Using Diigo for Organizing the Web for your Class
A good friend of mine, Randy Lyseng, has been telling people of the tremendous power and educational value that can be gained from social bookmarking in the classroom. His personal favourite is Diigo.
My preference is a social bookmarking tool called http://diigo.com. With diigo, you can highlight, add stick notes and make your comments private or public. (Randy Lyseng, Lyseng Tech: Social Bookmarking, November 2006)
After listening to Randy praise Diigo at every opportunity, I finally started playing with the site (and corresponding program, more on that in a bit) this summer (I know Randy – I’m slow to catch on…)As I started to play with the system, my mind started reeling with all the possibilities. First off, like any other social bookmarking tool, Diigo allows you to put all your favorites/bookmarks in one “central” location. Students can access them from ANY computer in the world (talk about the new WWW: whatever, whenever, where ever). They just open up your Diigo page, and there are all the links. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Diigo’s power lies in it’s group annotations. That’s right, people can now write in the margins of webpages. You can highlight passages of interest, write notes, and even write a blog entry directly from another webpage, quoting passages right from the original text. Sounds great – but to do all that it must be complicated right?
Nope. To use these advanced features all you need to do is run the Diigo software. This can either be done using a bookmarklet or by downloading and installing the Diigo toolbar. While both have basically the same features, the toobar is less finicky, and allows you to use contextual menus to access features quickly. I also find the toolbar’s highlighting and sticky notes to be easier to read. Ok fine… I can leave notes on webpages – so what?
Here’s an example. I’m thinking about having my 7B’s record radio plays. I’ve looked them up online and found many scripts from all the old classics available. However many also contain the old endorsements from tobacco and other companies. So I go to a play that I’d like to my students to record and highlight the old commercial. If they’re using diigo when they access this page they’ll see the same text highlighted in pink, and when they mouse over the highlighted text they’ll get a hidden message from me – “I’d like you to write a new advertisement for this section. What other advertisement do you think we could write for here? Write an ad for a virtue or trait that you think is important. For example – “Here’s a news flash for every person in Canada. It’s about a sensational, new kind of personality that will make you the envy of all those around you. It’s call trustworthiness. Why with just a pinch of this great product….” They now have a writing assignment to go along with the recording of the radio play.
Adding assignments is just one possibility. You can ask questions about the site, or have students carry on conversations about the text. Perhaps about the validity of some information. These notes can be made private (for your eyes only), public, or for a select group of people. You could use the same webpage for multiple classes, and have a different set of sticky notes for each one! Diigo will also create a separate webpage for each group you create, helping you organize your bookmarks/notes further! This technology is useful for any class, but I think is a must have for any group trying to organize something along the lines of the 1 to 1 project. I’m hoping to convince all the core teachers to set up a group page for their classes, and organize their book marks there! I’ve already started one for my 7B Language Arts Class!
One of the first questions I was asked when I started looking at this site, and more importantly at the bookmarklets and toolbar was is it secure? Will it bring spyware onto our systems? How about stability? I’ve currently been running the Diigo bookmarklet and toolbar on 3 different browsers, Explorer, Firefox, and Safari (sorry, there’s no Safari toolbar yet), across 4 different computers and 2 different platforms with no problems. I’ve also run every virus and spyware scan I can think of, everything checks out clean. I’ve also done an extensive internet check, and can’t find any major problems reported by anyone else. To my mind it’s an absolutely fantastic tool for use in the classroom. Thanks Diigo! And thanks Randy for pointing me in the right direction!
Other links reviewing Diigo:
- Solution Watch: Diigo Launches – More then Just Bookmarking (http://www.solutionwatch.com/474/diigo-launches-more-than-just-bookmarking/)
- Solution Watch: Diiggo: Social Bookmarking and Annotation (http://www.solutionwatch.com/303/diigo-social-bookmarking-and-annotation/)
- Tech Crunch: Diigo is a Research Tool that Rocks (http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/08/02/diigo-is-a-research-tool-that-rocks/)
- Recommended Web Tools: Diigo Review: Robust Social Bookmarking (http://www.recommendedwebtools.com/index.php/527/diigo-review-robust-social-bookmarking/)
- CNet: Diigo Review (http://reviews.cnet.com/online-software-services/diigo/4505-9239_7-32082352.html?tag=txt)
- .Net Addict: Review of Diigo (http://dotnetaddict.dotnetdevelopersjournal.com/diigo.htm)