I came across a free web 2.0 tool called Diigo through my Media Enhanced Learning forum and immediately wondered if it might save me hours of emailing myself bookmarked links that I could then access from any computer. I started experimenting with the Diigo expanded toolbar on Firefox and have been very impressed! Not only can you create an online library of urls with descriptions and tags, you can highlight and comment on text and save those annotations with the url. You can also save screen captures. You can mark urls as something to read later. You can then search through your bookmarks using tags or the text within the bookmark. This means no more combing through my email account for hours trying to find the one link I may or may not recognize by the url! No more going to my bookmarks folder to refer to a resource only to realize it’s in the bookmarks folder on another computer! And, as much as I love Pinterest for storing my thousands of cooking recipes and DIY projects, I haven’t found it to be a great tool for storing research resources as many of them do not include any kind of pinnable image and the search feature seems somewhat limited.
I’m incredibly excited about using this great tool as an educator. For instance, for teaching a lesson on solubility, I will now be able to tag all the potential resources I could use with “solubility”, perhaps more detailed tags like “video” “simulation” “slideshow” “article”, etc., and be able to sort through them easily when lesson planning. From a student perspective, I can envision some fantastic possibilities for using Diigo as a collaborative learning tool, especially since it works with a variety of mobile devices.
One example of this application would be to create a private or public group for the class and share a selected group of resources that I have found for the “solubility” topic. Students would be asked to pick one or 2 bookmarks and review them outside of class. An informal assessment of this activity could be that they have to add their own highlighting and comments to the websites. In class, students would then share what they learned with their classmate in terms of knowledge/content and also evaluate the quality of the learning resource. Students would then go home and compare their 1-2 resources with the ones their partner had evaluated. I could also ask students to find a page, video, simulation, etc. that they felt should have been in the group bookmark list and to argue why it should be included. I think this will help students not only with digital literacy but information literacy – learning to evaluate quality of sources online, to recognize and monitor what types of resources help them learn best, and to apply social constructivism in building knowledge through interacting with others.
I can also see this tool being used for collaborative lab reports and research papers. Students could work as a group to compile resources they might want to use and highlight or comment on sections that seem particularly helpful or essential. The alert settings will let group members know when someone has added a new resource. As an instructor, I could also see what resources they are finding and comment on ones I think are helpful or quality sources. I also think the ability for group members to interact through sticky notes and discuss material right on the web page is a valuable and efficient feature.
Lastly, there is the potential for either myself as an educator or my students to create our own personal learning networks. This is a new phrase for me so I searched for a definition just to get me started and of course ended up at Wikipedia: “A personal learning network is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment”. This is a concept I want to explore in detail in a future post, so until then!