Enhancing LiveBinders

The ladies of LiveBinders, Tina and Barbara, have announced recent updates to enhance the ability of this great web 2.0 tool. The enhancements have improved searching for educational resources (education based binders), the long awaited functionality of managing uploaded files, and providing insight into the

methods used to secure your LiveBinders files. Here are the enhancement details:

  • Search for education resources by grade level or topic. To do this access the “Featured LiveBinders” tab and look under “LiveBinders Categories”. Then select “More Education”

Search for Education Resources

  • Manage your uploaded files. Click on the “My Binders” tab then select “Uploaded Files.” After making that selection users will select the specific files to remove if no longer in use.

Uploaded Files Manage Uploads

  • View the “Credits” of sites added to the LiveBinder. This option is located just below the title on the left hand side and to the right of the binder date.

Binder Credits

Finally, I would like to applaud Tina and Barbara for their efforts in developing LiveBinders. Their efforts AASL Awardhave been recognized by the AASL. They have received the AASL 2010 “Best Website for Teaching and Learning”.

EBC10 and ISTE10

I am one of the many less fortunate educators (those unable to be in Denver, Colorado for ISTE 10 and EBC10) that believes strongly in 21st Century Skills while integrating technology into education.  As a result of not being able to attend, I wante dto capture the excitement and opportunities to learn what is being presented at EBC10 and ISTE10.  Therefore I decided to use Wiffiti to collect all of the Tweets and images from Flickr tagged with #iste10 and #ebc10 to capture everyone’s comments.   Please enjoy the feeds as they are captured and displayed via the two embed screens. Continue reading

LiveBinder’s Touch of Color & Comments

Here is the information I recently received from the ladies of LiveBinders regarding one of their most recent updates.

We have two new features to tell you about that were are result of requests from our fellow binder organizers:

* New Colors – You can now change the colors of your LiveBinders.


In the edit menu, under properties, there is a pull-down menu to select the color:

* Add a Comment in “LiveBinder It” – You can now include a comment with a page that you are adding to a binder using “LiveBinder It”.

Add comment to imported website.

Add comment to imported website.

Here is where the comment will be inserted in your binder:

Illustrating where your added comment to website via LiveBinder It bookmark tool.

Illustrating where your added comment to website via LiveBinder It bookmark tool.

Also, we want to thank everyone who participated in our Earth Day – Go Paperless podcast. Here is the binder with the podcast and other great resources for going paperless in the classroom:

And we especially want to thank our users who provided us with feedback about features and about bugs that need to be fixed. We’ll be here working hard over these next few months, so feel free to continue to let us know if you have any questions or comments.

We hope you enjoy your summer!

I encourage everyone to provide your feedback to Barbara Tallent and Tina Schneider. Both ladies are excellent at responding and addressing any/all questions provided. Reach them via @LiveBinders on Twitter or send e-mail to feedback at livebinders dot com.


Join the initiative sponsored by CoSN and EdTech Action Network. Join the campaign!

Today, MAY 12, advocates from across the country are tweeting for education technology funding. Funding for classroom technology is in jeopardy, but together we can make our tweets heard and urge Congress to fund the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program at $500 million for FY 2011. President Obama provided no funding for the program in his budget, but Congress does not have to agree with this recommendation.

Tweet these sample messages throughout the day, or create your own. Encourage your neighbors and colleagues to join the twitterfest, and if you have a blog, spread the word that way.
Here are some sample tweets, mostly under 100 characters so there’s room to retweet and personalize a bit. Or, make up your own!

* @TomHarkin #EETT Support innovation in learning & teaching. Fund #edtech at $500m
* @DavidObey #EETT Support innovation in learning & teaching. Fund #edtech at $500m
* @ThadCochran #EETT Support innovation in learning & teaching. Fund #edtech at $500m
* @RepToddTiahrt #EETT Support innovation in learning & teaching. Fund #edtech at $500m
* Our schools need 21st century education, #EETT. Fund #edtech at $500 m
* No funding for #edtech? No prep for 21st century. Fund #EETT at $500m
* I support #edtech. I vote. Fund #EETT at $500m in 2011
* As a principal/teacher/parent I know our kids need #edtech skills. Fund #EETT at $500m

Thank you for joining the effort! Together, we can make our voices heard!


What Does Technology Mean To Kids?

SimpleK12 EdTech Blog Exchange

SimpleK12 EdTech Blog Exchange

In looking through my Tweets one day I read that SimpleK12 was looking to sponsor an “EdTech” blog swap for any educator willing to participate. I thought it would be great to possibly learn about other educators. As it turned out I was partnered with a fantastic and very inspiring educator from Alabama- Mrs. Bianca Gaither. This lady makes me wish my children would be fortunate enough to learn from her! In sharing possible blog ideas, I asked if she would be willing to write a post with her students participating. Lets just say they did not let her down when it came to participating and sharing their thoughts. So, to avoid any further delay here is Mrs. Gaither and her students’ blog post.
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Earth Day PLN Style

Tag cloud representation of this blog post.

