Backpack & Wizlite

June 8, 2008 at 11:54 pm 3 comments

Scott’s Web 2.0 tools

Web 2.0 Tools


The first tool I researched was called Backpack. The function of this tool is essentially as the name implies. Backpack is a place on the web where a user can keep information organized. All sorts of files can be stored and organized at the site. PDF files, documents, photos and spreadsheets just to name a few.

The strength of Backpack lies in its application
for collaboration among teams. All members of a team can have access to your Backpack page, just like a social networking site. There is also a group calendar so everyone can keep track of the schedules of the other members of your team. Reminders of important meetings
can be e-mailed or sent as text messages to your phone.

Three applications of Backpack listed on he site that I found interesting were gathering and reviewing research, meeting and prep notes, and keeping a page of frequently needed forms.

Research Page
This example had some brief notes to inform the user of the content of the page and links to .PDF files with full articles.

Meeting and Prep notes

This example had a list of reminders for the meeting, files needed and important reminders of key concept to be covered. This use of Backpack would have been helpful to have for a meeting I had just this past week!

Frequently Needed Forms

The last example shows a place to archive frequently needed forms. This gives you access to files anywhere you have an Internet connection. This could also be a great way to back up files in case a computer cashes.

Backpack Summary and Recommendations.

All in all I thought Backpack was a terrific tool with reasonable pricing if the cost was shared among members of the team. Plans range from $24/month for a basic plan, which includes up to 6 users, to the Pro level that is 99/month for up to 40 users. A solo plan can be purchased for $7 a month, but the opportunity for collaboration is one of the key strengths of Backpack so going solo doesn’t seem the way to go. A 30-day trial is available but it appears that if you forget to cancel at the end of the 30 days you would be charged for the month. The fact that it costs anything is a drawback for me. Having used a service similar to this before, I found uploading and downloading speeds to be very slow. I cannot speak to this feature of Backpack without trying it more thoroughly.


WizLite is an Internet highlighting tool that allows a user to select and highlight text on any page on the Internet. These pages can be shared among small groups that are created by the user. This makes the idea of WizLite a very appealing one for student collaboration.

In Practice

WizLite works as an extension for the Firefox web browser and as a bookmarklet. A bookmarklet is a small application that is supposed to work as a bookmark or hyperlink to add functionality to a web page. All you have to do is set up a free WizLite account and verify your e-mail address and BINGO! At least that’s what I thought. As of the time of this writing WizLite is not supported by he latest version of Firefox. The bookmarklet functioned as a bookmark that when accessed, worked with some pages and at times loaded very slowly if at all. As a classroom tool this could be problematic. Another downfall of WizLite is the fact that it only works with old versions of Firefox and is not supported by other browsers such as Internet Explorer and Safari. When the software worked a user can highlight text and add notes to highlighted portions of the page to be read later. It is important to note that in order to read highlighted text and notes a social group needs to bee created. You can download Wizlite, create groups and create an account at

Wizlite Summary and Recommendations.
It your computer lab has Firefox installed and you are willing to take the time to have your students set up social groups then Wizlite offers some intriguing possibilities for collaborative learning. There may be issues with access privileges so you should check it out thoroughly before planning to use Wizlite. User names should be chosen carefully to endure student safety.

Entry filed under: Access, Collaborate, Connect, Personal.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. becca14  |  June 9, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Thanks for the great information about these two sites! I found Backpack to be especially interesting. As someone who tends to have a lot of “stuff” on her desktop and in her inbox, I am always looking for new ideas to organize things into folders. I also really liked the calendar feature. This may be an excellent way for us to keep track of all of our schedules (especially yours) for next year so others can see when we may be available to co-teach a tech lesson with them.

  • 2. vlockwood  |  June 10, 2008 at 4:06 am

    I reported on Writeboard, which is a free program that offers Backpack for organizational purposes. I didn’t imagine any other application for Backpack until reading your blog and Becca’s comment. Obviously it is much broader than I thought. I am fascinated by the need for such a service as I am satisified with my folders and files system! I guess I don’t know what I’m missing – especially considering that this service is so needed that people pay to have it. I imagine it would be quite helpful in the business world.

    My initial reaction to your description of WizLite, the idea of it anyway, sounds more interesting to me as a possible tool in my teaching. However, I can also think of times when I was reading assignments Online and wished I could highlight information for later reference. If it works like I’m thinking, I feel like it may have saved me an awful lot of printing and highlighting on paper. Similarly, I think an Online highlighting option would be a great teaching support for students as they try to identify important details in their research projects. It is too bad there seems to be so many issues with using it. Perhaps it will be updated or there is a similar, easier to use option out there somewhere.

  • 3. skbrown537  |  June 14, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Wizlight sounds like a wonderful differentiation tool for students, Scott. I like the idea of allowing the students to highlight important information and/or vocabulary they encounter when reading a teacher-selected webpage. Is it possible for the individual to print the webpage with the highlighted text still visible? I will have to explore this tool further!


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