Friday, October 3, 2008

Blog #3 A Del.icio.us Recipe for Success

Visiting Wikipedia Social Bookmarking gave me an interesting overview to the history of social bookmarking. I was surprised to read that this concept dates back to 1996, with some of the major players (Delicious and Furl) around since 2004. How did this Web 2.0 tool escape my knowledge over the past couple years? The first I heard of social bookmarking sites was during a professional development workshop I attended last winter, hosted by well-known technology specialist Judi Wolf from Ohio. The session was titled ‘Best of the Best Websites that Enhance Instruction and Learning’. Judi guided the session through her Delicious account, showing an enthusiastic educational audience the wonders of social bookmarking.

After that presentation I had created a basic Delicious account of my personal (with private settings) bookmarks, though not exploring further the many features this tool has to offer. To tell the truth my original account has sat idle for a couple months as I have not updated links or visited my universal bookmarks – not sure why? Last week I decided to create a second account, this time housing all of my professional websites with a public sharing setting (username cmt1). Two features that I wanted to check out first were the ‘subscriptions’ and ‘network’. I was a little hesitant of using the subscriptions feature, not knowing if my account would be inundated with thousands of links automatically. Not the case. Subscriptions is basically a ‘holding tank’ for millions (yes, millions) of bookmarks under the tag(s) requested. I set up a subscription to ‘Web2.0’ and was shocked to read that I was now a subscriber to over 3 million websites tagged with the same name. The second new component in Delicious I engaged in this past week was the network feature. I added a small collection of classmates usernames to my network and now have their professional collection of bookmarks on hand for reference.

What are some of the implications for instruction and learning?
Social bookmarking is set up to provide universal collaboration for students and for teachers alike. Searching, investigating and learning through the Internet provides users (both students and educators) with an overwhelming wealth of exploration and knowledge, not always easily managed. However, using a site like Delicious can assist in the learning process by providing a unique opportunity for collaboration, information management and social sharing. Students have the capacity to build an online resource bank of Internet sites applicable, and tailored to, their learning environment. In Trailfire #8 “Taming the Beast: Social Bookmarking” Will Richardson writes about the importance of students building digital resources by stating “so not only are they collecting sites for themselves, they are collaboratively building a classroom resource” (Richardson, 2007, p.1). There is an obvious ‘working together’ theme that can emerge from using these applications in everyday learning situations.

Thinking about my own school setting I can envision several approaches to creating a school account or assisting teachers setting up grade level accounts within the K-6 division. As teacher-librarian I can either take on the task as a technology leader or support grade level teachers in creating one shared account housing general educational tags, grade level tags or combination tags that focus on subject and grade level themes. Delicious is an easy application for beginners to understand and utilize in the inquiry and research processes.

The Internet is changing the way we find and collect digital information and Educause makes a salient statement by saying “It may become less important to know and remember where information was found and more important to know how to retrieve it using a framework created by and shared with peers and colleagues (Educause Learning Initiative, 2005, p. 2). As a teacher-librarian I still believe it is important to recognize and reference where information comes from, but it is becoming equally important to have a universal storage and retrieving system for digital information. One observation I have noticed the past several years (and including this year) is that teachers still use ‘old school’ practices by having young students write down Internet addressed before visiting the computer lab. This method is arduous, time consuming and for some young students just an impossible keyboarding task. Having a universal Delicious school bookmark in the browser will eliminate wasted instructional time.

It is time to support and encourage our colleagues who already value the importance of learning through such initiatives as ‘Professional Learning Communities’ and move them into a socially collaborative sharing environment...online.

I checked out the list of social bookmarking sites on Wikipedia and found it remarkable that there were 24 listed. Also interesting were the listings for similar social sites in areas such as social cataloging and social citations. While Delicious is my chosen site for social bookmarking I decided to check out a few other options out there to see how they compare.

Jooce
Jooce allows users to organize their Internet sites, digital files, photos, and emails, creating a universal desktop for digital customers always on the go. Site provides users with unlimited space for storing information with a private/public accessibility option.

Digg
Digg is a site for users to share Internet content from news, podcasts, and blogs. Digg promote online community conversation about the Internet topics people are most interested in. The creators of this site have limited users to only registering for one account.

Faves.com
What is interesting about this site is it has a corresponding Faves.com Blog. This social bookmarking site was launched in 2006, boasting that is has a strong international audience of online users – top three countries using this site are the United States, Italy and Japan. A toolbar icon is available for quick saving.

MyWeb
Another branch of Yahoo! is MyWeb where three simple themes ‘Share, Save, Discover’ are featured for those wanting to maximize their Yahoo! account. This was the only bookmarking service that I found had an age restriction in their ‘Terms of Service’ agreement stating “parents of children under the age of 13 who wish to allow their children access to the Service must create a Yahoo! Family Account” (Yahoo! Inc, 2008). MyWeb was introduced to Yahoo! fans in 2006.

CiteULike
Developed in England this site is different from all the others. CiteULike is set up as social bookmarking, but focuses completely on bookmarking citations from academic research and papers. Users can store small bookmarks of text from research journals thus building online bookmarked bibliographies and references to share with colleagues. I did not find this site easy explore which leads me to believe that this site is definitely for a narrow audience of specific academic users.

Educause Learning Initiative. (2005). 7 things you should know about…Social bookmarking. Retrieved from http://www.trailfire.com/joannedegroot/marks/199340

Richardson, W. (2007). Taming the beast: Social bookmarking. School Library Journal, 3(1). Retrieved from http://www.trailfire.com/joannedegroot/marks/199339

Yahoo! Inc. (2008). Yahoo! Terms of service. Retrieved from
http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html

3 comments:

Jo-Anne Gibson said...

Carol,
It's no wonder that Delicious has been chosen one of the top Web 2.0 tools in the last few years. It really is an amazing site. Isn't it frightening to see teaching still copying out and students copying down by hand URLs. Yikes, what do they do with those really long ones? Half the class is spent trying to type it in correctly and not just at the younger grades!

I loved your quote from Educause - education needing to move away from memorizing information to learning how to find information within a collegial, sharing network. It only makes sense with the explosion of information around us that we can't possibly memorize it all.

Jo-Anne

Jan said...

Hi Carol,
I agree with your comment about the increasing importance of having a "universal storage and retrieval system for digital information."
Important for us to mange/filter an overload of info but way more important for students!
Jan

Joanne de Groot said...

Thanks, Carol. I appreciate your short little blurbs about some of the other social bookmarking sites that are available...a good resource!

I laughed when I read that when you subscribed to the web 2.0 tags in delicious you suddenly had millions of sites to explore in your free time!

Joanne