Tag cloud representation of this blog post w/tagxedo.com

A few weeks ago, after connecting and interviewing Tina Schneider and Barbara Tallent of LiveBinders (@LiveBinders) for a recent blog post, Tina contacted me with an idea of a podcast to go along with creating a list of resources for “Earth Day”(April 22, 2010).  She no more verbalized the idea and I said “Lets do it!”.   Over the next few days, in thinking about Earth Day, I reflected upon the words of the United States’ great president John F. Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Then I asked myself as an educator, father, and fellow human being, “What can I do to help planet Earth?” since she has provided us a place to grow, nurture, and live among our fellow beings.  So the ladies of LiveBinders and I set out to learn what folks are doing to help improve our daily living in hopes of preserving Earth for our children, their friends, and everyone else yet to have their turn living on this planet we call home.  Our first step was to connect with users of LiveBinders as well as PLN friends on Plurk and Twitter. In observing tweets, I learned of Shelly Blake-Plock (@TeachPaperless) and his blog Teach Paperless along with Steve Katz (@stevekatz) providing ideas via his Teach With Video blog.  Shelly Blake-Plock’s blog posts were extremely passionate in regards to educators using their connections with their students and community to strive for saving planet Earth.  He even started a sign-up drive asking educators across the globe to participate and go paperless on Earth Day, April 22nd.   As of April 21st there were nearly 1,300 folks signed up.  To view the list of participants you can visit “Earth Day”Paperless participants.  What I really find impressive is the map created by Free Technology for Teachers using Google maps to identify general locations of participants signed-up for “Teach Paperless” day.  Here is the link to view this map.  Steve Katz’s approach to “Earth Day”started with getting fellow teachers, students, administration, and community members involved.  Steve shared Going Paperless ideas one day with everyone on Twitter.  After seeing the link, I contacted Steve asking if he would be interested in participating in a podcast interview with Tina, Barbara and myself.  It did not take him very long to respond in agreement to participate.   As a result, I posted on Plurk asking for my PLN friends there to participate in the same podcast interview using Drop.io with the four of us.   I was pleased to be contacted by a friend and fellow STAR Discovery Educator Elaine Plybon (@eplybon). Elaine is a technology facilitator and science teacher in Dallas, Texas. You can read her blog at Teaching Truths. The school where Elaine works is moving towards a paperless environment with the ongoing development of their 1:1 program and professional development.

With the participants consisting of Steve Katz, Elaine Plybon, Tina Schneider, Barbara Tallent, and myself, we connected via Drop.io’s conference call function.  What was really nice about using Drop.io for the call was how it records the call as well as its ability that permits folks unable to participate to send an e-mail or leave a voicemail sharing their thoughts and resources.  The conversation lasted around one hour with Steve and Elaine individually discussing their vision, resources, and the mindsets of educators within the United States compared to those around the globe when it came to a paperless Earth Day.   You can find this “Paperless Earth Day” podcast on my Podomatic page.

In all, this experience has me excited and looking forward to learning more about “Earth Day”and how educators across the globe participated.  I challenge everyone to “Ask not what planet Earth can do for you but what can you do for planet Earth.” Please consider browsing Discovery Education/Waste Management’s Think Green, Earthbridges Website and Earthbridges Collaborative wiki for “Earth Day”events, presentations and resources provided to me on Twitter by Mrs.Durff as well as exploring the binder I have embedded from Tina and Barbara containing a wealth of resources from folks across the globe in supporting “Earth Day”today, tomorrow, and in the future.

“The Knowledge Sharing Place”

“To Be or Not To Be…..That is the question.” In this case, are we educators organized with our resources and lessons or do they messydesklook  like this desk?  If not, permit me to introduce LiveBinders.  LiveBinders is your virtual 3-ring binder to get organzied.  In learning about this fantastic Web2.0 tool I was fortunate to Skype with the founders Tina Schneider and Barbara Tallent.  Through our conversation they agreed to conduct a podcast interview providing insight into the development of LiveBinders as well as the passion that brought these two ladies together.  Tina and Barbara both spent time observing and collaborating with educators in their local school.  Their objective was to gather insight, along with concerns those educators had about improving their instruction while utilizing new technology.  There were three items commonly shared among those providing feedback:

  1. Time for training and support
  2. How useful is it for learning?
  3. How accessible is the tool?

Honestly those three items are the same instructional technology specialists and technology coordinators hear as we work with educators on a daily basis.  So, in effort to explain the functionality of LiveBinders I will use these three concerns as my focus points.

Time?  When does anyone have time for all the things we want to accomplish during our lives?  Honestly, if you have 5-10 minutes you have time to learn how easy it is to use LiveBinders.  The functionality was designed with the emphasis on content and sharing of learning materials.  There are three ways to create a LiveBinder:CreateBinder

  1. Create from scratch via the LiveBinder website
  2. Build a binder by collecting search results via Google
  3. Using the “LiveBinder It” button within browser  (use link to view tutorial video)

I strongly recommend you install the “LiveBinder It”.  The ability to add websites to any binder as you come upon it without having to visit your binder directly is quite nice.  You can observe tutorial videos via the website or subscribe to the YouTube channel for anytime/anywhere self-paced training.

