Social Bookmarking with Diigo

As I’ve mentioned here before, I see social bookmarking as a valuable tool for

  • Involving students in surfacing relevant course content we might not address otherwise (and that students might leverage in their paper assignments),
  • Creating a greater sense of community within the course, and
  • Tapping into students’ Web surfing abilities and desire to share items of interest with those in their networks.

I had my students this fall engage in social bookmarking, earning credit toward their class participation grade for doing so. I made sure to spend at least 10 minutes a week having students share their finds during class time, which means that the students’ finds were integrated with other class discussions and not just some out-of-class “busy work.”

With the possible demise of Delicious, I’ve started exploring Diigo as an alternate social bookmarking service. I have imported all my Delicious bookmarks into Diigo, started using the Diigo Firefox toolbar to save and tag bookmarks, and set Diigo up to cross-post my bookmarks to my old Delicious account, just in case I want to return there down the road. The learning curve with Diigo is steeper than with Delicious, but it has some powerful tools for classroom use.  Here’s a game plan for using Diigo next time:

  • I’ve set up a Diigo group for the course. I’ll invite my students to create Diigo accounts and join the group. In deference to FERPA, I’ll let students choose pseudonyms if they wish, as long as they let me know.
  • I’ll show my students how to bookmark items in Diigo. Diigo lets you bookmark all kinds of things (images on websites, highlighted text on web pages, and more), but most of those options are confusing for social bookmarking newbies (and for me). I’ll focus on bookmarking web pages using the Diigo toolbar and Diigo.com.
  • Something I realized this fall was that there’s value in encouraging students to use multiple tags when saving bookmarks. Not only does this make the class bookmark collection easier to organize and search, but it helps prepare students for the kinds of keyword searching they’ll have to do when tackling research assignments.
  • Having the RSS feed for our course’s Delicious tag embedded in the course blog was very handy this fall. It gave the students an easy way to access the latest bookmarks saved by their peers. I’ll do the same with my Diigo group, which seems to have an RSS feed with a bit more structure than the Delicious version. Diigo has a few “group widgets” I could use, including linkrolls and tag clouds I could place on the blog and an auto-post-to-blog tool, but I think I’ll stick with the RSS feed. I’ll also pipe the group feed into the course Facebook page, as I did with the Delicious feed this fall.
  • Here’s what I’m really excited about: Diigo groups allow group members to comment on and “like” bookmarks shared with the group. These are features that Delicious doesn’t provide, and I’m eager to test them out with students. We live in a participatory culture, and our students expect to be able to interact with content they consume. “Liking” and commenting are interaction tools that my students should be comfortable using given their experiences on Facebook, and these tools should tap into students’ desires for community and sharing quite nicely.

Diigo looks very promising at this point. It seems to do everything Delicious did for me this fall and more. As I said, the learning curve is a bit steeper, so the only tradeoff is likely to be a little more class time spend teaching students how to use it.

Have you used Diigo groups in your teaching? I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences with it!

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