First of all I want to thank Richard for the opportunity to be a guest blogger here on Free Technology for Teachers. There is quite the star-studded cast for me to follow!
What is Diigo?
If you're not familiar with Diigo, it is a social bookmarking tool that allows you to save websites into a public or private library, share them with friends in your network, highlight them (highlighted items show up in your library), add sticky notes and tag the sites for easy retrieval later. You can learn more about Diigo from Richard's earlier post here.
Diigo Teacher Accounts
As a teacher, you can create a free teacher account through which you can create student accounts. Diigo's student accounts require no email address, can be kept private, and can also be grouped so that students can share resources they find with each other.
When you set up the accounts all you do is enter the students' first name and first initial of their last name and Diigo does the rest. You can also import a CSV file if you have a lot of names.
When my first students logged in, Diigo immediately prompted them to install the browser toolbar, and once that was installed, they easily began bookmarking and highlighting sites.
Here is an example of one of my student's Diigo libraries with the notes he has taken. He is doing a project on the history of toys.
Why Diigo for Students?
For a students, this tool is powerful because it eliminates the need for carrying a notebook from home to the library to school and back while working on a project. It also allows students to build up a library of resources that they can use from year to year.
In past years, I had my students take notes using Microsoft Word, but I found that they were copy-pasting whole paragraphs from websites or copying them down and then copy-pasting them into their graphic organizers and PowerPoints without really reading them. They did this despite the fact that we had reviewed good note-taking procedures, copyright and plagiarism. They also found it hard to keep track of the sites they used for their information.
While observing my students using Diigo, I noticed that they were actually reading the site and highlighting the information they wanted to keep. This was different from previous years where they just copied blindly. In addition, they could easily return to where they left off the previous class.
The one aspect of the service that I haven't gotten around to using with my students yet is the networking part. I see this being great for group projects and collaboration. Student groups can share resources that they find with the click of a button. As a teacher, you can also see what all of your students are bookmarking as well as the notes that they are taking and sharing with each other. This can help with grading group projects.
For more on using Diigo in the classroom or for personal use, check out these links:
Mary Beth Hertz is a Computer Teacher at a K-6 Elementary School in West Philadelphia. She blogs at Philly Teacher and can be found on Twitter as @mbteach. You can find her Diigo bookmarks here.