Symbaloo as a School District Dashboard

What started off as a casual "wouldn't it be nice if" statement, suddenly became a symbolic sigh of relief for teachers across our district.  

Over the past several years, our district has adopted a multitude of new technologies to assist teachers and staff with time/class management and their daily professional responsibilities.  Unfortunately, this came at the cost of teachers having to manage close to a dozen different websites and user accounts.  Our email client is separate from our LMS which is separate from our wiki server which is separate from our student information system which is separate from the...you get the idea. 

What we needed was a central place teachers could visit to access the resources they use on a daily basis. We also wanted this resource of be user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.   

Enter Symbaloo.

I knew Symbaloo had a massive following by elementary school teachers due to the colorful, push-button like functionality of the "webmixes".  As a high school teacher, I admit I was turned off at first by the simplicity of it all.  I soon realized that it could have huge potential as a landing page for web resources.  Its appearance mimics one of my favorite Web2.0 resources, go2web20.net.  Once I made the comparison, I instantly considered ways I could leverage its simplicity and functionality.


Finally, it hit me. Provide our teachers with a dash-board-of-sorts for the web resources they're required to access daily.  This resource would not only prove useful to current teachers, but even more so to guest teachers (substitute teachers) and new teachers to the district.  From this idea, the VVSDtech OnDemand page was formed.

After working with this product for the past few months, I have come up with the following conclusions:

PROS

  • Free!
  • Customize colors of the tiles
  • Customize the size/dimensions of the grid
  • Customize the tile icons
    • Choose an image from the icon library
    • Upload your own
  • Show/Hide customized tile text  
  • Add tiles created by other Symbaloo users
  • Embeddable (as seen on our the VVSDtech OnDemand page)
  • Embedded tiles for YouTube, wikipedia, and other Web2.0 sites
  • Widgets like Google Search, Calculator, Twitter, Translator, etc.
CONS
  • Widgets do not work in embedded webmixes
  • Embedded webmixes are branded with Symbaloo logo and cannot be replaced
  • Tiles limited to 12 colors
  • Tile size limited to dimension of the tile placeholder on the webmix grid
FEATURE WISHLIST
  • Allow embedded Symbaloos to be branded with custom banner (even if for a price)
  • Allow custom colors from color picker/eyedrop tool
  • Allow tiles to span over multiple tile placeholders
    • Allows for "featured" tiles
    • Allows for Titles for tile categories
  • Hide empty tile placeholders
Today is Valley View School District's New Teacher Orientation.  Today, we plan on unveiling the VVSDtech OnDemand page and are hoping that it exceeds their expectations.  I'd love to hear your feedback!  Leave a comment below.
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