Symbaloo is a fast and easy dashboard with great visual appeal. You can see the page I created here. I use it because I can sort the websites by content areas with different symbols - listening sites are indicated by headphones - and by level with different background colors - Level 1 is yellow. I show the text using the name the students typically use for the site, for example, "Reading Skills Marshall".
Symbaloo is a great help when you have a full class of beginning computer users and want to give individual assignments. It is much easier for them to go to the part of the site you want them working on than to have them follow multiple steps. They are more independent.
One of 2014's newly created words, webmix, is defined by Symbaloo as “a collection of tiles for a specific subject. There are two types of webmixes:
- Webmix that contains tiles (links, bookmarks, widgets, embedded content)
- Webmix that contains RSS tiles (larger, 3x3 tiles with RSS feed shown inside) Web clipping made beautiful.”
Before I get to specific handy tips, I want to point out that one can select the tiles' background color, icons, and text. Here's my method: I keep the tiles in areas by subject or level. I see others fill in every tile, but I prefer the blank space to indicate the different levels with the highest at the right bottom. You'll know what fits you and your class. For more rows, click Options, Change webmix. Also, I want to keep some flexibility as my assignments change week to week. I don't want students literally all over the map, so I can control the options by having fewer tiles.
- As in all website creation, remember to click Save and also Update to publish. The option to have a rotating wallpaper was a bit much for us, hence the all white background. I tried to upload a class photo but the images max at 1 MB, so it didn't even load.
- Each time you go to log in, they may be featuring a different company. You have no control over which ones are shown as the log in options, but you can hit the "show more" to get Gmail, Edmodo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, or whatever you originally signed in with.
- How to get the students there? A link on your website would be ideal, maybe under Quick Links or Student Work. Other possibilities include bookmarking the site or creating a tiny url at http://tinyurl.com/.
- My URL went from 48 to 24 characters. I made an in-class assignment for students to email me (after previous instruction on email and checking that they were doing so in English). Then I send the link in my reply.
- Don't fret if your display in Gallery looks different than what you just edited. It must take awhile to catch up because the webmix appears with your changes.
- Make sure to try out their tutorials. They are really helpful. I couldn't figure out how to update my webmix, and found out I had to stop the updates first.
Maybe in the future we can all use Symbaloo as a teacher resource to see the many websites available in a subject area in the Gallery. A lot of k-12 practitioners have webmixes, and almost no one puts a description that you can sort by, so let's work towards this in our field. I put Adult ESOL in mine. What will you use Symbaloo for?
Have you tried Symbaloo? Share a link to your page in the comments!
Tech Tips for Teachers