From Transformers to Sauerkraut

In my grade 1/2 class, the current rage is tiny transformers that turn from balls to robots. Both boys and girls are collecting, trading and sharing them. In my kindergarten, it is leaves. We went on a fall walk and collected some for our seasonal changes unit, and somehow, my students got hooked on leaves, collecting, organizing, trading and sharing them. When my own children were younger, it was Pokemon cards. They were so excited to get a new one, and more than happy to share their ‘doubles’ with friends to help them increase their collections. As an adult, I collect and share information, rather than things. Recipes, reviews of restaurants, tips for everything from staying organized 🙂 to how to get pine sap off of hands. We are a society of collectors, and in the 21st century, we have access to and are collecting massive amounts of information. How can we best store and retrieve the information we collect?

Storage

Think of a library. In our libraries, we store print information on our shelves, in rows organized by the great god of Dewey.( Think of Dewey like a secret code. Once you know the secret code, you can find the same information in any library, anywhere.) Now think of how many websites you have stored on your bookmarks in your computer.You create folders, place your bookmark in a folder, and then, IF you can remember what folder it is in, you have access to that website any time you are at your computer. Oh, oh! You are at a friend’s house, and you want to show her the fabulous sauerkraut website you found last week that had a recipe just like grandma’s on it. It’s stored in your bookmarkson your computer in your  sauerkraut folder, but you really don’t want to run home and write it down. You promise to email it to her and hope you will remember. You might even carry sticky notes in your purse and write one to remind you to do it.

Fast forward to cloud computing. With social bookmarking websites, you can access your bookmarks from any computer. There are many social bookmarking sites you can use, most of them free. Web Tools4u2use has a comprehensive list. Once you have signed up, you can start bookmarking sites and organize them through tagging.

Tagging is like putting your bookmarks in a folder, but the beauty of it is that you can choose more than one tag. If, for example, I have a great site that has my grandma’s sauerkraut recipe, I can tag it ‘recipes’ and ‘sauerkraut’ and ‘grandma’. This gives me multiple ways to remember how I bookmarked the site. Tagging is a type of folksonomy, a user based organizational system. Now, even better, I can share this bookmark with my friend by creating a ‘sauerkraut’ group in my social bookmarking site. I can manage my group to be private, with only those I invite, or I can allow everyone in the group to invite others, or I can make it a public group anyone can join. In a few minutes, the website with my grandma’s sauerkraut recipe could go global! Social bookmarking allows us to create a library of web resources similar to our libraries of books, but with one major difference. With our libraries, once a book is out, it’s out. With social bookmarking, we get to have our cake and eat it, too! When we share sites and ideas, we keep the original, and often receive back more information to add onto what we already have. Our resources and the ideas about how to use them can morph and grow and expand into something beyond what we could have imagined on our own.

Personal uses of social bookmarking

In my Inquiry course taken this summer, I had briefly overviewed Diigo and Evernote in order to decide which one would be the best for me to use. Diigo won me over by the simplicity of its use and design. For this post on social bookmarking, I decided to go deeper into Diigo and Evernote as opposed to trying one of the many  other sites such as delicious.

Diigo

Diigo not only gives me a way to store my bookmarks in the cloud, but gives me the freedom to tag it in multiple ways, using whatever tags I wish.  Not only does Diigo keep track of the site, it takes a snapshot, so that even if the site is taken down, I am able to access an archive of the site and the information remains at my fingertips. I talk about some other options Diigo gives me in the post below this one.

In addition to the annotation, highlights, stickynote and sharing aspects of Diigo, I like the ability to create RSS feeds of tags, so when someone else tags a site with one of my RSS tags, I have access to that information as well. I could have the biggest and best collection of sauerkraut recipes all through harnessing the global efforts of others!

Evernote

Evernote was a little trickier to delve into. I had to spend more time exploring the site to find out its uses. Feeling a bit frustrated, I went to YouTube and searched for Evernote Tutorials and found one that was very helpful.

I really liked the way Evernote organized my webclippings into Notebooks. I created a Notebook for this course, one for teaching Kindergarten, one for teaching Grade 1/2, one for Library ideas, and one for personal use. Like Diigo, Evernote takes a picture of the website, clipping both screenshot and the url. I also liked the features of being able to take pictures with your camera/phone and post them into Evernote. An advantage of Evernote is the ability to search not only sites and notes in notebooks, but within the text of pictures and snapshots. As well as organizing bookmarks into notebooks, Evernote, like Diigo, also allows the user to create tags.  One other feature of Evernote that I love is the ability to write text notes in Evernote.

I have Evernote downloaded to my iPad and to my computer at work. Once I have a mobile phone that supports web browsing, I will download it to my phone. In that way, I can take notes wherever I am and have them stored on one site that I can access anytime, anywhere, as long as I have Internet access. I hoped this would be easier than writing in Word and then emailing it to myself in case I worked on it on another computer. To test this feature out, I tried to write this post in Evernote, but found it awkward to switch back and forth between my saved websites and the note. I decided to write my post in Word, and then to copy it to my note in Evernote whenever I saved it. This way, I would still have access as well as the ease of writing in Word. Saving documents would have been helpful for me this week, as I cannot remember where I put my notes on using Diigo from my last course, and I’m sure I had a website on there I wanted to check out again….

