Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Social Bookmarking in the Classroom

Two weeks ago, I explained how to use a service such as Xmarks to sync all of your online bookmarks on all of the computers that you use. If you are stuck without one of your personal computers, you cans till log in to the Xmarks website and access all of your bookmarks from any computer in the world.

In today's post, I will explain how you can take bookmarking to a whole new level. Let me introduce you to "social bookmarking!"

 Watch this video will give you a quick overview of social bookmarking.

As the YouTube video above suggests, social bookmarking sites are very helpful for teachers because we tend to get a lot of our information on the Internet. There are so many great resources out there, but it's virtually impossible to keep track of them all using your traditional web browser's bookmark and "favorites" features. Bookmarking sites such as Diigo and Delicious allow you to give each bookmark multiple tags. "Tags" are relevant words that will help you keep your bookmarks organized.

The last site I bookmarked was a news article on Yahoo! News about a 12-year old girl who blogged about her fight with brain cancer. She joined her parents to start the NEGU Foundation, a non-profit foundation that raises money and awareness for pediatric cancer. NEGU stands for "Never Ever Give Up!

This brave girl, Jessica Joy Rees, recently lost her battle with cancer. However, she has been an inspiration and a hero to all those who knew her. I bookmarked this site because we are having the "Changing the Conversation" programs at Oak and encourage students to look for ways of giving back. I knew I wanted to share this story with everyone at school in case you wanted to include it in your meetings:

Where Do I Begin?

The first step is to sign up for an account with a social bookmarking site. There are many out there, but the top two are Delicious and Diigo.

Delicious is run by Yahoo so if you already have a Yahoo account, then you do not need to create another account to use Delicious.

It was one of the first social bookmarking sites and continues to have a large user base. It is very simple to bookmark sites, but it does not offer as many advanced features as other sites.

Diigo is a more advanced social bookmarking site.

It lets you bookmark sites just like Delicious, but it has a whole suite of other options that can really come in handy for teachers and their students such as: digital highlights, interactive sticky notes, add notes, and more.

1. Visit these two sites and decide which one fits you best.

2. Set up the bookmarking button on your browser that lets you easily add bookmarks. These will be "add ons" or "extensions" just like Xmarks and can be located in your browser's "Tools" menu.

3. Begin bookmarking sites. Each time you bookmark a new website, give it tags so that you can easily locate it in the future.

How Can I Use Social Bookmarking In My Classroom?

I use Diigo every day to bookmark resources that are relevant to my personal and professional life. As a science teacher, I have bookmarked over 500 different websites. Just about all of my bookmarks are "public" and can be viewed at the link below. Each time you bookmark a site, you can choose whether to make it public or private.

1. Share resources with students and/or other teachers.
While there are benefits to sharing certain resources with your students, the biggest advantage to making bookmarks "social" is collaborating with your peers. All bookmarking sites allow you to make groups and join networks. Imagine how helpful it could be if we created a Sherwood/Oak network where we could share bookmarks with each other!

2. Make student research more engaging, collaborative, efficient,!
As students troll the Internet for online sources in class, they spend a lot of time writing down bibliographical information and scribbling down information as quickly as they can. They try to jot down the URL so they can find that same resource again or they try to copy the link to their email.

While using Diigo on team this year for medieval research and science fair projects, our students have been able to:
  • Bookmark relevant websites -- this saves all important bibliographical info. (No need to write down)
  • Highlight important information on a page so when they return, they don't need to re-read the whole page again.
  • Add sticky notes with personal observations and questions. Group partners leave messages for each other.
  • Students working in a group become "friends". This allows them to view each other's bookmarks, their sticky notes and everything they highlighted!
3. Research directly on Diigo or Delicious.
You can search for information on these bookmarking sites much like you would in Google. The difference is that the results of your search will be websites that were bookmarked by others.

In the screenshot below, you can see some of the results from when I searched "social bookmarking" on Diigo. Notice the numbers on the left. This tells you how many Diigo users bookmarked each site! Chances are...if a website was bookmarked by hundreds of other people, it probably has some useful information.

Other Social Bookmarking Resources:

This is a group you can join in Diigo. Teachers all over the world add websites that they bookmarked that are relevant to education. I get an email each morning that lists all of the sites that were bookmarked the previous day by other teachers.  

You can have your account upgraded to a teacher account. This allows you many features such as creating accounts for your students, setting privacy accounts for your students so they can't communicate with strangers, and setting up a class "group". This would allow all students to share bookmarks with each other in the class.

Blog post from that outlines the useful features of social bookmarking

In Closing...

The best advice I can give you is to start playing around. There is a small learning curve with social bookmarking because it's a different approach (tagging vs using folders) to saving websites, but I assure you that it gets easier, and it helps you to become more organized. 

As always, please contact us if you have questions or if you need some help implementing any of these ideas. Also, if any of you are using a "cool tool" you would like to share, talk with us about writing a guest blog post!

1 comment:

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