The Humans Are Coming!!!! Introducing Wakelet!

Yah blinked, and BAM! October is upon us! This is a month where I yearn for my home state of New Hampshire’s beauty and I begin selecting which Netflix series I intend to binge watch for the next six months of Chicago winter awfulness. (My neighbor recently informed me the Farmer’s Almanac predicts this winter will be a “polar coaster.” Yippee.) Most important, with all the aisles of stores filled with Halloween candy, October also ushers in a significant uptick in my candy consumption. 

How we built a holiday that for all intents and purposes revolves around candy is beyond me, but THANK YOU to whomever is responsible! While dressing up for Halloween as a kid was fun, the best part of Halloween OBVIOUSLY was dumping out your bounty of candy at the end of a night to see what sugary wonders you had amassed.
Everyone knows you start with the greens, then the yellows, then
the oranges, then the reds, then the purples. Right?  

As a pretty Type A kid, I liked to sort my candy into a chocolate candies bag, a fruity candies bag, and the throwaway “who the heck wants something healthy?” non-candy bag. And when I’d open up something with multiple colors like a bag of M&M’s (chocolate) or Skittles (fruity) or Necco Wafers (chalky….also, RIP...maybe?), I absolutely had to (and to this day still do) separate them out into their various colors before eating them. 

So I suppose from a very early age I liked to organize things into sensible groupings. (Or...sensible in my mind.)  Perhaps this is why I’m so excited about the work we’ve been doing at CrowdED Learning—working to find ways we can collectively do a better job of organizing the bounty of free and open educational resources found online into subjects, standards, and competencies. 

Now, I most certainly am not even going to attempt to pretend that a great educational resource is as good as a KitKat bar. However, I recently made some friends who will ABSOLUTELY try to tell you that’s the case, mainly because they’ve built a super-cool tool that helps educators do all sorts of things around organizing and managing content from anywhere in one place—Wakelet! 

As October’s Fantastic and Free First Fridays Resource of the Month, Wakelet represents the first time we’ve featured a non-content tool. Why? Because as we build a growing library of free and open educational resources from various providers, an important next step is to begin thinking about ways we can organize that content in a manner that makes it more useful, usable, and accessible to students and instructors. Wakelet does all that and more, and I’m excited to have Misbah Gedal, Head of Partnerships at Wakelet, share more about their awesome tool in this month's blog! Before doing so, however, I encourage you to join us on Thursday, October 24 at Noon Eastern when we will have folks from Wakelet and adult educators using Wakelet share more about this fantastic and free tool!

Welcome to Wakelet!

I’d just like to start by saying a big thank you to CrowdED Learning for giving us this platform! Community means everything to us and we’re always looking to collaborate with organizations like CrowdED who put the educator community first!

I’ll begin by talking a little bit about Wakelet and how we started!

Although it doesn’t seem like it now, Wakelet didn’t actually start as an EdTech focused platform. When we began this journey back in 2014, our vision was simple: how can we make the web more organized? Our founder Jamil Khalil realized that despite the web providing us with amazing amounts of content every day, this content was difficult to find, capture and organize. Although search engines do a great job of indexing billions of pieces of content, they aren’t the best when it comes to organizing them and telling stories.


Image of T-Shirt and stickers with Wakelet's slogan, "The Humans are Coming!"
We created Wakelet as a response to a number of things; content overload being one of them! We want to empower people to easily save, organize and share content in a way that makes sense. Despite all the amazing algorithms and AI at our disposal, when it comes to connecting pieces of information and telling stories, we believe that humans hold all the cards! That’s the inspiration behind our motto; “The Humans are Coming” 

We always knew that Wakelet would be useful for educators, but we never imagined how popular it would become—largely thanks to how innovative and passionate the educator community is. Once K-12 educators got their hands on the platform, the #WakeletWave spread like wildfire. It’s an amazing feeling creating a tool, but seeing how that tool ends up being used is something else entirely!

All of a sudden, we were flooded with these incredible use-cases thought up by educators for educators. There was no way for example, that the Wakelet team could sit in a room and decide that Wakelet would be used for classroom newsletters, student portfolios or lesson plans. Use-cases like these come directly from the educator community - all we do is take their ideas and help them come to life through features and integrations. We’ve handed the educator community a brush and canvas, and they’ve created a masterpiece!

What does Wakelet do?


Wakelet is lovingly referred to as the “EdTech Swiss Army Knife” by our community. The platform is capable of satisfying a number of different learning outcomes in and outside the classroom—but it’s beauty comes from its simplicity.

Most educators begin using Wakelet as a way for them to collect and organize their teaching and learning resources (of which there are many!). At the beginning it works as a bookmarking tool, but after making a few collections, the true power of the platform becomes apparent. It’s all about organization...and although that word can often have some boring connotations, we like to think we organizing content fun, visual and engaging. 

The true power of Wakelet is unlocked through collections. Wakelet collections are simply mini libraries of mixed media content curated by yourself. You can create a collection on anything—and the best part is that you can have lots of different types of media sitting side by side. If you’re creating a collection of resources on climate change for example, you could have a Youtube video, a podcast, a tweet and a Flipgrid video all within the same collection - helping you deliver the message from all angles.This media plays directly in Wakelet—keeping your audience anchored to the collection rather than stumbling down the rabbit hole of a new tab!

You can also add notes, PDFs and your own images, giving your collections some much appreciated context

Adding content to your collections couldn’t be easier - it’s literally copy and paste. Once you paste a link, our software scrapes the content to find out what type of media it is and then quickly embeds it into your collection. We’ve also got an awesome array of integrations like Youtube and Twitter search that make adding content even easier. The latest Flipgrid integration allows you to actually record videos directly into your Wakelet collection—adding a personal touch and bringing your collections to life!

