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 del.icio.us. Signing up for del.icio.us 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 del.icio.us 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.