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Online bookmarking tools mean that all your bookmarks or favorites are kept in one place. This has the advantage of being able to access them from anywhere. If you use more than one computer or portable device to access the Internet, using one central bookmark store is a very good idea. Not only that, these tools tend to make it much easier to manage your bookmark list.With several of these tools you can easily create groups to categorize your bookmarks. But more importantly you can give then descriptions that are useful and memorable for you; this is tagging.

Tagging
is associating one or more words or phrases to an object (in this case a web page link) so that you can easily do a search or look through a list to find what you want.

Examples of these online bookmarking tools are:

Leave things there and these are really useful tools. However, there’s even more. These bookmarking tools have a social aspect to them as well. Whilst you can keep your bookmarks private to you by clicking a setting, you can also make them public. This means that you can share your useful bookmarks with other interested people and they can share theirs with you. Collectively you can develop groups or communities around a set of bookmarks. And because you’re all sharing tags a more useful categorization (or taxonomy) develops called a folksonomy.

Not only that. The bookmarks can be shared using an RSS feed, so those interested can keep track of what you’re adding to your bookmarks.

Advantages to learning

From a learning perspective, social bookmarking means that you can share resources with other researchers or collaborators on a project, with other students on your course or similar courses both where you are studying and around the world, and you can combine material from faculty and students. Students can actually be contributing to the course materials. As such, this is a technology tool for all levels.

There are significant advantages to this approach. Students who contribute directly to the course materials have a greater engagement and a more authentic experience of the subject, as they are applying research techniques and participate in genuine inquiry. It fosters a lifelong learning approach, as the materials they develop can be continued passed their formalized education; they may continue the interest and participate in the work of an ongoing community. This could lead to a community of practitioners, which could be beneficial to subsequent student cohorts; tapping into the massive potential of your own alumni. Unlike resources and teaching environments provided by teaching institutions, students don’t lose access to this space or resources when they have finished their courses.

Institutional level

There can be useful implementations of social bookmarking on an institutional level as well; if the institution is progressive enough.

Examples:

  1. institutionally set tag categories,
  2. libraries administrating an implementation of a social bookmarking site.

At the University of Pennsylvania they have implemented PennTags so the whole university community there can identify and organize web resources, journal articles and online catalogue content. Also, subject librarians could work as active participants, integrated with the course to supply excellent resources directly feeding into the course content.

Course level

At the course level, difficulties can arise when faculty don’t readily want to relinquish any control of the course or it’s content and may lack the skills to effectively integrate social learning activities and collaborative, dynamic content generation into the teaching environment. Social Bookmarking can provide a bridge for this gap by allowing an easy to use, engaging tool for managing web resources on course topics, with minimal implementation cost or barriers. An added bonus is that it can overlap with faculty research areas thus appealing to faculty’s desire to include their own scholarly activities in their teaching.

Examples:

  1. an instructor can use it as a framework for students to explore the web,
  2. push out resources specific to a course of discipline,
  3. use it as an assignment to get students to find relevant resources to share with the entire class.

Students need to be able to critically evaluate what they are reading. They have to be able to justify their choices for selecting those resources. Social Bookmarking is great for teaching Information Literacy with an instructor led discussion about a set of resources and then what is a quality resource. Students learn more when they are actively engaged and have a sense of ownership of these materials in their own learning processes.

At the University of Sheffield, Dr Jamie Wood has used this approach with his first year undergraduate History seminars.

Another use

Social bookmarking can be used as an additional resource for any presentation, report, etc. If you’re already using social bookmarking fully, then you’ll have a comprehensive set of tagged links. You can provide a URL from a search of tags for the subject in question.

For example if you’re using delicious you could provide a URL http://delicious.com/tag/term1+term2
where term1 and term2 are your separate tag search terms that have been combined (using the +) to produce a list of bookmarks relevant to the subject you’re speaking or writing about.

This means that your presentation or report no longer needs to be static, because as you add additional resource links to your online bookmarks whoever reads or accesses your report (or online shared presentation) can also access the latest information on the subject via your link.

Additional links

Social Bookmarking appeared in the 2007 Edition of The Horizon Report as ‘User-created content’ with a one year or less adoption horizon.

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