Findings is a relatively new service that allows you to capture text clips from the Internet or your Kindle and then share them with others.
It’s not exactly like any other service I’ve seen, and because of its focus on digital text (rather than video or images), I think it could be great for English teachers and students.
I love Findings because it replicates the idea of a commonplace book, where you copy down and save little tidbits from all the books you’ve read. The only difference is that it’s online and you can share your tidbits with others.
A bit more about Findings:
1. You install a bookmarklet and then can clip text highlights from the web. Or you can go to your Amazon highlights at kindle.amazon.com and import them using your Findings button.
2. The user interface is beautiful. Similar to the folks at Readability, the people at Findings care about typeface.
3. You can search for clips, or you can follow other people’s clips. If you like a clip, you can refind it and call it your own. Plus, you can comment on other people’s clips.
* * *
Although I am not quick to take on additional Web 2.0 tools, I like Findings a lot, and I think it would be beneficial for teachers and students.
Nonfiction and current events: Everyone in the class could post clips from various articles. Then, students could participate in discussions about the highlights. Because Findings forces the user to clip fairly short excerpts of text, there’s a good chance that conversations would stay text-based rather than off-topic.
Fiction: Findings would work perfectly in classes that have Kindles. The teacher could ask the students to find strong examples of characterization, personification, or anything else. Students can highlight and make notes in their Kindles (Findings captures the notes, too), and before class the next day, the teacher could import those excerpts for discussion in the classroom.
* * *
Sure, as a teacher, you can use other tools for a similar effect. After all, Amazon does collect all your notes and highlights. But its interface is ugly and unorganized. Some teachers use Diigo or Evernote with their students to collect Internet clips and annotations, and while I’m a huge fan of those services, they’re just too work to get set up with students, unless they’re a significant part of your curriculum. Finally, I suppose you could use Twitter or Facebook, but those services usually are not allowed by schools’ filters.
Therefore, I think I might explore Findings next year. Because it requires students to install a bookmarklet, it’s not ideal, but especially if students share one common account (instead of requiring their own), I think it could be a great tool.