MyNotes - Social Bookmarking, Tool for Learner Empowerment

In a previous blog entry, Excuses, Excuses..., one anonymous commenter makes the point that a thin client lab would limit our students to being strictly consumers. I challenge that assertion with these points:
Our libraries are setup to be places where students "consume" information. Yet, web-based tools--such as Diigo--empower us to do so much more with the information we consume. With social bookmarking/annotation tools, I am able to gather information, tag it, and share it with others in a variety of ways, including email and blogs, including adding my own comments. Does a thin client machine means we are forced to be consumers? No...it's how we use those tools.

You could also look at this from the GoogleDocs/Zoho/Collaborative word processing tools that facilitate real time composition, revising and editing, whether singly or in groups. All can be done with thin client browsers.

At a time when the browser is pre-eminent tool of creation, dissemination, simply imagining passive learners as lumps of information consumers is pure fabrication.
It's fascinating to read how higher education is using social bookmarking tools, as shared in Farwell and Waters piece below from JOLT. Many of us are still bound by old approaches to interacting with web-based content, failing to consider how new tools can be web-based and empower students to be creators, collaborators, and disseminators of ideas and information. Remixing content doesn't require a high-end multimedia computer...remixing text is a perfectly valid approach using a thin client lab of machines.

What do you think?





    • Exploring the Use of Social Bookmarking Technology in Education


    • Tricia M. Farwell


    • Richard D. Waters


    • One such outlet, online classes, has seen a strong increase in enrollment over the past six years. With more than 4.6 million people, mostly undergraduates, enrolling in at least one online course in fall of 2008, students are showing that they are comfortable with the concept of technology in education (Allen & Seaman, 2010).


    • can provide inexpensive, and often free, alternatives to printed materials. Podcasting has become a common method of provid ing audio and video content to students, and Apple has launched iTunes University to allow instructors to manage, distribute, and control access to educational material, such as lectures, announcements and news, and special sessions with guest speakers (McKinney, Dyck, & Luber, 2009).


    • Online technologies


    • Piontek and Conklin (2009) introduce a variety of social media applications that can be used in higher education and show how blogging, web-conferencing, and wikis can be used in virtual and traditional classroom environments. While these social media applications have been praised for increasing interaction, Payne (2009) points out that there are times when one-way communication is necessary.


    • Behan and Boylan (2009) point out that social bookmarking should be considered by instructors in higher education because it brings together traditional one-way strategies of information dissemination, but it also allows for the sharing and evaluation of links by users. In essence, social bookmarking is an online catalog of hyperlinks that users have found helpful and want to share.


    • Many social bookmarking applications allow individuals to vote on a link’s usefulness or comment on the accuracy of the information it conveys. Because of this interaction, social bookmarking has been considered one of the most powerful Web 2.0 tools for higher education (Page & Ali, 2009). However, social bookmarking may be the least known form of social media applications by students today (Grosseck, 2008).


    • using pirated copies of textbooks. One study found that 27 percent of the respondents admitted to seeking illegal copies of textbooks online and 8 percent reported in succeeding in the download of the textbook (Young, 2008). While the study sample was small, only 500, it may be pointing to larger trends. Textbook torrents, online sites pointing towards free shared downloads, are easy to find online.


    • social media applications have aided in educating large numbers of people because information spreads easily from person to person and because it facilitates conversations through blogging, video-sharing, and being able to comment on Web-based materials (Mason & Rennie, 2007; Rollet, Lux, Strohmaier, Dosinger, & Tochtermann, 2007).


    • Social bookmarking may also be tool that will allow faculty and students to cut down on costs while getting the most up-to-date information. Sites, such as Delicious.com and Diigo, serve as repositories for user bookmarks much as the Internet browser bookmark ability does. However, since these sites are online and not linked to a specific computer, the information becomes available from any computer with Internet access.


    • Through tagging, the user can label and organize the information according to his or her own vocabulary and use, not having to conform to an established order of classification (Etches-Johnson, 2006). These sites allow for more interaction with the information as users decide what information to tag and share (Rokolj, 2008; Pack, 2007; Stephens, 2007).


    • Social bookmarking sites have some clear advantages that facilitate learning.


