First, for all of the new teachers at Oak and Sherwood…welcome to Shrewsbury! We are the Technology Teacher Leaders (TTLs) for Oak and try our best to send out “tech tips” that we think will be helpful in the classroom. Tech Tips from the last few years can all be found on our blog. If you have any tech-related questions, please feel free to send us an email!
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 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.
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.
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)