Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DIG-ging diigo...

There has been a lot of talk in the last 24 hours about Diigo....ok perhaps I did a little nudging...:) I have to admit, while I am one who is always willing to try something new, I prefer the old know the type, the one who ALWAYS orders Thai Curry Chicken when out to eat...For me there really has to be a reason to "jump" to something as a replacement...People ask: why wikispaces....well wikispaces has all the features I need and I have tons of wikis, so why switch? Have you tried it different from Skype? I like my networks and once I have established a network somewhere, it is tough for me to switch. Let's face it...together we are much more powerful learners than we are as individuals. For a long time I have been a huge fan of for social bookmarking even thought I hated my nickname...I developed a huge network and was although I have been looking for a cleaner looking, more user friendly bookmarking site, I have been really reluctant to make changes.

Enter diigo..
The first time it was shared with was shared as a way to share links like twitter...ok that sounded cool, but really not anything I needed. After all I had and twitter when I found a link I just copied and pasted into twitterific and went about doing my thing...But I recently read something, somewhere that diigo had a new improved tool bar and started to read up on the other Diigo features including the ablility for messaging, creating lists of bookmarks, the ability to turn bookmarks into slideshows, tagrolls and linkrolls, a Firefox sidebar, a Facebook application, blog integration .... not even an exhaustive list mind you I decided to give it a whirl....and what a whirl it has been!!!

How to describe diigo?
Diigo is not just a bookmarking tool, it is a bookmarking, sharing, discussing, and learning tool LParisi : posted on twitter..My quick take on Diigo..while I have not spent much time creating links, tags, etc, I see it as much more powerful a network than delicious. and I couldn't agree more.. I have presented at LEAST a dozen times to large audiences. One of the apple trainers for our state grant points folks to my bookmarks DAILY. I have a HUGE network and yet I get perhaps 1-2 links for me on a weekly basis. Yes is GREAT for housing your own personal bookmarks, and providing a public link for others, but with Diigo you can keep in touch intellectually AND socially. Think of it as facebook or twitter without the distraction...ok the discussion feature adds SOME distraction but it is one of the things I think was missing from Diigo makes it easy to share your links and thoughts with friends and what I have found powerful, is that it doesn't take much time to go through and actually engage in conversations about some of the rich links that folks are sharing. Granted we are all just learning but I have had more great resources shared and talked more about great things in the past few days...on my OWN TIME...not as it pops up on twitter for me to catch or miss... although I am just learning, I can't say enough good things about the power of diigo already.

SO where did I start...
I started by downloading the diigo toolbar...and I think that was just about all it took :) The tool bar includes a sidebar, which can open like another bookmarking sidebar...nothing new here. The main diigo bar though has a TON of features
When you click on the diigo you get a drop down and you can use this with any url as you are find out more information about it.

You can also use the diigo drop down to easily get to your





Find out what is recommended for you
what is hot on the network

In addition you can easily Import your bookmarks from here or change your options for the site

In addition to the diigo drop down the toolbar includes a bookmark button...
THIS button gives you a similar pop up to delicious but with WAY more options

When you click on bookmark this is what you see
The url and title appear...nothing new about that right, but notice you can
1. Click twitter this ...when you save and send, it sends the link and description to your twitter acct (note you must log into twitter to do this)
2. Description...I am finding myself more apt to do this because I am sharing more...
3. Tags you still get the recommended tags...but a LOT less clutter with tags and diigo gives you a 10 tag limit (sorry Vicki time to go on the tag diet:)
4. and this is the part I LOVE you can add this bookmark to a LIST, share with friends (no for: tagging...just type your friends' names and viola) AND share with a approval needed

THIS is what makes it different...
These are all hings I have been LOOKING FOR that Diigo offers and frankly, now that I know actually exist, I don't know that I can live without!

The network
The biggest for me, is being able to know who is a part of my network. Notice it calls them friends on Diigo? The relaunch has detailed user profiles, where you can add all of your profiles from facebook, flickr, blog, delicious, youtube, etc..You have the ability to identify users as friends as well as several search tools to find them and GROUP them...which is a huge when you are like me working with different groups of people that I might want to share out to. I thought it was nice that you can look for people whose bookmarks resemble your own, AND you can message folks even if they are not a part of your network. But THAT'S NOT can great groups (public and private) communities where groups of users can combine to leave shared bookmarks. You’ll even find a comment wall on profiles. These features enable both group collaboration and socialization. There hasn't been on time in the past 2 days that I have gone and had less than 10 things shared with me...ok some I already had bookmarked, but some are really, really good...AND they are there when I have TIME to check them, I don't have to interrupt what I am doing because something pops up in twitter and I want to quick open the page and then never get back to it.

