Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 14 - LiveBinders

scheme for binders
By prallin
When I was in the classroom, I kept binders for every unit I taught.  Bulging, tattered remnants of those resources fill cardboard boxes in my garage. Fortunately there is no need for reality TV intervention.  I've started weeding out things and eventually will free up space so we can use the exercise equipment they currently surround.  Best of all, with today's tool the need to buy 4" binders in bulk no longer exists. LiveBinders, a free web 2.0 tool, provides a way to organize your collection of resources (websites, PDFs, videos, etc.), tag what you've created, store and present on "the cloud." And the neat thing, your teaching neighbor can borrow a binder and you never have to worry about not getting it back!

In an effort to hit as many features as possible, I decided to bullet what I've found useful the last two years as a LiveBinder user:
  • The site is full of screencasts and video tutorials to get you started on curating content.
  • You can rearrange materials easily in a logical order using tabs and subtabs.  
  • It is easy to update your existing binders.
  • You can personalize the appearance of your binders.
  • Using the Edit Menu you can insert text.  I find this really useful and you can see it at work in this binder. (You just have to accept my nerdiness when you see the binder.)
  • You can comment and rate other users' binders (on a side note, this is a practice we need to be more deliberate about in our 2.0 world).
  • Your binders can be private or public.  It's one of the decisions you make when you first create a binder, but you can always go back and change the setting.
  • You can search by public binders, by author, or by the Education category.  Use the search box on the upper right corner of the page. If you want to test out searching by author, I recommend entering "steven.anderson".  His "shelf" will come up.  I learned about QR Codes using one of his resources. 
  • After you search binders and find one you L*O*V*E, you can copy it to your bookshelf and edit it to fit your needs provided the author made it copyable (I always do).  So those of you who wanted more resources on Skype such as how to find partner classrooms, check out this binder.  Even if you decide not to copy it, you can add it to your shelf (see the bottom left hand corner of the screen for options).
  • When you are ready to share your LiveBinder, you have options.  Send a link by email, tweet it out, like it on Facebook, or present it using the Presentation button which opens a nice clean browser.  Remember those QR codes I learned about using a LiveBinder? I created some this summer for the LiveBinders I used at the eLearning conference. It was an easy, paperless way to share the resources.
  • Another option for sharing is to embed your bookshelf or a selected binder into your website or blog. The exception to this feature is WordPress blogs, but it works great with Blogger, Google Sites and Weebly.  The embedded LiveBinder below was created by the LiveBinder Team for new and returning users who want to learn how to maximize the potential of this tool.

    LiveBinders Tips and Tricks

  • LiveBinders can serve as a bookmarking tool if you add a LiveBinder It toolbar to your browser (I tried this but went back to Diigo for my primary bookmarking).  I found this most useful when I was researching for a unit that I knew I would be sharing out. 
  • You can collaborate with others on a binder, but there are some limitations to this feature.
  • The LiveBinders support team actually answers your help requests (and in a timely manner).
  • One feature that I should point out is that you can automatically fill a binder using a Google search. Personally I have not found that useful; however, I could see some teachable moments being generated.
  • One of the newest features is that users can build multiple shelves.  Imagine having a shelf where you and your colleagues can share materials, a shelf just for your students and one for their families....

You're sure to find more ideas sifting through the Cybrary Man's cyber catalog of Educational Web Sites.  He offers a page devoted to LiveBinders.  I found what students have curated using the tool very inspiring.

It seems I'm always recommending blogs, and today is not any different.  Tuesdays with Karen recently shared her excitement about LiveBinders by connecting it to TrapperKeepers of days gone by.

For those of you who use Twitter, the LiveBinder ladies Tina and Barbara are very responsive. They love to learn how educators are using the tool and will promote your binder.  You can also go to to follow the conversation.

Get Started with LiveBinders:
1. Click the Sign Up link to get this window.

2. Create a username and password
3. Enter your email address (you can opt out of getting mail but they need this in case you forget your username and/or password--hey, it happens!)
4. Check out the User Agreements and then click the Sign Up button.

Your Assignment:
Once you have opened an account and explored the featured binders, take a look at your classroom or office shelves, file cabinet or perhaps your digital bookmarks and envision how you could reorganize the material using a LiveBinder.  Share how you could use this tool or better yet, create a LiveBinder and share it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 13 - Diigo

So, in the spirit of open disclosure, I was not excited about yesterday's topic and struggled with how to bring relevance to a tool that I'm not crazy about.  Don't get me wrong, there's value in having a convenient way to locate copyright free images, sounds, etc. but Search Creative Commons did not get me least not in the same way I am about today's tool.  Diigo (Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff), pronounced DEE-go, offers a number of functions for users to annotate and share favorite web resources.

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

As you see in the introductory video, Diigo started out as a basic online bookmarking tool and has evolved into one of education's most valuable tools for collaborative research. Last week I was fortunate to meet and learn from Bill Ferriter, blogger and co-author of Teaching the iGeneration.  His book includes a chapter on "Managing Information in the 21st Century" with an informative section on "Social Bookmarking as a Research Tool."  The publisher, Solution Tree, offers online reproducibles that I urge you to check out.

Maybe you’re not quite ready to dive into Diigo with your students. That’s okay.  I primarily use Diigo for creating lists in my library and for learning (I joined a group with a shared interest so every morning I get a digest of their bookmarks). Get your feet wet by creating an account in Diigo and joining the EVSC eLearning group, where you can add a favorite resource or piece of content.  If you download the Diigo toolbar, practice annotating with sticky notes, the highlighter and comments.

