Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

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URL Shorteners for the Classroom and School

Overview

When looking at the URL of a website, we often see an extravagant string of letters and numbers that takes up the entire omnibox. But, when we want to share these links with someone, whether it be our students or our staffs, what would be the easiest way? Sure, we could copy and paste the link, but is that really aesthetically pleasing? In short, it's much more desirable for a number of reasons to use a URL Shortener site. These are sites that take that massive URL and clip it down to a much more manageable length, even offering the ability to customize the link in some way. As with everything else, not all of URL shorteners are the same, so below are five of my favorites to use and the features of each of them.

Why Shorten a URL?

There are several reasons why you may want a shortened URL. For starters, they look much more appealing. When designing or sending an email, a shorter link is much neater than simply copying and pasting the lengthy link. Additionally, some URL Shortening sites provide the user with the ability to track the data on that link, such as how many clicks that link has received in a given period of time. Finally, it's much easier to share a shorter link than it is a longer one. If students, staff members, or members of an audience are interested in the information or link you're sharing, they are more likely to share that out if is shorter and easier to type than if it stays its original size.

Tiny.cc

One of my favorite websites to use to shorten URLs is tiny.cc. The reason for this is simply because it's shorter than the others when typed into your browser. Additionally, the ability to customize the links that are created is a huge bonus. This service does have a paid option upgrade that includes several different features like link tracking and the ability to edit links once they've been created.

Tinyurl.com

Another user friendly URL shortening website is tinyurl.com. If you're looking for a quick site to use to shorten a URL, this one is it. It's extremely simple to use and allows you to customize your link quite easily. Another cool thing about this site is the ability to preview the link you've just created. Instead of copying and pasting the new URL in the address bar, there's a preview option built in to ensure your destination is correct.

Bit.do

Another amazingly simple URL shortening site is bit.do. This is just about as simple as tinyurl.com. Once you visit the site, there's one page where you're able to paste your link to shorten it, which also creates a QR Code, and never expires. The option to customize is also present. A really nice advantage of bit.do is the ability to track the links clicks. This would make tracking much easier to see how well and how frequently your link is being visited.

Bit.ly

A more formal, professional URL shortener is bit.ly. This site allows you to shorten a URL, but you are unable to customize. However, the major power of using bit.ly is the ability to track the amount of mouse clicks a given link has. Simply copy and paste your long link into the box on the site and it will generate a more manageable URL for you. Then, you can insert that link into your website or presentation to be tracked. Then, on the bit.ly site, you're able to view an amazing array of analytics associated with the link.

Goo.gl

Along with these URL shorteners, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Google URL shortener, goo.gl. However, as of April 13th, goo.gl has been shut down. But, if you have created links prior to that and still need to access them, that will be available until March 30, 019. In spite of it being a Google product, it did have one major drawback, which was the inability to customize the created links, which made it more challenging for sharing purposes. Google is replacing this service with Firebase Dynamic Links, which is aimed at being better and connecting directly to more apps.

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