Back to School: Symbaloo
Social Bookmarking isn’t a new phenomenon and lots of teacher save links to services like Delicious or Google Bookmarks. However, while I find these bookmarking web sites great for my own personal use, it just never seemed to work at school level as a collaborative tool. For me, I think the main reason is that none of these bookmarking sites are particularly attractive. However, a while ago I found a lovely way to share commonly used web sites on a simple tool called Symbaloo.
The basic premise of Symbaloo is that one can create grids with links to favourite web sites. The lovely thing about these grids is that they look amazing and can be ordered in interesting ways.
For my school, I’ve set it up for staff to be able to access the main web tools that we use in school. For example, we have subscribed to a number of paid web sites, Reading A-Z being one, so that goes on the grid. Staff also need to access our Aladdin portal, the school web site, a weekly internal newsletter and a few other things. Below is a screenshot of our Symbaloo starting this year, which I hope will expand.
You can also see at the bottom some links to some of our more important policies. You might notice these buttons have a little movie clacker board symbol on them. This stands for “embedded content”, which means that rather than opening up a whole web page, the document pops out of the screen in a lightbox. It’s a lovely feature and very handy for quick access to written files. I’ve done the same to show this year’s yard duty and assembly rota.
I have customised the background to include our school logo and there are a few other tweaks that you can do for your own school. The thing I like most about Symbaloo is how attractive it looks. I also like the way the screen doesn’t contain too many icons so it is nicely manageable. If we do happen to need more buttons, we can create separate grids by adding tabs. For example, we might need a Literacy grid to add links to good web sites or documents relating to literacy.
Overall, I think Symbaloo is going to be a great success in our school. Symbaloo can be found at http://www.symbaloo.com