Diigo the Web for Education - From TeleGatherer to TelePlanter with Diigo

by Miguel Guhlin

This email floated in one day last week:

  • Once again I come to you with a grave concern. During this revamp of our current curriculum, we are trying to encourage both students and teachers to read, reflect, and write. I am trying to find and share resources on Greek mythology for my teachers. Is there an easy way to do that?

The answer is a definite YES that does not involve creating a single web page, wiki, blog or anything like that. You can use a no-cost social bookmarking tool known as Diigo to get the job done. This article shares how you can use the Diigo social bookmarking tool in education. This article is organized in 3 sections:
  1. How to become a global tele-gatherer with Diigo.
  2. 10 ways to Diigo the Web for Education
  3. Share Your Daily Gathering

Let’s start diigo-ing!

Hunters and Gatherers

With the advent of Web 2.0, hundreds of tools are available. But you only need one to get started annotating and sharing resources you find on the Web. As Dr. Judi Harris shared long ago (http://tinyurl.com/5j5jnh), gathering web-based resources is part of our “hunting and gathering” stage of development. New web tools allow you to do MORE than just gather great resources; they allow you to explain why they are great, put virtual post-its on them, and then share that care package of great resource links with your comments with your audience of choice. Judi writes:
  1. We all begin on the Web by “telegathering” (surfing) and “telehunting” (searching. This we can do pretty well. What we don’t do very well yet is to take educationally sound steps beyond telegathering and telehunting).
  2. We need to help our students and ourselves “teleharvest” (sift through, cogitate, comprehend, etc.) the information that we find, and “telepackage” the knowledge that results from active interaction (application, synthesis, evaluation, etc.) with the information.
  3. Then, we need to “teleplant” (telepublish, telecollaborate, etc.) these telepackages by sharing them with others…who use them as information in their…
  4. …telegathering & telehunting, and the process cycles back around again.
Are you helping your students make the shift from surfing and searching as telegatherers to becoming teleplanters? Here’s one tool that can help you and your students make the jump without esoteric technical knowledge.

Step 1 - Get a Diigo.com account.

Diigo.com is a social bookmarking tool, similar to the popular Del.icio.us service, but Diigo also centralizes various learning possibilities. The social aspect of learning is important, especially with our increasing focus on conversations that add value to what we are learning. Diigo lets you bookmark Web sites and have online conversations about them.
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Diigo boasts some powerful tools and features that are easy to implement for novice tele-gatherers eager to become teleplanters:
  • Easy installation of a Diigo toolbar (no advertising) into your browser. You can access help and tutorials for Diigo online at http://help.diigo.com
  • If you are not allowed to install toolbars, no problem, use the Digolet tool that can be added to your browser without installation.
  • If you use Del.icio.us social bookmarking tool already, you can easily import your bookmarks from Del.icio.us into Diigo.com via a “wizard.” Diigo does all the work for you!
  • Even more delicious, as you add new bookmarks, Diigo can save them to Del.icio.us. This is great for those that have a network of followers—such as a class of students or colleagues—in Del.icio.us.

Some of the exciting ways educators are using Diigo are listed in the sidebar to this article. Centralize your learning through web sites and the conversations you have about that learning by using Diigo. Because Diigo is free, you can encourage your superintendent and other administrative staff to become part of the conversation. That kind of networking empowers everyone who participates in the conversation. Below are some suggestions for using Diigo:
  • Annotate curriculum documents and add stickies to show where tech integration is happening and could happen. That could be annotated for a group of curriculum writers.
  • Annotate state education agency memos for your administrators. We get memos every day and they are posted online. Immediately, among a team, share the implications of the ideas in the memo, the most important points, and so on.
  • See instructional uses of Diigo as screencasts developed by Clay Burell, an International School teacher.
  • Create a slideshow of clickable web sites grabbed from your bookmarks. A great way to present awesome resources for children, parents and colleagues.
  • Annotate and add comments to a web page via Diigo, then publish your annotations/comments to your Edublogs.org, Blogspot.com, or other supported blog platform.

