Internet is a wild, wild place, full of chaos. We have always craved for a way to organize it, somehow to be able to harness the powers and ideas there. Such power to organize is especially important in education and teaching. The ability to clearly
link, list and share resources, in a way in which they are accessible to students and teachers alike, is a crucial feature for every educator.
Let me then introduce you to Urlist , a web service that allows you to do exactly that: organize and share resources in a clean, easily navigable way.
What started as a simple web-based repository for bookmarks is now a versatile tool in education. It is easy to learn and requires no special training. It is as clear to understand for students as it is for teachers.
Urlist already has a large community of teachers and students that contribute new lists of resources every day. Ranging from ERLC materials through Twitter for educators to ways to engage students in social media it is already a valuable repository of information.
The features for educators and students that can be used in Urlist can be roughly divided into two categories:
- collecting the lists of materials (historical sources, photo sources etc.)
- tools listings (footnote managers, on-line dictionaries, databases etc.)
- research (for example: section-organized links for footnotes)
- finding and relisting interesting resources from other lists
- preparing resources to use in classroom (creating reading-lists for next class; maps to be used during lesson; clips to be seen; no more ‘I didn’t note that down!’ comments in class!)
- sharing and discovering new tools and methods from and with other teachers (like this fantastic list Facebook for Teachers )
- create collaborative lists of resources with other teachers/researchers
- embedding lists of blogs, websites and articles on your blog, personal website, internet forum, twitter account
The possibilities of Urlist may increase greatly with time. It can be used to create repositories of articles from websites like JSTOR , Archive.org or Project Muse or bibliographies combining websites, internet resources, Google Books and search results form library on-line catalogues. It can also serve as a manual or collection of manuals and introductions to unfamiliar technologies (an example would be the wonderful collection of SMART Board resources ).
Sharing results of web-research usually results in a clutter of links posted one after another on skype or via email. It is difficult to comprehend and almost always something goes missing. Then somebody adds a link, removes another and at the end the usefulness of such sharing is minimal. Even worse if we want to send our students a list of webpages they should visit before the next class or articles they should read for a project that are accessible through web based repositories (like the aforementioned JSTOR). It all quickly becomes a mess.
Thanks to Urlist we can organize them clearly, be sure that everybody received the same list Moreover, a live-update embedding feature, makes sure that when we update the list it will automatically be updated on our blog. The ‘Play’ feature lets you visit all the resources on a particular list in the order provided by the creator. this might be useful if you don’t want to miss anything.
There is still a room for new features of course. The new Discovery section looks promising and might be a good source of inspiration; the search is still in beta and will hopefully be refined with time. The website changes its ‘focus’ from time to time. Currently, as it happens, its ‘Social Media and Education’.
To sum up some tips to make most of Urlist as a tool for students and teachers.
Explore. Lots of useful resources are already there. You can find many other educators sharing loads of interesting stuff.
Create networks. Invite others, create collaborative lists, which will allow your students to engage with the material. Creating a list of web resources is a brilliant idea for a project, a great alternative to the worn-out ‘write an article on wikipedia’ homework.
Share. Share as much as possible. Easy-to-use short link and embedding mechanism makes it a shame if you don’t use it. It also allows you to run Urlist ‘in the background’ of your already existing projects.