A Little Innovation: A New Tool and the Innovator Himself

Ah, Might as Well Jump (Jump)

I attended my first Innovation Institute conference in Springdale, Arkansas last summer, and I was fortunate enough to see George Couros deliver the opening keynote and then attend his session. There were a lot of takeaways from this conference, his keynote, and his session, but the one that really struck a chord was the idea of digital portfolios and a one platform system across grade levels and subject areas.

Might As Well Jump (Jump)

The trick to his idea is that it’s best to look outside the Googlesphere (Hey, if Twitter can have a sphere, so can Google.), since all things Google that are used by schools are inevitably tied to each student’s Google account. The idea George promotes is to not only streamline one platform for all classroom use, but it also must be one that the students can take with them when they graduate. It’s brilliant. Sounds easy. The trick? Some platforms that protect student privacy are again, tied to their school accounts, aren’t free, or require specific permission slips from parents. This can all be a confusing mess, so as the school year got underway and then began to cruise, I worked out the way I wanted to carry this out.

Go Ahead An’ Jump (Jump)

I found two tools that fit the bill, check the boxes, are easy to use, and can even be used together. Yep, two tools. That doesn’t mean there are only two tools like this out there, but I did find two that I am really happy with my students using. During the first quarter of school, I had my sophomores create digital portfolios using Adobe Spark web pages. I like this option due to the ease of use for students, the fact that it generates a link but isn’t a site that has to be maintained, allows for a log in with Google, and it is totally free. My students who came to Parent/Teacher conferences found it easy to use as we also jumped into our first student led conferences (on a side note, I’m hooked on those for life now).

Go Ahead and Jump

The tool that has my mind reeling with possibilities though, is Wakelet, another free curation website that is taking the edtech world by storm. As Padlet made the move from free to, well, not so much, I began looking for a replacement and came across Wakelet. In the course of a busy schedule, I promptly forgot about it, but I was reminded of it again when contacted by James Davis from Wakelet. James walked me through the power of this tool, and I realized something pretty quickly. Wakelet truly is only limited by my imagination. This tool has untapped potential for use, so for more ideas on the far reaching applications, check out the February #WakeletWave Twitter chat collection. But prior to this chat or exploring the tool more, I did see an immediate use, besides the obvious of curation, with students. My sophomores created their 2nd quarter portfolios using Wakelet, and then they were able to turn it in to Google Classroom with just a few clicks! The integration to Classroom via Wakelet is so seemless and easy, one of my sophomores exlaimed,

“That’s it? That’s all I had to do to turn it in?” To which I replied, “Yep.” The student gave a short chuckle and said, “I can’t believe how easy that was!”

The true beauty of using Wakelet to share student portfolios for me comes down to the three levels of privacy and the fact that my students can use this after they graduate. They can easily create a collection called Digital Portfolios and then add pictures, videos, text, links, and more. The Adobe Spark pages and be added as links and kept forever in this one magical place. As they build the portfolio, the default privacy setting of private is used. When students are ready to turn it in, they simply change the privacy setting to “unlisted,” and then a share option will appear at the bottom of their screen. Among the list of options is a Google Classroom icon. The process from there couldn’t be easier.

You Won’t Know Until You Begin

If you haven’t thought to convert students over to one platform in order to streamline their portfolios, work, and resources, then you should begin thinking about it. If you can’t get your building or district on board with George’s idea of a one stop shop platform of student work, then Wakelet can solve that problem too. All of their platform links, pages, and materials can be curated into a Wakelet collection, allowing the student, their parents or teachers a way to see all of their work from all subjects and classes per grade level in one convenient place. A collection per grade level would work well for this.

So as you consider jumping in with this idea, you should. Do it. As you mull over the vast applications of this tool and whether or not you should jump in this pool, you definitely should. Do it now. Ah, might as well jump.

Headings are partial lyrics from Van Halen’s Jump.

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