The Renaissance of Social Bookmarks?

Founded in 2003, the leader of all bookmarking services, Delicious, was just acquired from internet giant Yahoo! by the founders of Youtube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. As a long-time user of Delicious, I welcome this acquisition with enthusiasm. Delicious’ service offering had been stagnant for year, as other services like Diigo and Google Bookmarks started creeping up on them.

To put you up to speed, such web 2.0 services allows users to save their web links of interest in the cloud instead of only in their local browser on their own computer. This workflow has multiple advantages over saving links in your browser, including access from any computer or mobile device you use or borrow, natural tagging using a user-defined free-form taxonomy, open access for friends and colleagues, and, above all in my opinion, scalability. I still use bookmarks in my browser to point to services I use every day, like Sakai or Facebook, but my social bookmarks contain articles, blog posts, or videos that I want to share and retrieve as appropriate, something that would quickly become overwhelming if I tried to do the same using bookmarks in my browser (I currently have almost 4,000 bookmarks, accumulated over more than 3 years).

The State of Bookmarks in Higher Ed

Despite the usefulness of social bookmarks, to my knowledge, we have little to show for in higher education. But I think the time is right to give another push.

My tool of excellence for social bookmarks is Diigo. What I particularly like about Diigo is the fact that you can decide the level of simplicity or complexity you want to deal with. For instance, you can use it exclusively as a bookmarking tool, which is fine to increase your personal productivity. But Diigo, especially when using browser add-ons (available for Firefox and Internet Explorer), can do so much more, like send to Twitter, save to a list (a user-curated collection of links), or save to a group (class-based, content-based, topic-based communities of users sharing links and exchanging comments). This tool also supports web highlighting, which is pretty nifty to draw attention to specific sentences in an online text, and web slides, which allow to sequences web pages in a presentation style.

Diigo

There is tremendous potential for students in a class to get engaged in sharing links of interest like articles, videos, and web services relevant to a class at hand. This crowdsourcing of the load of finding fresh content for a course can make the instructor’s job easier… and more satisfying for the students, who can appreciate the instructor’s efforts of bringing into the classroom examples drawn from the pool of links that students provided, letting them co-construct the course.

To bring the bookmarks back in Sakai, you can use the News tool, which will display the RSS feed of the Diigo group. But unlike hosting content inside an LMS, those resources will remain available to students long after the semester is over.

Please share your experience or interest in social bookmarks in the comments below!

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