Monday, February 9, 2015

Pearltrees - Visually Organize and Share Collections of Files and Links

Pearltrees is a visual bookmarking tool that I first tried nearly five years ago. Over the years it has changed in response to feedback from its users. One of those changes was a transition from free-form webs of related files and links to its current format of visual squares and folders. I'm a big fan of the current format.

Pearltrees now allows you to organize collections of links, videos, images, and files. All of your collections appear in your Pearltrees homescreen and from there you can access and add to any of your collections. The new format makes it easy to drag-and-drop files from your desktop to a collection in your Pearltrees account. The Pearltrees browser extension enables you to quickly add content from a webpage to your collections. To combine folders or create sub-folders simply drag and drop one folder on top of another just like you do when making folders of apps on an iPad. Speaking of iPads, Pearltrees works the same way in your web browser as it does in their free iPad and Android apps.

Pearltrees offers a handful of ways to share your collections of resources. In addition to the typical methods of Tweeting, Facebooking, and emailing collections, you can embed your collections into a webpage. Embedding your collection into a webpage could be a great way to share collections of resources with your students when they visit your classroom or course blog.

Applications for Education
Pearltrees recently published a good guide to using their service in schools. Included in that guide are tutorials for teachers and use cases for education. One of the use cases that stands out is the option to collaborate with students on the development of collections of resources during a research project.

Last but not least, Pearltrees now offers a slideshow display option that you can use when viewing all of the resources in a collection. Simply click on any item in a collection to launch the slideshow. Using the slideshow format could be a good way to have students quickly take turns discussing the resources that they have added to a collaboratively created collection. I envision doing this by opening a slideshow and flipping through the slides. When a resource that a student has added pops-up he or she will have 20-30 seconds to talk about why he or she added that resource.