With a great deal of us in education (and the general populace) using so many different online tools and offline technology for various parts of our lives, linking some of these websites, programs, and even hardware would surely make our lives just a little bit easier! And that’s where If This Then That (www.ifttt.com) comes in with easy, user-friendly life (and education!) hacking.
Using various “channels” (aka websites, programs, and even hardware) you can create “recipes” (aka easy to make action or activity links between two or more channels) that automatically do something to one site when something happens on the other site. It follows the “if this happens, then that occurs” process (hence, the website name!).
- Starring an email on Gmail will send a copy of that email to Evernote
- Tweeting with a certain hashtag on Twitter will send that Tweet to a Google Doc
- When your Facebook profile picture changes, your Twitter profile picture will change to match
- Every time you like a track on SoundCloud, the track saves to your Dropbox
- If it is going to rain in your area, you will receive a text message
- When you post a picture to Instagram, it will post as a native Twitter picture
- Send certain RSS feed updates to your Hootsuite
And those few are part of the thousands of options using IFTTT!
Now, are you overwhelmed by the idea of creating these “recipes” for yourself? Do what I did–steal from other people! When you create recipes, you have the option to share them publicly on the website for others to use (you still maintain the credit, of course). So, for the first six months that I was using IFTTT, I exclusively used shared recipes that I found by searching the website until I was both brave and confident enough to try making a recipe on my own (and it worked!).
For educators, the uses are endless. If you, for example, have a class blog or several student blogs on blogger, you can send all new student posts to a Google Spreadsheet or Google Doc, which makes grading and seeing all those posts phenomenally much easier. Or maybe you have students using a Twitter hashtag to communicate in a college-level course. You can program IFTTT to send you a text message whenever someone uses that hashtag.
This morning, the many applicants of Google Teacher Academy Chicago are waiting to receive their notifications of acceptance on gmail. Most of the tweets on the #gtachi hashtag talk about haunting and refreshing their Gmail inboxes practically ever five minutes. I thought to myself, hey, there should be an easy way to be notified when I receive an email from the GTA crew. Then, I was inspired by a tweet from @martinmoran21 and his reference to something from the office:
Since I didn’t want to be dependent on my Gmail all day long, I decided to use IFTTT to make several recipes to act like receiving a “WUPHF!” I made the following recipes within fifteen minutes to activate when I received an email from ‘firstname.lastname@example.org.’
- Receive a phone call (from an automated service hosted by IFTTT) that lets me know when I receive an email
- Get a text message including subject line information when I receive the email
- Send a tweet including the #gtachi hashtag announcing the arrival of the Google Teacher Academy email
Future GTA applicants are welcome to use these recipes as well! Click on the links for each recipe described to see the details on IFTTT and copy to your own account. Once you decide to use someone else’s recipes, you can edit them as your own, so future applicants can change, for example, any reference to #gtachi that I have in a recipe.
Go ahead and do a some hacking of your digital life today using IFTTT. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much you will appreciate these little tricks!