Social Bookmarking in the Classroom


Social bookmarking allows the user to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet. Your bookmarks can be public or private, or shared with specific groups of people. For example, you could create a bookmarking site for a school, a division, a department, or a subject, such as social studies, and then share it with other teachers in your school. If you are in a K-12 school, this is a great way to link the social studies teachers in each division and provide talking points for a meeting.

I have established a social bookmarking resource site for AP Environment Science and share it with other teachers in my global community by embedding it on the GoAPES wiki. A great advantage of this tool is that you can provide the password to other teachers in your community and have them post links. Think of what me and my student could learn about one of the many topics discussed in environmental science, such as whaling, if people from all over the world were adding relevant links to the site. In addition, I periodically assign topics in my APES textbook to students and have them search for websites that discuss the issue. They read over the site and answer the following questions, and then report back. These reports are a great way to check if a student has internalized key concepts discussed in the chapter. Here are some of the questions I typically ask:

1. What is the key environmental concept for the topic you have been assigned?
2. Does the site appropriately address this concept?
3. How do you know the information on the site comes from a reputable source?
4. In what areas does the site extend your knowlege of the topic, and/or in what areas is it lacking in information?
5. Why (or why not) would this site be appropraite to add to our APES bookmarks?
What other questions do you think would be appropriate to ask students about a web page?

Many colleges, such as Cornell University, have sites that guide students in how to evaluate web resources. Or there are web portals, such as the Virtual Online Library, which consolidates various Internet resources into web pages on a particular subject matter, such as website evaluation.

Social bookmarking sites also allow you to add tags to each bookmark and sort them into folders. The process works similarly to a library that uses the Dewy Decimal System; however, users are in charge of deciding what tags should be used. Developing your own classification system and/or relying on other participants' classification typologies is called creating a folksonomy. Discussing what tags should be included on your class' social bookmarking site provides an opportunity for you to discuss key terms (and concepts) with students either before or after a lesson, either as a way to introduce them to the subject matter, or as a review assignment before the test. It also requires student to engage in critical thinking and planning in order to develop an appropriate taxonomy for your course.

What is even more powerful about many of these social bookmarking sites is that you and your students can tap into the networks of other people (or disciplines). Environmental science is an interdisciplinary subject, requiring students to have an understanding of government, economics, energy, geology, chemistry, biotechnology, and anthropology, to name just a few. With a social bookmarking site, you can link your network to the network of other classes in your school, or to the classes of teachers you know from around the world. You might even be able to find the network of a college professor.

Finally, many social bookmarking services provide web feeds for their lists of bookmarks, including lists organized by tags. This means that you can embed a feed for your bookmarking site into your RSS aggregator (discussed in RSS Feed and Reader posts). This allows subscribers to become aware of new bookmarks as they are saved, shared, and tagged by other users.

For this week, watch the clip on Social Bookmarking in Plain English to get an idea of what it's all about, then check out my APES bookmarking site. Start one for your own class. Consider using either Delicious, StumbleUpon, or Furl. Let me know when it is complete and I will also link your site to mine.
Social Bookmarking in Plain English
By Common Craft
Other videos at: http://www.commoncraft.com


More information on social bookmarking at:
Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_bookmarking

Social Bookmarking Providers
Delicious - http://www.delicious.com
Furl - http://www.furl.net/
StumbleUpon - http://www.stumbleupon.com/

Social Bookmarking AP Sites
GoAPES Resources - http://delicious.com/apesresources
Teachers can share ideas on how to integrate social bookmarking into the curriculum.