Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Using Diigo With Students

I've recently signed up with Diigo, a bookmarking site that is much more as it allows one to highlight parts of a webpage, attach public sticky notes to send comments back and forth, create lists to easily share, and even create groups where members can contribute bookmarks.

After reading this post over at Bright Ideas and reflecting on a conversation I had with a colleague today, here's some thoughts on using Diigo with students.

Ideas for Activities:

Create a booklist to share with your students when suggesting titles for reading fiction. Booklists could be tagged by genre also to be more specific.

Better yet use the group feature and have the students create a booklist of their most recommended books. The highlight feature could be used to highlight a favourite passage and the sticky note feature would allow students to comment on each others selections.

During a topic of study, students could add to a group list whenever there is a useful resource found. They could be asked to annotate the site to practice summarizing.

Students could be shown a list of websites that they could evaluate by using the sticky note feature to comment right on the site.

A "Toolbox" list could be compiled for repeating tasks throughout the year. Research tools, Writing poetry, Study skills, Math manipulatives are a few I think of right off the bat. This could be made available to parents too!

Educators Accounts are available for educators that allow students to be set up quickly with their own accounts and special privacy settings. This would be necessary to ensure student's bookmarks would only be shown to other classmembers. There is a suggestion that a teacher might set up two accounts one for personal and one for work.

Things to Consider:

I am still figuring out how the public and private options work in Diigo. When I imported all my bookmarks I made them all public in order to create lists to share with others. I figured all my bookmarks were mostly educational or of an "ordinary" nature. What I found interesting was when all my tags were listed together, one could actually find out quite a bit about my private life. For example, it would be easy to figure out where I lived from the tags with place names in them, and it would be obvious that I had two children and I even had their names as tags (which I quickly changed). I randomly selected another profile of a user who had shared a list. It had a number of specific legal tags that led one to assume this person was having legal difficulties. Awkward!

I see that there are different ways to both share tags, lists, comments and ways to make them private. Part of the beauty of this website is collaborating with others to create groups and lists of bookmarks but is important to be aware of all the different options for doing so.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Here a Ning, There a Wiki...Information Overload!

(To the tune of Old Macdonald)
Here a Ning, there a wiki, everywhere a blog, blog, blog OMG too much info! EIEIO.

So I've discovered the wonderful world of the edublogosphere. So many ideas, so many conversations. So many apps. So exciting. Yet so overwhelming. Is it just me that feels compelled to sort and organize every bit of information that I encounter?

Here's a great quote I found "That in spacious knowledge there is much contristation, and that he that increaseth knowledge increaseth anxiety." Bacon

It all starts with my Google Reader account that I visit more often than I should. For me this has become a form of relaxation and entertainment. At the same time I want to keep track of every good quote, every link to a useful web tool, every new book mentioned I might read someday. So yes, I have lists (I use Todoist for that), and I have a notebook (I just switched from Google Notebook to Zoho Notebook), and I bookmark (Google bookmarks and just created a Diigo account).

However, I'm coming to the conclusion that I don't need to collect EVERYTHING. So I've tried to come up with a few simple rules to help manage my new addiction.

Jodie's Rules for Managing Information Overload:

Set PRIORITIES: One of those practices that are so important, yet so often overlooked. Take time to sort out what is important in your life, those big overall values and goals that should direct how you choose to spend your time. Post those priorities somewhere where you will revisit them often. ...remember BABY STEPS.

Set a TIME LIMIT: It is so easy to lose track of time and space when using the computer. Use an actual timer (I bet there's an app for that) and set a predetermined amount of time that is to be spent.

Set a PURPOSE: Pretty shiny things are at every turn on the Internet, so unless your purpose is to entertain yourself by surfing aimlessly (and that's okay sometimes), literally write down on a sticky note in big words your task or a focus word to remind you of what you are trying to accomplish (hmmm, I wonder if there is an app for that?)Hopefully your eye will wander to it when you find yourself signing up for another Ning and joining an online podcast when you are supposed to be paying your bills.

Set up a SYSTEM: For the information that you come across that you really do want to remember, put it somewhere where you can find it again. Ironically I've found the same technology that is causing me stress, is also very useful to alleviate it, if I use it properly. So I'll continue to use online tools like Diigo and Zoho Notebook and Todoist...just with a timer. :) I've found David Allen's book and well known "system", GTD, very helpful in creating a feeling of control in my life. One of GTD's main ideas is that to keep the mind free to be creative and calm there needs to be a safe place to collect everything and got it off your mind.

Is there anything I should add or does anyone have some general tips and/or tools for managing information overload?

...and should I admit how much time I spent writing this post? ;)