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Create your own learning collections

The Learning Lab offers digital resources for the classroom in flexible and easily modified formats. You can create and access personalized collections and build learning resources on demand. Through the Learning Lab, teachers have the opportunity to effectively and efficiently create collections that are classroom ready.

Creating collections in the Learning Lab helps teachers design engaging learning environments that leverage the rich, primary resources of the Smithsonian along with their own materials. Educators can create Learning Lab collections in two ways: 1) by identifying and grouping individual resources together themselves or 2) making a copy of an existing collection and modifying it based on their needs. Collections can be aggregations of resources for a particular lesson topic, groupings of related teaching materials, learning activities assigned to students, or anything an educator finds interesting or useful for teaching and learning. Your collections can be private, or you can publish them so that others can reuse and build upon your work — it's up to you.

1. How to Create Your Profile and Access Your Dashboard

Before you can create collections or save resources, you must sign up. A basic profile is automatically generated for you during sign up. To add information or update your profile, click on the sunburst logo and click Profile. Click on the Edit icon to make changes to your name, username, bio, and school affiliation. While logged in, you can click on the sunburst logo at any time to access your dashboard, favorites, collections, as well as access other Learning Lab pages. Your dashboard shows your notifications, collections, assignments, rosters, uploaded resources and more in one glance.

2. Copy and Modify an Existing Collection

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Copy Collection: After finding a collection created by another user that you'd like to use, click the Copy Collection icon, give it a name and save it. Your copied collection will automatically open.


Edit Collection: Click the Edit icon to add or remove resources from your collection. When you hover over a resource, click the Trash icon to remove it.


Add Resource: The last image in the collection grid allows you to add a resource.


In Edit mode, you can drag and drop resources to reorder them, add descriptions, annotations, discussion questions, and more.

3. Create a New Collection

To create a collection from scratch, search for resources related to a topic you are interested in.

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Add to Collection: Click the Add to Collection icon. A new window will pop up to allow you to Create a New Collection and Add the resource to it.


4. Upload Resources to a Collection

The Learning Lab enables educators to upload their own resources and materials from third-party sites to their collections. First, open the collection that you'd like to modify. Click the Edit icon to switch to Edit mode. Once in Edit mode, you can click Add Resource, which brings up a new window to select a resource from your favorites list and already uploaded resources. To upload a new resource, click Add a Resource, give it a title and description (optional) and select, "I want to upload a file." Next, click Select a File to search for materials on your computer. You will be limited to uploading files that are less than 10Mb in size. When selecting and uploading new resource to the Learning Lab, make sure that you are following the Smithsonian Terms of Use .

Resources uploaded to your collection do not become part of the larger, searchable resource pool that you encounter when you search on the Learning Lab. Rather they remain only within the context of your collection.

5. Add Resources via URL to a Collection

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Open the collection that you'd like to modify. Click the Edit icon to switch to Edit mode. Once in Edit mode, you can click Add Resource, which brings up a new window to select a resource from your favorites list and already uploaded resources.


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To upload a new resource, click Add a Resource, give it a title and description (optional) and select, "I want to contribute a website/URL." Next, cut and paste the web address and Submit. The Learning Lab will automatically generate a screen shot of the webpage added to your collection.

6. Add Information (i.e., metadata) to a Collection

Open the collection you'd like to modify, and click the Edit icon. In Edit mode, click on the Edit icon that appears when you hover your mouse over the title of the collection. A new pop-up window will appear to enable you to enter more information about your collection, including description, notes to others, subject areas, age levels, educational standards, and educational uses.

7. Add Annotations to a Resource
There are three ways to add annotations to a resource: 1) open text 2) hotspots and 3) metadata. All of these options become available when viewing a resource within your collection, in Edit mode.

To add open text to a resource, open the resource within your collection, in Edit mode, and click the + (plus sign) icon on the left hand side of the page.

Info: Click Info/Text and a dialog box on the left side of the page will open with a textbox for you to add a description, notes and other information you deem relevant to you and your students. By default, the information the Smithsonian created about this resource is auto filled into this textbox (including the resource title). You can leave it, add to it, or delete it entirely, depending on your need. When finished, click the check mark. Then click the Collection icon on the bottom right-hand side of your screen to return to your collection and click Save. You can add multiple notes to each resource.

icon_addresource.pngInfo/Text can also be added in-between resources within your collection. To add freestanding information, click Add a Resource box that appears at the end of your collection (while in edit mode), and chose the "Add a Standalone Tool" option.


To add hotspots to a resource, click the + (plus sign) icon on the left-hand side of the page. Click Image Hotspot to open the dialog box on the left of page where you can create your hotspot. You can choose boxes, highlights, or target hotspots. You can also add a description, choose the color and type, and then click on the image to place your hotspot. You can add multiple hotspots to the resource.

8. Add Learner Responses

Build compelling resources with the Smithsonian's digital assets by incorporating response activities. The Learning Lab offers three types of learner response activities: 1) quiz, 2) discussion questions, and 3) student file upload.

To create a quiz, you must be viewing the resource in your collection in Edit mode. Click the + (plus sign) icon on the left-hand side of the page, then click Quiz Questions.

Quiz Question: This will open a dialog box to the left of the page where you can add one or more quiz questions. The tool provides five types of questions/response types: true/false, multiple choice, short answer, long answer, and Submit File.

User responses can also be added in-between resources within your collection. To add freestanding responses, click the Add a Resource box that appears at the end of your collection (while in edit mode), and choose the "Add a Standalone Tool" option.

Once you have built your collection, you are ready to share it with others.

Share your ideas and inspiration here…