Animated gif showing how the Wakelet browser extension is used to capture web pages.
With Wakelet's browser extension, you can just click the icon in your browser bar
 for the site you want to capture, add a note, and add to whichever collection you wish.


We want to make adding content to your Wakelet collections as easy as possible. That’s why most of our community swear by the Wakelet Browser Extension! Once installed, the extension allows you to curate content into your Wakelet collections without even having to leave the page you’re on. It’s the perfect bookmarking and curation tool for educators looking to quickly capture content as they come across it.

How is Wakelet being used?

What a question! There are literally hundreds of different ways that educators are using Wakelet right now. These range from super innovative lesson plans to digital storytelling assignments and everything in between.

For new educators however, there are a few simple ways to use Wakelet that can have an immediate effect on your work-flow and learning outcomes. As you start using the platform, you’ll have plenty of ideas of how you can start innovating, but the examples below are tried and tested!

1. Sharing Resources

The most simple, effective and easy way to start using Wakelet. The art of collecting and curating learning and teaching resources is often overlooked - but very powerful. Educators come across hundreds of resources a month, so they have taken to Wakelet as a way to capture, organize and share these resources with their students or other educators in their community. Paul West for example, is an education technology coach who uses his Wakelet profile to share the best handpicked resources around the web with the teachers he works with. He finds that by sharing the resources through collections, teachers are more engaged and can easily find whatever they are looking for.



People like Professor Karim on the other hand, use their Wakelet profile to share resources with their students. He’s been able to effectively give his students the help they need when they are beginning their assignments or trying to understand a topic better. His profile is a perfect example of a specialist using Wakelet to share the best resources they find to give their students a real advantage when it comes to their learning.

We also wanted to make the sharing of resources as accessible as possible. Our latest integration with Microsoft Immersive Reader ensures that students of any ability can enjoy and get the most out of the content shared on Wakelet collections. 
Microsoft's Immersive Reader is a powerful tool designed to 
make text more accessible for all learners.

2. Collaboration

Few people can deny the power that collaboration has in the classroom and learning community. Collaborating with students and other educators is a great way to exchange ideas and information, whilst simultaneously building a content and resource library that can be used and revisited again and again.

We created our collaboration feature as a response to educators who wanted their students and network to contribute to the collections they were working on. This opened up so many different doors for educators to come up with fantastic and innovative ways to use the feature, whilst accomplishing a number of important learning outcomes.

The collaboration feature is simple. Just create a collection, and then click on “manage contributors”. Here you can either invite people to collaborate with you via email—or take it one step further. We’ve made it so that other people don’t even need a Wakelet account to collaborate with you. Just share a unique code or link with them and they can join the collection and contribute their own content. As you can imagine, the possibilities that this opens up in classrooms, sessions, events and learning communities are awesome!

There have been some INCREDIBLE ways that the collaboration feature has been used - it’s really up to you how you decide to incorporate this into your teaching and learning activities!

3. Newsletters

Newsletters are a great way of keeping your audience and community up to date on what is happening. Now don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of cool newsletter platforms out there—but educators in particular have found that Wakelet is the easiest and quickest way to create and share a newsletter to whoever they want. During the week they save the highlights of the teaching or learning experience into a collection and then share it out once the week ends. There are many different kinds of newsletters being created on Wakelet at the moment. Whether it’s an entire school community newsletter or an individual class newsletter, these all serve the same purpose; to inform the community of what is happening through content, social media posts and notes—all curated in a visual and engaging way.

4. Lesson Plans

There’s never been an easier way to create lesson plans than on Wakelet. You can quickly add any type of content to a Wakelet collection to create an engaging lesson plan that you can either share individually with your students or keep up on the big screen in front of the class. The benefit of having a lesson plan on Wakelet is that it is visual and allows you to combine many different types of media to keep your class engaged.

This is also a great point to highlight the different types of layouts we have on Wakelet. A layout is the way you choose to display your collection. We currently have 4 different layouts available. These are; Media View, Compact View, Grid View, and the new Mood Board View. All of these views serve different valuable purposes, providing you with enough versatility to share your curated content in the best visual way possible.

The Wakelet Community

One of the things we are most proud about at Wakelet is our amazing community. If you’re new to Wakelet, I would highly recommend following us on Twitter so you can stay up to date with all the awesome things we are doing. We also want to hear your ideas and feedback, as well as support you on your Wakelet journey.

Our community is made up of amazing educators who are highly passionate and always ready to lend a helping hand to people starting out on the platform. If you’re interested in joining, head to community.wakelet.com. You’ll be able to try new features before they go public, along with share some great ideas with like-minded educators.

To find out more about Wakelet and see other use-cases, head to learn.wakelet.com. Here you’ll find some more information on how educators are using the platform, along with the contact details of the engagement team!

We look forward to having you ride the #WakeletWave with us!

What's next?!?!

I encourage you to check out the links above or go to Wakelet and explore some of the thousands of collections that have been developed by educators! If you don't follow CrowdED Learning on social media, now's a good time to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, as this month we'll be sharing out various, simple Wakelet collections we've tinkered with creating to show how easy it can be to pull together resources from everywhere into one place for your learners. And, as always, the best way to stay informed is to join our mailing list.

Oh, and if you happen to go trick-or-treating this month, we all know there's really only one right way to handle the candy pile at the end of the night....

Comments

  1. Well, I did jump on board and ... am thinking of jumping right back off. Hard enough to click through and okay the stuff it can do w/ my web interactions -- but I realize that I've got other apps that are just as invasive and the benefits are real.
    The "no, we steer your new tabs" thing, though, was in my face -- and tho' I figured out how to turn it off, I *still* had to go into my Chrome settings and click around more to disable it (and let the other thing determine my new tabs.
    We'll see!

    ReplyDelete

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