Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Post #3: “In Good times, in Bad times. I’ll be on Your Side Forever more”…that’s what Social Bookmarking is for…..




Imagine. My mom is from a family of 13, my grandpa a family of 12. Duggars…please…so passé. How big is big? We rent a hall for Christmas. We never stop talking. We are a family of teachers. We can fill up half a church.

So there I was 5 years old, parent night at school. I was asked to thank the parents for coming. SO I walked to the front in my cute little dress. My mother all proud like, sitting straight, wanting to point…that's my daughter! We practiced my tiny speech for days…

Cue teacher: "Brandi will now thank the parents." I stood up in front of the mike. I took a deep breath. I shouted "I'm SHY!" and ran back to sit on my mom's now, hostile lap.

I have been a dichotomy ever since. I have always been chatty and friendly in public, but at home I am Ted Kaczynski in a log cabin. Please don't phone me. E-mail is good. So this whole week of making me seek out friends has made me feel like Shrek. You know the part at the beginning of the first movie, ambushed by the other fairytale characters. Shrek says "What are you doing in my swamp." Well, like a good grad student, I set out to make friends and return to my swamp.

"Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start….When you read you begin with ABC…but when you bookmark you begin with DEE-LISH-US…. DEE-LISH-US." (Reflections on Learning the Tool)

Okay. I admit it now. I click the 'favorites' button any chance I get, which I tend to mark and then leave for dead on the side of the virtual road along with the Tim Horton cups. It quickly dawned on me that De.licio.us and Diigo (pronounced DEE-go) not to be confused with Diego are internet based versions of 'favorites'. Clearly it would not be a stretch to use them, but how would I ever find a reason to return to my collection of hostage bookmarked sites?

This I know, all web 2.0 tools are socially based. But bookmarking? Would I meet the right people? Is it time consuming? Are there hidden social networks? Are there cliques? Are these artificial networks? How are they better than other networks? Why is it important? How do they support the other web 2.0 tools?

I read the required readings and was pleased to follow the ideas in Richardson's (2009) book to explore both bookmarking sites. I tried Del.icio.us weeks ago. I like the name. Cleverness gets points with me! I like the ease of use. In fact I found cool links by clicking on other people's tags. Really it's a no brainer. The access online is really something that I can use if I am somewhere else.

Diigo on the other hand was kind of awkward. This felt more like trying on rollerblades for the first time. It has much more baggage although more options too. As with all weeks in this course, I created a log in and usually agree to every additional add on, then hope for the best. My toolbar looks like it was custom designed by Orange County Chopper.

Del.icio.us is my first love so Diigo would have to woo me.

I decided to look up tags/key words and find groups to join. What I wasn't expecting, was the application process.

"Tell us why you want to join our group…"

"Ah… because Joanne said so!"

(Really I just want to sit in the back row, like a good Catholic. "Back off. You should be so privileged that I want to join your group.")

I also felt like I was leading them on, kind of like the main character from Avatar.

"My name is Jake Sully. I will join your tribe, learn your ways and then come April the Army is going to come in and take out your cybertrees."

Needless to say I picked some groups. Pilfered some bookmarks. "Thank you for the hard work." "Give it to me."

But I was not prepared for the freakiness to follow. My Google home page was covered in stickies. Yikes! If my husband looks over I will have to think of something clever. My frantic mouse discovered the feature that allowed me to not show annotation on this page. I had no idea I had said I" I do!" to all these changes. Well… I annulled the feature. However it still continues to happen. I understand the annotation feature is for classroom use, but generally the page feels sullied. It's like underlining in textbooks or bent corners of pages. I was impressed by the "snag it" picture feature and the annotation. I tried it on Seth Godin's page. I could not view my annotations at first and realized that I must have picked private view. I really only see this as a public feature for academic use. Privately, I might still print out a page for safe keeping.

Life Hack also suggests 10 other ways to use Del.ic.ious. Here is what I tried.

1. Del.icio.us Bookmarklet
I added the bookmarklet. Initially I forgot the tag button on my toolbar which is essential.

2. Increase Your Search Powers

Of the search strategies I chose this URL. http://del.icio.us/rss/popular/TAGNAME
Popular placed in front of a tag, brings up the sites that have been bookmarked the most under that tag. I looked up rss/popular/web 2.0 and ended up subscribing to the feed in Google reader.

3. Tag Bundles

This actually helped with my problem of not revisiting tags. Bundles are much more efficient to review. I bundled my tags that pertained to Web 2.0. When I click this bundle I get those bookmarks. This is like having a permeable file folder and the flexibility of the bookmarked sites is maintained.

