Friday, June 22, 2012

(Social) Bookmarking

Bookmarking sites have been around for a long time now; you've probably heard of Delicious (one of the original bunch), or at least Pinterest, which is getting a lot of press at the moment.
But why bother?

Well, as you know, the internet is a BIG place. There are now more than 100 million registered domain names, 600 million people on Facebook, and the world watches more than 2 billion videos every day on YouTube. I found this information via an infographic on Mashable, a news source that brings together technology news for its 20 million+ monthly visitors.

So how do we sift through all the garbage to find the bits and pieces that inspire us, or really make a difference to what we do every day?

This is where social bookmarking comes in. Put simply, bookmarking sites allow users to bookmark something they've found and (if they want to) share it with others. Content can be tagged, so that people can search for boomarked pages based on their particular interests. Some sites also allow users to comment on bookmarks and create groups based on interests.

Again, why bother?
To me, there are a few advantages for teachers:
  • You can always access your bookmarks. Put simply, if you've got an account with an online bookmarking site (and you're diligent about saving bookmarks), you'll always have that list of your favourite sites on hand.
  • You can see what other teachers are using/doing: Teachers are way too busy to make everything up! If nothing else, the internet gives us a wealth of great educational content: cool display ideas, downloadable resources, inspirational videos, etc. But, finding it is a nightmare. But I know that if I'm looking for storytelling resources or classroom display ideas, someone else has already found them and bookmarked them!
  • You can share specific lists of sites with people: While there are other ways to do it (I'll get to those in the coming weeks), bookmarks are a good way to share specific websites with your students (or your peers). Your bookmarking account (or a list within it) could also be your list of resources for a certain unit of work or research project. You've carefully checked the content on these pages, and know that they're just right for your students.
So, where to start?
If you want simple, Delicious is probably the best place to start. Diigo is a good one for annotating the content you find and forming groups, whereas Symbaloo and Pinterest offer graphic representations and thumbnails (good for the 'visual' folks among us!). StumbleUpon is cool too, it recommends websites based on your interests.

Wherever you end up, it's a good idea to have a bit of a play until you find one that suits your needs and your learning/organisational style.

And let me know if you find any cool ones!

The fine print...
Don't forget that when you're accessing web content, it's gotta be owned by someone and hosted somewhere. Most of the time this won't be a problem. but it never hurts to read the terms and conditions, particularly if you're using Facebook or Google to log into these sites. While it's a great way to do things (who wants to remember 47 different account logins?), it also means they've got access to lots of the things you do online.

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