Review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013

SymbalooEDU

Organize favorite educational links into handy grid

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Teachers say (16 Reviews)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
1-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: The tiled interface is intuitive, and it's easy to store lots of information without it becoming overwhelming.

Cons: The free version has limitations; if you want to add users, you'll need to upgrade.

Bottom Line: It's a simple, visually clean, and very helpful way to organize online information for you or your students.

You can ask students to read webmixes as their assigned reading; this would work really well for a flipped learning classroom. Kids can check out the webmixes at home and then come to class and discuss what they've read and seen. You can also ask students to set up their own webmixes as an exercise in online research; it's a great way to organize information for reports. You can also create a classroom mix on a particular subject to which everyone can contribute. It's important to make sure that you're linking to appropriate content; some sites may have great information but may be heavy on ads or link out to other sites you might not want students looking at.

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SymbalooEDU is a bookmarking website that helps educators and students curate and organize their favorite websites. It's a resource management tool that can be used to compile lesson plans, pertinent links, Web pages, or any kind of content that would be helpful for your classroom. After signing in with an email and password, you'll be taken to your home screen, which is a grid of different-colored tiles. Each collection of tiles, called a webmix, contains links to content; you can organize them by subject, age level, or any way that works for you.

The home tab, EDUTeachers, is pre-populated with all the main subjects like history, writing, chemistry, and geometry, as well as links to educational sites like the Learning Network and iTunesU. You can adjust it to add your own content, or you can start from scratch to create your own webmix. Other tabs include EDUTools and Widgets. You can share webmixes with students or other teachers, but they're private by default. You can also embed any webmix into your personal website; for example, if you have a website that students check for class information, you can incorporate a webmix into its format.

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Symbaloo hopes to take the place of iGoogle, Google's old bookmarking system, and it's doing a pretty good job. Organizationally, you can go really deep, creating grids within grids of linked sites on any subject. For example, you can set up your webmix so that when you click Literature, you're taken to a menu that includes American Lit and the subcategory 1900-1930. You can fill that subject heading with individual books like The Great Gatsby and, within that, as many lesson plans or links on the subject as you like. It's extremely handy and reasonably intuitive, and the free account works well for most purposes. The Teacher version allows you to have up to 50 users; this version may work best if you want students to create their own webmixes under your account.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

The tile-based design is pretty easy to use, but the home screen is a bit busy and can take a while to figure out. Pre-populated links (Click "Writing" and you'll get 6 sets of tiles already filled with helpful content) are a plus.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Organizing online favorites takes a few minutes, but it's a time-saver in the end and can help kids with lasting study and work habits. Sharing webmixes with peers gives users a chance to learn from other.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Videos, PDF's, and a Knowledge Base cover most of the, well, bases required to best use SymbalooEDU. Additionally, there's a user forum especially for teachers.


Common Sense Reviewer
Polly Conway Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
(See all 16 reviews) (16 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Melissa Z. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Liberty
Springfield, MA
4
Just a Click Away

It is a great tool to help us gather websites that are appropriate for our students to use. It is free to set up an account so you don't have to worry about paying for it. There is a portion that does cost and you can look into what that has to offer. I have found this tool very beneficial in my teaching. I don't just use it in my teaching, but I have used it in workshops that I have presented at. My favorite part about Symbaloo is how easy it is to use. I don't have to waste time figuring out what to do. I highly recommend looking into the program.

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