4. Publish Your del.icio.us Bookmarks on Your Website.
This will take some practice. I can publish as a post, but I wonder if there is a way I can have it as gadget and continually refresh like my blog roll?

5. Creative Tagging

I tried this one, renaming a tag that you want emphasized, by placing @ in front of the tag. This may prove to be useful.

6. TagCloud

I was able to put a tagcloud on my blog. When you drag the mouse overtop, the tags become active, click, and you are at the bookmarks that contained that tag. I love this feature. So direct… so easy.

7. Subscriptions

I got over my shyness and subscribed to some other sites.

All in all, I do like De.licio.us and Diigo for different reasons, Diigo for its collaborative and academic possibilities and De.licio.us for its user friendly and sharing capabilities. I think I will be faithful to both. Sigh…

"File this under….what?"(Reflections on the Tool for Personal and Social Use)

Tagging is the glue that holds the bookmarking together. This feature seems ubiquitous now. I was unaware that tags were so important. The collection of tags or folksonomies, becomes more powerful as more users, use them. The old traditional categories for information, established by the knowledge authorities, are making way for a different look on how information is organized.

One thing that occurred to me was my filing cabinet at work. Really it is more like a final destination cabinet. I have information filed by place, or theme. Richardson (2009) stated how our old systems of organization have to make way for the new communal approaches. I have not looked inside my filing cabinet since September and I have not filed anything new. Similarly, at home, I have clipped many recipes, pictures, ideas, etc but have not returned to use them. Why do I continue to keep them? Is my system of organization the problem? Do I really need a filing cabinet? Is paperless the wave of the future? Would I want to save my collections in a fire?

As a language arts consultant, books are my mainstay. Earlier this year a 'newbie' at work, without consent, took all the picture books and classified them, Wordless, ABC, Halloween, etc. I have not touched them since. I view books as multipurpose I would never lump them into one category. My old method was by author, this worked for me. Instead I keep the books I have used close to my desk protected from the land of categories. This week's focus on Social Bookmarking has got me wondering how I can bring the idea of tags back into my real life organization methods. How do I keep track of the 'paper' things?

Additional questions I still have: How can I improve my organizational systems? How do I retrieve it and how do I attach meaning to it? Will I remember my train of thought when I tag? Is the key to tagging, making multiple tags so that it increases the chances that information can be found again? How I connect to information, can affect how I tag? Will I ever be in the same frame of mind again?

As a parent, I see the value in collecting children's school's website. The newsletter is now available only online. As a new parent I would have collected more sites on parenting. Not that I am an expert now, but I am at the point where I feel that yelling their Christian names seems to correct most misbehaviors. Here are some other suggestions for using Diigo personally and professionally.

In an exciting turn of events, I discovered that the Edmonton Public Library has features akin to LibraryThing.com. I looked up Seth Godin's book Linchpin. I created the tags nonfiction and organization to see if it actually worked, I would list more. As you can see there are many choices on this screen. I created a list called Web 2.0 and added this book to my collection. On the left is my user name 2 1221 01190 1961 and other user. I can click on the other user to see what's on his list. I can see many applications for this interface.

  1. Create a book list for my Web 2.0 course.
  2. Create a Book Club list.
  3. Create a next read list of books that sound interesting but not for Book Club.
  4. Create a list of library materials, based on theme, and collect text, audio and video.
  5. Create a list of books that a character in a book you are reading, might read themselves. What might Bella read? Edward? (What do you recommend a vampire who has read everything?)
  6. Share books on Facebook and Twitter.
  7. Add comments.
  8. Add ratings.

As for my current social groups, my friends might be interested in the library feature. However, I am geek that is surrounded by friends who get together to watch the bachelor. I am not one of them; I would rather read a biography of Bill Curtis. However, if I changed the definition to include cyber friends, which I think is the aim of Web 2.0, then I see great value in sharing ideas. The more courses I take the more at home I feel in my geekdom.

( Clay Shirky) "Does the world make sense or do we make sense of the world?" (Reflections on the Tool for Educational Use)

What impact does Social Bookmarking have on education?

Cindy Stephenson lists six ways to use De.licio.us. There are many other sites like this, giving basic and obvious reasons for the tool. As a tool, Social Bookmarking provides the opportunity for students to collect information from any computer, and keep it in a single location. This will open the doors to collaboration and research possibilities. No longer is research a solitary activity, it now has a group work component that does not involve arranging a meeting space. Trier's (2007) 'time' and 'space' shifting argument apply here as well. Richardson & Mancabelli (2007) question how can we assess students work. What do we mean when we ask them to do their own work?

