Social Information Networks (SINs)
are places where information consumption, research, and sharing is central, and where the connection between people and people, between people and information, and between information and information, are exploited and harnessed to improve knowledge sharing and content discovery, and to enable more meaningful social connections and intellectual exchanges.
Social Bookmarking is one SIN commonly used by learners, researchers and teachers in higher education.
The task for this week’s post is to showcase Diigo – pronounced d-go, the “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other Stuff, at http://diigo.com. As the Social Information Networking site increasingly preferred by academics for its bookmarking, sharing, annotating, noting and tagging/grouping capacities, Diigo is easy to use whether sharing or seeking resources, and is efficient for annotating and curating resources as a learner or teacher, as solo researcher or collaborator. Diigo works like
- an ever-present browser (storing your favorite bookmarks in the clouds rather than on a particular device);
- a dynamically organized annotated bibliography (with the particular digital item named, the URL embedded, and room for a short description as well as annotations and highlights to be recorded); and
- an informed, open community conversation on tag-linked topics (where students you know, colleagues you’ve yet to meet, and writers living across the world converge to share divergent resources and insights via personally curated Diigo pages).
PINs Become Dull
A year ago I was relying on a scattershot approach to storing, annotating and grouping resources that I would share with students and colleagues. I called this my PIN – personal information node – approach: I stored presentations at Slideshare; images at Flickr; documents at Scribd or Google docs or WordPress depending on content; web pages via an under-annotated Delicious.com social bookmarking account, and electronic documents for students via either the MyU portal or Moodle2 site my university provides.
A PIN approach allows for storing of information more than curating and sharing of information, and the collection is mostly personal to my individaul use, or open to others by a searcher’s happenstance or creator’s specific invitation.
Even as a PIN user, the information I stored across the platforms came together only in my own head. Certainly I could handily share information via one-to-one email messages if someone asked for resources, or through a one-to-many posting on a course management system or blog I could anticipate and arrange to share resources students or collaborators may need.
In a PIN approach it took a great deal of focused energy – and personal memory – to string together a series of resources, drawn from searching across multiple platforms, in a process that looked something like this:
- forwarding links I’d bookmarked in my personal computer browsers then copied and pasted into emails based on someone’s request for resource recommendations – or I’d forward these to myself via email or Dropbox.com for when I was working on a different computer that didn’t have access to the resources stored on my work computer;
- sharing bibliographies with students who had password protected access via MyU portal or Moodle hyperlinks or Google documents – and then adding in new email addresses from students who wanted to maintain access to these resources after they’d graduated beyond the university-based email address;
- collecting varieties of digital documents across a variety of platforms – then trying to remember not only what was stashed where, but also which tags I’d used on other platforms, and whether I had a way to let people know where to find those multiple platforms (or even how to figure out for myself what to store on Slideshare or Scribd or Flickr or WordPress); and
- using one-to-one communication routes – via email or Twitter or Facebook – to ask for and share or update resources within my network of colleagues.
At minimum, I realized Diigo could move my record of saved resources from the minimal information reflected in the image at the left:
However much I liked the collection of scattershot yet rich platforms I’ve accumulated for saving, annotating, and sharing digital resources, I needed a better hub from which to operate in connecting the pieces together; to record why and how and when the resources could be of use; to connect with others who shared my research interests; and to make web resource that could host my students as they developed resources and insights by engage with others in a knowledge-and-information-sharing community.
Diigo offers the following to students and teachers alike as scholars:
Diigo – a SIN to explore
You likely know your own Firefox or Internet Explorer or Safari or Chrome bookmarking menu well. Click on the appropriate dropdown menu when you want bookmark a page, then use the dialog box that opens to modify the document name, select a folder where it will live, and type in an appropriate tag as a last thing before clicking “Done.” And the link now lives on that computer with a bit of brief information.
Imagine, instead, that you click on a toolbar application for Diigo in order to bookmark the target link. Maybe even to bookmark it and simultaneously record that you’ve highlighted a particular passage. Or, when you want to preserve a link, the dialog box opens to suggest a “tag” or identifying phrase to link to the annotation, as well as to provide room for you to add a full paragraph or a few bullet points to remind you later why you’ve taken time to bookmark this resource. Or imagine that you’ll encounter a Search function that lets you search by tag, topic, author, title; that lets you search your own bookmarks or those of friends or those of everyone else using Diigo.
