Whether you’re a StumbleUpon aficionado or have yet to get to grips with this awesome content discovery site, keep reading, because it has the potential to be of real benefit in your classroom.
Whilst StumbleUpon isn’t the content discovery powerhouse it was back in January 2011, it’s far from had its day. It’s a powerful, user-friendly, educational tool that can help you become inspired, plan lessons, and connect with your students in a way that’s significant to them.
Fourth after Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for social media referrals, StumbleUpon provides a more focused way of browsing the Internet for useful, relevant material than relying on the attention-vortex that is Google. Just tell it what your interests are, and voila, it serves up a healthy helping of websites, photos and videos.
Not convinced? No worries. Take a look at these suggestions and we’ll soon have you jumping on board.
Using StumbleUpon is a great way to find new material to keep your curriculum fresh and interesting. Just type in your subject area (no matter how niche) and discover recent news, compelling photos, posters, printables, helpful studies and up-to-the minute topics for class discussion.
And it’s not just lesson content you can find there, either. You can also use it to discover innovative lesson plan templates that you can adapt and improve upon – particularly useful when you want to shake things up a little.
There’s also a whole host of articles and ideas on StumbleUpon that can help you innovate and improve as a teacher. From tips on behavior management to surviving parents evening, you’re sure to find something of use.
Encouraging your students to use StumbleUpon can help them develop a broader understanding of an issue, particularly when it relates to current affairs.
How? Ask your students to use the platform for their research, and they’ll be presented with articles written by journalists from across the globe.
In this way, StumbleUpon can challenge your students to break down their reliance on tried-and-trusted publications and to see things from a different point of view. We’re not saying each source will be as valuable as the next, but that this variance could be useful both on its own, and as a beginning lesson in evaluating source credibility.
By encouraging your students to be critical of these sources, you’ll also be teaching them a skill that’s valuable no matter what your subject area. Go through the articles your students have chosen to use in class and ask questions about who wrote it and why. Did the source make them reconsider what they’d first thought or reinforce their ideas? How did it compare with other sources they found?
No matter what your area of expertise, you’ll find a related channel on StumbleUpon. Discover content curated by your favorite sites, brands or people, and easily narrow it down to your subject area.
Fan of Grammar Girl, for example? Discover the pages she recommends on linguistics, education, and literature. Avid reader of Psychology Today? The publication’s channel will point you in the direction of fascinating, reliable content that you would never have discovered otherwise.
In addition to following experts in your field, StumbleUpon is also a great way to stay in touch with your alma mater. Follow channels from universities like Harvard, MIT and Stanford for updates on seminars and conferences, faculty research and publications, top stories from the college paper and more.
When used appropriately, social media can help you forge closer connections with your students and their parents and enhance the educational experience significantly.
Setting up a class StumbleUpon account is an effective way to ‘do’ social. Ask your students to follow the class account, then give them a target of, say, three relevant pieces to share a month. This is a great way to encourage students to keep your subject in mind while they’re browsing, and also of crowd-sourcing (or class-sourcing as seems more appropriate) resources for an upcoming project.
Connecting with your students in this way also provides yet another way to encourage critical thinking. Share a selection of sites with your students and then ask them to review both their content and value using the comments facility to start a thread.
In so doing, you’ll engage your students in their native environment and promote discussion – they’re guaranteed to be more than happy to spend a few minutes tapping out a review on their smartphone or tablet if it means not having to write anything out by hand.
StumbleUpon has great apps for both iOS and Android, so take advantage of them!
If you find yourself waiting for an appointment or stuck on a train, turn your idle browsing into something more productive and read up on either your subject or your practice.
A quick browse through the ‘education’ section will bring up any number of pieces that could revolutionize the way you teach. Discover tech tools to transform your lessons, as well as quick and easy games you can implement immediately, you’ll be so absorbed you’ll forget that you’re working.
This is a valid point for your students, too. Browsing through a site like StumbleUpon really won’t feel like work, so if you’re teaching an art class or a writing seminar, encourage your students to use the StumbleUpon app to get creative ideas for their next project.
StumbleUpon isn’t just another social bookmarking site; it’s a great place to build an engaged learning community where your students can take part in dynamic conversations with you and each other.
Remember, embracing technology can be really empowering, and the best technologies can even help you do more with less. Your students will no doubt have access to a smartphone, so putting them to good use makes sense!
Try to have fun with sites like StumbleUpon, they’re user-friendly and can make your job a lot easier. And if you need a little help getting started? Just ask your students. They’re bound to be able to teach you a thing or two.
Editor’s note: This piece was originally written by Jeff Dunn and ran on April 12th, 2012. A lot has changed since then, so we’ve had author Siobhan Tumelty update this piece with the latest techniques and innovations.