OK well there was a network, in delicious, why does this one work better for me?...well in I never knew who was joining my network or how they found me so I couldn't communicate with them directly if I had a question or comment about something they shared. As far as we did this by creating a separate delicious account for the community and having folks share links FOR: this account. Yes, it works, but it requires that someone log in using THAT account to approve all links...kind of defeats the purpose. With diigo I can view what has been marked for the group, who marked it, and choose to add to my own account or send to my network...1 person, several, mailing get the jist
Here is the eduwiki group I am a part of on diigo. Admittedly groups is something they are still working on, but this is one area I think is going to become even more powerful.

Learning the tool
There is SO MUCH to explore on diigo, I knew I would never get to it all, so I started asking diigo and in twitter and talking to some users in skype and collaboratively, these were some of the things we learned...

Diigo Dashboard / Profiles
When you visit your own diigo page, you land on the dashboard. This to me resembles facebook and as aly so humorously put it ... Watching friends meet friends in diigo - like watching 12 year olds at a spin the bottle party. "Sue and Joe are now friends" Off they go...
Your dashboard is COMPLETELY if you don't want to know who is friending who, you get rid of that box and leave more room for who is adding what sites and what they are saying about it. I do like how you can get quick info from the dashboard like who wants to connect with you, messages that are left, and bookmarks that are new. The public version of the dashboard is your profile (this is mine:) and again completely customizable down to what the public, vs diigo users, vs your friends will see. Now that I use google notifier for my calendar & gmail, my diigo page could almost replace igoogle as my generic homepage. Hmmm is it helping me to condense :)

Other Diigo Tabs
Across the top frame of Diigo is "MY" stuff..
My dashboard
My bookmarks
My links
My lists
My groups
All things that you set up personally

Above in the blue bar are community things...ways that you can search the community, people, tags, sites for things that are going to match what YOU are interested in (hmm similar to stumbleupon)

Diigo has RSS & Advanced Features
Thanks to Chris Champion who discovered that tags in diigo have RSS feed AND that they are embeddable
chrischampion: Just replace the text after the last / and you'll have an (embeddable?) RSS feed for any tag. about or more specifically: (that's the actual RSS file) Or not. Hey, did you know that every TAG in Diigo has an RSS feed?
Can I mass remove a tag from all my links?
Michelle asked
Yes, you on my tags tab>then edit >and click on the individual tag to either edit it or delete it. I discovered this because ALL of my tags including the for:jgate513 came in to diigo. I wanted to remove some of the tags that I don't use and condense tags which I found difficult to do in delicious. In diigo, tags are alphabetized so you see them ALL neatly organize. This is different from delicious because in delicious you cant see it while you are editing it so if you have blog, blogs, and blogging, in diigo you can see all 3 and change them so they merge together. Whereas delicious shows a bunch of different ideas for tagging in groups...diigo shows one group of recommended tags, the one you have used before...will appear GREEN when you are tagging them

Michelle also discovered the cool webslide view of any list you create...

  • Post to delicious: Go to Options: Bookmark & Highlight: Bookmark elsewhere and click on set up. This will open a new window where you can click elsewhere and set up your delicious account. Once you set this up, not only can you simulpost to diigo and delicious, but if tag the site with the for:delicioususer it will go into that user's links for you in delicious. OK so I don't have to abandon my followers just cause something new works for me...
    • set up to post to your blog... diigo allows you to add your blog information and set up a "job" to ost daily links to your blog-while this CAN be done in delicious, there was all kind of urls and codes you needed to figure out (which I never could). When I put my blog info into diigo, it did it FOR me. I set it up to daily post, but you can set it to publish direct OR as a draft I am going to have it do this...then cut and paste once a week all my links into 1 post.
    • IMPORT / EXPORT links from other online sites and from your browser...the links come in with all comments and tags which was pretty cool
  • Send to twitter: while you are posting your link to your diigo account you send to your twitter network.
----THIS JUST IN: adding to post...for my own archive...I didn't realize that you don't have to FRIEND everyone in diigo, you can add people to a watchlist....might be a good way to manage your network if you are just starting-----

Lucy Gray had some problems getting what she posted in diigo to actually show up in del.icious but contacted tech support and they put in
and Kate expressed some concerns that delicious links didn't initially import--stating server errors
I think these are all things that are result of a beta program, but from what folks say their support is quick and professional.

