The other day, someone reminded me that the Internet tools we use as educators, like Flickr, Voicethread, and Delicious– weren’t originally targeted to educators. Educators took those tools and ran with them. One thing I know- we get tired of hearing the word tools, and that’s mostly because we sometimes feel that it takes the focus off of creation or higher-order thinking. I’ve been complaining lately that there have been very few new creative platforms that have surfaced lately, mostly because Silicon Valley is so focused on the social graph and trying to make us buy more stuff through our interactions. The fact is, we’re always looking for new ways to engage our students, new ways to…create.
I came across another “tool” the other day, that offered me an invite. It’s called Bo.lt. Its service is simple:
Take a Web page URL, like CNN.com, paste it into Bo.lt, and Bo.lt will create an exact duplicate of that Website. However, this page allows you to edit any part of the Web page. It gives you a unique Bo.lt short URL, so that you know you’re not really going to the real CNN.com. You can replace the CNN logo with a picture of your dog. You can create your very own headlines and write your own stories. You can create your own banner ads that run across the top. Then you can share it with your friends on Facebook (there’s the social part), and all have a good laugh.
Now- remember all of this is in good fun. But, I see potential for educators.
One of the things I’ve been focused on a lot over the past year is: media literacy. Trying to make sure that students understand the Web, understand when they’re being lied to, and when they’re being advertised to- is an important skill in this day and age. We make websites all the time in my district- we use Google Sites, WordPress, and occasionally Dreamweaver. But Bo.lt could be a different type of learning tool. Teachers are always looking for ways to create fake Facebook pages for Abraham Lincoln, or Andrew Jackson. We utilize Glogster.com/edu a lot to create online posters, but I think we could leverage Bo.lt for some of this. I created an EdReach version of the Facebook homepage. You can access the entire page here: http://drezac.bo.lt/j4y24
As per education, I think of some of these essential questions: what would students do if they controlled the Web? What would their version of CNN look like? Or Facebook? How would students design these sites in their own image?
When it comes to history, I wonder- what would Google.com look like if Apple bought it? What would our Web news look like if Germany won WWII?
There are endless possibilities for how you could use this disruptive tool in a classroom setting. Give it a try, and let us know what you come up with!