All of us save bookmarks on our computers to sites we like and intend to revisit and share–at some point–with our students and colleagues. The problem we often run into is that our bookmarks are usually stored on just one computer. And, if we want to share those links with others, we need to edit some HTML or–at least–copy/paste them into a Haiku page. In either case, it’s a time-consuming process. Then, after some time passes, the web page can be taken down or changed, and the whole point of visiting the page is gone.
Last year I discovered iCyte. In one fell sweep, my problems were solved! Once I installed it as a browser add-on, I was able to save my links, access them from any computer, share them with friends and students, and embed selected sub-sets (“Projects” in iCyte lingo) on my Haiku pages. Rarely has one small application changed my work habits so dramatically.
Here is a link to a project of mine for my U.S. History course.
Currently, I have 132 projects and over 3,000 links! I can find a specific link in a second using the search feature. I can access any web page–exactly as it was when I added the link–because iCyte actually archives that very web page when I made the iCyte link. I have created and shared many separate projects for links on special topics for my students and embedded them on my Haiku pages. These project lists are always editable, too–so I can go back and add or delete links in the future as information changes. iCyte projects are private by default, but you can make them either public (viewable by all other iCyte users) or private as you wish.
Creating a new iCyte (their name for a saved link) is simple and fast. I click an icon in my browser (next to the URL window), and a drop-down window appears. I can “tag” the link, place it in a new or existing project, all in a few seconds. That’s how I’ve wound up with 3,000 links! It’s so easy I do it now without thinking. Now, at least one aspect of my life is well-organized.
Another problem that iCyte handles well is classifying and annotating why I saved a link. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing–I re-visit a link I saved some time ago and, for the life of me, I can’t remember why I saved it in the first place! With iCyte, I can make a quick annotation for my future self–or anyone I share my links with–about what I like on that page. Additionally, I can set up a system of “tags” to create a kind of quick index of my links. If I search for my tag, all the links with that tag will show up, even if I saved them on different projects. I can even highlight particular passages on the page for future reference, and iCyte will save those along with the page.
iCyte is available for the following browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE. With the exception of IE, the add-ons work on either Macs or Windows machines.
Finally, a note of full disclosure. I emailed the creators of iCyte, after using it for awhile, to make a few suggestions about features they might consider adding. iCyte responded and was interested in how I was using it as a teacher. One thing led to another, and I have become an educational consultant for them. They are enthusiastic supporters of education. If you try iCyte, let me know how it goes. You can contribute to making it better.