This is technology tip number 1 for 2008-2009. I’m hoping this is a weekly tip or mini-lesson to help us become better at creating curriculum that hastens student acquisition of 21st century skills. While the NETS for Students are, in my opinion, the best articulation of the skills students should have (just as the NETS for Teachers define new expectations for teachers exceedingly well), it has been helpful to distill the student standards down further to four talking points or categories/goals to embrace as we redesign curriculum in light of our new one-to-one program. Below are four areas to keep in mind as we design new curriculum:
Students should understand how to identify and frame problems; find information and evaluate it for authenticity and reliability; adhere to ethical use stemming from an understanding of intellectual property and copyright; and be intelligent readers and consumers of information in a variety of mediums.
Digital Citizenship and Personal Learning Networks
Students should understand what an online identity is and how to protect it; act and interact ethically and responsibly in an online environment; and understand how to create and benefit from an online network whether it is for educational or social purposes.
Students should be confident in their ability to collaborate and share effectively both internally and with the world at large; learn to communicate ideas in a variety of formats and for a variety of audiences; develop an awareness of the cultural differences and similarities in an increasingly flat world; and understand their potential to contribute in a positive way to the world at large.
Students should develop flexibility and adaptability in their reasoning processes; understand how to use real world applications to explore and express ideas; be confident, self directed, risk-taking learners; and utilize elements of inquiry and design to produce relevant, high quality work.
These four talking points lead to two important goals for each of us this school year. One goal will be to learn how to use technology to help manage information effectively. One way to manage information is to use some networking tools which leads us to our second goal for this year, creating a learning network (part of the second talking point) and that is where we will start our tech tip series. Our learning network will also be a social network but the focus for us will be on building a network that facilitates our own learning. The images below show the way a teacher’s network has changed, evolving from some localized, static resources to a shared, dynamic web of possibilities.
Images from flickr user courosa. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/courosa/)
A simple place to start constructing this network is with social bookmarks. Delicious and Diigo are two great applications and you can’t go wrong with either. However, the simplicity of delicious and the singularity of purpose make it more suitable for first steps into creating a learning network.
Commoncraft has a great video to explain what social bookmarks are and I see no reason to reinvent the wheel, that’s an advantage of today’s participatory culture provided we remember to give credit.
Educause has a terrific series, Seven Things You Should Know, that attempts to explain pros and cons of emerging technologies as well as to predict where the technology is headed. One of their articles in on Social Bookmarking and is worth a read.
The Nuts and Bolts of the Highlighted Tool – Delicious
Step 1: Create Account and Install Toolbar
To begin using delicious bookmarks, you’ll need to go to delicious.com (formerly and still del.icio.us) and create an account. During account creation it will ask you if you want to import your current bookmarks. I’d go ahead and import them and say goodbye to browser based, one computer only bookmarks.
Key Advantage 1 - You can access your bookmarks anywhere that you have an internet browser, they aren’t located on just one computer.
Key Advantage 2 – You can easily share your bookmarks with others- teachers of the same course, students if your class, anyone in your learning network.
After you create an account, you need to click on the Help button and go to the section labeled Need tools? You’ll find options to download the delicious extension for the browser of your choice. We choose firefox.
Step 2: Understanding the Interface
Installing the toolbar puts three buttons on your browser toolbar. Image and functions best described with a picture from the delicious site.
You will use the Tag button frequently. Start to think of Tags as folders (or keywords.) Using more than one tag on a bookmark is the same things as filing the bookmark in more than one folder. Tags are better than folders because the same single file can be put in multiple folders.
You will also find a delicious toolbar in your browser header. If you don't see it, use the View menu to access yout toolbar choices and make sure delicious is checked.
You will also find Delicious as a choice in your menu bar. You can select many of the delicious functions from this menu.
There are several ways that you can set your delicious toolbar to display. I prefer to show favorite tags. This look will show my favorite tags(folders) and provide a drop down menu of all the bookmarks associated with each tag. I can determine which tags I want to show on this toolbar by changing my favorites. If I select Manage Favorite tags, I can select which tags are my favorites.
The sidebar button lists all my tags in a window on the left side of my browser window. This provides easy access to my bookmarks so I don’t have to leave the page I am on to access them.
