Monday, September 24, 2012

My Favorite Friday - Hackpad to organize meetings & discussions

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This is my first time doing one of these, but I wanted to share a site that I've been using to help organize meetings and discussion groups at school. The site is, and it's basically a wiki (or document that is editable by multiple people), but with some nice, extra features that make it super useful for organization. To use the site, you can either create an account or use an existing Google or Facebook account. The benefit of using one of those (I prefer using a Google account) is that you will stay logged in to Hackpad for as long as you're logged in to the other account. And if there's one thing that I hate the most in the world, it's logging into accounts. 

Uhhh... my password?????

So once you're in, you can start making "pads," which are basically blank documents that you can share with other people. The awesomestestest thing about Hackpad is that once the people you're sharing them with make accounts, their name automatically appears next to whatever text they've entered. Here's a screen grab from a pad I'm using in a professional development group on young adult literature:

A few things to note:
  • There are several different privacy levels, from public to those with link only, to those on a pre-approved list only. The default setting is private (only you can see it).
  • Bolding an entire line of text automatically makes it an entry in a table of contents, which is super useful for organizing long pads. (See the table of contents on the right-hand side above)
  • It's super easy to embed links, images, tables, and videos - the site recognizes the format and everything is embedded in a single document.
  • You can create to-do lists with check-boxes.
  • When changes to the pad are made, all of the people signed-up for that pad get an email with what the changes are. They can edit by going directly to the pad or by replying to the email.
  • You can group pads into collections (basically, like folders - the pad above is in my "School stuff" collection).
  • You can call up specific people using the @ symbol - if they have an account, their name will pop up from a drop-down menu and they will get a notification email that says they were called up in a pad (basically like tagging in Facebook or Twitter). This is super useful if you have a question or comment for a specific person and want to make sure they see it.
  • People can edit at the same time and the changes are recorded in real time. There is no need to save - it is all automatic.
  • You can link to other pads so one can be one initial pad and when it gets too big, you can cut chunks off and make them into individual pads that can still be navigated to from the main one.
  • You can view the document as a cohesive whole or as a series of changes, ordered from most recent to least recent. This can be helpful if you just want to see what's been changed.

Yes, there are some similarities to google docs in that pads are shared and editable by many people. The main benefits that I see with Hackpad are:
  • You don't need a Google account so this can be used with lots of different groups of people with varying levels of tech-savviness. People can access it using whatever means is easiest for them (Google account, Facebook account, or with an email address & password).
  • The name of the writer is automatically shown next to the text they added so it's super easy to see who is saying what in a discussion so no more typing in third person, or trying to figure out who "I" is in a document.
  • You can "tag" (or call up) specific people.
  • Ability to view recent changes.

Some drawbacks that I've found are that if you have a lot of pads (which I do), you can get inundated with emails for updates being made to each one (to fix this, you can set a specific pad to not get notification emails) and the site does not play well with Android mobile devices. I'm hoping that they will come out with an Android app sooner rather than later, since that would make it way more convenient for me to use on the go.

I wrote a blog post for them recently specifically about how I use Hackpad in an education setting:

1 comment:

  1. That is so cool!!! Thanks for sharing and welcome to #MyFavFriday :)