The reality of Web 2.0 is that teachers are no longer in charge of information. Teachers are no longer the gatekeepers of the textbook with the fancy answer keys and teacher guides. Richardson & Mancabelli (2007) stated, "The traditional curriculum has been built on the idea that knowledge is a scarce commodity. But in the world of the Read/Write web, knowledge is abundant and widely shared. As educators, we have been used to holding a pretty secure lock on the content that we deliver to our students"(p.16).


 

We can collect information, easy, we can create tags, easy, but how are we getting students to process this information. NCTE 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment Framework position statement lists the various ways students can critically assess media texts. How can we utilize these standards to prepare students? DesRoches (2007) brings up the point of validating web author's credentials. Teachers' traditional roles expand with these new tools. How can teachers keep up and validate all the information that the students collect? How can do they know what meaning a student has created and what they have borrowed? Yeo (2007) states that teachers are also approaching these web 2.0 tools from their educational perspectives. Yeo (2007) adds "The past is neither annihilated nor venerated as a foundation. Rather it is reread, wisely and with eyes open, for the purpose of living now, in the noise and clash of the fray" (p.128).


 

Forbes (2004) suggests features of Diigo, specifically annotation, create the possibility that teachers can enhance online reading material and suggest certain directions of thinking. As a kid, we all went to the library to collect books. The amount of books available limited our searches but the internet is limitless. What does that mean for education today? How do we teach students when to stop? Rheingold (2008) adds "Although a willingness to learn new media through point-and-click exploration might come naturally to today's student cohort, there is nothing innate about knowing how to apply those acquired skills to the processes of civil society, scientific or scholarly innovation, or economic production"(p.26). I would agree that the challenging part is the thinking. It's natural to feel a sense of confusion when pouring over collected information. What is the true goal of today's education? Is it to know a whole bunch of facts or to demonstrate thinking? Are these really the same? DesRoches (2007) suggests that students are more likely to thoroughly evaluate links and resources if they know fellow students will be seeing them.

    

Another concern I have for bookmarking is the emphasis on popular searches. Popular does not mean superior of representation of best practices. For example, we have a teacher collaboration space on our portal. Teachers can add their lesson plans. Many teachers might come on and borrow these ideas, create traffic and the appearance that these lessons are good. In reality if no one vets what is posted, the collective, the teachers, may decide for themselves based on subjective rather than objective judgments on the value of the work. Students themselves might also be confused that the most popular tags or bookmarked pages are the best ones.


 

In my role as a consultant, I see value in continuing with bookmarking sites but choosing tags that might represent subject, grade level, and specific literacy components. In addition, the tag bundling feature might also provide groupings based on my current needs. For example I may choose to bundle the tags that include reading and web 2.0 and another bundle for writing and 2.0, if I were going to present on these different topics. The concern over proper tagging was reassured by these words from Shirky who said "There isn't in fact a binary condition of a tag that can or cannot survive any kind of long-term examination." Really there are no perfect tags. I think I will continue to use the suggested ones given upon bookmarking.


 

So this leaves me with, how can I organize my information besides bundling? I did subscribe to my bookmark feed and one that I searched for under rss/tags/ popular/web2.0. But other than that I have over 70 bookmarks and the overwhelming feeling is coming back. Do I bookmark too much? Will I really need to keep everything in cyberspace?


 

The Shrek in me wants to go back to my quiet swamp but then there is the Donkey in me that says, "I just know, before this is over, I'm gonna need a whole lot of serious therapy. Look at my eye twitchin'"


 

Non linked Resources


 

DesRoches, D. (2007). All together now: Social bookmarking offers a new way to store and share web sites. School Library Journal, 53(1), 33. Retrieved from ERIC database.


 

Forbes, L. (2004). Using web-based bookmarks in K-8 Settings: Linking the internet to instruction. Reading Teacher, 58(2), 148-153. Retrieved from ERIC database.


 

Rheingold, H. (2008). Using social media to teach social media. New England Journal of Higher Education, 23(1), 25-26. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2007). High-tech inspires the read/write website. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 72(9), 14-18. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Trier, J. (2007). "Cool" engagements with youtube: Part 1. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(5), 408-412. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Yeo, M. (2007). New literacies, alternative Texts: Teachers' conceptualisations of composition and literacy. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 6(1), 113-131. Retrieved from ERIC database.

1 comment:

  1. Brandi, another thoughtful post. I agree that information is no longer a scarce commodity but rather widely available now primarily due to the web. What teachers and students do with this information is now the key. Teachers need to focus their efforts on teaching students how to access, process & analyze the massive amounts of information available on the web. Social bookmarking sites are potentially another (better?) way to teach students how to search the web.

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