Exactly what is a social bookmark? Many educators already use Bookmarks or Favorites in their personal browsers to save Web sites they use frequently in class or at home. But, what if you've saved a site on your home computer and want to find that Web site while you're at school? Or say you want to share your bookmarked sites on Edgar Allen Poe with other teachers? The typical bookmark/favorite system doesn't work for these scenarios.
Also, because you can put these bookmarked sites into folders that you label with a name like "Osmosis sites" or "Civil War Documents," there is some minimal organization, but it's fairly limited. For example, if a site has both an interactive tool on alliteration and good biographical material on Langston Hughes, do you put it your Langston Hughes folder or your Alliteration folder -- or do you put it in two folders and save it twice? What if there are not just two savable aspects of that site, but five or ten great things on very different topics? How many times do you bookmark the site and how many folders do you create?
The answer to that question is to consider using social bookmarking. That technique uses a Web-based service instead of your browser to save and organize bookmarks. Instead of individually saving the site in a variety of folders, you just type a few keywords called tags (Langston Hughes, alliteration, Black History, metaphor, rubric, and so on.), and your sites are organized automatically with sites saved by other users, using those same keywords. You even can see a list of your saved bookmarks, not just by alphabetical order, but also by how often you use a given tag. So, you know at a glance that you already have a lot of information on World War II, but not nearly as much on the Spanish-American War. Thus you benefit from the research of others, while having a far more dynamic and helpful system of organization.
The following is a list of the top sites where you can store social bookmarks and get more information on using this exciting tool in your K-12 classroom!
Don't worry: the hardest part of this Web site is remembering how to spell it! Del.icio.us is one of the Web's largest social bookmarking sites. This service is easy to use and free, but because there is no filter, it's more appropriate for educators than students. Still, it's the best first-step for an educator wanting to see what social bookmarks are all about.
See the techtorial on Social Networking for step-by-step instructions on registering, tagging, and viewing sites at Del.icio.us!
7 Things You Should Know about Social Bookmarking
Although Education World normally only lists Web sites in its Sites to See articles, this online PDF document is a not-to-be-missed resource for any educator wanting information on social bookmarking. The brochure begins with a scenario of two professors trying to save and organize Web sites. Frequently asked questions and answers fill the rest of the document. In less than five minutes, you'll get a quick understanding of this tool!
Although not specifically targeted to K-12 users, this site does allow a closed group of users to share bookmarks. So, you could have students sign up for accounts, save and tag Web sites on certain topics, and then share them among themselves. This service is free and fairly simple to use. Check out the About and Help links for more information, and then click Join Now to get started.
Wikipedia on Social Bookmarking
Wikipedia is the Web's largest collaborative encyclopedia. Its strength is in its coverage of just such emerging technologies as social bookmarking. Check this page out for details on social bookmarking and its relationship to other tools. This site is particularly helpful for educators who want to know the techie nuts and bolts. A list of external resources also is included.
Tags Vs. Trusted Sources
EdTech leader Will Richardson suggests in this blog posting that social bookmarking simply can be too much information, too much sharing. A thought-provoking essay for anyone trying to decide if this tool is beneficial for their own professional development and for their classroom.
Learn about more great sites for students, parents, and educators by visiting Education World's Site Reviews Archives.
Article by Lorrie Jackson
Copyright © 2009 Education World