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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Master Class' THING 3: Diigo

Electronic research tools are as yet unexplored territory here at RB, not in small part due to my own very high level of skepticism regarding their potential usefulness for high school students. Many types of electronic research tools exist, but I haven't yet taken the plunge with students because I strongly believe that in order to successfully utilize these tools, one must be a HIGHLY SKILLED researcher, who truly understands the importance of effective highlighting, annotating, and note-taking. It seems remiss, however, to dismiss these tools without having ever actually used them, so here we are. We as Master Class participants seem to be the perfect guinea pigs to jump in and give them a try-- and since I've had to learn how to use them as well in order to design this "Thing", we can discuss together whether using electronic research tools with students has potential here at RB--or not. I want to state again that I can definitely see the value of these tools for college students or others who have a solid understanding of research basics, but that high school students, who are just learning the "whys" and "hows" of effective highlighting, annotating, etc., might not be ready to use them appropriately. I'm totally biased, but I'm willing to be proven wrong!

Subscription-based electronic research tools exist (NoodleTools), but, because it's free and has received excellent reviews, we are going to be taking a look at Diigo. According to its slogan, Diigo allows users to "Annotate, Archive, and Organize" information on the Web. It does not have a note card feature (NoodleTools does), but it does let the user highlight and annotate web-based information, share it with a group, and save it for later. Here are websites that I highlighted and annotated: http://diigo.com/0e5vd and
http://diigo.com/0e5sb .

For a Diigo overview, check out this video:

For this "Thing", you will be creating a Diigo account; downloading the Diigo toolbar to your classroom computer (you might want to download it at home, too, if you think you might use it in both places); bookmarking, highlighting, and annotating two websites; joining the 17 Things Master Class Diigo group; posting your bookmarked sites to our group; searching the Diigo Community for websites specific to a topic; and reflecting on your experiences using Diigo in your Thing 3 blog post.

Note: You cannot use Diigo with database articles-- it won't save the annotated link. You can use the "Snapshot" button to save part of your annotated and highlighted screen as an image, but you can't actually save the entire article like you can when you use Diigo with a regular website.

To Complete Thing 3:
  • Sign up for a Diigo account.
  • Download the Diigo toolbar (Mike saved the file in the "Diigo" folder on the R: drive-- just double click it every time you want to use the program. You will have to do this every time you restart your computer, as it will be "erased" by the network's DeepFreeze program when you restart)
  • Highlight and annotate two websites. You might use different colors to indicate different subtopics, types of info, etc. To annotate, hover over your higlighted section of text and select "inline sticky  note." Try adding "floating sticky notes" to the websites, too.
  • Bookmark the annotated websites.
  • Get the annotated link for the websites.
  • Join the 17 Things Master Class Diigo group.
  • Add your two annotated links to the group by clicking "Bookmark".
  • Write a post reflecting on your experience, including your two annotated links. Would you ever use this? Would you use it with a class? Do you think our high school students could use it effectively? I'm anxious to know what everyone thinks. If anyone is interested in test-driving Diigo with a class, we could explore Educator Accounts and talk to Mike about making the tech part of it happen.
If you want to explore further:
  • Look through the Help Section-- videos and tutorials for various Diigo features.
  • Search the Community Library for subject-specific websites bookmarked and commented on by other uses.
  • Once you've bookmarked a few sites, click on "My Library" to see how Diigo lays out your highlights and annotations in one screen for easy review.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

'Lite Edition' THING 3: Creating Websites

Having a website of your very own used to be the stuff of dreams, but now it's become a reality. Creating a multi-paged website used to require familiarity with Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage, in addition to having an FTP program to upload HTML files, plus purchasing a domain name and server space. Have I lost you? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? Who cares! It doesn't matter anymore, because all you need now is access to the Internet and some content you'd like on the web. You don't even need to be creative because these tools do the design for you! Ahh, web design for the armchair techie. You'll have the choice of using two different website creation tools: Weebly or Yola.

Watch the following video, which describes how to use Weebly.com (and why, as a teacher, you might want to have a website):

You can use websites to do so many different things. Check out Christine Stiel's Contemporary Lit class website, created using Weebly.com. See how she has created multiple pages for each unit? Or you could have each page be a separate class. You could even have students create websites as a culminating project. Here and here are examples of final products created by my husband's social studies classes (password: mcculture).

To complete this Thing, you will choose either Weebly or Yola, sign up for an account, and create a multi-paged website. It can be simple, without a lot of content, but it should at least have a structure. It can be professional or personal. Once you've published your site, post the link to your new website in your Thing 3 blog post.

To complete Thing 3:
  • Create a MULTI-PAGED website using Weebly or Yola
  • Write a blog post reflecting on your experience creating your website. Was it easy? Difficult? Will you actually use this website, or will you create another? How could you incorporate website creation into your professional or personal life?
  • Post the URL (web address) of your new website
  • Comment on at least one other person's blog- even if they haven't yet completed this Thing!