Thursday, January 17, 2019

Collaborating with Wakelet

About ten months ago I wrote about a new-to-me tool called Wakelet as an alternative to Padlet. Wakelet, like Padlet, is a curation tool, an easy way to create collections of images, files, videos, text, links, and tweets that all go together. It's easy to get started, free to use, and available as web tool on any device or as an iOS app and Android app. There is a Chrome extension, a Firefox add-on, and a Safari extension.

I recently had the opportunity to test drive a new Wakelet feature as part of a private beta. Today that feature shifts into public beta, so I am happy to share my experiences. This new feature allows users to collaboratively create collections and add collections to collections. I tried this out in two ways, in a collection of my own and my contributing to someone else's collection. Here's how it works:

Share your own collection

Create a collection of your own. Give your collection a name and start adding things to it. When you are ready, you can add collaborators by invitation emails or through use of a group code. Pass the code to people you want to collect with and they can join your group and start adding their stuff. 

I tried this out with my AP Chemistry students when we reviewed for our semester exam at the end of December. Students created Wakelet accounts with their school Google accounts, entered our group code, and joined the Semester Review collection. Each student was assigned a topic from first semester. They had to write some text about the topic, gather video and image about the topic, and include a link. When they finished with their personal collection topic, they added the collection to our Semester Review collection. Because they all had access to the collection, they could click on anyone's resources and explore topics they needed to review for the exam.

I loved using Wakelet in this way. My students created their own review materials for each other by gathering resources and sharing them with one another. Now the collection is available for the rest of the year and will come in handy in a few months when we review for the AP Chemistry exam. Because Wakelet has 3 visibility options (Private, Unlisted, Public), our collection is available only to members of our group, so I don't have to worry about the public seeing the names of my students or knowing too much about them. The collections are embeddable so I could move the whole thing to our LMS at school if I wanted to do that.

When I tried this with my students, it worked without almost any glitches. We had the slightest hiccup with adding collections when students tried to add them as a shortened link using Wakelet's built-in URL shortener. I used the chat feature within the tool to ask a couple of questions and got an instant response. Within five or ten minutes, we had the problem solved. The chat allowed for great user support. I loved that my students found something and then saw it get resolved. This is exactly what beta testing is designed to do!


Join someone else's collection

A second way I tried out the feature was to join someone else's collection. Laura Cahill, fellow Wakelet user, tweeted for bloggers to add their blogs to her collection:

In my Wakelet account, I clicked a button for Group Collections and was prompted to enter a group code. Once I did that, I had editing access to the collection and added my blog. Take a look at the collection of education blogs that she is curating.

When you are ready to ask others to join, Wakelet gives you many options. You can type in emails for invitations or share a QR code or link or just share the group code. You don't even need to have an account to collaborate in this way because Wakelet has an option to collect as a guest if you have a group code. That is a great feature for teachers of young children!

For a few years I have been co-facilitating a group of science specialists in Northeast Ohio. We have been stockpiling our resources in Google Plus, so I was annoyed to learn that Google Plus will fade away for many users, including my personal account that is tied to the Community associated with this group. Wakelet will be a great alternative for this use of Google Plus. The Northeast Ohio Science Specialists can use the group code to add resources to our stockpile. We can make it visible to the public so anyone can see it, especially specialists who miss a meeting and want to see what they missed or grab the resources. Now I just need a migration tool like the Wakelet wizards made available when Storify shut down.

If you haven't tried Wakelet, hopefully this new feature will convince you to try it. From trying it out without an account to sharing via QR code or group code, and now collaboratively curating collections, this tool has much to offer teachers and students.