Please tell me I’m not the only person who loves to collect information in actual (not virtual) binders. I’m a paper hoarder. I admit it. I love technology, but I still like to print things out or hang on to print items and punch holes in them so they can be included in a binder. Fortunately, technology has not only given me the opportunity to hoard less, but also share non-printed materials with students. LiveBinder is one option for sharing a variety of forms of documents and videos, without having to punch holes in anything. I had used LiveBinder first in 2013, when I needed to create supplemental materials for my students, but didn’t want to upload them to the classroom every term. LiveBinder was a way to create the collection of materials and just provide students with the relevant URL so they can access it on their own. Although LiveBinder seemed like a good idea, I wasn’t overly impressed with it’s appearance or functionality, particularly that I could not embed YouTube videos to play right from the binder page rather than just providing the link for students to click on and go to YouTube. Having started this blog, I decided to try LiveBinder again and happily found the YouTube issue resolved!
Goal: create a “library” of documents for students to access online (without having to log in to the classroom)
- You can restrict who has access to the binder you create by requiring the user to insert a ID and Password you generate; the user does not need an account with LiveBinders
- You can personalize it to a certain extent, with a graphic for the binder cover and colors for the background or tabs.
- You can “lock” the binder so users need the link and password to access it.
- Easy for users to navigate (not complicated)
- You can easily reorder tabs.
- There are multiple sharing options, including embedding the binder as a clickable icon to access the binder or as an “open binder.”
- There is help.
- It’s pretty simplistic…not very flashy, though it has improved since 2013.
- If sharing a website that is protected, it only provides a link to the website and a button to click that takes the user to the actual website. I realize that copyright issues are not the tool’s fault, but it’s still a drawback that the page is not more appealing to look at.
- Cannot include some special characters in the tab title (e.g., apostrophe)
- It takes a few seconds for the embedded content to appear on your screen after inserting the code. This originally cause me to panic and delete/undo the first few times. Don’t panic. Be patient. It should show up.
- You cannot open a dialog box (e.g., Settings) on a tab with an embedded video because the video overlays part of the dialog box.
- The free-version only allows for two levels (i.e., main and sub), whereas the pay-version allows for three levels (i.e., main, sub, base).
Insider View: Keep in mind that there is the main level tab and then sublevel tabs; these sublevels are actually the pages for content rather than tabs since you can’t further level down. For example, I had wanted a Writing Tips tab, then a sublevel of Plagiarism, and under that sublevel all my videos on the topic of plagiarism. But, I can only have a main tab before the next level has to have the content (not further tab levels). So, I opted for a main tab of Plagiarism with the related videos under that tab.
Final Thoughts: I didn’t really want to like this tool even though it is widely used in my department. I had harbored frustrations from my 2013 experiences, but the tool is effective, though it’s design is not very appealing. It’s still quirky and doesn’t have the versatility that I’d like, but it’s not awful.
Sample: I only created one sample binder since it is time consuming to gather the materials to include in the binder; creating the binder isn’t as time consuming as creating the materials to go in the binder. You can click on the tabs of my sample to access the content. As you’ll see in the sample, if the embedded file/video is larger than the binder view, then it runs off the screen so the audience needs to scroll to see it all.
Click here to open this binder in a new window.