Possibly the best thing since peanut butter

Social book marking was introduced to me this past summer during a course on inquiry learning.  As students, we were always looking up references, following web links and and sharing interesting online finds.  When my “favourites” lists began to mushroom on two computers and I was constantly scribbling website addresses onto bits of paper, I wondered,  “how will I find my stuff?”,  “now, where did I save that address?” and “what if my computer crashes?”   Just at the right moment, we had an assignment to look at Diigo and Evernote and decide which one would best meet our needs and why.  I followed You Tube tutorials on both and decided on Diigo.

Equally easy to add was the Diigolet toolbar to my browser.  This allows access to various features of Diigo that make it such a versatile social bookmarking site.  For example, you can add sticky notes or highlight passages for sharing with others.  I’ll talk more about personal and professional use of Diigo in a minute.

I work with colleagues who use the social bookmarking site, Delicious.  They like the organization by tags and get a sense of a sites popularity or usefulness by the number of views it has received.  It’s also collaborative and simply laid out on the screen.

Diigo allows you to designate tags to your bookmarks.  You can search and organize by tags as can anyone you collaborate with, students, colleagues or your professional learning community.  As Will Richardson discusses in his book, Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts, “When we now have the power to organize vast libraries of information on our own, the process is being run by millions of amateurs with no real training in classification.” (p. 91)  This isn’t a bad thing though.  As he continues with his description of “folksonomies”, “ The idea is that in working with your community of researchers, new tagging systems will emerge and become accepted that will allow us all to participate in the process.” (p. 91)  “Thus we get connected to information in ways traditional libraries cannot duplicate.  And the more people contribute to the creation of folksonomies, the more valuable they become to all who participate.” (p. 91)

Personal use of Diigo

As I’ve found things that interest me – You Tube clips from other students, articles, videos – I’ve bookmarked them to Diigo.  The trick to organizing these personal bookmarks is having lists already created before you start saving.  I’ve found it tricky in my learning of Diigo, to organize bookmarks once they’re in “My Library.”  I still have more playing to do with this site before I feel like an expert with it but so far, it’s worth the effort.

One of the features of Diigo that I like is that you can designate bookmarks as public or private.  Most of my bookmarks are public and can be accessed by anyone interested in the same area of research as I am.  I’ve bookmarked a few as private, more for the exercise of seeing how Diigo works than choosing not to share my findings.  It’s incredibly versatile in this regard.

My husband has also discovered the benefits of bookmarking with Diigo.  One night he was researching on the internet for work and wanted to be able to share a site that he had found with his colleagues.  I showed him how to use Diigo and he was so impressed with it that now, half of his office is bookmarking with Diigo.  It’s a powerful collaborative tool that he has used in  large group presentations as well as for his research.

Professionally speaking

Since discovering how easily Diigo allows you to organize bookmarks you may need on different occasions, I’ve set up a group for work I’m involved with in my district.  This year, the superintendents are reviewing and rewriting all the policies of our district and I’m involved in the review of school library policies.  At our first meeting, it was suggested that as each member of the group found a useful resource, that they email the link to the assistant of our superintendents.  The first thing I thought was what a lot of extra work for this gal to receive the email and then forward it on to the group.  Our inboxes would fill quickly and emails could get lost in the suffle.  That night I went home and created a Diigo group for our policy review committee and now we all have access to one place to share and read what others have found.  It’s very exciting to see a Web 2.0 tool in practice in this way.  No longer is Diigo just for my personal use but for meaningful real world work with colleagues.

Thinking of our students

As teachers, we owe it to our students to teach them to collaborate with tools like Diigo.  Instead of researching in isolation, they are all building a community database to which they all have access and can still pursue individual questions and create unique products of their learning.  When I think of how I’ve seen things done in classrooms, this is a radical idea whose time has come.

Being able to have each student’s name as a tag and to send articles to specific students based on the questions they are exploring, makes so much sense.  This is truly differentiated learning.  No longer do teachers have to be fearful that their students are not all doing the same research and producing the same product.  They can support, monitor, and scaffold the learning of their students on an individual basis as they search the web and databases for resources to guide their students.

Reflections on Diigo

Like most Web 2.0 tools, I approached Diigo with curiosity but some hesitation.  It’s almost as if I doubted that I was capable of learning a new online tool but here we all are, learning Web 2.0 tools and using them.  Will Richardson’s book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other web 2.0 tools, is an excellent resource for understanding not only what social bookmarking is but how others are using it in their classrooms.  The links he includes in his book are current and have lead me to discover other sites and resources that I’ve bookmarked and will share on my journey of exploring Web 2.0 tools.

References:

Brooks-Young, S. (2010) Teaching with the Tools Kids Really Use. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin.

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8 Responses to Possibly the best thing since peanut butter

  1. Erin Nielsen says:

    Glad to hear you are embracing these tools Anne, I felt the same way going into this one. I am an organizational nightmare… I’m hoping this will help me keep track of some things :).

    • acrogers says:

      I am constantly working at organization – my home, my desk, my web links…..Diigo was/is a godsend and using it and Delicious might actually be in the realm of the possible! Can’t believe I said considering how I was bookmarking two courses ago! Diigo has changed everything!
      Anne : )

  2. shelljob says:

    Anne,
    I agree with you so much about how we need to no longer have students researching in isolation, and I also want to try having their names as tags so I can send information to them!

  3. acrogers says:

    Thanks! I can tell you this type of thing doesn’t happen very often : ) I was glad he thought it was something useful.
    Anne

  4. Debbie (aka Alice in Web 2.0 Land) says:

    Love this quote Anne – “As teachers, we owe it to our students to teach them to collaborate with tools like Diigo. Instead of researching in isolation, they are all building a community database to which they all have access and can still pursue individual questions and create unique products of their learning. ” You’ve encapsulated the essence of collaborative learning. How can we not share this? …with students, or with colleagues?!

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying Diigo… me too! Love to organize, so it’s a dream come true for me 🙂

    • acrogers says:

      Hi Debbie,
      Thanks! I wish I was better organized in general but Diigo sure helps with the online stuff. I am getting better at bookmarking in lists for instance, saving podcast sites, catchers, how to casts, etc in a Podcasting 101 list. Do you find yourself using Diigo whenever you’re on the web to bookmark?
      Anne

  5. tlkirsten says:

    I was impressed that you got your husband into it. My husband takes arm twisting to get him to adopt some things (like our family Google calendar which he still does not look at!!). And I’m in such desperate need of organization help too that social bookmarking is really truly fantastic! I can really relate.

    I also really like your point about differentiated learning…

    • acrogers says:

      Hi Kirsten,
      We’re still in the era of the magnetic fridge calendar. I have to see everyone’s lives in one, low tech place. Some habits are harder than others to change 🙂
      Anne

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