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Digg for Education?

Educators worldwide seem to have latched on to social bookmarking tools such as del.icio.us, Ma.gnolia, Furl and others, but why not take it a step further? Personally, I like to take a look through the links of others in my network, but sometimes the plain links don’t tell the whole story. Why did they save that link? What is special about it? What do they think about it? These questions all pass through my mind as I view these links, and it makes me wish that these services offered “discuss this” links. Sure, I could simply email my comments and/or questions, but why not have that built in? Wouldn’t that put a little more ‘social’ in social bookmarking?

So this is why my interest was peaked when I saw that my hosting service added a new “one-click install” to the Goodies section. The new software is Pligg, and it is an open source Digg clone. I couldn’t resist, so I decided to install the program to see how hard it is to set up and get running. As I write this now, I am still waiting for the “one-click install” to complete. Any moment now…

Edtags.orgBefore deciding to give Pligg a try, I did to a quick search for social bookmarking sites specifically for educators, but I did not find much. One interesting site is Edtags.org, which seems to be the work of a doctoral student at Harvard. It is interesting, but seems to be for the use of Harvard students and staff only. Perhaps this is only while they work out the system? I was surprised though as their seems to be little “social” activity on the site currently. They claim over 500 users, but the articles with the highest “votes” only seem to have around three! I was also unable, in my brief search, to find an article that had been commented on. The site seems to be a work in progress, and you can get more details from their blog. I will probably keep an eye on this one, as it would be interesting if they opened it up beyond the Harvard community.

In the meantime, I guess I will just be playing with Pligg, as I would love to see a fully functioning Digg-type site specifically for educators…

Do you think that educators would use such a tool? The Edtags site does seem to lack in the actual social interaction aspect. They have the communication tools built-in and available, and they are certainly sharing links, but are they discussing them? Are they interacting in any real way? After all, without the communication aspect, why not just share a del.icio.us account? Don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of respect for their work, I am just curious why so little discussion seems to evolve from the sharing…

3 Comments

  1. Adam wrote:

    Actually, Edtags is open to the world! We disallow robots and spiders from parsing the site, so we do not get much search engine traffic. We also monitor the community to ensure the members are *genuinely* interested in the field of education. Therefore, many of our members hear of Edtags through teacher/professor networks or word-of-mouth. We would love more active participants from outside of Harvard–so feel free to join and start saving and sharing bookmarks.

    And, yes, it is a doctoral research project: One that I hope will ultimately help me graduate ; )

    –Adam

    Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 5:15 am | Permalink
  2. Stephen Henneberry wrote:

    Adam,
    Thanks for checking in. I have been thinking about a follow-up to this post, as I am really wondering about that social aspect. Do educators really want to discuss shared links, or just share them? This leads me back to the del.icio.us question: Would it be easier to just share your del.icio.us account with collaborators instead?
    Either way, I find your project very interesting, and I will continue to follow it. You seem to be developing a very interesting resource, so I am sure you will do well with it.
    Cheers

    Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
  3. Adam wrote:

    Hi Stephen,
    I am interested in the social aspect as well. To answer your question directly, most of the “social” interaction, I believe, occurs without leaving a record visual record (at least one that the public can see). Voting, discussions, etc. do not occur as much as profile reading, searching, and the like. I find (at this point anecdotally) that people check profiles of folks who share interesting resources. They cite the profiles as the sociability and credibility affordances of the site. Rather than communicating directly, people seem to be clicking on resources they deem “credible” based upon a cursory overview of user profiles.

    So why not del.icio.us? I certainly still use del.icio.us; however, I use it for a different purpose. Edtags provides an environment for educators where I can assume, by virtue of the community’s composition, that the resources have been vetted by educators. Del.icio.us tends to be a tech-heavy free-for-all. Both have their place in the world, and many members of our community use both sites.

    I, for example, save education-related materials to edtags, save non-education related materials privately on edtags, and surf del.icio.us’ top ten most popular posts several times a day. I also monitor edtags RSS feeds from my courses via unique course tags: http://edtags.org/tags.php/t529.

    Thanks for the post and I hope to benefit from many more of your saved resources.

    –Adam

    Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 7:21 pm | Permalink