Discussion Forum 3

Hi and welcome to Discussion 3 Forum. Your moderators will be Meggan C and Danielle D. We look forward to your ideas.

Question:  Comment on one of the aggregator PLE tools from the Sandbox activity. What did you find worked well? What would you have liked to see that wasn’t there?


20 Responses to Discussion Forum 3

  1. I tried all of the PLE tools from the Sandbox activity (except Flipboard – I’m still waiting for it to install… slow Internet connection!). My favourite by far was Symbaloo. Considering that my current PLE and online presence are comprised of several hub-like sites and applications (YouTube, Google Reader, Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress and so on), an app like Symbaloo is the ideal tool to keep all of my resources at my fingertips. The interface is much simpler than some of the other tools, and it’s actually visually appealing. I’m going to sign up and explore the platform further, but it seems like just the right thing for me, since it puts everything together. It would be terrific if Symbaloo could also sign me into all of my accounts from that main page, but I suppose that would pose a security risk. Regardless, it’s a great tool, and one that I could use to allow students to create their own PLEs.

    Thanks for introducing me to it!

    • Meggan says:

      Hi May,

      It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed Symbaloo! They give of quite a bit of control over visuals – not only can you choose where tiles go, but you can change the image and tile colour as well. Hopefully you will continue to find it useful in the future!

      What age of students would you consider using Symbaloo with? Do you think it would be useful to them or that the format would appeal to them?

      Let us know how it works out for you in the future!

      • Hi Meggan,

        I’ve been using Symbaloo all week and I really love it! I’m not working with students at the moment, but I do think it’s simple enough that upper elementary kids would find it useful. I especially like the ‘create your own tile’ feature – I’ve made my own little icons so I can recognize sites visually rather than by name. It’s terrific!


  2. Jon says:

    I really enjoyed the opportunity to explore and play in the sandbox. As mentioned before, I hadn’t heard of Symbaloo or ThingLink prior to this week, and really enjoyed learning something new. I really liked ThingLink and its open concept as it truly allows others (if they choose) to see what is happening in ones PLE.

    One issue that I find with many of the PLE tools is having to create accounts. This is especially an issue when teaching younger students like I do. When it comes to any personal information needing to be included in set-up, there is a boatload of paper work that needs to be filled out (i usually don’t mind doing this as I like to try new tools and see the benefits of the exploration). Even if there is information that needs to be inputed, many of the times the minmum age is anywhere from 16-18 (so not really 9-11 year old friendly age bracket).

    Another aggregator type of PLE could be Google Chrome’s Web Store. You can customize your homepage from a variety of 2.0 tools and like Symballo can organize them whichever way you want, allowing for that personalization piece.



  3. cbbay says:

    Of the PLE tools included in the Sandbox activity Symbaloo is by far my favourite. Yesterday I shared that I’d set up a page with my frequently visited email accounts and sites. This morning I started into my usual routine of checking emails. I went to bookmarks first but then remembered Symbaloo so I opened that and left it up all day. It was so convenient moving from one site to the next using this tool. Bookmarks are convenient but having everything organized by theme on individual pages with icons for each makes things visual and therefore extremely easy to find.

    You ask what I would have liked to see included in the Sandbox activity that wasn’t there. That’s a difficult question as so far I can’t find fault with Symbaloo. It’s user friendly, customizable, allows me to connect to places like Facebook and Twitter with widgets, it’s free, and it allows me to link PDFs and word documents through Google. I also like that I can share webmixes with students and colleagues. Sounds like a great tool for group projects.


    • Marie-France Hétu says:

      Hi Claire,

      I agree Symbaloo is a great organizational tool! Since I have started this MET program I have accumulated so many apps, sites, tools . . . and I had them categorized here, there and everywhere – that is before Symbaloo! Now everything is one click away at my fingertips – It’s a great tool and I would recommend it to anyone.


  4. Helen says:

    I will agree with others who have already commented. I have spent some time working in Symbaloo and find it easy, accommodating and interesting to create web mixes all in one location. The bonus is the ease of creating new mixes, moving items from one mix to another, deleting or changing tiles, adjusting tile features, etc. It will take a little time to get all my PLE tools into web mix layouts, but once done, it will impress my colleagues and students.

    I would have liked to see something about web site collections such as Delicious or Diigo. I have done some work in both, but wondered how prevalent these tools are in education. Edmodo is another aggregation tool designed by educators for educators so it would have been another tool that would have fit into this collection. Just wondered how you selected the ones you did for this presentation? What criteria did you use to decide?

