Symbaloo- A web application to organise collections of websites
It is always very satisfying to find a new piece of software that executes a simple idea well. Last year I found Symabloo and it has been a great addition to my work with students and colleagues.
Symbaloo is a web application that allows you to organise all your favourite sites into one visually pleasing interface. They can be organised into various webmixes, i.e. categories, and accessed from anywhere with any device. It can be used with any web browser and there it is also available as an app for Apple, Android and Windows devices. Symbaloo will allow you to save, organise and share collections of websites. There are also options to embed video and document links such that they can be viewed directly in Symbaloo.
How does it work?
You can then begin creating your own webmixes which will be available on any web browser once you log in to Symbaloo. A webmix is a collection of tiles each linking to a website or online resource (video, PDF etc.). Tiles can be colour-coded and include an image and text of your choice. You can search Symbaloo for webmixes other users have already put together and made public. I like to have a look at collections of sites other teachers have created and shared. If you find one of interest you can save it to your webmixes and make any edits you wish from there. Of course, you can also create your very own from scratch. Symbaloo gives you the options to share your mixes using a link, making them available publicly in a webmix search or by embedding them into websites or blogs. Or if you wish you can simply keep it private.
- Subject planning: As a school or a department it is always good to pick a number of the most useful and relevant sites and to try to use these consistently across the school. Teachers could look at creating webmixes for areas of different subjects (Irish Poets, Statistics, The Bronze Age etc.) or even better to create some interdisciplinary mixes to build connections across the curriculum. A webmix on Gravity could incorporate some Maths, Science and Geography.
- Special Educational Needs: Resource departments could build webmixes to share with students, teachers and parents. Webmixes could include useful online content in key areas such as literacy, numeracy, study skills,etc. Colour coding and labelling the sites can support students with SEN with easier navigation and organisation of online content. Webmixes linking to information and activities could allow parents to further support their child’s learning.
- Differentiation: With Symbaloo you could organise and differentiate topics using colour coding. This is a great way to differentiate learning in the class. Teachers can share a webmix offering a number of sites to learn about or complete some tasks around a topic. What’s more, they could colour code the tiles similarly to a traffic light system such that students can start where they are most comfortable and work to building their knowledge to demonstrable competency at a pace that suits them.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that help the most and this is certainly true for Symbaloo. Symbaloo is a simple idea, well executed. In more recent years, there is a growing number of Irish teachers connecting and communicating online to learn from each other and share their experiences. It would be great to see more Irish teachers using Symbaloo to build webmixes of useful online resources. These could then be shared with and updated by teachers across the country.