From Webslides to Pearltrees

Each week in class I pick a few of my students’ blog posts for discussion and string the links together in a list like a slide show of web pages. As discovered by a colleague I have been using Webslides from Diigo for this task over the last 12 weeks. Using the Diigo bookmarklet I can quickly capture the current page link into a Diigo group. Each Diigo group has a link to the start of the webslides presentation – example here.

The links are quick to gather but there are few niggles:

  • by default the web pages change every 10 seconds during presentation – not ideal for use in class
  • webslides caches the pages leading to a slow start-up, and an annoying overlay at the top of each page reminds the viewer that the page is cached and not live; an extra click is needed to remove the message

The first niggle is fixed by changing the settings for each webslides group, which naturally I don’t always remember to do before use. I have been looking for an even more efficient mechanism.

Today I think I found an improvement for page link presentations in the exotically named PearlTrees. Page links are stored as leaf nodes in a tree of links. Tree nodes are called pearls. Link gathering is made easy using the Chrome extension. Either the link is collected in the drop zone to be assigned a place in the pearltree later, or placed directly in the desired pearltree (subtree) of links. Pearls can be dragged to any required position in the tree. I collected some of the last student posts as part of my tree:

2010-12-05 SNAG-00

For presenting the pages as ‘slides’ simply click on a pearltree such as the Student Blogs Week 13 and the page shows the pearltree detail that acts like a title slide. Simple next/previous navigation with commenting is available with each page:

2010-12-05 SNAG-01

I have just described the slideshow features but PearlTrees has many social capabilities for sharing pearltrees with a friending system, Twitter and Facebook integration, and a mechanism for showing related and popular pearltrees. In this respect it acts as a visual social bookmarking repository.

So far PearlTrees has not been used in the heat of class preparation and presentation but the great ease of collecting and presenting a set of sample links bodes well for the future.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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