Step 3: Understanding the Power
Delicious Bookmarks are powerful because they are a shared, networked, human-searched method of managing information.
PORTABILITY- Your bookmarks live on every machine or cell phone that has a browser. To access your bookmarks you simply append the main delicious url with your username. For example, my bookmarks can be accessed if I go to http://delicious.com/ehelfant (ehelfant is my username.)
TAGS- Tags are the method delicious uses to group your bookmarks. When you find a site you want to bookmark, clikc the tag button located beside the URL window in your browser. A window will pop up asking you to provide tags and allowing you to add notes and to mark it as private if you are marking something you'd prefer not to share.
You bookmark a webpage and give it a tag. When you go to that tag, you will see the list of all the things you have tagged that way. Tags are better than folders. You can have one bookmark and tag it in several ways so it shows up in several places. If I append the delicious URL with my username and then the tag, I can access those bookmarks on any machine. For example, if I want to see everything I have tagged with the tag Math, I simply go to
SHARING- In the sections above, I gave you the urls to my bookmarks in general and specifically to the bookmarks I have tagged with the tag Math. This is really a useful and powerful feature since I can tag things and share them with anyone- my peers, my students, my network- by simply providing them with the URL. If I am doing a project with students, I can find resources and tag them and then pass the url to my students.
If I choose a unique enough tag, my students and I can access the bookmarks using the URL http://delicious.com/tag/uniqueTag. Notice the way the URL works. I can access any bookmark that has been tagged with the word Math by going to . This url will produce a list of all the sites tagged with the word Math by all the users of Delicious.
There is another more specific way to share in delicious. If you find a site that is important for someone specific, you can tag that site just for them. If you find a site that you think I would like to see, you don’t have to email me and paste in the information. You can simple tag it with for:ehelfant (for:username) and it will show up in my Inbox. The inbox in delicious is not an email inbox. It is an inbox for links that others have sent to you. As a technology integrationist, this is a great feature for me. I frequently searched for sites for the different classes and would send an email to each of the teachers when I found things. Now I simply use the for:username and send the emails to my teachers. Because I can use multiple tags, I can tag a site for myself and then use the for: option to tag it for several teachers as well. It is much more efficient than emailing sites.
NETWORK-You can create a network on delicious by clicking on the network button and on the right hand side selecting add a user to Network. You’ll need to search for the user and then add them. When you add someone to your network, anything they tag will appear on your Network bookmark page sorted with the most recent bookmarks first. A good place to start is to form a network with people teaching the same thing that you teach so you see their bookmarks.
SUBSCRIPTIONS (the human search engine)- As mentioned above, I can append the main delicious url with the /tag/specific tag to access all the URLs tagged by all the delicious users with that specific tag. Try. This makes delicious a human search engine of sorts. There are lots of delicious users out there tagging things and everyone has access to what we all find. Again, none of us is as smart as all of us. There is a more permanent way to follow a tag of particular interest using subscriptions.
Click on the subscription button to access your subscriptions or to add a subscription. On the right hand side of the subscription page, you can click add a subscription. You can enter any tag and subscribe to that tag from all users or you can select a single user and a tag and subscribe. When you go to the subscription page, you’ll see any new bookmark that is added with that tag.
RSS FUNCTIONALITY- This is probably a topic for another day but it should be noted that you can get an RSS feed for any tag or user in delicious. The simpliest way to take advantage of this it to click on the orange RSS symbol in the URL address field and add the feed to your igoogle page.
Key School Advantages:
With delicious, students can access their bookmarks regardless of the computer they are on and they can share them with their peers or their teachers.
Because we are in a one-to-one program, we will reimage student computers each summer and delicious means students don’t need to worry about bookmarks since they aren’t tied to the machine.
School’s need to teach collaboration,and sharing bookmarks is an easy way to start sharing and collaborating with information.
Delicious Bookmarks are a good place to begin to understand how a network can work to help you learn. Get an account, tag a few sites, add a friend or two to your network and play. The usefulness of this tool will soon become apparent.
A Plethora from David Jakes
A Screencast by Liz Davis (Note:this uses the older Del.icio.us interface)
A podcast from the OtterGroup
Next Up - What to do with RSS feeds? Using iGoogle!