This LiveBinder from last summer's eLearning Conference poster session Diggin' Diggo offers further support.  Three tabs make up the binder: My 21st Century Bookcase (an overview of the tool and its features), Build Your Own Library (this section will show you how to request an educator account and create groups), and Collaborating in Class (a collection of resources from the educator perspective).
Diggin' Diigo

Ready to open a Diigo account? It takes just a couple of steps when you use the option below and select Google. 

A new window will open.  Click "Allow" and complete the verification. 

Your Assignment: Diigo is not the only social bookmarking tool out there (it just happens to be this ICATS' favorite).  Are you currently using another tool? If so, share what features you appreciate in that option (I have friends who swear by Delicious).  If you are a current Diigo user, what tips would you share with new members?  If you are still relying on your browser's Bookmarks and Favorites, which are tied to your machine, create an account and test out the possibilities of being on the cloud and able to access your resources from anywhere! What potential do you see for this tool in your classroom or work setting?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 12 - Search Creative Commons

Image licensed under Creative Commons by Will Lion

I loved this image depicting Kapor's metaphor for information overload when I first saw it at the start of the one-to-one program in the high schools. Over the last two years, I’ve seen it appear in numerous blogs and presentation; most often without attribution to the creator.  If you’re a researcher, writer or creative person of any kind, you’ll know how time consuming it is to track down permission to use the images, music, etc. you want to include in your work.  So often we opt to skip that step, justifying that we're just using it for school or that others before us have copied and reused it.  Once we find ourselves forming that habit, it is difficult to change our behavior.  Yet, when our students consume images, sounds and other information we believe they need to cite their sources when representing another’s work or idea as their own.  How do we align our beliefs with our habits?  One solution is to create original visual and audio elements, and yet this is not always possible.  In that case, the next time you or your students are searching for a creative work to include in your product, use advanced searches that filter out content by copyright privileges.  While most search engines have advanced settings, Creative Commons offers a search tool that makes this quite convenient. 

Your search for images, videos, or audio clips can be refined by usage rights and by media host using This tool offers you the choice of ten different media hosts including Europeana (media), Flickr (images), Fotomedia (image), Google (web), Google Images (images), Jamendo (music), Open Clip Art Library (images), SpinXpress (media), Wikimedia Commons (media) and YouTube (video).
Step 1 Start a Creative Commons Search
There are two ways to access the Creative Commons Search. First, go directly to by typing the URL into your web browser.  Your other option is to go to the website and then click on the “Find CC-licensed works” button under the Explore section.

Step 2 Enter your search term
Enter keywords for your search in the field at the top of the page.

Step 3
Check the appropriate filters for your search

To filter material based on the type of use you want to make, go to the box at the top right hand side of the search query field. This gives you two options “use for commercial purposes” and “modify, adapt or build upon.” You can select one, both or none of the boxes.  Checking both boxes will restrict your finds to those that are under a No Derivative Works license and can be used for commercial use, whereas if you don’t select either of the boxes you will get materials under all of the Creative Common licenses. For most classroom searches you would only need to check the second filter.

At this point it might be useful to sort out some of the jargonIt’s not as complicated as it sounds. Creative Commons licenses divide content into categories, allowing people to use content as long as they agree to the terms. There are four license terms, which are listed below, but you can find these paired together to create a set of options.  For obvious reasons, you will not find a work licensed as No Derivatives and Share-alike. 

Attribution (by) – the original author/creator must be credited.
Non-Commercial (nc) - the work must not be used for commercial purposes.
No Derivatives (nd) – the work must not be modified.
Share-alike (sa) – any derivative works must be licensed under the same Creative Commons license.

Step 4 Choose the right type of material
You can further restrict the type of content you are looking for by selecting the media host. The Creative Commons Search Portal gives you access to ten different search engines and each has its own tab on the main page. Clicking on your choice will pull up the search terms you entered in step 2.  By selecting Google, you can search multiple types of material.

Your Assignment
Share how you can promote and/or model digital citizenship and responsibility for ethical use of digital information including respect for copyright, intellectual property and the appropriate documentation of sources.
You don't have to go to the extremes that eLearning coach, Julie Randolph took on Halloween.  She arrived at Lincoln School clad as a pirate to reinforce her lesson on copyright laws.  She shared this site created by eighth graders in Kansas

Other resources worthy of your time:
Sue Waters of Edublogs shared this
Teaching Students about Creative Commons and Appropriate Use of Images

I highly recommend checking out this wiki: Teaching about Creative Commons
Richard Byrne’s blog “Free Technology for Teachers” offers this post Six Resources for Learning about Fair Use

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 11 - Boolify

Welcome Back!

Today's Challenge assignment is on Boolify!

"Librarians, teachers and parents have told us how hard it is for students to understand web searching. Boolify helps students bridge that gap by visualizing the process and letting students interact with the abstract concept behind the search process in a tangible and hands-on way."

Boolify is a K-12 audience search tool which helps train people on the use of the Boolean Search Operators "and", "not" & "or" for standard internet searches. Boolify combines these search operators with a visual jigsaw puzzle approach. By adding and taking away puzzle pieces that represent search words and each of these operators, the students can visually see the effect that they have on the results of a particular web search.

Take a look at the following video.

As an added benefit, since Boolify is intended for K-12 audiences it runs on strict filters to help restrict inappropriate websites.

There are a couple of lessons on the website that are available in Google Docs. These lessons are straight forward and basic, but are good at showing the basic functions of the tool.

Boolify has been promoted by several sites and blogs, here are a few:

Note: Boolify recently underwent a couple of changes listed below.
1. Boolify now uses the search engine Bing instead of Google.
2. The number of results is no longer listed for the search.
For more info on the changes click here.

Your assignment:
1. Navigate to
2. Press all the buttons and try it out. No sign-ins, no accounts, no downloads...
3. Comment on your take-aways...