive interface (the first item on your shelf when you register is a how-to manual that walks you through the process).  You can quickly embed webpages, images, videos, sound files, text documents… of course, with the 100 MB limit, you’ll want to use more links than actual uploaded files – put the videos on YouTube and the docs / presentations on Google Docs and you’ll save yourself a ton of space…

So, how is this different from just creating a regular webpage or blog, and why should you use it in your classroom?  At first, I wasn’t sure I’d want to incorporate this – after all, there are always new things bubbling up, and many of them really don’t add a whole lot to the table.  However, as I played around with the site and searched through the content, I found that it has some potential:

  • Within a tab, you can embed a live webpage, with text next to or beneath it – this allows you to guide students to the facets of the webpage which you deem important, or to post questions for them to answer as they explore the page.  
  • The new Livebinder tool allows you to add / change binders on the fly, with a single click in your browser, making it very convenient to update your work and share it.
  • There’s a new Ipad app, so LiveBinder works quite well with the tablets that many of our students will be using.
  • The format is more visually appealing than a standard page of links – with a caveat: I saw a number of binders where the author was a bit excessive in the use of sub-tabs – so, underneath the main tab, I’d find three lines of sub-page titles – visually confusing and entirely overwhelming.  SO, when used judiciously, it can be a nice way to draw students in.
  • Looking through the binders created by others, I’ve found they cover a wide range of topics – with some careful searching, you can find some very good resource binders for your students or yourself. 
  • By embedding a binder into your webpage, you can create handout or research collections that are well organized and easily accessible, without cluttering your main page with links.

Overall, I think this tool can have a place in classrooms – when used well.  As with any online content, a binder only as good as its author – so make sure to really cull through a binder before you decide to add it to your page or shelf and, when you create one, make sure to keep up with the content!