Using the notes feature in Evernote would also be great in keeping track of ideas, or lists. The first tutorial on Evernote shows ‘Jack’ who is a ‘sticky monster’. I fully appreciate the sticky monster, as my life is ruled by stickies.

arcticcompass.blogspot.com

Using Evernote (if I am at a computer) would be much better than stickies, which (often) get lost or misplaced, leaving me with the knowledge that there is something I am forgetting…, so I have created a notebook marked “To do” to keep all of the information I currently have on my sticky notes.

flickr.com

Sharing in Evernote is a matter of inviting people to share your notebooks. It seems more awkward to share in Evernote than in Diigo.

Overall, I feel that Diigo is the best social bookmarking tool for me to share websites with colleagues, students and friends, using the Group feature as a tool, as well as following others with the same interests as me. Evernote is a great bookmarking tool for me to store websites and information for me personally. For now, I am bookmarking most sites to Diigo, and using Evernote to bookmark sites connected to the notebooks I have created.

Professional Use

Alan November (notes from presentation, October 4, 2010) suggests that each school should have a shared social bookmarking site. Staff and students should be taught how to create appropriate tags for the learning needs of students and staff. Both Alan November and Beth Kanter say a shared tagging system or policy within the school is essential, leading to the most efficient use of the bookmarking site. November suggests that it is best if the teacher librarian, in consultation with a few key staff, creates one, remembering that tagging is a folksonomy as opposed to a formal taxonomy such as Dewey. The advantage to tagging is that it is user-created system of organizing and managing information, however, it is often not consistent. Will Richardson (2009) states that the best way for folksonomies to become valuable is to have more people contribute to their creation. Ella Kroski (2007) also agrees that folksonomies are more valuable as they are added to by users. She states that some of the advantages of folksonomies are their currency, inclusiveness, and their usability. Creating a tagging system within your school will allow teachers to collaborate and pool information with the click of a mouse. Berger and Trexler suggest that the tag pattern, or cloud that emerges after users have tagged a site, allows searches to quickly identify whether a particular site is valuable for them or not. Teaching students how to tag is important, as “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.” (Educase, 2005, pg. 2)

I have created a Diigo group called Minchau for my staff, and will be showing them how they can add bookmarks to it for all of the teachers to use. I am hoping that my staff will be see the value of using Diggo and of working as a group. I have often heard them say how annoyed they are that they can’t remember where they bookmarked a site that they want to use tomorrow!

Diigo also has the option for teachers to open an education account, where they can create student accounts for their classes, and students are set up as a group. Privacy options ensure that students can only communicate with each other and their teacher. Students can then work together to create bookmarks of sites that would be useful for their particular class, topic, or research assignment. Joyce Valenza (2009) suggests that teachers could create a group and share it with students to use as a pathfinder for assignments. For an example, this pathfinder from Buffy Hamilton uses delicious http://www.delicious.com/creekview_hs_library.

Older students as well as teachers, could benefit from using Evernote to store, track and manage their research. Andrew Marcinek (2009) suggests that using Evernote can lead to a paperless classroom, where both teacher and students are keeping their notes in Evernote. Evernote can be used as an organizational tool for the teacher as in this plan:  https://wiki.itap.purdue.edu/display/Social/Evernote+Lesson+Plan+for+Elementary+Students

When using Evernote, citations and bibliographies become much easier to track for students, as the website address is clipped right in their notes. Buffy Hamilton has created a video showing students discussing the advantages of using both Diigo and Evernote:

Why use social bookmarking with students? Berger and Trexler suggest that in doing so, we are getting students to collaborate, use technology, share, and make their own meaning of information, all of which are essential 21stcentury skills. This is also an opportunity to teach students evaluation skills, so necessary in a world of unregulated information such as the Internet.

As we move from a society of experts to a society that has information on everything from Transformers to sauerkraut at their fingertips, social bookmarking offers us a way to globally collaborate, share and manage the ever-expanding universe of information.

References

Berger, P. & Trexler, S. (2010).  Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. Sanata Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Educase, (2007) Seven things you should know about social bookmarking. Retrieved from

http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7001.pdf

Kanter, B. (2007, February 13). Shoulder-to-shoulder instructional media: my tagging screencast at NTEN! [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2007/02/the_making_of_s.html

Kroski, E. (2007). Folksonomies and user-based tagging. In Courtney, N. (Ed.),  Library 2.0 and beyond (pg.91 -103). Westport, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Marcinek, A. (2009,  April 29). Evernote will organize your life! [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

http://www.classroom20.com/forum/topics/evernote-will-organize-your

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Valenza, J. (2009, September 24)  6 ways K-12 librarians can teach social media [Web article]. Retrieved from

http://www.techlearning.com/article/23784

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