    • Dan says:

      Hi Helen,
      Thanfs for the questions! We didn’t want to offer a great number of tools to avoid overwhelming everyone with too many options to test and comment on. Many web 2.0 tools allow users to collect web sites so we wanted to avoid using too many bookmarking sites. Symbaloo is an obvoius choice for the sandbox as it is designed specifically for managing PLEs. Netvibes is a bookmarking site that’s been around for a long time and is likely to remain stable for a while longer. Flipboard is meant for iOS and Android gadgets, so we’re covering mobile devices, and mobile is considered to be THE thing in technology right now, with a predominance over Web 2.0. Thinglink is a new application that lends itself very much to personalization given that the user can create their own background image. As it doesn’t require a password for editing, Thinglink may be useful for younger students because they wouldn’t need to create an accout. However, it might require the teacher to create one or more accounts and images for the students.

      What do you think are the pros and cons of Diigo, Delicious and Edmodo?


  5. Tim says:

    Symbaloo was definitely my favorite of the PLE aggregation tools. The ease of use, categorization both through color and location as well as the various tabbed pages provides multiple levels of organization. In thinking about developing my own PLE aggregate through Symbaloo, I couldn’t believe the number of tools I already use. Many of these have come since the start of MET, showing another aspect to the value of this program.

    One aspect of PLEs that I haven’t come across on your site is the merging of PLEs and Learning Management Systems. I can see now that the drive to personalize learning management systems comes from tools such as Symbaloo and Flipboard. This has led to increased talk and incorporation of interoperability principles in learning management systems to diversify the tools available to students. This allows the LMS to increasingly become a PLE but remain under control of the educator/institution. This relieves some of the stress on educators caused by the increasing variety of tools available.

    • chris aitken says:

      Hi Tim. Yes it is interesting to see LMS products now looking to fit in PLE-like features. I’m not sure how good of a marriage that will be. The LMS at the end of the day is sill intended for institutions to control and manage how students learn and track that learning. I’m not sure how much autonomy students will fee in working within an LMS to create PLEs. Regardless, in a saturated LMS market, these products struggle to differentiate, and I think PLE features (along with mobile) will be the areas LMS products try to develop to chip away at market share largely controlled by Moodle and Blackboard. Conversations about this topic are often LME versus PLE. But maybe, as you have suggested, we will see the two merge nicely for the benefit of students. Let’s hope!

    • Denise says:

      HI Tim,
      In Discussion 1 I flagged a really interesting web article that talks about how PLE could integrate, but it assumes a PLE that enveloped the LMSs (added the link in this post too). Given how we have all reflected on our own PLEs, the formal UBC is just a part of the whole. So I think LMSs are really only offering ways to personalise within this formal environment with lots of options for tools. I can’t see them ever reallly being PLEs.

      Wheeler S (2010) Anatomy of a PLE

  6. Kenton says:

    I would have to say that my favourite application was symbaloo. It was easy to use, sign up for, and get started. Bringing in other feeds to the site was simple and the interface was nice and easy to use. I know one thing about myself, and that is, if it gets too difficult to find information and to use a program I just will not bother with it. (Hence why I have so many abandoned websites). Symbaloo definitly scores high on the easy to use aspect of technology and PLE development.

  7. etec522grp4 says:

    Survey Results:

    Thank you to those of you who took a few minutes to reply to our surveys on the various sandbox tools. Below are the most common responses to each question for each tool. It seems from the number of responses alone, that Symbaloo was the most popular (or simply the first one on the list and therefore the one most likely to be clicked!). Interestingly, Thinglink had the highest percentage of respondants who said they were somewhat likely to use the tool with their students. Why do you think this is? What differences in the tools might appeal to educators or to students? What is the audience/target market for these tools?

    Survey Questions were:
    1. How easy was it to use [Insert Tool Name]?
    2. How likely are you to:
    A. use [Insert Tool Name] in the future?
    B. share [Insert Tool Name] with colleagues?
    C. create a PLE using [Insert Tool Name]?
    D. use [Insert Tool Name] for student projects/work?

