I got my early access today to Adam Bellow’s newest venture, eduClipper. I have been hounding him to let me have a peek for a while now. I hound because I care, I hope he realizes, because like the 3000+ teachers who’ve already signed up for the waiting list for eduClipper, I’m eager to see what the educator and eduTecher is doing next.
Long before “curation” became an edu buzzword, Bellow has been pulling together lists of Web tools for educators on his eduTecher site – a rich resource with links, ratings, comments, and ideas about how these tools could be used in the classroom. An award-winning, former high school teacher and district tech trainer, Bellow has made a career out of thinking and speaking and teaching smartly about sharing Web resources among teachers.
That makes it ever-the-more interesting, I think, that Bellow has built a tool that puts this resource-gathering and sharing capability into the hands of teachers themselves.
EduClipper is the latest in a string of Pinterest clones, true (See below), but Bellow’s experience in education – in the classroom and with professional development – should give him a leg up in creating a tool that’ll work in classrooms and that’ll work for teachers.
EduClipper lets you build clipboards into which you can post links, images, videos and documents and upload files to share with others. These clipboards can be private or public – that’s a key dfferentiator between eduClipper and its competitors– clipped for one’s self and/or shared to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Evernote, and Edmodo or via email.
The Pinterest thing is big in education. See a recent School Library Journal:
Everyone’s buzzing about Pinterest, a new social media tool that connects people through the things they like—but for a growing number of users in classrooms and media centers, it’s fast becoming a powerful resource where teachers and students share images, store lesson plans, read about current events, watch video clips, and collect their favorite apps.
Pinterest bills itself as a virtual pinboard that helps users “organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.” Although still in beta phase, the site has grown astronomically—faster than even Facebook and Twitter—reaching 10 million visitors each month.
Will Richardson tweeted about the article, asking folks to identfy “the irony” in its opening paragraph.
I note several:
- that Facebook holds the monopoly over “the things we like” on the Internet; yet Facebook is banned in most schools
- that Pinterest is “still in beta phase” with questions about its business model, data portability, copyright policies, and terms of service.
- that we can already share images, store lesson plans, read the news, and watch video via a variety of other means. Why Pinterest? Why now?
- that we don’t always think critically about what it means to “connect people” even if we are indeed sharing “all the beautiful things you find on the web” as though that’s a sufficient definition/practice of “connecting.”
Bellow’s eduClipper enters an already crowded space. There is Pinterest, of course, which has raised almost $140 million in venture capital. (eduClipper is bootstrapped but looking for investment.) And there are a number of other companies – upstarts and incumbents – tackling similar/related problems:
- Learnist: Grockit’s new product. See my write-up here
- MightyBell: Ning co-founder Gina Biachini’s latest startup. See my early thoughts here
- Kippt: A link-sharing site. My former RWW colleague Jon Mitchell says nice things about it
- Delicious: Remember how awesome Delicious was? Yeah. Me too. It’s still around, but post-Yahoo, way different
- Diigo: Bookmark, share, annotate, wiki-fy links
- Tumblr: Quick and dirty way to blog and reblog and share. Cool enough to be blocked by a lot of school filters
- Twitter (and by extension the “newspapers” that are created off its feeds, such as Zite, Flipboard. paper.li and so on): Social networked recommended reading
I think it’s important for educators to think about what it means to commit their data (their links, recommendations, comments, and so on) to a third-party site. What’s available at school and at home? What’s available across platform? Can you share publicly and privately? Can you export your data?
This just in: New York-based startup Hashable is shutting down. Briefly touted as “the next big thing” – a site that let you leverage your social and professional connections that aimed to kill the tyranny of the business card – Hashable will close its doors July 25. You can log in and export your data in a .CSV file.
This has nothing to do with edu, except to serve as a reminder that startups fail all the time. Even ones that the tech press adores.
So you want to share links and resources and videos. You want to share some with your fellow teachers. You want to share some with your students across different classes. You want to keep some to yourself.
You want to think about:
Reliability: can you count on this service being responsive? Can you count on it being here tomorrow? 24-7? A year from now?
Data portability: can you get your (students‘) data out?
Privacy: do you (and/or your students) have control over who sees your (students’) data? Can you manage who sees what?
Filtering: do you have to battle schools’ Web filters in order to access the site?
Extensibility: is this a tech platform onto which other apps can build/connect? (i.e. is there an API?)
Forces of habit: what will people actually use?
This last consideration – the forces of habit – really shouldn’t be underestimated. We have our routines with what we bookmark and share. We try to encourage our colleagues, friends, and family to follow us there. As such, many of our tec routines are social: we bookmark and share with others.
We save links. (Or, damn, I hope we save links). The question remains: what's the best way to save and share with others?Making “bundles of links” (or bundle of RSS feeds) has been a fairly common practice. But there are new ways – more visual ways, I’d say – to share Web content and to showcase multimedia (video, audio). Pinterest and Facebook (among others) do this well.
I can't help but root for Adam Bellow and eduClipper to recognize a way to do this better for the classroom.