The second concern expressed focused on how useful LiveBinders would be to education.  To address this concern lets start by looking at the features currently available within this Web 2.o tool.  First of all, all free binders are eligible to store up to 100Mb worth of uploads.  Those uploads can be arranged in a collection of tabs and sub-tabs. tabsubtab Website URLs can be added with there being a 10 second period for the site to be grabbed.  The “grab” function permits the site to become interactive within the tab/subtab selected.  But the features don’t stop there.  LiveBinders permits users to import bookmarks from their Delicious accounts, add images via Flickr import or uploading from a computer in .jpg or gif formats.  Uploads are not just limited to images.  Audio files (ie mp3), video files (.mov) or search YouTube via tags or by username, documents files (.txt/.docs/.ppt) and PDF files all can be uploaded and interactive. PDF files will open up within the tab or subtab as a webpage fine on a PC.  On a Mac Safari displays the PDF correct but Firefox needs to have the plug-in via PluginDoc.  Another convenient feature provided within LiveBinders, is the ability to use text layout templates.  These templates are very similar to those you see in Powerpoint to help organize how text, images, or audio are presented.  The final point I want to make about the usefulness of LiveBinders is how it can be used to compile numerous items within a single topic.  If you visit the “Featured Binders” tab on the main website you will see how educators are using this Web 2.0 tool to share and organize their educational resources.  Here is an example of a single virtual binder I have created for Digital Storytelling resources.

Recently LiveBinders has been updated with some great enhancements. LBnewfeaturesThis image points out how the limit of 20 tabs per binders has been removed, a “Present” mode has been implemented to provide users the same functionality as “Play” mode in Powerpoint, and the last two added features are being able to embed your bookshelf of binders (Here is my bookshelf) and easy access to LiveBinder’s FAQ section.

The final concern expressed by educators dealt with accessibility of the tool.  Keeping in mind how easy it is to create a binder or add to one already created via the “LiveBinder It” that accessibility is addressed.  The next issue of accessibility always worrying educators, is if the site itself is blocked.  As an educator and one of the two folks responsible for maintaining our school district filter, LiveBinders will probably be detected and listed within the “File Sharing” category.  Well, here are three items and one future enhancement that should address the concerns of those responsible for the filter that may help you get it open for all possible users or at least for educators if your Internet access is tiered.

  1. Binders can be kept “Private” ( as mentioned before) use a “Key” (password) to access it.
  2. All public binders are reviewed to make sure material is educational appropriate.
  3. Public folders can be set to “Not Copyable”. Thus, keeping it viewable to everyone but not reproducible.
  4. (Future enhancement) 3rd Party service to help identify users below the age of 13.

I hope this overview has opened your eyes to see how visually pleasing and user friendly LiveBinders is for educators.  The ability to keep items public or private via a “key” and review of public folders for educational resources along with the ability to embed a binder or shelf within one’s own site should, ultimately, address those questions regarding the design for educators with educator input.  Future enhancements will include the ability to have multiple people login simultaneously and contribute resources as well as working with a third party organization to assure those under the age of 13 are capable of creating their own LiveBinder yet meeting federal COPA/CIPA regulations.  If this review does interest you but there remains a few questions, please consider watching this YouTube video created by the Barbara Tallent of LiveBinders.

Differentiate Instruction with Discovery Education

Differentiated Instruction is defined by Wikipedia as “…providing students with different avenues to acquiring content; to processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and to developing teaching products so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.” I ask this question of all educators “Is this not what we look to accomplish when working with small groups or individual students?” Well, Discovery Education Streaming now has a viable answer for providing differentiated instruction.
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Collect & Animate #Hashtags

While creating a CoverItLive session to embed on the Kansas Discovery Education blog, in preparation for the Kansas MACE Conference, I noticed a Twitter message from @yoopertechgeek (Sara Beauchamp-Hicks Michigan State University).  She was talking about her explorations of a website that provides you the ability to collect Twitter hashtag posts as well as permitting folks to SMS comments to a unique address.  All compiled comments are displayed in a flash animated window.  The site she was talking about is Wiffiti.  Here is how Wiffiti is explained via their website:

What is Wiffiti?

Wiffiti 4 by LocaModa has been used at thousands of large-scale events (concerts, gallery openings, corporate conferences, nonprofit fundraisers, several major inauguration events, South by Southwest, and political conventions -including both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions). It is also used extensively in digital signage networks ranging from huge jumbotrons in Times Square to thousands of screens in bars, cafes, schools, entertainment centers and even churches!

We’ve used our deep understanding of user experience in digital out-of-home, web, and mobile to distill your feedback and requests for new features into this latest release.

In trying to learn how this site works in creating a screen to share I created a window using the tag #ICE2010 knowing the conference  was over and the tags would be available on the web.  Here is my example of Wiffiti.

If you would like to observe a Wiffiti in action visit my blog’s Cover It Live page on March 4th and 5th as it will be pulling Twitter posts using the hashtag of #MACE2010.