Just as I was falling down the rabbit hole into a world of swirling Web 2.0 tools and feeling totally overwhelmed, a hand tattooed with the word “del.icio.us” reached down and grabbed me. I was saved by social bookmarking.
REFLECTIONS ON SOCIAL BOOKMARKING
I had never heard of social bookmarking before I read Will Richardson’s (2009) book Blogs, Wikis, Podacasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. The idea of being able to create bookmarks that could be accessed from any computer seemed like a dream come true. I have had countless moments of utter disappointment when I have needed a piece of information from a site bookmarked at home, when I was at school, or vice versa. The idea of being able to access all sites any time, anywhere seemed too good to be true. But it wasn’t. I logged on to Del.icio.us, signed up, added the link to my tool bar and immediately began searching sites, tagging them and then building my own folksonomy. Who needs Dewey Decimal? I can now organize my information using my own system that makes sense to me, not some dead guy.
Then, because I am a doubter, I logged on the next morning at school and voila there they were. This was going to be great. I have already used the del.icio.us site numerous times and I no longer have to worry about emailing sites to myself so that I can access them in whatever room I am teaching the next day, filters not allowing my information through, etc. I have even saved my Ning and Facebook to del.icio.us and it has simplified my life. I feel like I am getting into a hot tub with a glass of good Chardonnay.
I can retrieve what I want based on my tags, follow popular sites as defined by the number of followers that actually use the site not just by the number of hits (something people stumbled on that was not any good). Next, I started adding subscriptions to travel destinations, scrapbooking sites and recipe ideas. I have now added networks so I can glean the work that others have done locating sites that would be helpful to me. I can not wait to continue sharing social bookmarking with colleagues and friends.
I wonder, did our very wise Instructor Joanne purposely choose the week we were discussing organization to throw us this life line called social bookmarking?
PERSONAL USE OF SOCIAL BOOKMARKING
Discovering social bookmarking for an anal, uptight, over organized person like myself, is like putting a climber on the top of Mount Everest. I have not stopped telling people about the endless possibilities. I can search, tag, retrieve, sticky note, highlight, send to friends, enlist the work of others, etc. (Muir, David). My life is great today!
I have set up tags for vacation destinations, scrapbooking sites and recipe ideas. Best of all I can share my work with others and they can share with me. My friends are all turning 50, and yes we are still functioning mentally and physically, so we plan a vacation each time one of us reaches this milestone. We can now send information about possibilities to each other without saving the site and then emailing or Facebooking it to each other. I also have a group of friends who scrapbook together once a month. We can now share layouts and ideas (which we often scraplift from sites online) without again having to save and email out the site where we got the ideas from. And the biggest bain of my existence, cooking everyday, I can now find recipes myself and tag them for future retrieval or rely on others to find new recipes for me and again share them with friends.through del.icio.us.
I am now recruiting my own network. I will use this just to find information for my personal use but I can see how others could use this site to share information on issues of a larger global scale. The creation of a group for sourcing and sharing of information about issues of social consciousness has enormous potential. I can totally see why the site is called del.icio.us, because it simply is.
PROFESSIONAL USE OF SOCIAL BOOKMARKING
Del.icio.us has countless applications in the school setting for both staff and students.
For students it could be organizing possible sources of information for research projects or personal interests, having more ideas of where to look for information in the form of the tags chosen for other documents, connecting with people finding information pertinent to them or sharing resources such as favorite book titles or authors with others (Muir). For staff it could be a method for organizing their professional resources, sharing resources with colleagues or used in instruction.
Teaching students research skills is always difficult. Some students have an extensive amount of background knowledge and exposure to research techniques. Other students have a limited background and limited research skills. The tool del.icio.us will make scaffolding the research process much easier for teachers. Many teachers have experienced giving out a research assignment and having the majority of students begin immediately knowing what they need to do and how to start finding the information required. Then we have those students who lack research skills. Del.icio.us will help all of these students. The high achievers can start searching, bookmarking and networking. The students less familiar with the research process can access sites that the teacher has bookmarked for them and then follow the tags of these articles. The students who are at the middle of the journey can begin to find their own information, bookmark it with tags, follow the tags provided by the teacher and then eventually access the information gleaned by their peers. The downside of this process is that lazy but skilled students may just rely on others to seek out the pertinent information retrieved by others. For these students a teacher would want the topics to be dissimilar from their peers or not allow them access to the network the other students with the same topic are using. Just as with any tool, its success depends on how it is used.
For me the benefits of social bookmarking outweigh the possible pitfalls. Being able to have universal access to a student’s research will simplify their lives, allow continuity in access to work and alleviate the excuse of forgetting their research at home or school.
I believe social bookmarking will be a tool that will help students to organize their on-line world using a folksonomy that makes sense to them. As well, sites like Diigo will allow students to not only bookmark sites but store actual copies of the document which they can manipulate with sticky notes and highlighting (Richardson, 2009). Social bookmarking will also aid students in critically identifying quality sites. On del.icio.us sites are identified by the number of subscribers not just the number of hits, like google searches. This means the sites are marked by the number of actual people that follow the site not just the number of times someone opened the site but then closed it because it was not helpful.
Social bookmarking could also be used at the school and jurisdiction level. It could be used as a method to update sources of information on classroom blogs or school websites. The folksonomy used would allow access to the required information quickly easing the sorting process (Muir). Social bookmarking could also be used to collaborate with agencies or peers in other schools. This collaboration could be done as a class project or as an enrichment activity with gifted learners (Tsai, 2008).
Social bookmarking has great potential for staff professional development. Sites like del.icio.us would foster accessing materials for curriculum development any time any place and facilitate collaboration with peers anywhere in the world.
Social bookmarking has allowed me to organize my online world as well as opened up a whole new list of possibilities for my students. I feel like I am now holding onto a helpful hand and slowly climbing out of the hole. We shall see what next week brings.
Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
Broitman, Robert. (2009). Ultimate Guide to Delicious Bookmarking As retrieved on Oct. 1, 2009 from (http://www.interactiveinsightsgroup.com/blog1/ultimate-guide-to-delicious-social-bookmarking/
Muir, David. Simply Delicious Online Social Bookmarking or Tagging for Teaching. As retrieved on Oct 1, 2009 from http://personal.strath.ac.uk/d.d.muir/Delicious1_2.pdf
Tsai, Maggie. (2008) As retrieved )ct 1, 2009 from