ClassConnect: Find, Build and Share Lessons

I come from a long line of teachers, both on my father’s and mother’s side. But, I strongly believe that you can’t learn everything from a classroom. There always will be a gap when it comes to understanding a classroom lecture. The gap is often bridged by materials from the library, group study sessions, private tutors and, of late, the Internet.

The volume of learning resources available online is staggering and you aren’t limited by geography to gain access to it. Like every other aspect of online content, the problem isn’t the lack of resources, but discovering, storing and sharing them is. ClassConnect is focussed towards helping you with the above mentioned issues all the while assisting teachers to create and distribute content too!

Overview

ClassConnect is a one stop shop for all your online learning needs. With it you can swiftly find lessons aligned with the syllabus from their public library and add your own links, online videos, Google Docs, files & more. All of your collections stay in the app until you delete them, so don’t worry about misplacing lessons from a previous semester when you are looking for a quick reference next time around. Sharing lessons or links from the web app with students and colleagues is really simple too, and students will all be automatically notified as and when changes are made to the content. Best of all, ClassConnect is free to use with a basic account.

Getting Started

Dashboard

Dashboard

The user interface of the app is plain and simple. Yet, I was unsure what to do when I first landed on the dashboard. There is a video to help you get started and the app helpfully suggests you to start uploading files. But, the Add Course link at the top is also compelling enough for kickstarting things.

After some digging around, I discovered that if you are a teacher and planning to add content to the site, start by creating a course. Not a big deal, but even this slight confusion could be avoided by labelling the sections for students and teachers appropriately.

Adding Files

Creating Folders

Creating Folders

The AJAX rich experience makes using ClassConnect fun and snazzy. Create as many folders as you need and move files into them.

Adding Files

Adding Files

Talking about files, you aren’t restricted to just uploading files from your PC. The app doesn’t want to be just another dumb cloud container, and allows you to add URLs, embed codes and even Google Docs files to your collection. However, instead of hiding all file upload options under Add Files, making them available in the sidebar would make the process even more quicker.

Adding a Link

Adding a Link

I tried adding a URL from our NetTuts blog to my folder and as soon as I pasted the link in the app, it automatically picked up the title of the tutorial. The title can be edited and there is a text box for adding a brief description too.

Browsing Links

Browsing Links

All files carry a thumbnail marking their type and if you click on the filename, you get to see the content right from the app. That’s right, you can browse a link or read a Google Document, without having to leave the app. You can use the toolbar at the top to navigate and manage content, when you are viewing another link. Such a cool feature to have!

Sharing Content

Sharing Files and Folders

Sharing Files and Folders

Using ClassConnect, collections can be shared any which way you want. You can share entire folders altogether or pick and choose files. The app comes with finely tuned sharing options. You can either share a file publicly or invite only a select few to either view or edit the file. Files shared publicly count as free storage and your quota will remain untouched.

The Teachers Section

Creating a Course

Creating a Course

ClassConnect could have been a me too bookmarking or file storage app, if not for the Teacher’s section. Multiple courses can be created, each divided into various sections for easy organization.

Status Updates

Status Updates

In addition to uploading files and videos, course creators can update students from a Twitter like microblogging feature. Neat!

Final Thoughts

ClassConnect could do a better job at helping folks discover files. Currently, publicly shared files by students and teachers can be found only through search. If you fail to use the correct keyword, there is a chance you might not discover highly useful course materials. A section dedicated to showcase publicly shared files will put ClassConnect in the spotlight real quick.

The web app follows Dropbox model for spreading the word out. Every colleague or friend you invite that signs up for ClassConnect earns you both 500 MB of free storage. There seems to be no cap for this free referral storage unlike Dropbox, though. I highly recommend students and teachers to try ClassConnect. I wish I had this app when I was attending University!

Share Your Thoughts!

How do you manage all your digital educational material online? Think ClassConnect will help save you significant time and energy?


Summary

Using ClassConnect one can find lessons aligned with the Common Core and add their own websites, online videos, Google Docs, files & more

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