Ken asked some great questions throughout the day in twitter as he thought about the idea of adopting a new tool...
Is diigo the approach to bookmarks? will reviews stop you from checking it out on your own? That could be dangerous.....
just thinking about this could it actually hurt research for some, too much group thinks perhaps? ....
add a skype piece 2 Diigo and I am 100% on board.....
Worried this makes "skimmers" vs. scholars easier. Suppose thats always been there too.
Jimbo asked
Can you bundle your Diigo tags?
Hmmm that is a good one, but I like being able to create "lists" of things for classes...better than bundles for now.

Liz Davis wrote about diigo as well and created a great Getting to know Diigo screencast with Jing

Do you wanna know where I got all the links to their "stuff" ...why from their diigo profiles of more hunting to link....Could it GET any better?

If still aren't YET convinced that Diigo is the way to go, check out the new YouTube video

BY THE WAY Yesterday Maggie Tsai from Diigo was online at Classroom2.0 ... cclassroom2dot0 » LIVE Conversations (which I learned btw from twitter via if you go to this page and click on Playback link you will see the recording from this session.
Please take some time to explore, ask questions, check out some great resources, join some groups and start learning together. Would love to hear your thoughts about diigo and please share your great sites with me.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Friday, March 21, 2008

Five on Five: A Dialogue on Profession Development

Those of you who read my blog know that I am passionate about treating technology as a tool and supporting teachers in learning how to best utilize this tool in their instruction. I am SO LUCKY to get to do this through my job as a coach for the Classrooms for the Future in PA
Recently Jim Gates passed my name along to Matt Villano of T.H.E Journal who asked if I would mind being interviewed about my thoughts about Professional Development and how we can best support teachers in learning about these new tools....

Would I mind? Heck I talk about it enough, absolutely. I spoke to Matt spoken some other "tech experts" and wanted to get us together to do a panel discussion podcast. Well it wasn't until I got on the "line" that I realized that the panel I would be speaking with not only included Jim Gates (instructional technology trainer for the Capital Area Intermediate Unit 21 & CFF Coach) , but Bob Keegan and Cathy Groller (executive director and assistant executive director, respectively, for Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit who manage PA Tech Integration Mentor Program) and Sylvia Martinez (founder of GenYes an organization where students learn to provide high-quality, curriculum-focused professional development support for teachers in their classrooms school wide.) WOW what a group to be asked to be a part of...

It was a great conversation which you can hear by going HERE and clicking on the podcast link at the bottom of the the article HERE. Don't forget to subscribe to THE Journal for more integration ideas.
And please...leave me your thoughts about what is happening in Professional Development in your district

Monday, March 10, 2008

RE Social Network Sites-An Open Letter to the Superintendent

I want to start this post by saying that for the most part, I am very impressed with the communication I get from the district where my children go to school. If ever there is an incident that would lead parents to have concern, it is addressed right away by the administration. For example, all parents received notice when there was an incident of MRSA at the HS with information regarding the steps taken at all schools to prevent health outbreaks. This past Friday however, I received a somewhat distressing letter with regard to some new district policies regarding electronic devices and internet use. Distressing not because of what the letter said, but rather what it did not say.
The letter began:
I would like to make you aware of an emerging national concern regarding the inappropriate use of the Internet and other electronic communication devices by students. This problem has the potential to be harmful, and I ask your support as we work together to address this challenge. I also want to make you aware of a new policy the district has implemented to help protect students from such inappropriate uses
WOW, emerging national concern...I sent a link to the letter out on my twitter network and was AMAZED at the flurry of responses that I received

Please take some time to look at the contents of the letter sent home to all parents as well as the letter of response that I sent to the Superintendent below.
I WELCOME comments here... What is happening in your schools?

Dear Superintendent.

