Too much information is a common complaint heard from students and teachers in regards to conducting research online. Teachers do not have the luxury of limitless time to allow students to work through the clutter online in order to find the best information. Students do not have the patience to work through less than stellar websites and often settle for what they find first. Social bookmarking presents a way to organize the “good” information we do find online and have it readily accessible for when we need it. Delicious being one of the more commonly used social bookmarking sites offers a clean interface and organization method. With most students and teachers and students using two or more web-enabled devices a day, social bookmarking can help keep what is most important to them in one place.
While social bookmarking is nothing new using it in the classroom is not readily undertaken. Many teachers feel that the set up is too time consuming or are scared off by the word “social.” I would like to share five easy ways to utilize social bookmarking in the classroom. These methods can help students and teachers stay organized and better connected with the content that is available to them online.
1) moreabout tags – Most social bookmarking sites utilize tagging to organize and identify links. When a user finds and interesting link they save it to their site and add tags that they can later use to find the web page. One way a teacher can create a resource for their students is to tag interesting links with “moreabout_topic.” The topics can be something current in the news or a set in stone requirement of the class. Teachers can then share their social bookmarks with their students. When students want to know more about a topic beyond what is provided in their textbook they can search the moreabout tag. They will then find resources already reviewed by the teacher that they can use to enhance their learning.
2) link show and tell – In my experience, students who enjoy being online want to tell others about what they did and found on the Internet. Social networking sites have allowed students to connect and share with their friends but we should not limit this to the time outside of school. Encourage students to find an interesting link. The link can be on a specific topic or open to the students’ imaginations. Have the students tag the link with “showandtell.” Then, in class have each student present their link to the class. Students will then have a tagged collecdtion of show and tell resources that they can view and use throughout the year.
3) web link portfolio – For teachers who have a consistent access to a computer lab a web link portfolio is a great way to collect what students have read and said during the school year. To start have each student create a unique tag such as lastname_portfolio. When the class reads and article or visits a site have the students tag the link with their portfolio tag. Then, have students respond to the article/site online through a discussion board or wiki. Students should subsequently tag their response. At the end of the year the students will share their bookmarks with the teacher. The teacher can search the tags and see what each student has read and said all year.
4) trend watching – This is a quick and easy opener to any class. Open a social bookmarking page and ask your students for a keyword relating to the topic you are currently discussing. Look at the results that come back based on the keyword. Which ones have been tagged the most? What other tags are connected to them? Why do you think this is? This can also be used to validate the credibility of a link based on the number of tags and user feedback.
5) data grab – Have all of your students signed in to a social bookmarking site. Present them with a new topic and give them twenty minutes to find a useful link on the topic. When they find the link have them tag it with their last name and datagrab_topic. Then share the links and review as a class. In twenty minutes you will likely have hours and hours of information on the topic. This can then be saved as a resource for a larger project. You can also give extra credit to anyone who finds a unique link that no other student tags. This will encourage them to not tag the first result in a Google search.
Social bookmarking is easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to implement in the classroom. In the comments section let me know what other ways you use have used social bookmarking to improve student learning and capitalize on web2.0 innovations.