Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Diigo for Education

I switched from Delicious about a year ago to use Diigo. Social bookmarking by and by is still something I am still learning how to use. However, I now have a Diigo for Education account, and so far, so good. I am piloting its use with my two fifth grade classes and they seem quite excited about it. Then again, I maintain that 5th grade students love anything social. Hook them however you can, right?

If you haven't seen Diigo in awhile, check it out. Diigo 5.0 as they call it allows you to add highlight and sticky notes to websites. A new Diigo app and Diigo Browser app bring these tools to your favorite mobile device. Even the iPad. And we always love free apps.

Diigo's Education account allows teachers to create student accounts. Students added to a class group are automatically "friended" with one another, but the people search is disabled on these student accounts. Perfect for me as my students are all under 13 years of age. Student logins still allow students access to create bookmarks, highlights, sticky notes -- in fact, all of the features of the Diigolet or Diigo Toolbar. Yes, even share on Twitter, although that is quite possibly blocked at your district. It is at mine. Student accounts also give students access to make groups. I made an executive decision with my students that we would explore that feature at a later date. I blamed myself. After all, I tell them, I am new to this and I need to get good at Diigo myself before I feel comfortable overseeing different groups. Largely my students agreed with me as they had concerns about cyberbullying and abuse of the Groups feature themselves.

When I handed out their accounts, I let students sandbox ... play and explore the features of Diigo. Perhaps this was a bad idea. The class group page quickly became a social networking page and the posts were many and ridiculous. Teacher features allow you to moderate and delete student comments, but I made the students delete their own comments this time around. After sandbox, we called a class meeting and talked about what happened, what Diigo is and what it is not. From that came our expectations, shared below for your viewing pleasure:
  • We will write posts that are respectful and connected to our learning.
  • We will use Diigo at school and at home.
  • We will explore Diigo and learn how to use its tools. These tools will help us deepen our understanding in math, science, media ...(the tools we are exploring and using are listed below with room to add groups and other features we decide to add as we gain fluency)
This is still very much a work in progress and in future blog posts I'll share what I am doing in Diigo and how it's going with my students. I can't wait to use Diigo's many tools with my students in the many research and inquiry endeavors in which we partake.

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