Thursday, September 29, 2011

Social bookmarking, tagging, and research in education

This week, our EDT 5410 class has been learning about social bookmarking, particularly in ways to use it in education. According to the Wikipedia, "the concept of shared online bookmarks dates back to April 1996 with the launch of itList (appears to be an information technology blog now), the features of which included public and private bookmarks." Since then, many more bookmarking services have arrived on the scene, such as Delicious, Diigo, Digg, StumbleUpon, and countless others as this site notes: http://www.social-bookmarking-sites-list.com/.

Two well-known sites, Delicious and Diigo, are often used by educators. I first began using Delicious back in 2009. Later on, I became familiar with Diigo and found that I liked Diigo better. Diigo allowed me to highlight, bookmark, add sticky notes, and share all from their "Diigo Web Highlighter." Additionally, everything I bookmarked and tagged in Diigo, I was able to export to Delicious and vice versa. Since I began using these sites, Delicious has been bought out by Yahoo and is in the midst of changing. In fact, even from when I visited the site at the beginning of this week and today, four days later, there are some significant changes. I have yet to really get familiar with the new Delicious; I'm sure it will take some time. I'm also not exactly thrilled that my network, the people I've been following aren't readily available to me anymore and I'm having a hard time finding any of my tags and although my links appeared in the list, I had difficulty find any of the articles I wanted to view. Right off hand I can't say whether or not I'll like the new Delicious, but a few of the new things, such as "create a stack," might be useful in the future. Here's the link to my Delicious site. Please feel free to follow me and I'll follow you back.

On the other hand, when I went to my Diigo site, I was able to find many of the articles/Websites I've bookmarked over the past couple of years and although there have obviously been changes to the Website, I can still quite easily find things. Right now the two don't seem to be connected any longer, which could become an issue for me and force me to choose, but before I can determine that, I'll need to spend some time reviewing the new Delicious.

As part of our reflection activity this week, we are to discuss two things:

  1. Social Bookmarking: What value (if any) do you think social bookmarking might hold for teachers and/or students? You may think about students sharing with each other, teachers sharing with their students, teachers sharing with other teachers, administrators sharing with teachers, sharing with parents, or any other scenario(s) you can imagine.
  2. Definition of Instructional Design & Technology: Back to the Trends & Issues (Reiser and Dempsey, 2007) reading (chapter 1), to what degree do the definitions in this chapter correspond with what you have thought about this area (Instructional Design and Technology) and what it is you hope to do in your line of work (or in a future career)? Is there anything surprising or very new to you in this chapter? Does something seem to be missing?
Value of Social Bookmarking
Social bookmarking is about research, sharing, and collaboration. Bookmarking with your browser or Google toolbar is about organizing and easily retrieving Websites you want to revisit, but as mentioned by various authors, it can become overwhelming and difficult to find the bookmarks you want to revisit. Additionally, you may forget what folder you put it in. Using social bookmarking and tagging, allows for multiple filters by tagging appropriately.

The value in using social bookmarking is not losing your bookmarks, being able to filter them with tags, sharing them with students, other teachers, or individuals in your field, organizing your research, and when using Diigo, you can also highlight special sections of the Web pages you are bookmarking/tagging or add a sticky note. 

A couple of years ago, while working with an instructor to put her communications class online, we were trying to think of a way to effectively transfer one of the in-seat assignments she always gave to the students into the online classroom. The assignment for the in-seat classes required that the students print off Web pages they found doing research that related to a specific topic. On the Web print-offs, she required the students to highlight and comment on what they had found and then turn them in. From having read several articles about using Delicious/Diigo in the classroom, I suggested that she might want to have the students bookmark the Web pages they found and if they used Diigo, they would be able to highlight and add sticky notes to the bookmarked Web pages. Since the instructor had never used social bookmarking before and wasn't familiar with Delicious or Diigo, she felt it was too many new things for the first time teaching online and decided to have the students copy and paste the Web page text and the Web page link into a Word document, adding their comments and thoughts, and then submit the Word documents through the assignment drop box. I do think using a social bookmarking site like Diigo would be more effective, more interesting to the students and more collaborative, since students could share each others articles and findings, so I hope that eventually she ventured forth into using one of the social bookmarking sites.

