If you have worked with any technology tools over the past 10 years, you inevitably discover that some tools stay and some go away. I’ve used many tools over the years and have always tried to use those that have a higher probability of being around for a few years. Why take the time to set up a new account, learn how to use the tool, share it with others, and then find out it’s going the way of the horn book. So, before investing time and sometimes money in a new software tool, I investigate who is behind it and what their track record has been in the past. Companies that have been around for a while and have stood the test of time are the ones I gravitate toward. However, even companies like Google aren’t perfect. They constantly are updating and eliminating products. Some of the Google tools I’ve used that are either no longer being used or are soon going to the dumpster are: Google Notebook, Google Pages, and the pages and files features in Google Groups. What should you do when a tool you absolutely love and have been using is being discontinued?
First of all–know that this is a normal occurrence in a rapidly evolving field. Tools that seemed to offer incredible efficiency and power can be updated or replaced with an even better tool. Inevitably you will be forced to relinquish your use of certain tools and move on to other ones. It’s kind of like giving up on a relationship–you hate to see it go, but you know it’s probably a good thing.
So today, I want to write about a really neat tool that has been around for a while but has been improved to include more options and opportunities for collaboration and sharing. It’s called Google Bookmarks with Lists, where you can favorite websites in Google Bookmarks and then create quick lists to organize these bookmarks. But one of the best features of this tool is its ability to be shared and edited with other participants–just like a Google Doc, for instance. In fact, the sharing interface will look very familiar to those who are using Google Docs.
To get started, watch this YouTube overview of Google Bookmarks with Lists:
Then, get started by creating your own list using Google Bookmarks. I’m using it to collect, share, and encourage addition of new bookmarks from my “Introduction to Educational Technology” class. The topic of the Bookmark List is “Professional Learning Network (PLN) Tools,” with the purpose of compiling a list of technology tools to enable and sustain a PLN. At this point in my students’ careers, they are beginning to discover that the technology world is very large and maybe even sometimes intimidating. This list can help provide them with a rich resource, so they can begin their journey of creating and sustaining a PLN. They can add and edit resources and even comment on them. It’s another social network of sorts and immerses them immediately into this fluid and interactive environment.
If you want to see what my Professional Learning Network Tools list looks like, it’s open and public: https://www.google.com/bookmarks/l#!threadID=GlB1m_ef29oU%2FBDQlWDQoQrtiG4rol
In the meantime, let me know what you think and what ideas you have for using Google Bookmarks with Lists in your classroom.
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