    Symbaloo: 13 responses
    1. 70% Very Easy
    2. A. 62% Very likely
    B. 54% Very likely
    C. 62% Very likely
    D. 54% Somewhat likely

    Netvibes: 8 Responses
    1. 50% Somewhat difficult
    2. A. 38% Somewhat unlikely
    B. 50% Somewhat unlikely
    C. 38% Somewhat unlikely
    D. 63% Very unlikely

    Thinglink: 8 Responses
    1. 38% Very Easy
    2. A. 50% Somewhat likely
    B. 63% Somewhat likely
    C. 25% each for Very Unlikely, Somewhat unlikely, and Neither likely nor unlikely
    D. 63% Somewhat likely

    Flipboard: 6 Responses
    1. 67% Somewhat easy
    2. A. 33% Very likely
    B. 50% Somewhat likely
    C. 50% Very unlikely
    D. 50% Somewhat likely

    What do these results suggest? Do any of them surprise you? What if you were looking to invest? How might these restults contribute to or sway your decision?

    • bperrygore says:

      Thank you for the results.
      I am not surprised about the results concerning Thinglink. It took too long to figure out the purpose and I lost interest. Ifeel that the “somewhat like” answer is the vague selection that means “probably not”. With all the tools available I will find one that I like rather than spend the time on what that is “okay”. I do appreciate you putting Thinglink in the list though.
      Symbaloo….not surprised. It is easy to use and the purpose is obvious.
      Flipboard…..I thought it would be more popular but I am not surprised that there is not a lot of interest for student projects.
      I always look at reviews…definitely influences my decisions.
      This survey was great. It is always interesting to see others points of view.

      • Meggan says:

        Hi Bridget,

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts throughout our discussions! I’m glad you found the survey interesting, that was the goal! Do you think that the limitations on which devices can utilize Flipboard may have impacted its popularity in our survey? Many users see it as a Bret way to organize their various other networks, which is a large part of why it is so popular with Apple users.

        As for Thinglink, yes it can be a bit confusing to sort out. Interestingly though, that tool does tend to be very popular with visuals learners. You can always check out one of our learning style quizzes (on the Activities page) to see if your having a different learning style might help explain your frustrations with Thinglink!


  8. Dennis says:

    I loved Flipboard, had to add the app right away. At first I thought I get most of this information through Twitter but then I started browsing the content And realized I have been missing out on information that is available to me. For the most part I have stopped reading magazines and newspapers in paper form and rely on their online editions for my content. Flipboard has much more than what I have been viewing. I will use it as a PLE for me as I can add the content I want for entertainment and education. I don’t know if I will have students use it unless I see some valuable specific educational uses.


  9. bperrygore says:

    I had never heard of Flipboard but installed the app on my Ipad and I thought it was great. I agreed with Dennis about not reading magazines and newspapers anymore. I scan the first section of the paper each morning and that’s about it. I love the way it is up to date. I will be watching both the Tour de France and of course the Olympics this summer and I am really impressed by the way the information in well-organized. The use of multimedia makes it very easy to scan and I am finding myself getting lost in it.
    Thank you for the exposure to some great tools.

  10. Denise says:

    I really enjoyed exploring all the tools, but I have to say Symbaloo was my favourite. It was visually apppealing and simple and easy to use.
    I am playing with whether I could actually set up two different Symbaloos.
    One that was my regularly used tools for learning and include MET/UBC links etc for my cuurent learning.
    But a second one devoted to MET (past and present). It seemed like a wonderful way to collate everything I was learning in MET, along with tools I was being introduced to (even if I wasn’t using them regularly). This Symbaloo could be a record/archive of all of my MET – blogs, links, etc – that could be easily accessed in the future.
    What I think is missing for me is that I still use Microsoft Office etc and don’t use the cloud for everything so it would be good to be able to link to non-web elements too.

    I also really liked ThingLink, just not sure it woudl work for me as a PLE. It did seem to be a good business tool and with the possibility of creating one’s own tags, I think it woudl be worth exploring for our organisation’s website. It could also be an interesting way to visually provide links to education topics – eg a skin picture for dermatology education options, heart picture for cardiovascular modules (sorry getting medical!)… Will ponder some more on this.


  11. kimberleenoel says:

    Hi group!

    Great job with the sandbox activity – I enjoyed the opportunity to play around with each of them. By far my fave was Symbaloo, and I have set it up on my own laptop. As an elementary teacher, I could see my kids being able to use this one with little difficulty. I know that they would also enjoy ThingLink, but like myself would be using in a variety of ways other than as a PLE.
    Smiles, KIm

    • Meggan says:

      Hi Kim,

      I’m glad you found value in Symbaloo – it’s a great tool! I think that most of these tools have other possibilities within them – you could use ThingLink to create a living yearbook, discuss the meaning of a photo, or present information. Symabloo can be used in similar ways, beyond just a PLE.

      Good luck in finding more ways to use these tools! Thanks for trying the sandbox out 🙂

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