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But, what if you could enlist some help? Another "It" to chase down that golden nugget with you, doubling your chances? Or, better yet! What if you could recruit an entire community of "It"s to help you locate that nugget? Ah, maybe even better!! What if you could retrace exact footsteps that would lead you straight to a pile of golden nuggets?
Enter Social Bookmarking. Now, let's play 21st Century "tag"!
In general, I can see that social bookmarking would eliminate many of these difficulties. Using tag searches, for example, should help locate the document, regardless of the name. This results in less searching and scrolling through lists of documents. The main thing, is try to be consistent. Another huge bonus, something that I am just learning and look forward to learning more in the next while is the ability to use RSS feeds to get the information delivered right to you! I have just started to figure this out... somehow I have subscribed to my own Diigo favourites (not what I had wanted to do). But, learning will continue about RSS feeds shortly.
Regardless, after a week or two of playing with these tools, I can't imagine why I never used them more fully before. If you haven't been using social bookmarking tools for your personal and professional learning, you're spending too much time sifting!
Lastly, I would like to talk about using social bookmarking sites in the classroom, library and staff development environments.
In the classroom, I see great collaborative opportunity for students. Students working together, especially on inquiry projects, could create their own tag and build their own resource list. Of course, you could add to their resource list by adding sites you think they could use, as well. Most of all, I really liked Richardson's suggestion about individualizing instruction by setting up a class feed and a separate feed for each student.
"That way, every time you run across something you think Meredith might be interested in reading, you simple add the tag "Meredith" to it and her feed with automatically update." (p. 96)
Great thinking! The wonderful part of this, it's just so simple. Of course, it does require each student to have a Google Reader account and "Yes", it takes a little set up. But in my opinion, once this is done, the pay off will be huge! I think it's a worthwhile investment!
The more I learn, I am also seeing that 'tagging' in itself supports student learning. By asking students to identify important key concepts and words, they synthesize their learning. One of my favourite lessons, from Kyleen Beers' When Kids Can't Read, is entitled Most Important Word. In this lesson, Beers (2003) states that this process "forces students back into the text to consider what was the most important aspect of that text." (p. 174)
In the library, teacher-librarians could easily add a link to their Diigo or Delicious accounts on their websites. For some, especially at the onset, it may be best just to store relevant websites for both teachers and students on their own accounts. In a way, this replaces the need for Pathfinders, Trailfires or JogtheWeb paths. That said, I still think these are great options for younger students, too. If teachers had a Google Reader account, you could set up an RSS feed for teachers, as a teacher would for a student. Then, when you come upon a site of interest to that teacher, it would be delivered directly to their Google Reader account, too.
Finally, I see huge potential for staff developers with this tool. This year, in Saskatchewan, we have all new curriculum documents. Imagine if teachers could build a collective resource list of pertinent resources! Why not establish a tag, such as SK3Science (for grade 3 Saskatchewan Science curriculum), share it with all 70 Grade 3 teachers in our division (or go beyond) and let's get building. Teachers wonder why they reinvent the wheel over and over! I ask, "Why are we all sifting the sand, searching for gold nuggets?"
(Doug Johnson in his Blue Skunk Blog, Three Ring Binders: A Little Rant)
Beers, K. (2003). When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman.