Del.icio.us: First experiences for a group of students

Submitted by Sue R., aka "Bookwyrmish"
Level: Intermediate or Middle School (depending on student experience).

Objectives:
Students will apply technology tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, group collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum
Students will select and use appropriate tools and technology resources to accomplish a variety of tasks and solve problems

Materials: Internet access, a browser with “del.icio.us” plugin installed, a group del.icio.us account and group password, a research problem.

Prep:
• Shape “Bookmarks” into the conversation. Ask students if they have their own computers at home, if they are allowed to save things on computers they use so they can work on them later. Ask if they or their parents ever have to move their things to another computer, ask if they have ever bookmarked or “saved to favorites.” Have students share what they know.
• Ask students if they have favorite places they go on the internet. Invite them to recommend to the group, and make recommendations too. After having the discussion about good sites to go to, make the point that you’re glad to have learned about new places to try out–aren’t they? Use the terms “social” and “share.”
• Ask students how it would be if they could get even MORE people their age to recommend cool sites–AND if they could put their own “bookmarks” or “favorites” on their computers, and have others bookmark places for them. On any computers they use. And keep them up to date... (for student groups where some of them know about social bookmarking already, ask those students to share if this is how they would describe social bookmarking).


Activities:
• Begin with a reminder about safety issues and putting your best persona on the web.
• Demonstrate with a projector if possible. Bookmark a few sites (use first name (or initials–whatever you have agreed will be safe and workable) of the person tagging, class title, subject tags). I tagged some funny "hoax" sites, hoping that students would enjoy using our delicious account to return to them). Show students that they can display tags as clouds or as lists on the sidebar listing. Click on a “tag” to show how the listing changes to display all bookmarks with that tag only. Have students note which is the most popular bookmark, etc.
• Give students a bookmarking assignment (I prefer to have a research assignment, and usually coordinate that with their science, social studies, or language arts teachers) and have them bookmark a useful site in del.icio.us. Have each student include a tag for their first name. Remind them they can click on their name in the tag list to sort the bookmarks and display just the ones they have tagged.
• Wrap-up: have students navigate to their del.icio.us account page and review the list of bookmarks, pointing out yet again that they can view this list on any computer with internet access. Have students click through to one or two links, and back to this page.

Wrap-up: After all students have tagged something in class, tell them that they may continue to use the delicious account throughout the rest of the year. (My students have been using it completely independently of assignments from me. They really enjoy seeing their work out on the web. Once I counted up how many tags they added and rewarded them with a chocolate kiss for each tag. Sweet!)
Distribute Handout: A page with the web address of the group delicious account, and brief instructions, for those who want to use it at home.

Notes: One thing that could be a drawback is that one student might delete the links of others, since they all have access. My group of students is motivated and behaving well. I could save the links to a spreadsheet using a plugin if that becomes a concern.

Later lessons to anticipate: tagging & folksonomies (philosophy and recommendations, common tags plugin, reorganizing and renaming tags), password generation & security, networking & rss-feeds of key users.