It was tough to have to only choose three sessions from all the great ones offered at the DEN 6th Birthday Bash in Philadelphia on June 25. One of the ones I decided to attend was Symbaloo, since I had created an account a while back as part of a DEN special promotion but had never found the time to really experiment with the tool. Daniela Bolzmann and Kimmie Fortelny from team Symbaloo were in from California for ISTE and also to run this session to give an overview of the tool and discuss ways educators are using SymbalooEDU in the classroom.
First there was Symbaloo; then there was SymbalooEDU. The EDU version is barely a year old and came about when the team realized that educators were using Symbaloo in their classrooms and finding it to be a valuable tool. According to Daniela’s post of June 24 on the SymbalooEDU blog, it was a video created by one of Randy Hollinger’s seventh grade students called My PLE explaining all the digital tools used in her personal learning environment that got the team to seek feedback from Randy and other educators and start the ball rolling on the EDU version.
Randy and his wife Amy are presenting at ISTE on Wednesday, June 29, on the topic of PLEs and project based learning.
My wheels are turning for the coming school year just with the idea of setting up a webmix for each grade I teach (third through eighth) with that webmix set as their homepage with all the links we use regularly. Such a timesaver!
Also at our session attendees were urged to become “Symbaloo Certified” and were told that the certification process is being revamped. There was a long line of educators adding their names to the sign up list! Why might you want to get certified? According to the team:
- Badge to put on website/blog/wiki/etc.
- Heads up before public as to new features
- Swag to pass out during trainings
- Listed on our website as an ‘Ambassador’ available to train – Coming Soon
- Possible Spotlight Educator on our Blog
Even if you are not interested in going for certification, the certification webmix is a perfect set of tutorials for all the things you need to know about using SymbalooEDU, broken into small chunks. Take a look at the certification webmix.
Over the last few months other DEN bloggers have posted their thoughts on SymbalooEDU, such as:
I still like how I can build a webmix for each content area. The ability to post/link/save multi-media on a webmix is very nice and useful. I like how my students can access this from home, the library, the lab, etc. I know that I have just scratched the surface of what I can do with Symbaloo when it comes to my students. (Eric Strommer April 3)
I like the customizable center widget also, as ESL and bi-lingual students can make connections with the translator too This is a little more user friendly for younger students as you can customize the widget face. There are endless possibilities to what we can do to differentiate using this tool. (Joli Brock)
The students love being able to go to ONE site to get all of the URL’s that they need to complete their computer assignments instead of having to bring a notebook with them to class. (Sarah Thompson May 9)
Though a basic personal account is free, the teacher pricing plan allows for a teacher account and 50 student accounts. I would have liked to try out that aspect of the site and create student accounts, but my teacher account appears to be broken. Although I received 3 emails from SymbalooEDU regarding my account and how to begin the certification process, when I use that same email to try to log in, it tells me there is no such email. (I was assured it would be looked into). So for now, without any hands on experience myself, I am relying on the information that others have already shared on this tool.
One thing that would be awesome that appears can’t be done yet, is to actually embed the webmix itself into an existing page such as a blog or a wiki. Other pages and documents, and even RSS feeds can be embedded into the tiles of a webmix, and you can even embed a webmix into a tile on a webmix, but right now the only way you can share any webmixes you create seems to be by URL. I can see that in a space such as we have in the DEN blog, the webmix would have to be reduced in size to fit, though, and maybe the visual effectiveness would be lost at a reduced size. The screenshot above is a perfect example of how the webmix could be less than useful at a reduced size.
I am hoping to take advantage of the Symbaloo addon for Firefox and Chrome that will allow you to click a button to immediately add a site to your existing webmix. (So please, Team Symbaloo, fix my broken account!)
Follow Team SymbalooEDU on Twitter: @SymbalooEDU
Do you have a webmix you’d like to share? Please do!