Teaching Tools

## Solving the Curation Equation

My latest post for NEO offers advice on how to develop a workflow to help you compile the hundreds of teaching ideas you gather from social media and other digital sources. Solving the Curation Equation: Efficient Methods for Collecting Teaching Resources relates some of the secrets I use to save myself time when I bookmark those resources — and when I need to find them later. Though my current favorite tool is Wakelet, you can easily adapt the suggestions in this article to any tool you use. Speaking of Wakelet, here is my page of public Wakelet lists to which I’ve just added “Books for Maker Ed/Design Thinking/STEAM.”

A couple of specific articles that you may want to read are: Podcast Pedagogy (which pairs well with this recent list from Common Sense) and From Normal to Better: Using What We’ve Learned to Improve Education. The latter article was written last August, and I think it’s a good reminder of the improvements we can made in education based on what we learned last year instead of returning to status quo.

## Digital Curation Step #4 – Learn a New Code

Okay.  So let’s recap here.  This week we are talking about how to overcome your digital hoarding addiction.  Here’s what has happened so far:

• Step #1 – Admit You Have a Problem
• Step #2 – Restore Sanity
• Step #3 – Examine Your Past Errors (such as thinking one tool would solve all of your problems or thinking another tool won’t help you at all.) My problem was that I couldn’t “Pocket” screen shots b/c they need to have a link.

For Step #4 you are going to learn a new code.  Don’t worry; it’s easy…

IFTTT

IF This, Then That

IFTTT is THE essential tool.  It’s the  Leatherman of the digital world. In brief, it will let you connect practically anything to anything.

*Note: These steps might be easier to do on a computer than a mobile device.  No worries, though.  You only have to do them once.

1. Go to “Channels” and search for either iOS Photos or Android Photos.
2. Click on the appropriate one.  You will need to give information to connect your Photos to IFTTT.
3. Go back to “Channels” and search for Bitly, and connect that, too (If you did Step #3 yesterday, then you should have a Bit.ly account already.) Connect it.
4. Go back to “Channels” and search for Pocket.  Connect that one as well.
5. Next, click on “My Recipes” at the top.
6. Click on “Create a Recipe.”
7. Your first recipe will be

Of course, if you have an Android device, choose that instead of iOS. And this, my friends, is how confident I am that you will get IFTTT right away.

I’m not going to show you how to make the recipe. 😉

8.  You aren’t done.  You’ve basically just told IFTTT to make a public hyperlink for any screenshot you take on your mobile device.  Now, you need to tell IFTTT to send the link from Bit.ly to Pocket.

Now, you’re done.  I do need to warn you to give IFTTT a little time to rumble through these new recipes.  After about 15 minutes, try taking a screenshot.  Don’t expect it to show up on your Pocket list right away.  It will probably take another 10-15 minutes.

But when it does, you will see how super cool IFTTT is.  From now, every screenshot you take will be added to Pocket for you.

It will look something like this on your Pocket list (you probably won’t have a bulldog in your screenshot, though).

Now if you’ve followed instructions on these 4 posts, you should have everything streamlining into Pocket, where you can then search, tag, and curate to your heart’s content.

If you want, check out the other Channels on IFTTT.  You can send things to Evernote if you prefer – or even Google Drive.  I’m not claiming my way is the only way to gather info effectively.

It’s just the only way that has preserved my sanity 😉

## Digital Curation Step #3 – Examine Past Errors

Click on these links if you missed them: Step #1 and Step #2.

As I mentioned yesterday, I got thrown a curve in my quest to conquer my digital hoarding addiction.  I thought the Pocket app would solve my problems by putting everything I wanted to save from Tweets and other online sources in one searchable list – until I noticed that I wasn’t always given the option to “Send to Pocket.”  It took me awhile to see my error.  If a Tweet didn’t have a link, I couldn’t send it to Pocket.

Now, I know there are other ways to save things.  I could, for example, take a screen shot.  But that would mean I wouldn’t have everything in one place – which is critical for me.

So, I did a bit more research and discovered a possible “workaround.”  What if I could take a screen shot, and automatically give it a link?  Then Pocket would accept it.  But that would still require me having to find the link and send it to Pocket 🙁

Unless…

Ah ha! I found a workaround for the workaround!  Perfect!

Now, you’re going to have to have a little faith here.  For Step #3, I’m going to tell you to create a Bit.ly account.  Don’t worry.  Like Pocket, Bit.ly is also free.  Perhaps you already have a Bit.ly account, and you are wondering how  in the world this is going to help streamline your digital curation.

That will be revealed tomorrow in Step #4 – learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior or, for short, learning a new code 😉

## Digital Curation Step #2 – Restore Sanity

So, in yesterday’s post, I admitted that I have a digital hoarding problem that is way out of control. Think of it as storing the food in your pantry all over the house and then trying to remember where you hid the marshmallows.

I decided to undertake the task of creating a more streamlined process for saving the great articles and ideas I collect from all over the web.  You can see the criteria in my last post.

Step #1 was admitting I have a problem.  Step #2 was to restore my sanity by looking for someone who knows more than me – which is pretty much anyone on the internet.

I Googled “digital content curation” and found tons of advice. Unfortunately, most of it was for marketing purposes.  However, I found many articles about using “Pocket” as a read-later utility.  It is available as an app and/or bookmarklet for any device.  You can find more information here.

