Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Social Bookmarking - An introduction

Ever come across a great resource on the web, but you don't have time to read it at that particular moment? If you're like me, I know I'll forget where I found it in about 30 seconds. And I hate cluttering up my computer's bookmarks tab, partly because it's messy and partly because I use multiple machines. I would like one place to store the links that I find and access them, no matter where I'm at.

Better yet, I'm sure there are other educators searching for resources on the same subject. Wouldn't it be nice to share our resources in one place? Sure would be nice to work smarter, not harder.

And now that I'm thinking about it, if you could do that, why couldn't you have a class research a subject and combine their research all in one spot? So, no matter whether the kids are at home or at school (or the library, or at Starbuck's), they could access their knowledge base and add to it?

Well, that's what social bookmarking is for.  Social bookmarking works through sites like Diigo or Delicious, and it allows you to collect and organize the wonderful resources you find and access them via an online account. You can save links, images, or screenshots, and "tag" them with specific categories that you choose. Here are a couple tutorials:

Diigo, Part 1: Logging into Diigo, saving a link, using the Diigolet

Diigo, Part 2: Using the Diigo toolbar, and sharing your bookmarks via one web link


Diigo Groups Part 2

Here's another demonstration from YouTube. It's a US History teacher demonstrating Diigo for his class.

For those of you who have not heard me preach on the subject, I believe we are entering a new era of professional learning, exactly the same as the new era of student learning we've entered. The "sit and get" model of learning is ending, where professional (or student) learning is limited to whatever the district (or classroom teacher) decides to roll out at an institute (or in class).

This is rapidly being replaced by "anywhere, anytime learning." We have the tools to differentiate our own professional learning, based on our discipline, area of interest, or individual need. It's "just in time learning" for teachers - getting what you need when you need it -  rather than a "just in case" presentation from the district office.

With this in mind, I believe there are three essential tools for educators who take their learning to the next level. There are other great tools, but I've found the the most powerful to be a mixture of:

1. Twitter
2. Blogs (organized with a tool such as Google Reader)
3. Social Bookmarking

In the coming weeks, I'll be creating tutorials for the use of social bookmarking. I'll start with with collecting links, highlighting passages, and tagging them via Diigo. (Delicious.com is just fine, and I actually use both, but I'm more familiar with Diigo these days). Then, I'll demonstrate how to create a group of your own and invite others to collaborate with you. Finally, I'll show you how to join groups to combine your efforts with educators throughout the world.

For example, suppose you and your curriculum team are researching a particular instructional strategy like "reciprocal teaching". You can all individually search for resources on the web, and save them in a group called "Leyden Reciprocal Teaching." All the links you find individually can be saved in the same area, building a collective knowledge base for your team. You could even share them for the district or the world!

Better yet, suppose your class is researching a particular topic, such as McCarthyism. Same deal: all of your students could be saving what they find in a common area called "US History McCarthyism resources."

So, more to come!

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