Learn Diigo via Video

Innovative teachers are finding MORE ways to use Diigo. If you are not sure you’re ready to start using Diigo, view Emily Barney’s video on Diigo - http://tinyurl.com/6ftlxp — to get a visual of what it is like. You can also view and listen to this long conversation (http://tinyurl.com/5db9xq) between educators regarding Diigo’s usage.
Some other helpful videos available via YouTube.com (watch them at home if YouTube is blocked at your school):
You can also learn about Diigo via this picture tour, available online at http://tinyurl.com/4gjdaq

Step 2 - Diigo the Web for Education

Clif Mims, a colleague, started a conversation on Diigo—yes, you can start conversations with other learners on Diigo about what you are linking to and writing virtual post-its about—about educational applications of Diigo. Here is a snippet of the ideas being shared in online conversations by incredible educators that you may be missing out on:
  1. Bookmarking and organizing, lesson planning, share stuff with kids, online discussions, share information among teachers—team, grade level, school or district wide
  2. Facilitating student collaboration for discovering information by doing the following:
    • using the comment ability to analyze and evaluate websites
    • helping students to interact with text and helps them think about what they are reading. Rather than just cutting and pasting, students are asked to consider the text and the meaning of the text. Being selective and researching skills are so important and will move the research agenda further foward.
  3. Building an online community of telegatherers and teleplanters.
  4. Customizing information using Diigo tools. Teachers with multiple sections and/or preps can easily customize information, resources, activities using Diigo’s groups, lists, and conversations. This can all even be done at the time that a bookmark is made (for example, I could send the bookmark to a 7th grade math group list, a pre-algebra group list, but not the 7th grade social studies group)
  5. Enhancing professional learning communities by sharing web resources by using the cool highlighter feature or sticky notes and extend our chat about how to help our students become better readers, then the PD would mean more to us.
  6. Supporting Diigo-based fine-grained discussions connected to a specific part of a webpage - which opens up the possibility for more meaningful exchanges where teachers can embed all kinds of scaffolding into web-based materials with Diigo:
    • sharing questions for discussion (either online, or to prepare students for an in-class discussion);
    • highlighting critical features; asking students to define words, terms, or concepts in their own words/language; providing definitions of difficult/new terms (in various media, such as embedding an image in the sticky note);
    • providing models of interpreting materials.
    • using the highlighting/sticky note feature to “mark up” our “textbook” (blog) with comments, observations and corrections to specific words, phrases or paragraphs of each post.
    • Aggregating bookmarks the students make of websites valuable to their learning, and use the highlighting feature and sticky notes as if they were like the Track Changes feature in MS Word which lends itself more towards collaboration and the iterative process.
  7. Accomplishing peer reviews of assignments. Students place the assignment on the web and other students critique it. This removes the need for specialised peer review modules in some Learning Management Systems.
  8. Facilitating instant conversation starters. Diigo allows for the focus to go back to specific content. You bookmark a site and send it out to a Diigo group. This resource becomes an instant conversation starter or at least a common piece of content between members of a network. The diverse experiences of the network can then discuss the resource and the unique perspectives of each of the members can sprout new ideas into the collective. You get a lot of “I didn’t think of things that way” or “That would never fly for me, because…”
  9. Having students research a particular topic. The teacher(s) gather a few web sites that students can use an tag them appropriately. In the comments section, the teacher(s) might place instructions which are specific for the content to be found on the web site. This enables students to read it before even opening the page. This technique—which also includes highlighting content—is important for younger students and helps focus them on specific content. Students can also reply via virtual post-its to the highlighted text.
  10. Marking up online student work with this tool. Online students can mark up each other’s online work with this tool and engage in conversation about that work.
  11. Encouraging students to create annotated bibliographies of web resources in directed learning activities AND share and discuss them with others in the class. This resource can grow and be available for the online course from term to term.
I’m sure you can find other ways to use Diigo.com social bookmarking and annotation in your classroom. Join the conversation that has already begun online at http://tinyurl.com/56vjt6