With Pocket, I can save an awesome Tweet on my iPhone by tapping on the three circles at the bottom of a Tweet and choosing to “Send to Pocket.”  I can also do this on the browser and Flipboard.   (The Pocket website gives you easy-peasy directions for connecting other apps to Pocket.)  If I am on my home computer, I can do the same by using the Pocket bookmarklet in my Chrome browser.

Whenever I want to see what I’ve saved, I can look at my Pocket app on my mobile devices or my computer.  This is what part of my Pocket list currently looks like:

Note that there is a Search function in the top right (magnifying glass) so I can look for anything I saved if I remember a key word from the title or the source.  On computers, you can tag items as you save them – or even afterwards.  Unfortunately, you can’t do this on mobile devices.  However, I can go back and tag entries later if I want.

I also like that I can click on any entry that came from Twitter and see the original Tweet.  This allows me to give credit to the person who shared it.

Now, my sanity has been restored.  Everything goes to one place.

However…

there was one little sticking point with Pocket that was bothering me.

Pocket only saves links.  So, if a Tweet does not include a link I can’t save it.  This is a problem.  Often people will say great things or include pictures that I want to refer to later.  Without a link, Pocket is useless.

This problem threatened to throw my sanity back out of whack – but I decided to go to my “higher power” one more time and see what the internet advised me.

I found a “workaround” that fixed this problem.  It adds a little work to the back end initially but will stay true to my “no more than 2 steps” criteria once I lay the groundwork.

Interested?

Read tomorrow’s post for how I examined my past errors to arrive at a solution for my digital hoarding addiction!

## Digital Curation Step #1 – Admit You Are a Hoarder

I’ve Scooped, Flipped, Bookmarked, Pinned, and Evernoted. My favorite hobby is collecting information.  In fact, I can pretty much brag that I am GREAT at searching for information and saving it.  The problem is that I am not good at remembering where I saved it.

“Did I save that article in Flipboard or on one of my Google Sheets?  No, I think I Pinned it,” I mumble. Often.

After I spent 20 minutes looking for an article that I knew I had saved on whether or not I am more like Sherlock Holmes or John Watson (Sherlock Holmes, surprisingly), and realizing I could have found it in 3 seconds by using Google, I had to admit I had a problem.

I am a digital hoarder.

I decided to spend this summer looking for a way to streamline the digital content I collect.  Here is my criteria:

• One place to store everything
• Accessible on any device and in any web browser, Twitter, Flipboard and other places from which I gather info
• No more than 2 steps to save
• Taggable
• Searchable
• Maintains the source information (especially if obtained on Twitter)
• Free
• Unlimited Storage

It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but I actually found a way to hoard more information – yet become more organized.

I’ll explain more in Step #2 tomorrow.

In the meantime, go ahead and feel free to join the Digital Hoarders Anonymous Program.  The first step – admit you have a problem 😉

## Flipboard for Educators

Flipboard is an app that is available at Google Play and on the iTunes Store.  It is basically a curation tool, allowing you to collect feeds from the websites, blogs, tweets, etc… that interest you, and saving each as a “magazine” on your device.

I have used Flipboard for awhile, and have done a couple of posts on it, including this one that offered some recommendations of educational sites that could be “flipped.” If your students have tablets, Flipboard can be a valuable learning tool for them.

Recently, Flipboard has added the ability to view your magazines on the web, so it is not even necessary to have the app to read them (though you do need the app to create an account and make your own magazines.)

Flipboard also recently posted an article on its blog called, “Flipboard for Educators.”  It gives many examples of how Flipboard can be useful in the classroom, as well as a few resources. If you are a Flipboard beginner, Cool Cat Teacher, Vicki Davis, has a great starter post for you here.

But what I see as really promising about Flipboard is the ability to use it to create your own, specific magazines.  One way to think of it is like taking one of your Pinterest boards and publishing a beautiful e-periodical with pages you can turn on your tablet or computer.

For teachers, this opens a whole new option for differentiation and personalized learning.  You can use the Flipboard bookmarklet on your computer to “flip” any web site into a magazine of your creation.  For example, if I want my students to have a magazine of Current Events news that is tailored toward their age group (rather than send them to a particular news site), I can find articles that relate to them and create a magazine that is a collection of those articles. I currently have 9 of my own magazines, along with the 20 to which I already subscribe.  (One of my public magazines is “Augmented Reality in Education.”)

Students can also create their own magazines, and collaborate on them by inviting each other as contributors.  This might be a great option for a Genius Hour project, or any students who are working together on a research project. Also, if your students are bloggers, it would be great to collect all of their blogs, or posts on specific topics, into one magazine.

The video embedded below gives specific instructions on how to create customized magazines, as well as how to make them public or private.  I found this resource in this article by Adam Renfro, where he also gives advice on other content that would do well in an educational setting. And don’t forget, any of the public magazines can be viewed online as long as you have the link.  This makes it accessible to anyone who has a computer, rather than just students with tablets or smartphones.

The only cautions that I would give teachers who are using this tool are: make sure if you “flip” a web article into a magazine while you are at home that it is not hosted on a site that will be blocked at school, be aware of adding sites to a magazine that may include questionable advertising on the page, and remember that flash-dependent sites cannot be viewed on iDevices.

Let me know if you have an educational Flipboard magazine that you would like to share.  I am always looking for more things to read!