Thursday, October 22, 2009

Using Social Bookmarking in School

I've used numerous items as bookmarks over the years. There have been pieces of paperboard, toothpicks, magazine ad inserts, and fancy ribbons. I've even purchased a few and on occasion I have dog-eared pages. But all of these were physical items.

The current definition of "bookmark" is something entirely different. It is no longer a physical item, but exists somewhere in cyberspace. It no longer just marks a location in a book, but a place in the internet world, with all of its documents, blogs, videos, images, news, games, groups, maps, directories, search engines, and shopping sites.

I think most teachers are familiar with marking favorite websites. They find a site they like and click "add to favorites." But this is just a small form of bookmarking. I don't think nearly as many teachers are familiar with social bookmarking. Most do not have the time to keep up with the latest trends (even though social bookmarking has been around for several years). If they are familiar with it, they don't have the time to figure out what to do with it in their classroom. I never knew it even existed until recently, and only since I've retired did I actually have the time to research it and start using it. How I wish I had known about this when I was teaching.

Social bookmarking starts with a bookmarking website. There are many; some of the best known are Delicious (, Delirious (, and StumbleUpon ( Each operates a little differently, but their basic purpose is the simplify the world wide web.

The internet has millions and millions of pages. If I do a search for Algebra lessons on Google, I get over 2 million websites. But if I go to Delicious and search for Algebra lessons, I only get about 1,200 sites and these are the ones that have already been bookmarked by others, so I know they're some of the best. I can then add the ones I like to my bookmarks so that I can easily access them again later.

As soon as I have a few of them added to my account, I can share them with other teachers or with students. The great thing is that they are accessible from any computer. If teachers bookmark something at school, it will still be on the website when they need to access it at home.

Once tags are added, the list of websites is simplified even more. If one of the websites is tagged with the word "puzzles," I can click on that tag and easily find other websites dedicated to "puzzles."

I can also click on the number that represents how many others have bookmarked that particular site. A list of those people will show up and I can click on any one of them to see if they have bookmarked other interesting Algebra sites. And so it goes, on and on.

I think the following video will demonstrate social bookmarking much better that my attempt at an explanation. Once you've watched the video, go to the site and play around. It's the best way to learn.

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