I have heard about the magical power of the tweet and of social media in general, but I generally poo-pooed the idea. Sure, I have seen those pictures of kids on Facebook with their signs about being dared to see how many likes they can get for their social media project. Yes, I know some people are super connected and live their lives in the world of social media. I just never thought I would be involved in something akin to social media wildfire.
It all started with a class assignment to review some blogs. Through a blog I was reading, I found edshelf. I fell instantly and madly in love with edshelf, and immediately signed up and started making collections. (You can follow me if you like.)
So what is edshelf (besides awesome!)? If you ask Mike Lee, the co-founder of edshelf, he will tell you it is two years of blood, sweat, and tears. If you look on the edshelf website, it will tell you it is a “directory of websites, mobile apps, and desktop programs that are rated & reviewed by parents & educators, for parents & educators.” If you ask me, it is a lifeline in a sea of edtech.
As a pre-service teacher, I am constantly learning about new technology for use in and for my future classroom. There is a lot of great stuff out there, but quite frankly, I find it all a little overwhelming. Not from the technology standpoint – I’m pretty tech savvy – but from the sheer volume perspective. How am I supposed to know what works and what doesn’t? I haven’t even done my first student teaching placement yet!
Enter edshelf. I have created collections of items to review when I have more time. I have one for administrative purposes, one for flipped learning, one for math, one for social studies, one for library management…I think you get the picture. I plan to continue “shopping” and adding things that look cool, but very well might not be. But that’s okay because now that my last final is done, I can take a more in-depth look at each of them. Each tool has its own page. On that page I can read a detailed description about that tool. There are “tags” that quickly let me see what age group and subjects for which the tool might be the best fit. I can learn whether or not the tool will work on my Mac (sorry folks – Apple girl through and through). I can view screen shots (or in some cases a video clip) of that tool in use.
That’s a lot of great stuff on one page to describe one item. And that’s not even the best part! My favorite thing about edshelf is the reviews. Those reviews are written by other educators. And those reviews help me to assess whether or not I want to spend more time getting to know a particular educational technology project or if I should keep searching for something that might better suit my needs.
But back to that assignment. I was so excited about finding edshelf, that I abandoned my blog reading and wrote my own quick little entry on my course required blog. One only need read the title to realize the depth of my affection for this fantastic site.
But then, something horrible happened. Mike Lee sent me (and all the other edshelf members) a horrible email. It was this blog post that made me really sad (and not just because I had an edshelf specific assignment coming up). Mike announced that edshelf was shutting down.
So, I randomly tweeted about saving edshelf and appended that with and “#edchat”. Then I introduced a new hashtag for educators – “#SaveEdShelf”. Little did I know that, thanks to the earlier of those two hashtags, that tweet would actually reach “everyone in education ever” as my tweet so gushingly requested. That started a whole new world for me and couple weeks ago, I posted about my resultant Twitter journey from neophyte to drowning as a result of that tweet.
Since that time, I have been in contact with Mike Lee and another fantastic guy, William Jenkins, a edtech guru on the other side of the pond in Glasgow, Scotland. All three of us are pretty stunned by the amount of support that one little, innocent tweet has garnered. As a result of that tweet, and a bunch of blog posts by wonderful supporters, like William, Eric Sheninger, EdSurge and others, Mike started get some attention from potential investors (or vultures, as the case sometimes turned out to be), and started to toy with a bunch of different ideas. He had lots of conversations with advisors, with his family, and even with me (!). In the end, on July 21, Mike sent me an email that made me grin from ear to ear. He decided to start a Kickstarter campaign to try and save edshelf.
So again, I tweeted. I had to tell the edu-world that this was happening and there was now something concrete they could do to help edshelf. And guess what? People started blogging about that too! EdSurge picked up this story too, as did School Library Journal. Amazing! I have been so pleased to see this level of support. It shows me that people really see the value in edshelf.
I was so excited when that campaign went live, I couldn’t wait to go pledge to help save this wonderful resource. I was sure I would be the first. WRONG! Not even 30 seconds after Mike informed me that the campaign was live, there were 10 other backers in front of me! But pledge I did, and of course I tweeted about it! And I will keep tweeting about it until I know edshelf is saved.
Want to learn more about edshelf? Check out Mike’s interview with TeacherCast. He gives you a quick run through the site’s features and he talks about the #SaveEdShelf journey from his perspective. So check it out, then head on over to the Kickstarter campaign and become a backer. Together, I know educators and edu-friends can #SaveEdShelf!