Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Jack And The Giant Would Be Surprised---Been for Education

Six weeks ago Heather Moorefield, Education Librarian at Virginia Tech and chairperson for the American Association of School Librarians Best Websites for Teaching & Learning mentioned on Twitter (this woman is tireless in her efforts to provide her followers with the most up-to-date news) about a newly launched application.  This free service allows users to create collections of web-based information.  When I initially looked at the site I felt it might not be appropriate in an educational setting.  Imagine my surprise when looking at it last week to see a new sister site for K-12 educators.  It was released on March 18, 2014!

In Been for Education (to shorten the features' section):

  • a safe, dynamic way for your students to discover and share in collaborative learning is provided
  • classes become social networks...wrapped in its own protective "bubble"
  • Beens are unique based upon the creator(s) or collaborators, teacher(s) and students
  • Beens are instantly adaptable to a single user or multiple classrooms; you decide how many will participate and
  • you choose the right form of collaboration; a student can go at their own pace, multiple students can chat together or by using the Surfing Together option students can go to the same page at the same time.
When going to the home page you can first view four short video introductions about Been, This is a Been, Create a Been, Gather Together and Surf Together.

Beneath these videos you can access even more information in the form of Tour, Get Started, About, Blog, Get Been, FAQ, Contact, Privacy Policy and Terms.  At this point I would like to note the excellent support given by the Been team, particularly Dave Yoon.  I had several questions during my exploration of the site. Through a series of emails all my queries received replies in mere minutes.  This is a huge plus!  The FAQ section is extremely beneficial.

To begin using the application click on Sign Up Now located in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. This brings you to the registration window.  If you are signing up as an educator, make sure to select that button.  It will take you to another window. All the fields (5) plus the two check boxes need to be filled-in.  My account was quickly activated.

The next step is to acquire the Been add-on for the browser of your choice.  I use Google Chrome exclusively at this time.  A tiny icon, Been, appeared in the upper right-hand corner of my tool bar and in the lower right-hand area of any web page I access.

Each generated Been can be for your own use, to use with colleagues or to use with students.  When you log in you are taken to your profile (home) page. At this page you can (1) view your account, (2) view your Beens, (3) go to other created Beens, searching by keyword, nineteen categories and sort by members, pages and age, (4) search Been, (5) check messages (this takes you to your account page) and (6) add a new Been.  I like the note which popped up advising me I could drag and drop pages from one Been to another.

Before creating a Been let's look over the Account page.  It's where you can manage your Beens and activities related to them.  Any of your Messages can be deleted by clicking on Actions.  You have the choice to make your Comment public or not.  For each comment it shows From, To, Page, Comment and Date. (Comments are added to pages in your Been.) In the Contact section you list their username, first and last name, educator status and whether they can initiate a surf together action. (You control your students' ability to do this.) There is also a tab to Create/Add Students. Within Settings you control the basics of your account. At this point I am not sure what the Cookie Been is.  

When you click on the Add New Been icon an additional smaller screen appears.  This asks you to give your Been a name, select a Been design, import (upload) student files and create your Been.  Your new Been is shown above the Add New Been icon. My newest Been is titled Mock Caldecott 2015 Illustrators.

Begin adding pages to your Been by going to websites.  A green Been hovers in all your accessed websites. (It's a faint gray with a question mark if you are not logged in.)  Click on it to see all your Beens.  Mousing over a particular Been will give you the option to see any pages in that Been (arrow on top) or to go to the management page for that particular Been (tiny magnifying glass). You can enable other members to add pages to this Been. (Invite)  If invited members are on the same page at the same time they can comment as if they are chatting.  When you do this, the icon changes to little people.  (The title of your Been also appears.) 

Management page for my Mock Caldecott 2015 Illustrators Been

When I selected my Been for Mock Caldecott 2015 Illustrators at a web page I wanted to add, a comment window appeared.  After typing in the comment, choose the enter key to complete the task.  A small yellow square indicates comments are available.

These next two images show (1) all the web pages added to my Been and (2) the newly added comments on the Been's management page. When you mouse over the pages (1) the URL and comment can be viewed.  You can also delete the page here.  From the comments page (2) you can access any of the web pages or delete the comment. 

In addition to inviting others to comment along with you on the same page, Been for Education allows members to Surf Together.  This is an amazing feature.  It is best explained by this video created by the developers.  

After a Been is made the portal page also shows thumbnails of each added web page, allows someone to comment (write a note) about the entire Been by choosing About (1) or you can send your Been to someone via email (2). Here is the link to my Been, Mock Caldecott 2015 Illustrators.  

Been for Education is a very impressive website.  The services available for educators are outstanding in every respect.  The past six hours have flown by as I tried all the elements.  I highly recommend this website.  


  1. I have signed up for an account and I have already created a Rainforest Pathfinder for our 5th grade students. I am loving this digital resource and the customer service has been great when I had questions! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. That's great news Sheri! I can't wait to create my next Been either. And you are right. The customer service is excellent. You are most welcome. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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