Thursday, November 15, 2012

Move Over PiratePad--I Just Found Twiddla!

Cloud documents are a great tool for collaborative brainstorming, group editing, etc.  EtherPad was always a favorite, and I was glad when PiratePad took up the slack when it disappeared.

Of course, there's more to life than text these days,  and Wallwisher came along, allowing users to link to pages, upload images, etc.  But it's all note based, which isn't always design-appropriate.

I'm working with a class next week on creating tourism Infographics--a much better assignment than the originally planned Power Point Presentation!--and I wanted a tool that would combine text and visuals.  They're really great assignments for the library to promote, because they combine all the positives of research-based assignments--information literacy skills, data analysis, higher-level thinking, organization, recognizing relationships--but add visual literacy and the ability to distill ideas down to their essence.  A big plus for busy teachers:  No essays to grade!

Anyway, I'm introducing the students to infographics by
    1)  Pairing up to look at several, and determine the characteristics of a good infographic.
    2)  Each team shares one example and element with the class, with no repeats.
    3) I'll then put an infographic on the whiteboard for the class to dissect.

That's where TWIDDLA comes in.

Like etherpad, you create a "whiteboard" for your class, give the students the URL and they can all jump on to it to add content.

However, Twiddla includes tools to draw, erase, upload websites,  images and documents and add shapes.  What's even more cool:  I uploaded an infographic from, and the whole webpage came with it.  But I chose the large eraser, and erased everything but the infographic.  Thus, students will be able to view the graphic, comment on it, draw arrows etc. to specific elements, and it even allows layering.

It even includes mathematical formualae, which any math teacher will tell you is a BIG DEAL, and allows for audio chat, so students could use it to collaborate from home, too. 

More importantly for libraries, there are all kinds of ways this could be used:  throw up a citation and have students evaluate its formatting, group editing of research questions,  link to a website and have students mark up where they'd look to determine its reliability.

Take a look. I think you'll like it.

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