OK – so I haven’t been very prolific recently on this blog but with my son Toby due in a week’s time and my 14 month old daughter Zoe to keep me busy as well, I guess some of my online life has taken a back seat
Still, here is an article I wrote recently for a magazine that looks at two different tools for creating live collections of websites. They are both good tools for different reasons though I probably lean more to Live Bookmarks.
Organising the web
In education, there are many times you need to organise content from the internet. You might be creating a bank of websites for the students to access around a topic (or be asking them to do this), categorising useful teacher websites to be able to easily find them again, sharing great websites with other educators, or creating activities for students to complete as they move through different websites. Bookmarking sites on your own computer may help you to find them again but it doesn’t allow for many of the other functions.
There are online tools that allow you or your students to build up link resource banks that can be shared easily. Many people know about tools such as Delicious or Diigo for online bookmarking . However, there are now new tools that give you live versions of each bookmarked site rather than just a static link in a list. This article is going to focus on two such tools; LiveBinders and Jog the Web. Both are excellent options and have slightly different focuses.
The name of this tool pretty much sums up the way this tool works. You can set up an online ‘binder’ around a topic of your choice. Within each binder, you can have tabs containing live versions of websites. You can also create subtabs within each tab so you can break a tab topic down into subtopics. Below is an example of a LiveBinder I have set up to share Web 2.0 tools. You can visit this LiveBinder at this address: http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=26329
Live Binders subtopic
The live versions of the sites that load within the tabs or subtabs can be navigated through without leaving the Live Binder environment or you can click on the hyperlink at the top of the window to visit the site directly.
Clicking on ‘Edit Menu’ while working within Live Binders gives you a number of extra options. You can upload a file into a tab or subtab, change the position of a tab or subtab, insert media from sites such as Flickr, YouTube or Delicious links, change the layout of a tab or subtab so that you can include your own text or content, and change the properties of the binder including the title, description and colour scheme.
Text layout options
A LiveBinder can also be added to while surfing the net by adding their bookmarklet to the toolbar of your browser. Simply click on the bookmarklet (called LiveBinder It ) and you will be asked to select one of your binders to add the site to or be given the option to add it to a new binder that you can create on the fly.
Finally, sharing a LiveBinder is very straightforward. You can send people an email with the link to a specific binder or embed a visual link to the LiveBinder within a blog or wiki page.
Jog the Web
Jog the Web has less customisation than LiveBinders but what it does, it does very well making this another useful tool.
You can create ‘steps’ within a ‘Jog’ which are basically live versions of the sites listed in a sequential order down the left side of the Jog. You can either use the arrows to move through the sites in order or click on each site listed on the left.
You can add text to the top of the live website so that you can give information and instructions related to the site. I do think that the interface on Jog the Web does this function a little better than LiveBinders which is why it lends itself particularly well to building web challenges or guided tours of sites.
You can also choose to add your own content pages as a step within a jog. You have different layout options for these pages and the page editor gives you lots of customisation options within the page. You can even edit the html so I was able to embed content such as Slideshare presentations.
Jog your own content
Embedding Slideshare presentations
If you are using Firefox, you can install an extension that allows you to add to a Jog while browsing the net. As yet, there is no support for other browsers.
Firefox Jog Extension
Finally, you can share your Jog easily by giving people the URL to visit the Jog. The embed option creates a ready made hyperlink but does not give you a visual object to embed on your wiki or blog. You can access the URL from the final page called the ‘End Page’.
There are a couple of downsides in that there is quite a bit of advertising on the Comment and End pages which are added to every Jog created in a free account. You can also not control the comments that are added to a Jog, which can become an issue if people leave inappropriate comments. Overall though, I think this would be a handy tool to use in the classroom.