Web curators are one of my favorite categories of online tools. These tools allow you to collect online resources and put them into meaningful groups which you can then share with others. These are great tools for teachers and students as they allow teachers to remix their curriculums to include web-based resources. They also allow students to keep track of the wealth of information available online, to formulate their own knowledge around these resources, and to present it to their peers and professors.

Expanding this category in a new and exciting way is MentorMob, which with its recent redesign and the inclusion of instructor tools in MentorMob U, is set to become one of the next big innovations in informal online learning – a cool hybrid of YouTube Education and Khan Academy, that offers crowdsourced lessons on just about anything. MemtorMob also provides a powerful tool set for creating instruction and using it in the classroom. Here’s a look at the new interface and an overview of how to get started using it.

What’s New?
For starters, the interface has been dramatically streamlined.  What used to be separate screens for creating playlists and viewing them have been merged into one user-friendly screen:

In addition to the new interface, MentorMob U now boasts a nice set of teacher tools that allow instructors using a paid account to track student progress when working through a playlist.

Finally, the MentorMob update introduces a Chrome extension and a Firefox plugin to make adding to your playlists much easier.

“The MentorMob Chrome Extension will help you add to your Playlists without even going to MentorMob.  While you’re surfing the Web if you come across content you want to add to your Playlist just click the MentorMob Extension and you’re done.  A new step is added to the end of the Playlist.” (Chrome.google.com. MentorMob)

Other Additions
In addition to the new interface MentorMob now contains teacher tools for MentorMob U users that allow educators to organize their playlists into folders, manage who has access to them, and see the progress that is being made in the various lessons  by those individuals enrolled in the system. In this way an instructor can integrate playlists that they create with community generated content to form entire lessons, units, or curriculums.

For example, just looking at the “Top Playlists” reveals a variety of lesson in categories as diverse as math, science, technology, social studies, business, art, English, music, foreign languages, and health. Additionally, there are categories explaining how to flip a classroom, and other university-specific topics.

MentorMob differs from other Web curation tools because it is built on the idea of collecting resources into instructional playlists rather than just collecting related items. Each playlist has a purpose of teaching someone how to do something. This DIY mentality, coupled with the community-oriented nature of the site and the idea that “mobs of people” are creating learning for others, is extremely appealing in a connected world where knowledge is increasingly a mediated process, rather than the domain of any one individual.

At some point, MentorMob or a similar model may become one of the ways in which the costs of education can be reduced and more students can learn for free, online. There is still a long way to go before that can happen, but this new release of MentorMob paves the way to a brighter, crowdsourced future for education.

Getting Started Using MentorMob
Step 1: Plan your instruction. Prior to beginning your playlist, you will want to browse the Internet and collect URLs and descriptions of any sites or resources that you want to include in the playlist. You should additionally create any documents that you want to include in the playlist, such as handouts, job aids, or graphics. Finally, you should outline the step-by-step process and insert the relevant resources in their appropriate places in your outline. You can adjust your playlist later, but it will be easier to start off with a solid plan. When your planning is completed, click “Create” at the top of your screen. Remember to keep your instruction to-the-point. It’s easy to get carried away with resources because MentorMob makes it so easy to include them.

Step 2: Fill in the Playlist information. This is an important step as it will help others users  find your instructions and know exactly what they should expect from them. You will also need to select your privacy settings to choose whether this playlist will be available publically or privately and whether you will be the sole creator or will allow others to contribute. When you are done, click “Save & Add Content.” You can grant students access to private playlist with the instructor tools. Click “Create” when you are done.

Step 3: An intermediate screen will display that asks if you’d like to contribute to an existing playlist rather than create your own. Click “Continue” to skip this and move on.

Step 4: An empty playlist will open with a large green “+” button in the center. Click the button to add your first step.

A new pop-up will appear asking if you would like to “Paste a Link,” “Upload File,” “Write an Article,” or “Add Pop Quiz.” Make your selection.

Step 6A: If the step you are adding is a reference to an existing website or online video, you can simply paste in the URL to insert that resource into your playlist.

Click “Next” after you have pasted in the link and filled in the step information in the spaces provided. Additionally, on this page you can choose the type of resource that it is, the skill level, and which thumbnail will be displayed with the step. Click “Save” when you are done.

Step 6B: If the resource that you are adding to your playlist is a file that you have created, you will select “Upload File” from the “Add New Step” window.

“The Upload a File” field will appear beneath the button. Browse for the file you want to upload on your computer and click “Next” when you have located it. Note that only files less than 25 MB are accepted and they must be in one of the following formats: .doc/docx, .xls/.xlsx, .ppt/.pptx, or .pdf.

Fill in the step information, select the type of file and the skill level, then click “Save.”

Step 6C: You may choose to use the MentorMob text editor to write an original article to include with the Playlist.

Step 6D: If you are at the point in creating your playlist where it would be appropriate to add a “Pop Quiz” for your learners, select the “Add Pop Quiz” button from the “Add New Step” window.

Add a title and description for the quiz, and then click “+ Add Question” to begin creating your quiz. Please note that your questions will be limited to multiple choice or true/false.

Continue adding quiz questions until you have completed your pop quiz. Then click “Save.” On the next screen you can preview your test questions and verify that the answers are correct. When finished, you can continue adding steps through the slide out playlist menu on the left of the screen.

Step 7: Continue adding steps through the slide out menu until you have completed your playlist. When you are done and satisfied with your lesson, click on the “Edit On” button at the top of the display to exit the editing mode.

You have now successfully created your first MentorMob playlist. Share it with the world to increase the knowledge or sign up for a MentorMob U account and get started sharing your playlists with students in your classes.

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