Imagine, also, that with Diigo you
- have access to these bookmarks from any browser, from any computer, from any place in the world where you have internet access, and
- have the option to invite other people into a group so that you can share resources, begin collaboratively commenting on sources and ideas, and
- have the backdrop of a wider community of users which you can dip into to review what a world of others have gathered under similar tags, or have said about specific resources.
And, finally, imagine that among the digital items you’re collecting and curating you can include a Note about a digital resource that doesn’t live at a public URL, or about non-digital resources living on a bookshelf or in an archive. Such notes can serve as pubic place holders about a resource that is fundamental to what you’re exploring but which does not “live” in an electronic space, or that lives behind a password for copyright purposes. Another scholar finding such a note can contact its poster to learn more about the resource – perhaps even gaining a paper copy or a copyright-allowed individual PDF from a quick scan.
Finally, image how your students might benefit from developing practices of Social Information Networking via a platform that engaged them in discovering, annotating, commenting on, and coming to publicly share links they have curated on a particular topic with peer collaborators, with public audiences, with actual researchers. Imagine your students using this SIN resource to seek out divergent thinking among a world of others writing out their ideas for shared or competing purposes. Imagine you and your students all involved in this world of other knowledge generators, meaning makers, question clarifiers and answer posing thinkers who’ve met because they’ve come to one place to share all sorts of information
Diigo – Resources You Can Begin Using Right Now
First, a “how to set up Diigo” resource – and thanks to How-To Geek the “Create Enhanced Bookmarks with Diigo” post is concise and comprehensive, tied to illustrative screen-shots and variety of uses.
- A two-pager from a “7 Things You Should Know About… Learning Technology Topics” series created by Educause to address the Who What When Where Why and How of the specific topic. The document introduction says this of social bookmarking:
Social bookmarking involves saving bookmarks one would normally make in a Web browser to a public Web site and “tagging” them with keywords. The community-driven, keyword-based classifications, known as ‘folksonomies,’ may change how we store and find information online.
- This Educause Review Online article reviews Diigo.com as a social bookmarking site for use in higher education. As review notes, students and teachers have primarily used the browser-based bookmarking features on their own computers for archiving, organizing, retrieving or sharing of internet-based information. This article provides an analysis of why/how the Diigo cloud platform provide a far better service for researchers – in general and in comparison to other bookmarking options.
- In a guest post for the CIRTL Network (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning, an NSF Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education based at UW-Madison), Derek Bruff describes assignments in two courses (cryptography and statistics) that require students to use social bookmarking sites for learning, peer-instruction, collaboration.
- In closing, Bruff notes:
[S]ocial bookmarking in a course setting helps students see that they are part of a real learning community, one in which everyone (not just the instructor) has useful ideas and perspectives to share. I want my courses to be learning communities, and I’m glad to have social bookmarking tools that help me create those communities.
Sharing and More with the Diigo Browser for the iPad
- Using Diigo on an iPad is, as ProfHacker points out, wonderful. The application makes it easy for users to share resources on and beyond the platform (Twitter This, Send & Save), to read offline, and to go incognito before a search to prevent a search history being saved.
- Along with these features, the iPad app provides for adding descriptions, annotating/highlighting websites and other resources as part of the bookmarking process. To learn more about tools that can help you make the most of Diigo on your computer, laptop or mobile device – whether an android or an i-device – review the options at the Diigo Tools page here, or see this write up about using the iPad app.
Moving from PIN to SIN – a Personal Note
While it’s true I moved to Diigo well over a year ago in order to access bookmarks from wherever I was in the world and to take part in information sharing within a broader community via whatever electronic device I had in hand, I only began making full use of Diigo capacities this year.
During the past year, I read about how others used the platform, studied colleagues’ Diigo libraries online, asked and read about how others leveraged Diigo in their classes, and linked with other Diigo users considering the impact of digital worlds on learning and course design.
This semester, I’ve designed Diigo into one of my courses so that graduate students and postdoctoral fellows engaged in career planning will build a resource collection as part of the semester’s portfolio development – and build it in a place where they will find community and new ideas while also curating resources that will go and grow with them beyond the course.
This semester I’ve also made large chunks of my personal Diigo account private in order to re-imagining how to describe, annotate and tag resources across all those other electronic platforms in my life, and then to use Diigo to link and consolidate the lot. Sometime in Summer 2013 I’ll report on that updating process.
I’ve launched a CTL Diigo account as a companion to this blog. The starting out resources are tagged as Social Bookmarking and Learning about Learning. Going forward, we’ll grow the Diigo resources by drawing from a key link from weekly posts.