Thursday, June 25, 2015

How LiveBinders Keep Me Sane and My Digital Resources Organized

I love the internet for resources of all kinds: class and group lessons, images, videos, music, PowerPoint and Prezis, activities, games, worksheets, Google forms, and more.  But sometimes it can be absolutely overwhelming!  I know you know what I'm talking about! I have seen dozens of the above items and think, "That is so cool! I want to try that," but then later, I can't locate it or remember what it was called or where I saw it.  I then waste untold time in a desperate search trying to find it again. Sometimes successfully, most of the time not. Or, I start clicking away to download things on my computer, only to have an enormous jumble of stuff in my download file that I find difficult, if not impossible to sort through.  So when I discovered LiveBinders, I knew that was for me!  What a great way to save my sanity and organize my digital resources!

LiveBinders is a FREE web-based service that allows you to create up to 10 digital binders with 2 levels of tabs and storage of 100 MB for storing, organizing, and sharing all your digital resources. Like a real paper and vinyl 3 ring binder, LiveBinders lets you create and organize your binders in whatever way that makes sense to you; binder by subject, tabs, subtabs, even color coded.  Tabs can be across the top of the page or on either side. As you explore LiveBinders, you might decide to have entirely separate binders for things like lessons, activities or videos. At this time, I have chosen to organize all my School Counseling resources alphabetically by subject area in one binder titled "All Things School Counseling."  You may also view my LiveBinder on the navigation bar at the top of my blog page.

In some ways LiveBinders is like Pinterest, as you can add a LiveBinders button to your tool bar and add items of interest to the tabs you have created in your binders, just as you do to your boards in Pinterest.  However, LiveBinders is a closed system and it will not suggest other "pins" for you or take you to similar binder resources. You may choose to make your binder public, keep it private, collaborate with others or share with select individuals by giving them an access key.

There are dozens of free, public binders you can view for ideas or to utilize their collection of resources. Some of those public LiveBinders include some pretty amazing School Counseling LiveBinders!  Unlike websites like Facebook, Pinterest, and some School Counseling blogs that are blocked by many school districts, LiveBinders (at this time) is still a web tool with resources I can access at my school.

There are numerous videos on YouTube and tutorials on the LiveBinders website to help you with set-up and organization of your binders along with other ideas for their use.  Check out this video for information on "How to Use LiveBinders in 7 Minutes."

In addition to cataloging your digital resources, LiveBinders can be used for organizing and sharing your lessons, collecting presentation resources, storing your School Counseling newsletters, even creating informational binders for parents.  Want to venture into the paperless domain? Maybe a "Back to School" LiveBinder for teachers or families with things School Counselor related like your introduction letter or PowerPoint, job description, services provided, curriculum plan for the year, special events announcements/calendar, School Counseling Advisory Council information, goals for the school year, data from the previous year, etc.  I am currently working on a Community Resources binder to share with the School Counselors in my district covering services available in our county and surrounding areas. The Community Resources binder will be a great tool for my local colleagues and I and an important addition to my school counseling website for parents. There are even step by step instructions to help with embedding a LiveBinder to your website on the LiveBinders "Help" page.

What can I say?  I love LiveBinders! When I'm surfing the web and I see an activity, lesson reosurce or article I like, I can just click on the LiveBinders button on my tool bar and it asks me which binder I want to put the resource in and which tab I want to put the resource under.  Click, click, click and your resource is saved.

The possibilities are endless for managing, organizing, and sharing your digital content as you surf the web and dream up ideas to improve your School Counseling program. So go to the LiveBinders website, set up your free account, add the LiveBinders button to your toolbar, set up some basic tabs by topic and start clicking. And the next time you are looking for that video or that activity sheet, you will be glad you did!

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