Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Symbaloo, a website that states that it allows users to "access [their] bookmarks anywhere", presents a unique educational opportunity. The educational iteration of this website is geared toward teachers sharing information with students and students communicating with each other.

The basic function of the program is to function as a web-based catalog of links, bookmarks, content, and the like attached to individual logins. Using this service, the non-educational version of which bills itself as an alternative to iGoogle, it's possible to easily share online resources and access them from any web-capable machine, provided you have the account information. This makes it that much easier for users to work efficiently at home, on the go, at work, and in the classroom.

In a classroom with substantial web involvement, this is an invaluable tool. For research assignments, teachers can provide students with resources to aid their search; in group projects, the ability to directly share internet content with peers is invaluable, particularly when students don't have ample opportunity to meet in person.

As an educator, particularly as an aspiring history teacher, one use I can see would be allowing a great deal more student-driven learning. For example, it is my opinion that, while history obviously has the linear element of time to serve as an organizational yardstick, there need not be any particular emphasis on adhering strictly to this framework. Using Symbaloo or a similar site, it would be possible to teach events during (for example) the 1900s by posting links to resources covering different events, such as the Theodore Roosevelt presidency, the aftereffects of the Spanish-American War, and the Triangle Fire. Each link could be clustered with sub-links detailing issues related to the main topic or providing additional exposition, and students could simply be set loose on this page, going through events in order of interest or following up on particularly interesting bits of information. this would be an engaging, effective way to have students obtain information they can use to gain an effective understanding of the general tone of the era, and how these events affect their lives today.

For students doing work on projects, the ability to share information in this way is incredibly useful. First, it makes it easy for students to find resources located at school on computers at home to work on assignments or projects. Beyond that, it greatly eases group collaboration. Instead of having to direct group members to each new item or bit of information, students can share discoveries easily and painlessly. Furthermore, if they're presented with a setup like I discussed above about educator applications, they could modify the initial resources, adding new helpful tools or moving less helpful ones to the periphery. The ability to present a large quantity of information without applying one's own interpretation makes this an incredibly useful tool both for individual and group work.

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