One of the things I decided to do this year was try and become as paperless as possible. Now, I understand "Going Green" is something many people are striving to do. I also think that saving the environment is something all people should do. However, the main reason for trying to go as paperless as possible is because I hate our copy machines. They are either broken or are occupied. I seem to have the exact same schedule as a few other teachers that need to copy their entire textbook all at once. Also, as many other teachers can agree, there is nothing more frustrating than having a student come to your desk asking for a handout from last week so they can complete the assignment due the next day. I stumbled upon a great website that allows people to upload webpages, photos, videos and pdfs. Welcome to Livebinders.com
Livebinders is a great site for a few reasons. First, it is a great way to keep any or all of the documents you have for a unit or an entire class. I have created a binder for my Graphic Novel Class. It's labeled as Pictorial Literature and it was a way from me to keep an organized binder of all of my new materials I wanted students to have access to. (Side Note: I will have more posts as time goes on about using Graphic Novels in class to teach core Language Arts concepts.) I was able to create individual units on each tab of the virtual binder and cut and paste my documents. Each assignment was clearly labeled and easily accessible for my students. As the Semester went on, I uploaded and linked more work to the binder. Each Binder has a 100MB capacity. I find it hard to believe that people are going to cross the 100MB mark, but you can always create another Binder. The Binders do not have to be teachers only though.
Students can use binders for projects. I hate having to carry around a bunch of different projects that students have created. They were frustrating in paper form and are a different type of frustrating if they are sent to my email or are burned to a disc. I use a Mac (Love it!) and might not be able to check the assignment at home if they used some weird program I don't have. Also, I just don't trust what kids put on their flash drives or email to open it at home. Livebinders allows anyone to create the binder and store on their website. With the ability to upload PDFs, Pictures, videos, etc, the students will be able to create a full presentation that a teacher can check from the comfort of home. For Social Studies teachers, I know you like to use binders for current events and other projects. A virtual binder would be a great way for students to link to current events and other important Social Studies materials that you can check at your leisure. Also, this is a free service, so it will not cost your students, or you, a dime.
Did you read that last sentence, it's freakin' free! That is another great part of Livebinders. Anything that can make a teacher's life easier and it's free is amazing. Now, it might take some time to upload all of the information you want, but once it's there, it's there. Send the link to students and they can access the information when they need it. Also, the Binder is available to the general public if you want to share the information with other teachers. You can protect your binder from general searches if you want, but that is up to each user.
Lastly, the biggest plus I can give Livebinders is their support services. I was using my binder and uploading a semesters worth of information 3 times and kept vanishing. I couldn't figure it out. I normally just assume it's a bad site and move on, but I saw the potential of this website and thought I would send the people an email to see what was going on. I sent them an email a couple of days before Thanksgiving and they hit me back in a day. The said I had stumbled upon one of their bugs that they are trying to fix. If you cut and paste too much information, the Binder you created would shut down. They apologized for the error and told me that they would work to retrieve my lost information and have it up and running after the Thanksgiving weekend. I thought that is really nice of them and I appreciated their quick response and I look forward to using the system. I received and email the weekend after Thanksgiving apologizing for the time it was taken to fix the bug in the system and offered to create the binder for me if I sent them my documents! They were going to do all of the work for me! I thanked them, but declined because I still wasn't sure about what I wanted to put in the binder. It is the best customer service I have ever received. Ever!
Livebinders is a great site that is still in the Beta phase, but it's a nice place for a teacher to start storing their handouts for students to access them when they need them. I actually had a student tell me it was nice to have access to the handouts because he is often to embarrassed to ask for a lost handout. That was reason enough for me to start storing more of my handouts on Livebinders.
Leave me a comment with your thoughts or experiences with this great site.