Faculty who find themselves outgrowing the ‘external links’ page on Blackboard, or constantly emailing new websites and/or web articles to your students, might want to take a look at two technologies created specifically for gathering and sharing web resources: Google Reader and Diigo.
Read a lot of blogs? Want your students to scan news articles, personal blogs and other constantly updated sites? Try using a blog reader. Though there are many others, Google Reader is one of the most popular and one of the best.
Here’s the idea: find a blog, news website or other ‘feed’ that you want to follow, and ‘subscribe’ to that source. With Google Reader, you’ll see every update from that source, without having to actually visit the original webpage again.
Now, let’s take that idea a step further. What about your students? Do you find articles that you think might be relevant for a particular course? Google Reader will allow you to choose to ‘share’ items you read, and automatically produces a webpage that displays all of your ‘shared’ items. Post a link to this shared page in Blackboard or elsewhere, and your students will be able to see anything you decide to share.
According to a recent CNET article, Google has recently created several ‘how-to’ videos for learning to use Google Reader. I’ve embedded the first such video below, though you can always visit the entire Google Reader Help Site on YouTube for more.
Diigo: advanced social bookmarking
Many folks have heard of ‘delicious‘ or ‘social bookmarking’. For those who don’t know, social bookmarking is basically bookmarking websites (like you may do now in Internet Explorer, where they’re called ‘favorites’ or Firefox), but storing those bookmarks online so you can access them anywhere – not just when you’re at your own personal computer. The ‘social’ part refers to the ability to share your bookmarks with others in various ways. We (CIT) have also provided some information about delicious in the past. Diigo is another social bookmarking tool, much like delicious, but with a few more advanced features, such as the following:
You can share bookmarks with others using delicious – but what if you want to share bookmarks with several smaller groups? More to the point, what if you’re teaching three classes and need to share separate info with each class (and what the students to do the same)? Diigo makes this a simple process – even more so if you sign up for one of their new educator accounts: http://www.diigo.com/education. These accounts are meant to make it easier for instructors to create groups based on students in their classes, without giving up their own private Diigo account.
Webslides- annotated web slideshows to share
Diigo has also been experimenting with the concept of annotated/guided web ‘tours’. A web tour is generally a set of slides with images of websites (or info found on websites), often accompanied by a narration or additional text. To use Webslides, just bookmark a set of similar sites using a Diigo account, and import them into Webslides. Add your narration and annotations, and share it with your group.
Here’s an example created by Diigo developer Maggie Tsai: Transforming Education through Technology. As you can see in the screenshot below, viewers will see the entire page being described/discussed, and can quickly jump to any other page they wish.