To follow up on my last post about TESOL curriculum innovation and design, in this post I review online curation software called Live Binders. As an ESL teacher in the 1990’s, I had always kept my “stuff”—lesson plans, handouts, tests, quizzes, rubrics, articles, and so on—in paper form and in huge binders by lesson topic or by class taught. Naturally, much of that moved to digital copies, and I happily recycled all that paper in favor of digital files. Now, as I use more online resources, such as Youtube videos, web quests, blogs, links, and infographics, I have had a hard time organizing them all and saving hundreds of links by either copying and pasting them into a Word document, or by adding them as bookmarks and having a bookmark list a mile long.
Enter Live Binders! I was excited to find a way to organize all of my resources online in a way that matched the conceptual organization of using physical binders or files, rather than a list of links. Live Binders allows you to compile and organize all of your materials online, and then enables you to access and share those via one web link. Some of the most useful features of Live Binders are:
- You can add online resources as well as your own text or pdf documents to create complete collections, including Prezi, PowerPoint, and Slide Share.
- You have access to your curriculum materials from anywhere, because they’re all in the same “place” online.
- If you’re teaching or presenting, you do not have to open multiple windows to show multiple resources.
- Teachers who work in grade- or -proficiency-level teams can simultaneously add to the Live Binder, and everyone can access the same materials to collaborate.
- Live Binders recently added a tool called a Bookmarklet that enables you to put an online resource into your Live Binder collection instantly, without having to copy or paste as you browse.
- There are now apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android, so you can present or access your binders from a variety of devices. You can also share any binder you create on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and you can embed in your own blog.
In addition to curriculum design and collection, the possibilities for Live Binders use are many; some of those listed on the website include:
- Creating a binder for your substitute lesson plans should you need to miss a day of school
- Hosting all of your parent resources (if you teach K–12) or student resources (for older learners) and providing the binder via email or posting on a school website
- Sharing school policies, procedures, documents, meeting notes or minutes, and any other administration-related files with faculty and staff
- Organizing all of your professional development materials that you can later share with participants, rather than having to send huge PowerPoint slide files or similar
- Gathering a sample of your work-related accomplishments, lesson plans, résumé, or curriculum vitae and including it as a professional portfolio if you are looking for a job
- Challenging learners to create their own online student portfolios as formative or summative assessment of their progress throughout the school year or term
Live Binders boasts more than 1 million curated educational resources, and has hundreds of sample binders you can use as examples or use in your classes. If you have used Live Binders or a similar platform, please let me know in the comments.