When I think back to my beginnings with the web over ten years ago, I remember my growing list of bookmarks that inhabited my browsers. Eventually I created web pages to keep track of links and tried to keep things organized the best I could. As a classroom teacher I eventually developed subject area web sites that contained links within the content I shared with my students, and my students became the hunters and gatherers of interesting and informative web sites that helped us learn and grow.
Wikis became a good place for me to quickly add developing lists of links over time, but it always seemed that my bookmarks and favorites became scattered on various computers that I used on a regular basis. Exporting these links helped, but it always seemed I had a mess on my hands! Often, as every teacher knows, time was the issue, and I would find that as time passed when I finally got back to sorting my links, over the summer, many were 404 and no longer found!
As a new educational technology specialist I now had the time to search for and organize web resources as part of my service for teachers; however, the key to valuable resources is working with teachers to find things that they need to embed into their curriculum. This process has to be streamlined, simple, and manageable, and I have focused my attention on del.icio.us as a possible answer to our challenge.
Now, what is del.icio.us: “del.icio.us is a collection of favorites - yours and everyone else’s. You can use del.icio.us to:
- Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, reviews, recipes, and more, and access them from any computer on the web.
- Share favorites with friends, family, coworkers, and the del.icio.us community.
- Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone’s favorite — they’ve already done the work of finding it. So del.icio.us is full of bookmarks about technology, entertainment, useful information, and more. Explore and enjoy.
del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website — the primary use of del.icio.us is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. On del.icio.us, you can use tags to organize and remember your bookmarks, which is a much more flexible system than folders.
You can also use del.icio.us to see the interesting links that your friends and other people bookmark, and share links with them in return. You can even browse and search del.icio.us to discover the cool and useful bookmarks that everyone else has saved — which is made easy with tags.”
I have used del.icio.us personally for awhile now, but as with any list of links, they must be managed, sorted, and updated to be usable. Over the summer I decided to share del.icio.us as a resource in my “Utilizing the Internet” workshop and it is proving to be a valuable resource. The teachers I worked with, so far, helped to brainstorm an idea of creating a central repository of online resources based on their del.icio.us lists. The process has begun.
A big plus with del.icio.us is that you can access your links anywhere you have an internet connection. If you are on the road and find a great site it can be added via your smart phone, laptop, or any internet device! A great feature of del.icio.us is tagging and the ability to search for other links based on the tags you create. This enables the social networking part of del.icio.us and makes for effective gathering of related links. The tags also foster organization of content and help to easily put together a repository of information related to grade levels and subject areas. You can also subscribe via RSS to various del.icio.us pages to keep up on added resources over time. As one adds users to their network, a collaborative effort is facilitated as teachers easily can help build a repository of resources shared across the del.icio.us site while simply creating and sharing their personal list of sites.
To get things started I have begun gathering resources I have collected over time and have focused on the elementary grades at this point. I put together some web pages to serve as the gateways to grade level and subject area information, but the key will be inviting teachers on board to share their personal resources. Teachers are the experts in their fields, and my goal is to facilitate the organization of the resources they find valuable for their students. With ten elementary schools in our district, I know as teachers share their information it will be beneficial to all staff.
The potential exists to not only collaborate with teachers within our own district but also with educators around the world. That is the power of such social networking sites, and this resource is there for the taking with only the cost of time. Time is always an issue, but I believe that through collaboration the time will pay off for teachers and students.
The following link is our initial repository of links: NPPSD Online Resources. It is a work in progress, but I am excited about the potential and power that it will have in our district. If you have a del.icio.us account, please add us to your network! We are all in this together, and as we share we can save valuable time that can be spent working with our students.
How have you used del.icio.us in education? Please let us know!