Step 3 - Share Your Daily Gathering

“Dad,” asked my daughter, “what’s RSS? I see it everywhere.” What a great question from a fourteen year old. I explained that RSS means that people subscribe to web pages and that instead of going to a web site to see what’s changed, the web site sends you a list of changes via RSS. You just get a free account at Google Reader (http://reader.google.com) and then click on the ubiquitous orange RSS button that appears on web pages these days.
As I responded to my teenager’s question on the way to watch the new Indiana Jones movie, I remembered that with Diigo, you can subscribe to bookmarks people are making. One way to ask this question is, “Is there a way to pull an RSS feed of all the bookmarks that are tagged with these bookmarks from all Diigo users?” Another way is, “How can I get new resources other people add to their Diigo bookmarks sent to me via an RSS feed?”
You see, once you get an RSS feed, you can put that RSS feed on the front page of your web site, in your blog or wiki, or share the RSS feed with your students. That way, a whole class of student tele-gatherers can learn what everyone else is doing.
Here’s how to accomplish that:
If you want to find out about items tagged “edustreams”--educational broadcasts of videos for education using free services such as uStream.TV—just type in the following and subscribe using Google Reader to what comes up:
Note that you can replace the word “edustreams” with any word (a.k.a. tag) you want. For example, if I wanted to see bookmarks from other people tagged with the word “TCEA” I’d type in the following:
If typing in the “tab=153″ is too much of a pain, you can always just type in this address:
Just be sure to change the word or tag above—”edustreams” or “tcea”--to reflect your word choice.
Another way to share what you are doing—especially with like-minded educators—is to create a group. For example, wouldn’t it would be great to copy-n-paste some code then put that—also known as a “badge”--on a web page? Students, parents, teachers, and others interested in what I was doing for my classroom could join a group to receive updates (as opposed to subscribing to the RSS feed) and have conversations about that content within a group setting. This can be an exclusive group with only people I know joining.
For example, I want more people to sign up for the TexasEdTechNews group, but aside from putting a link up, I’d like to have something that enables other people to click and connect. To do this, you will have to have a Diigo account and created a group. Then, go to “edit my membership” on the group you manage, and click the group widget tab, copy the code, then paste it into your web page. You can see what this looks like online in a short tutorial I prepared at http://tinyurl.com/4y8zts


As Dr. Judi Harris pointed out so many years ago, it is important to help our students move beyond the “gathering and hunting” web sites stage of Internet use. A tool like Diigo.com—at no cost for educators, and which promises to develop an education-centric interface where teachers and students can use Diigo.com without having to appropriate an adult learner tool for children—can make the move possible.
Teach your students, your colleagues how to use Diigo, and you move them right up Bloom’s revised taxonomy.

About the Author

Miguel Guhlin, Director for Instructional Technology Services for San Antonio ISD, dug Diigo out a few months ago. Drop by and share your ideas about Diigo-ing the Web for Education, or email him at “mguhlin@gmail.com”.

Sidebar - Diigo Groups

Where Learning Conversations Take Place
  • Classroom 2.0: A place for members of www.Classroom20.com to share links, Classroom 2.0 is a social networking site devoted to those interested in the practical application of computer technology (especially Web 2.0) in the classroom and in their own professional development.
  • CTOnetwork: The focus of this group is to bridge the disparate organizations focused on CTOs, technology directors, and school district level technology issues.
    *Educators: This is a group for educators to use to share bookmarks. It is completely open and anyone can join. It will have a set of standard tags to help us share things that you might use in addition to your tags.
    *EDuStreams: Easily track education-related uStream.tv broadcasts (EDuStreams). Find out more about those via the Education World