Have you ever tried to send your students to an absolutely brilliant website that you’ve hand-selected that is perfectly aligned to your lesson, the common core, the essential question, and the benchmark exam….but it’s about 100 characters long?  You write it on the board (or on paper) and have the students try to type it in so they can get to this fantastic site that you have planned for them.  BUT…and we’ve all been there…inevitably students type in one teensy-weensy wrong letter, add a space, forget an underscore, whatever – and it’s a nightmare trying to run from computer to computer to see exactly where the typo happened and why the 100-character website isn’t appearing!

There is a solution.  It’s crazy-simple.  It’s been around for a long time, but maybe you didn’t know about it.  There are websites that are specifically designed to shorten URLs. (They are cleverly called “URL shorteners”.)  I don’t know how many there are, but there are three pretty well-known ones that I use all the time, so I thought I’d share those three with you.  Honestly, I don’t think one is better than the other…I just use whichever one pops into my head at the time.

1)  bitly – It’s the one I use most often.  I have no reason except that it’s simple, but they all are.  Here’s a screenshot:

Look at that original URL…http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities.blah.blah.blah.blah.blah.typo.error.oops…ughhhhhh!   Here’s what bitly does for it as soon as you paste the URL into that blank white space:

And seriously, this web address works for the same site.  I’m not kidding.  Try it.  It’s just a shortened version, and SOOOO much easier to write and give to your students!

2) goo.gl – this is Google’s URL shortener.  Same exact thing, different site.  Wanna see?

I even put the same original URL in to this one.  Different result.  Still shortened.  Still works.  Still much easier to share with kids.  Here’s the new and improved URL via goo.gl:  http://goo.gl/61Cn81 

3) tinyurl:  This is another one, and it’s just as good.  I’m not even going to do the screenshot for this because I know you’re getting the idea.  Tinyurl is another great choice for shortening URLs.

So that’s the long and the SHORT of things regarding URL shorteners.  Try all three and see what works for you.  No matter which one you use, it’s going to simplify your life and make the task of giving websites to your students MUCH easier!  Let me know your thoughts by sharing in the comments on this blog, @kerszi on Twitter or by following My Primary Techspiration on Facebook.