There are a lot of different articles and blog postings about different uses for social bookmarking, too many to reference them all here, and there are some journal articles that are worth reading. One of the journal articles I would recommend is, Exploring the Use of Social Bookmarking Technology in Education: An Analysis of Students’ Experiences using a Course-specific Delicious.com Account, by Tricia M. Farwell and Richard D. Waters (JOLT, June 2010), available at: http://jolt.merlot.org/vol6no2/waters_0610.htm

Definition of the ID&T Field
It was interesting to read about the development of the Instructional Design and Technology field and some of the definitions that have evolved over the years. I was surprised to learn that even in the 1920s there was a field that would later be defined as ID&T. The first terms I heard expressed that involved technologies used in the field were audio/visual technologies. There seemed to always be a audio/visual tech-guy and he always made sure the audio/visual technology, such as films, slides, and overhead projectors, worked properly. 

Since that time, the computer and Internet became commonplace and along with it the field, but since I wasn't actually involved at all in the ID& field, I never really thought about it much. As I began working on an online Masters, I knew that instructors had to design their courses online, but I still hadn't really heard the term Instructional designer or instructional technologist, or at least I hadn't paid much attention to it if I had heard the term/field. Once I began working as an Instructional Design Technician for WMU back in November 2008, I recognized my love of the field and desired to become even more knowledgeable about it, hence my transfer into the Educational Technology program at WMU. 

According to the authors, Reiser and Dempsey, there have been several definitions published in recent years. They noted the one published by the AECT (Association for Educational Communication and Technology) and their own. The AECT published a book "that presented a new definition of the field of educational technology (AECE Definition and Terminology Committee, 2008). The definition statement that appears in the book as follows:

Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. (p. 1)." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

A couple of key points brought out by Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007, 2012), are that a new word ethical is used as part of the definition. "This term focuses attention on the fact that those in the profession must maintain a high level of professional conduct." Another key point is that "The new perspective recognizes the important role that learners play in determining what they will learn, regardless of the instructional intervention they are exposed to." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). Additionally, the use of the words, improve performance is significant, as it "is not sufficient to simply help learners acquire inert knowledge. Instead, the goal should be to help learners apply the new skills and knowledge they have acquired." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). And finally, as the authors noted, "Unlike previous definitions, in which terms such as design, development, and evaluation were often used to denote major processes or domains within the field, the new definition uses the terms creating, using, and managing to describe the major functions performed by educational technology professionals." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

I think the definition provided by the AECT is a fairly solid definition, but it lacks something, I just don't know what. Maybe it's just too vague or something. I understand why they want to keep it broad, as the field has expanded tremendously over the past ten plus years, and it encompasses so many things now. On the other hand, it doesn't really give any vision for the future or I haven't managed to pick it out yet.

On a side note, the question that is the title of chapter 1, "What Field Did You Say You Were In?" made me laugh! I don't know how many times I've been asked that question or something similar when I've responded to the questions, "What do you do?" or "What are you going to school for?" When I've said, "I'm an instructional designer or instructional technologist," they say, "What is that?" Usually, I just add, "I help instructors with technology" or I design online classes" depending upon my roles at the time. "Oh," they say, "I get it now." I call it my ID&T definition, simplified! :)

References:

Halvorsen, C. L. (2009). Delicious Library. Available at: http://delicious.com/clhalvorsen

Halvorsen, C. L. (2009). Diigo Library. Available at: http://www.diigo.com/user/chalvorsen

Farwell, T. M. and Waters, R. D. (2010). Exploring the Use of Social Bookmarking Technology in Education: An Analysis of Students’ Experiences using a Course-specific Delicious.com Account, JOLT. Available at: http://jolt.merlot.org/vol6no2/waters_0610.htm

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.


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