Social Learning Tools: Bookmarking with Diigo

Posted on by Brooke

Last post, I showed how Yahoo Pipes will (among other things) collect posts from different bloggers when the titles or tags of their posts share a given keyword. So, students can have their own blogs, on which they write whatever they want—but when they write course-related posts, these all can be aggregated together and sorted in real time by a Yahoo Pipe.

This post, I look at how Diigo does the same thing with the students’ bookmarking of web sites and articles.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of “bookmarking” a web site or article. Normally, users have used their browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari) to bookmark web pages; you can probably see the menu item “Bookmarks” at the top of your window right now. The problem is, you may use multiple computers, or change browsers, such that your bookmarks become unavailable you. And in any case, you cannot easily share them with others. Also, though browser bookmarks can be sorted and “tagged” with categories, it’s not really easily done.

Some readers may be using Delicious, an early social bookmarking site and still a great choice. With Delicious, your bookmarks are on a web site, available to you (and anybody else) wherever you are. You have a chance to tag bookmarks with categories when you make them. Your bookmarks are public: other users might, for instance, do a search for a given tag, like “Bible”; if you have bookmarks using that tag, they will appear in that user’s search. You can even have  “network” of friends whose bookmarks you watch.

Diigo, another social bookmarking site, takes the “social” in “social bookmarking” at least one step further. It does all the things that Delicious does, but Diigo also allows you to join with other users into groups. So, for example, I have created groups for each of my introductory courses on Hebrew Bible.

Let’s imagine that you are a student in the course. I have invited you to join our Diigo group, and you respond by opening a Diigo account and joining the group. Now, you begin bookmarking and tagging web pages that are of interest to you. Many of these will not be related to our course: sports columns, videos of kittens falling asleep, favorite political blogs. But often, you will come upon course-related web pages that you want to share with the class. Creating (and tagging) a bookmark for that web page to your Diigo account, you will also save it to our group. Then, every other student will see the bookmark when they look at our group’s bookmarks.

Tagging is a part of how we members of a Diigo group make our bookmarks useful to one another. By tagging our bookmarks with categories (like “humor”; “politics”; “archaeology” “LGBT”; or whatever), we establish a cloud of tags that describe the kinds of topics and concerns that animate our shared bookmarks. One of us might, or example, search for all of our group’s bookmarks tagged with the category “LGBT” to find all bookmarked pages that concern the Hebrew Bible and lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transexuals.

We saw before that Yahoo Pipes allows students to have their own blogs, with posts on own varied interests; when they do post course-related content, a well-made Yahoo Pipe will gather and sort those posts into a single place. Diigo, then, does the same thing with bookmarks. Students have their own Diigo accounts, where they can bookmark whatever they like to their hearts’ content. But when they create a bookmark that is related to our course, they simply save it to our group, and everyone in the course benefits.

To see an example of Diigo groups in education, see the bookmarks of Michael Wesch’s KSU course in Cultural Ethnography.

Are you already using social bookmarking in your teaching and learning? What other applications do you see? Do you think social bookmarking might find a place in other venues of adult education?