Sunday, February 10, 2008

Three and a half years ago, our family got a new puppy. This naturally necessitated many visits to our neighbourhood off-leash area. Puppies being people magnets, many strangers would come up to chat and give advice on dogs – their food, their training, their breeds, etc. I had no idea I knew so little about canines. Every time I went to the “dog park”, I learned something more; I’ve garnered a fair amount of knowledge about dogs and I’ve had a good time doing it.

Taking this EDES 545 course is kind of the same thing – I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about Web 2.0! But as I continue walking the trails of these assignments, I naturally find my tech knowledge expanding –each sucessive blog posting brings me to a new avenue for learning. I had never heard of social bookmarking and likely would never have investigated it, had I not been require to through this class. Our obligations – to our pets or to our profs! – serendipitously bring us rewards.

I learned that social bookmarking is a way to bookmark, annotate and share favourites – things like articles, web pages, blogs, music, reviews, and recipes. You can also access your list of favourite links from any computer hooked up to the Internet while using one of these social bookmarking sites – a definite “plus”. The advantages of using social bookmarking sites extend beyond the academic arena – kids can use one of these sites to create a “wish list”: a kind of gift registry complete with picture, description, price and vendor location. Gift givers can then streamline their shopping! People can use social bookmarking to organize vacations, book clubs, fan sites…. The possibilities are endless.

“Tags” (descriptive labels you assign to items on a list) are used to organize information. For example, in posting an article about a hike in Jasper National Park, it could be tagged as “Jasper”, “hike”, “Rockies”, “Alberta”, etc. A pitfall to this tagging system is that if a user misspells a word or uses a different descriptor, other people will not be able to access their information. Care must be taken to avoid “typos”.

Our course readings list provides a link to the National Technology Leadership Summit Report, which reminds us that schools expend huge amounts of teacher hours integrating technology into curricula – social bookmarking can help address this – streaming and shortcutting the search for pertinent, curriculum and age-appropriate information. Reducing the time wading through “info-glut” is a definite advantage to using social bookmarking.

Social bookmarking also honours many of (the library goddess) Valenza’s ideas: expanding notions of searching, having the TL wear a technology scout hat as they figure out how to use information and communication tools more thoughtfully, thinking of a TL’s web presence as a knowledge manager for the school, and cultivating the skills to pull together resources to meet the information needs of individual learning environments.

There are tons of social bookmarking sites. The ones I looked at included Furl, Simpy and Signing up for was extremely simple…..I’m sure it took less than one minute! I did a search for a component of our science curriculum: life cycle of the butterfly. Furl and were both really fast and gave me pertinent, relevant information. Simpy provided me with quick results but the results were not easy to use, nor were they all appropriate for my third graders to view. However, the installation of new buttons on my toolbar proved to be a bit of a hassle in that it helped to clutter up an already cluttered toolbar! I can see this tool being applicable to researching information – especially in classes like social studies and sciences where numerous websites may be utilized to provide students with more avenues for learning. For example, as a compliment to our third grade Science Life Cycles unit, I searched for “life cycle – butterfly”, which returned numerous relevant bookmarks.


John Lobe said...

Hi Linda, thanks for your post. I can also see that proper tagging will become an important skill. The butterfly links look promising.
About the video clip of the robot, we send home a permission form at the beginning of the year. I send home a separate letter for the Lego club to clarify some other specific issues. We get a mixed response, which is very understandable. John.

Jennifer said...

I love the "new" look of your blog. I like that you brought us back to the library Goddess. It is all starting to come together - what can a libratory do?

elizabeth said...

The simple factor is so critical when it comes to choosing which tool to use. I also found delicious very user-friendly, more so that furl although I think furl has more to offer. It is interesting to think of this from a designer's point of it simple enough to be the first choice of user's while offering the best options?
I wonder what we will do if one of these bookmarking sites just goes out of "business"? Perhaps we need to think of keeping a backup of those tagged sites we need to keep.

Jessica said...

First, I was tickled to see the quote at the top of your page... one of my favourite poets, as you'll discover when we do social networking sites!

I'm always amazed through this process how no matter how much you've explored a tool and thought about all it's possible uses, someone has yet another idea... the power of collaborative learning, facilitated by web2.0! I never would have thought of the wish list idea. Maybe when my girl gets older I'll need to use that!

Val said...

Hi Linda:
Nice update of your blog. I love the rustic colour and homey feel to it.

Yes I too find myself getting excited about the possibilites in class with technology, when 6 weeks ago it would have gone over my head. Doing is the only way to learn,and how many of us would actually explore and do without the push of this course. Now I find myself sitting at our computers with students at lunch and interacting while they are going to YouTube, and I'm on Joyce's virtual library etc. Kids are keen to tell me about their favourite bands, what the video is all about, make comments on video, and knowing I'm there they always discuss their comments with me before posting (not at my request just because they know I might be wondering or watching). One boy was explaining the metaphors in a music video today as a previous post comment didn't get it.
I thought that was great for this grade 5 student who doesn't always 'focus' in class. I'm learning a different side (and level of capability) to him that I might not have seen without my new interest in technology.

I spent a bit of time on Joyce's virtual library site this week. It's amazing to see, play on, walk through etc. She truly is a 'library god'. Does she sleep?


Arlene said...

Hi Linda,

I like how you opened your blog post with an anecdote about your puppy and how you can connect that with learning the Web 2.0 tools. Like you, I didn't know how much I didn't know. I would have had no idea of what or where too look since I didn't even know what I was missing: RSS, aggregator, Flickr to name a few. Before this class I wonder how long it would have taken before I would have discovered social bookmarking?

I agree that spelling tags correctly is a real life example for students of how important writing conventions are. I also agree with a cluttered toolbar. I often find myself hiding all my toolbars at school so that there is more usable space on my SmartBoard.

Over the past week I've been Furling things like crazy. Linda, do you see a social bookmarking site becoming your new search engine? I find myself now going to delicious or furl or technorati (searches recent blog posts) first to see what they have to offer before I go to Google. I find I'm impressed with the more academic, less commercialized hits returned.

Lastly, I love your CBC and Edmonton Journal feeds! Were they hard to figure out?