Social bookmarking makes its mark in education

The buzz surrounding so-called Web 2.0 technologies is deafening and, in my opinion, deservedly so. While sites like MySpace and YouTube have garnered most of the attention, I think the trend of “social bookmarking,” otherwise known as “tagging,” just might be the most interesting development of all.

Tagging sites allow users to save their favorite links, content, and media to a centrally accessible site, similar to how you save bookmarks to your web browser. (For a good explanation of tagging and its implications for educators, see this story we did on the subject last year: ArticleID=6126.)

The real kicker is that this new method of bookmarking taps into the engine that makes social networking so powerful: the masses. Not only can you store and find content you’re interested in easily, from any internet-connected computer; you can also share tagged and posted items with other users, or see what other people have bookmarked as relevant to a particular topic–without having to sift through pages and pages of irrelevant search results.

For educators and scholars, there are a few key problems with internet research today: It can be cumbersome to wade through dozens of hits and hone in on the desired results, and web links also are ephemeral, sometimes disappearing when you need them most. But social bookmarking is now helping to alleviate these problems in academia.

Where once only the creator of the content had ultimate control over its organizational structure and metadata, now new sites such as Bibsonomy (, Connotea (, and Complore ( are capitalizing on the growth of tagging and social media and applying this model to specific academic disciplines. Bibsonomy is devoted to the tagging of literary sources, while Connotea is aimed at scientists and researchers. Complore is devoted to research in general, and besides helping researchers organize and share their work, it also serves as a networking tool in the research community.

Zotero (, a new research tool produced by George Mason University, combines many of these ideas and takes them to the next level. This open-source tool runs straight from your web browser and allows for citations, note taking, and storage of PDF files and other multimedia. In addition, it has powerful collaborative tools and allows for worldwide access at any time.

I believe these applications represent an exciting sea change for educators, researchers, and pupils. A globally accessible, flexible organizational system for multimedia content that organizes content in ways that make sense to both the creators and end users seems to combine the best of both World Wide Webs–1.0 and 2.0.

You might have noticed recently that eSchool News Online has gotten behind the social bookmarking movement, and we’ve added icons for users to post their favorite stories on Digg and It’s all well and good for us to organize our content for you (and, obviously, we’ll continue to present our content in new, exciting, and useful ways), but by signing up for these services, then tagging your favorite sections of eSN Online, you not only sort and save the most useful sections of our site in a way that is meaningful for you–but you also help other tech-savvy educators find and share this content themselves. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to explore what this exciting new medium has to offer.

New Conference Information Center content

While I’m on the subject of helping your colleagues, be sure to visit our Conference Information Center (CIC) at eSN Online, where we’ll be posting live updates from all the many ed-tech conferences in the new year–starting with the Florida Educational Technology Conference in Orlando Jan. 24-26.

If you can’t make it to any of these conferences, our CIC is a great way to keep abreast of the news and information coming out of these shows–and if you are planning to attend, then consider signing up to be a Conference Correspondent. It’s easy; all you do is pass along the wisdom you glean in workshops and sessions by contributing to our Conference Correspondent blogs, and you’ll be helping your peers who can’t be there in person on their path to professional growth.

Visit our CIC now and sign up to be a Conference Correspondent for any of the ed-tech trade shows in 2007:

New Educator’s Resource Centers:

Controlling Security Threats (Sponsored by Symantec Corp.) Building Digital Communication Skills for the 21st-Century Workforce (Sponsored by Adobe Systems Inc.)

eSchool News Staff

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