Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Virtual Post-It Boards-Spaaze

All day yesterday, Twitter was literally exploding with news about the American Library Association Youth Media Awards.  Around the world those of us not able to attend the announcements in person were glued to our screens, watching the live streaming of the event.  As I watched, read, commented on and favorited tweets, I knew I wanted to save some of these memories if I could.

As I looked through my favorites last night I saw a tweet from Heather Moorefield-Lang, Education Librarian at Virginia Tech and current chairperson of the American Association of School Librarians Best Websites for Teaching & Learning committee.  She mentioned a web 2.0 application called Spaaze.  As far as I could discover Spaaze is not new but it's new to me.  I thought I might be able to use it to gather websites and tweets.

At the site Spaaze states:

Spaaze is an infinite virtual corkboard, and you can use it to do almost everything.

Beneath their header, left to right, you can learn more about the site, the pricing (it works on a point system, ninety-nine points are free), the extensive help section and their blog which keeps users informed on the latest news about the application.  As you can see from the image above, Spaaze can be used to collect bookmarks, to group together ideas, to create task lists, to work together on projects or brainstorm, to post information for research in the classroom or as a basic web page.  As you click on each of those "uses", the board to the right changes backgrounds and example information.  If you click on any of those boards a new window opens so you can begin to create your own Spaaze.

I decided to sign up for Spaaze before creating a board.  Simply go to the small black box in the upper right-hand corner.  You can sign in using a Spaaze, Google, Yahoo or OpenId account or create one using an email address.  For this reason I recommend this service for students over the age of thirteen.

After you click the Sign up button, a new window opens with a blank board.  In the center you will notice you can go to the Spaaze blog or a quick Getting started section.  If either of these are selected a new window opens so you can toggle back and forth between them and your board.  You can also edit each of them (choose the wrench icon) or open them up on top of your board (choose the magnifying icon).

To begin designing a board, go to the upper left-hand corner, selecting the plus sign.  A drop down menu gives you the option of adding a bookmark, label, note, YouTube or Vimeo video, an image, file or HTML snippet.  These are called items. Items can be edited, moved or deleted.   When you move an item to the bottom of the board, a menu of choices pops up.  You can drag the item to the trash can, share it by selecting the swooping arrow or move it to a hot spot.

When adding a bookmark you enter in the URL for the site, a title, a short description and whether you want it to be in a new window or the same window.  I would recommend a new window.  Click Ok to continue adding items.

The addition of labels, notes, a YouTube or Vimeo video and a file are very simple. (Please note the URL of the video in your browser needs to be entered in, not the share link URL.)  If you choose to include an image, you can do so by uploading one from your computer or by using a URL link.  If you upload one from your computer it costs you four points. Four types of file formats are acceptable.

To include an HTML snippet, add it to your board.  Then click on the wrench icon.  Copy and paste the HTML code into the space provided.  When I placed the embed code from tweets into the space and it worked I was thrilled. (I'm surprised I did not "break" Spaaze by adding so many tweets.)  Spaaze does state this also works for widgets and gadgets.

When you have collected a number of items they can be arranged, besides dragging them into position, by using the star on the tool bar.  Selecting the star creates hot spots where like information can be gathered.  (I also want to point out that as your screen fills with items the board moves up and down so more and more items can be added.)  When you choose Jump to...  you can move to those named hot spots.

When you are done with your board for the time being, click on Default board.  A drop down menu allows you to alter the board settings (change background and name the board), publish or collaborate on the board, export the board or create a new board.  To collaborate enter in the email address of those you wish to invite.  When you publish the board it will appear in a read-only format. You are given a URL link to your board when it is published.  Here is the link to my board titled American Library Association Youth Media Awards.  Place your mouse on the board to move it around to view all the content.

At any time you can install a Spaaze bookmarklet to assist you in gathering items for your board.  You can manage your account or read the Getting started post again by clicking on the small gear icon in the upper right-hand corner.  If you click on the house icon you are taken back to the initial home page but if you are still logged in you can navigate around the site as shown in the image below.

As near as I can tell Spaaze has been available for at least three years.  It's another great option for creating virtual post-it boards.  My favorite part is being able to copy and paste in HTML codes.  Allowing collaboration is another good feature.  I really love that I can read tweets, watch videos and scroll through web pages on the same board.  I recommend placing this web 2.0 application in your virtual toolbox.

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