Symbaloo is a visual, social bookmarking tool that makes it easy to access your personal knowledge management tools.
The technology (or what are my powers)
The Symbaloo interface
When you register to use Symbaloo, you gain access to a slick user interface that allows you to create webmixes of your favorite Web sites. The Symbaloo interface looks a bit like a high-tech Scrabble board with movable “tiles” on it. These tiles give you access to Web pages or other webmixes.
The Symbaloo folks have kindly provided a number of tiles to get you started, giving you access to YouTube, Flickr, Google, Wikipedia, Craigslist, and even the Yellow Pages. They’ve also provided tabs of webmixes that you might find useful, including news tabs (news highlights and major news) and tech tabs. But you’re not limited to these resources, you can easily create or edit tiles, create your own webmixes, and/or search for webmixes already created.
When you view a webmix, you’ll see a centerbox in the middle of the page. The centerbox is functional but what it can do will depend on which widget tile you’ve clicked on to access it. You can identify a widget tile by looking for an icon on the upper left corner of the tile (a magnifying glass or gears).
The tour widget is specialized. While the application starts off in the centerbox, it moves around the interface to point out features related to Symbaloo each time you click “Next.” The illustration below shows how the tour widget provides information about the centerbox itself as part of the tour.
Creating and editing tiles
You can personalize tiles that link to your favorite Web sites to create visual cues that are meaningful to you. You can choose tile color and the image that appears on a tile by selecting from icons that Symbaloo provides or by uploading your own image.
This video provides more information on creating and editing tiles.
Creating and finding webmixes
While it’s easy to create webmixes, you also might want to explore the Symbaloo gallery to find webmixes the Symbaloo community has created. You can access the gallery by clicking on “Add webmix.”
This will display a screen that gives you the option of searching the gallery or creating a new webmix.
You’ll also be given the option to search existing webmixes when you add or create a new tile.
The gallery view allows you to preview webmixes before adding them to your Symbaloo dashboard. You can also filter the webmixes you search by popularity, type (tiles, RSS, or news), and country. If you create a webmix, you can make it private or share it with the larger Symbaloo community. You can share with the public or with a select group of individuals (via email).
Making Symbaloo your start page
Because Symbaloo is web-based, you can access your favorite webmixes from different computers. You also can make Symbaloo your start page on any given computer.
- It’s easy to use
- A learner can pull information that’s personally useful to him/her
- Learners can personalize tiles to make them easy to spot
- Learners can add to, and draw from, a community of webmixes
- Interactivity + personalization = fun
Instructional uses for Symbaloo include using Symbaloo to help learners create:
- A personal learning environment (PLE) with personal knowledge management (PKM) tools
- An eportfolio
- A collection of resources related to a problem-based learning challenge
- Study group resources
Because you can link to an infinite variety of web pages and you can embed media (images, videos, and Slideshare presentations) in a tile, as an instructor, you can make a webmix quite interactive. For example, you can create tiles that link to challenges, quiz questions, polls, discussion forums, chat pages, and other types of content and media that will facilitate more student involvement and creativity. You can provide a tile linking to a web page describing a number of exploratory activities a student will need to engage in, but make the path for accomplishing these activities (e.g., the numbers and types of tiles used) up to the student.
Symbaloo has created a version of the platform specifically for educators (Symbaloo EDU). For more information about Symbaloo EDU, visit the site and investigate the different plans offered. Registering to use Symbaloo EDU allows you to connect with other educators via the forum to share webmixes and ideas for using Symbaloo as part of a learning experience.
My Symbaloo webmixes
Right now, I’m sharing Symbaloo webmixes I’ve created on:
- serious games
- search engines (includes medical search engines)
- mlearning & mhealth
- Health Literacy Programs (this is new; I’m trying to collect state and local resources so if you don’t see your state program…please leave a comment)
(This list will expand, so you might want to check back here for updates.)