I understand that with stories like Growing Up Online - PBS Frontline it is no wonder parents have concerns about what their children are doing online. But I was a bit taken aback at the nature and tone of the letter I received in my son’s backpack on Friday regarding the district's electronics policy and internet use. Perhaps if there was an “incident” that I was aware of as the parent of an elementary that precipitated such scare tactics I might have been more understanding of the tone and nature of the letter. I agree that parents need to be more aware of what their children are doing on the internet however as a parent, if I didn't have some understanding of some of the benefits of social networks the letter would have scared me. I think parents are often too quick to judge their childrens' actions and this letter may have caused parents to react in a way that they may not had they had more information.

As an educator, I believe it is our responsibility to educate. The National School Boards Association has publicly stated that safety concerns over online social networking are overblown, and recommends that schools become more comfortable with social networks and seek educational uses for online social networking. Rather than pointing parents to the MySpace homepage, it would have been more informative to sent parents interested in learning more to the parent section of my space . I heard mention that iSafe was being implemented in the intermediate school, perhaps a link to their iparent portal to allow parents to become informed as to how to protect their children would have been more useful. Most of the incidents of kids bullying each other via cyber bullying happens outside school. If blocking these sites vs. educating the students and parents as to the reason these sites are being blocked is your only statement, well that to me is of grave concern.

Nowhere in the letter were the positive impacts of social networking mentioned. I think it is necessary for parents to understand WHY kids are involved in social networking.

For the most part, there are no ill intentions. As a matter of fact quite the opposite. I wrote after the tragedy at VA Tech about this facebook group which is still active to this day helping people through their grieving process. You may have been following the articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer regarding a student at my HS who has been struggling with depression and has been fighting back after a suicide attempt earlier this year. Being able to see the students' wishes of support through his facebook group has been extremely powerful. This Sunday’s article, in the Inquirer ended with a text message from Jordan’s best friend “I jus wanna let u no I nvr thought I wud ride that elevator up to ur apartment ever again…N I felt for the first time today I really got my boy back”. Am I advocating that there be no policy? Absolutely not, I just think that we need to recognize that there are positive implications of the use of these tools and work to educate everyone of all sides. When our district is worried about drug and alcohol use by students, we do not simply prohibit likenesses of drugs & alcohol in school and have punitive actions, we educate on the risks of drug and alcohol use outside of school. I would love to see this situation proactively handled. Perhaps the creation of a student group like SADD that can not only peer-educate students about appropriate uses of the Internet but provide information for parents as well would be a more positive step.

In the spirit of education, I wanted to share with you some information for parents regarding internet safety that I have collected.

I hope that you will take some time to share some of these resources within the district. I would be happy to offer some informational sessions for parents. I think that dialogue around this issue is so important

Thanks in advance for your time
Kristin Hokanson
------FOR MY READERS-------
if you have made it this far, PLEASE leave me some comments with your thoughts

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Google Gets it...

So it is no big surprise that I am a BIG fan of the google aps...
I wanted to point out a few of the new features .. there are many more than I have listed, but here are a few that are REALLY fantastic.

Google forms...
Did you know in any google spreadsheet you can click on SHARE to create a form that you can invite people to fill it out. It is great because you don't need an account to fill out the form. There is no sign in, and the form can be completed directly from the email message or from an automatically generated web page. The answers will be automatically added to your spreadsheet which you as the creator can edit or publish...AND you can add the Google Docs Forms Gadget to your iGoogle page to keep an eye on form responses. This gadget lists your most recently active forms, with new responses highlighted. I used this recently to coordinate an online class, we have used it to collect student data, one of the teachers at my school has students in a chem class using it to track data...couldn't think of a more USEFUL addition.

Other useful features added to the spreadsheets include
  • the ability hide (and unhide) rows and columns in your spreadsheets. Just highlight the range you'd like to hide, right-click, and choose the Hide Rows or Hide Columns option from the drop down menu.
  • the ability to freeze columns which makes it easier to navigate a wide spreadsheet.
  • and improved chart labels, with axis labels which are automatically formatted and rotated to fit.
Both google presentations and spreadsheets include embed code now although you can not seem to edit the embed code or use a standard iframe for embedding. I am still waiting for presentations to allow for an export other than pdf. I guess I will keep adding my suggestions, I know that google really does pay attention
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