Sunday, February 10, 2008

Better than a pathfinder?

Initially, I wasn't sure what social bookmarking could offer students and teacher/librarians that a pathfinder couldn't.

Sure, students can add websites they discover and find relevant, and this could provide a motivating sense of ownership, but can't students simly suggest those sites to their instructor for addition?

In a school setting, doesn't social bookmarking become overwhelming? Isn't it our responsibility as educators to help students find information in a timely, organised fashion, rather than rely on folksonomies that lack a controlled vocabulary?

Melissa Rethlefsen argues in favour of sites like In her September 2007 article in Library Journal, Tags Help Make Libraries, she lists several points that make good sense. Ultimately, she argues that social bookmarking is a kind of middle ground between pathfinders and Google: enough structure to get students well on their way, and enough freedom to discover new resources all on their own.

That's something I can get behind!

She also argues that social bookmarking and tagging of library resources make patrons (students) more likely to participate in the life of the library, which in turn gives teacher-librarians more of an opportunity to guide learners towards information literacy. Everyone wins.

At the end of her article, Rethlefsen mentions how useful social bookmarking can be for professional development, a sentiment echoed in Jake's 2007 article in Technology & Learning, Professional Development and Web 2.0. I am particularly interested in setting up RSS feeds for promising tags to keep up with developments in early literacy and math education, and I have already added some key thinkers in that area to my network so I can eavesdrop on the websites they are looking at to stay current!


elizabeth said...

I like the idea of librarians collaborating with classroom teachers to make a social bookmarking tag on a library page for research projects. I agree with Rethlefsen about providing a little structure; I like to think of it as pointing in the general direction and letting the students browse through reliable resources.

Val said...

Hi Jess:
I agree with it's our job to help students find information in a timely, organized fashion and I too was skeptical about how socialbookmarking sites could help the students. I really believe in the merrit for collaborative teaching. I know see great advantages and uses for students.
Saving time, accurate sites, responsibility for sites chosen, help from others in goes on and on. A new beginning.
On your CBC podcast comment....I can relate to the intimidation factor but like all else we've discovered, web 2.0 tools are easier than they first appear (or than we fear). Looking forward to more podcast exploration. Check out Elizabeth's podcast on St Valentines and her heart. Very cool!