    • First, the social bookmarking account is independent from specific platforms. The site and account can be accessed using any operating system or Internet browser that the individual uses to access the Internet.


    • easy to use as no special knowledge of HTML programming is needed to save sites, and the search function that allows a user to explore others’ bookmarks is similar to using an Internet search engine.


    • social bookmarking allows the user to see how many other people have found a particular bookmark useful because it shows how many people have added a resource to their own account (a la Delicious.com) or have given it a thumbs-up rating (a la Digg.com).


    • disadvantages


    • Vander Wal (2007) created the term, “folksonomy,” to describe the phenomenon seen on social bookmarking sites whereby one common Web site is described using hundreds of different labels or tags based on the differing perspectives and languages.


    • social bookmarking may create feelings of information overload for users due to the large number of links and significant amount of time needed to browse through the links.


    • social bookmarking has been identified as one of the best social software resources for instructors (Bryant, 2006). Social bookmarking allows students to explore relevant, timely material to their coursework (Olaniran, 2009).


    • most students are still largely unaware of social bookmarking and the impact that it could have on their educational experiences.


    • helpful to understand how Delicious.com was used for the “Social Media and Public Relations” course


    • One female public relations undergraduate summed up the course Delicious account as “ a centralized place where we can go to get the weekly readings, and the tags make it easy to separate out the readings for each week. It doesn’t require us to register or have a separate login.” Essentially, the professor would select 8-10 links from trade journals, relevant blogs, and popular news pieces that touched on various topics or relayed helpful information.


    • using social bookmarking in an educational setting, particularly online learning and distance education courses, is a positive approach to enhancing students’ learning experiences.


    • social bookmarking was preferred over printed coursepacks, course management systems, and library-based e-reserves accounts.


    • the ease of social bookmarking technology, and the broad range of materials available via the Internet that can add to the educational experience.


    • Given the significant amount of students unaware of social bookmarking, it can be assumed that some educators are also unaware of the topic. For this reason, it is necessary to briefly outline how to establish a social bookmarking account. First, it is helpful to have a variety of links already in mind that can be shared with students, research and teaching assistants, or other faculty members. This list could be created from scratch, or it could be an existing Internet browser list of favorite sites. Next decide which social bookmarking service offers the desired options desired. While not the purpose of this paper, it should be noted that resources exist to compare and contrast the leading social bookmarking services (Pandia, 2006; Hammond, Hannoy, Lund, & Scott, 2005). Once a service is decided upon, join the site by providing personal contact information or by merging existing free e-mail accounts with the site (e.g., Delicious.com is a Yahoo! company). Depending on the service, there are a variety of ways to create the links to share either through automatically copying an existing list or manually copying and pasting URLs into the directory. Once the links are in place, it is imperative to label, or tag, the links so that they can be easily accessed by your directory of tags.


    • Social bookmarking sites can be more advantageous for sharing reading materials than using closed course management systems (such as WebCT, Blackboard, D2L, among others) provided by schools in that they easily allow for further investigation on a topic of interest or a topic with which the student is struggling and provide students with skills they may find useful in their chosen career.


    • Grosseck (2008) suggests that faculty members create an account for the entire class using a common user name and password, divide the class into groups, and then assign groups different weeks or lectures throughout the semester that they are responsible for uploading different links to the class account so that it reflects the students as well as the educator adds. These small groups, or learning communities can help create a solid understanding of the benefits of social bookmarking because it requires that they be an active participant rather than solely clicking on readings passively. The contribution of and tagging links is a constructive cognitive activity that engages students in the learning process. This can only bring benefits to students who have problems learning and have difficulty in organizing materials (Martin, 2008).


    • Grosseck (2008) suggests that educators not only use social bookmarking accounts to provide course readings, but also create assignments using the social media technology. Possibilities for assignments include researching how information is stored and shared on the sites (e.g., how do people categorize materials) and what do social bookmarking accounts with large followings have in common with one another (e.g., notes about links, tags, rating systems).

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Comments

LeeChel said…
I just went to look at your DiigoNotes page to see how it worked and got lost in the reading for half an hour. It was really cool to see everything you have gathered there. I still don't know if I can keep up with the reading, but I feel like these tools make it possible to start on the path.

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