by Layne Nordgren
A quick look into potential uses of the web tool tackk for enabling web page creation, blogging, and discussion streams for courses.
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Several months ago I was searching for an easy-to-use web tool that would enable students to creatively introduce themselves to a class or share their course work — without having to spend a lot of time learning how to use the tool. Several tendrils of my search led to Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s “What is a Photo Quest?” web page, an optional extra credit activity for her History of Photography course, created with a web tool called Tackk. I was struck not only by the nice-looking web page, but by the engaging nature of the activity in which students were asked to post a picture about a topic on a web tackkboard and write 200-300 words about it. I wondered how much technical overhead it would take to enable students to complete the assignment.
Diving deeper into the tackk.com web site I came across the tagline “Ridiculously Simple Creation + Sharing,” leading me to skeptically question “Can it really be that simple?” I’m all for getting the job done and, where possible, having the technology get out of the way. So I began exploring tackk to understand how simple it really is.
What is Tackk?
According to the tackk FAQs page, tackk was created “to empower anyone to create great-looking content on the web, without needing special design or technical skills.” To create web page you can add headlines (such as a page title), add text, drag and drop images, insert videos, and adjust page colors, fonts, and backgrounds.
Once you’ve finished your page, you can make it private, password-protect it, share it with individuals, or make it available to anyone on the web. In the context of a course, you could provide a link to the page via your course’s Sakai lesson page, resource, or assignment. Collaborators can contribute to the page and public users can add text and photos to a comment stream to add feedback or contribute to a discussion.
So in a nutshell, tackk is sort of mashup of functionality that includes characteristics of web pages, blogs, and wikis — yet in a simple-to-use interface. See Why tackk? for a quick set of examples of tackk content blocks in a tackk page.
Below are just a few examples of how tackk might be used in a course:
- Personal Introductions – Develop an activity for your and your students to introduce themselves to the class, with the option of easily including photos and videos.
- Unit or Lesson Orientation – Introduce a unit or lesson with a video orientation to the content. Tired of some of the tedious constraints of Sakai lesson pages? Tacck provides a simple tool set to get creative with the look of your pages.
- Assignments – Create engaging assignments with incorporation of rich media.
- Blog Reflection Posts – Provide web space for individual or course blog postings.
- See My Digital Teaching Life with comment stream
- Interactive Syllabus – Create an interactive syllabus with images, videos, and buttons.
- Group Project Reports – Ask student groups to prepare a page that describes their project and progress.
- See Mealworm Lab report
- Peer Feedback – Have students share their individual or group work and receive feedback from their peers via discussion streams.
Getting Started with Tackk
Though you don’t need an account to begin experimenting with tackk, your tackk pages will go away after five days if you don’t have an account. To create an account, go to the tackk home page at http://tackk.com. From here you can sign up for tackk or alternatively connect with your Google+ account by clicking the “More signup options link.” The next screen will allow you to adjust your user profile.
Click the green arrow in the upper right corner of the screen to create a new tackk. You can choose a blank canvas or choose from other templates.
The canvas provides a set of tools at the bottom to add content objects to your tackk. Each object can be moved up or down on the canvas and settings can be adjusted.
Some of the key content adding tools that are useful in context of a course include the first seven on the left of the toolbar above:
- Headlines – You can add bold or italic formatting as well as links.
- Text – You can add bold or italic formatting, bulleted and numbered lists, as well as links.
- Photo – Add a photo by searching photos from 500px, uploading an image, pulling an image from Instagram, or by providing an image URL.
- Video – Paste in the URL of a video from sources like YouTube or Vimeo or upload a video.
- Audio – Paste in the URL of an audio file from sources like SoundCloud or Spotify.
- Button – Add a button that links to a URL; customize the text on the button.
- Map – Add a Google map of a location you specify.
Privacy and Comment Settings
Before publishing your page, you’ll want to check your Privacy settings under the options area. By default your tackk page will be public. You can adjust the page to be private or even require a password you set.
You can provide access to a private page by adding the tackk page link to your Sakai course or emailing those you want to share the page with. They will then be able to add to the page and comment on it via the comment streams. If your page is public, you can set whether comments can be made anonymously.
Adjusting the Look of Your Page
If you’re artistically and/or graphically inclined you can adjust the colors, fonts, and patterns of your page. But be prepared to try out a myriad of design combinations.
Is Tackk Ridiculously Simple?
For basic tasks, absolutely! But it does take a bit of experimentation to understand various details and options.
Schedule a Consultation
Need help with using tacck for your course? Schedule a consultation with Instructional Technologies staff via firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re eager to assist!