Three Uses of Diigo in the History and Language Arts Classroom

I’ve been a Diigo user for two years come July. Seems like everybody and their grannies have adopted it in a Twitter-induced stampede over the last two days (I think Will had something to do with it).

As I said on Twitter, the flood of emails requesting “friendship” on Diigo sort of shocked me (I despise email), since I wasn’t in the loop when the stampede started. I’m not sure I want to go Facebook with Diigo any more than I want to go Facebook with Facebook – I’m a fairly quiet person who tends to be happy roaming solo in his own flow, as taboo as that confession may be in these share-happy times (and it’s funny how manically I can twitter, and yet still feel uninvaded and uncrowded). So all these emails (which I’ve since turned off) make me feel my little secret reading cafe became trendy overnight, and too loud now to read in peace. Maybe I’ll come around to the social benefits in time.

That being said, I’ve been evangelizing Diigo on these pages since day one, as you’ll see in this compendium of three old posts showing how I used Diigo in the classroom over the last year and a half.

A caveat: for my own research, I love Diigo. It allows me to annotate, bookmark (and share automatically to, and highlight clips – all tagged, too. But just as I’ve had little luck getting students or colleagues to use feed aggregators, I’ve had no better luck getting them to switch on to the power of Diigo. So if you use any of these methods in your own classroom – or use Diigo in any other way with your students – I advise you to build in part of the assessment to be weighted toward demonstrated regular use of the tool. Schooliness is Web 1.0 (if it’s web at all), and our students seem to prefer schooliness over anything new every bit as much as their teachers do. A word to the wise.

That being said, here you go: Three uses of Diigo in the history and English classroom:

Screencast: Using Diigo on Student Scribe Blogs as Test Review “Sheets” (20 September 2007)

Here’s one more tutorial, 4 minutes, on using Diigo on Scribe blogs as test review sheets, with students as members of a Diigo Group. I just trained my students today in AP Lit, set them up on the class Diigo Group, and “shared” my highlights and annotations of the class scribe posts (it only works on permalinks, not on main blog pages) with the kisAP07 group. They use that as “test reviw.”

Here it is:

From Red Pen to Invisible Ink: Assessing Student Blogs with Diigo Groups (23 March 2007)

You are a young writer trying to experience what being a real writer is, because…your teacher is making you: sore spot one (but I can live with this one, for obvious reasons).

You are a young writer trying to have that experience by writing on a web-log (I’ve decided to outlaw the term “blogging” with students, and substitute the correct, grand old word: “Writing”), so that you can experience real audience, real feedback, real conversation based on your writing: blessing one.

You are a young writer who sees that someone has left a comment on one or your writings on your web-log (the word “blog” is a blighted thing as well, in the Language Arts classroom. From now on, we use “web-log”). What a delight–and a new one. You click the link, curious and expectant–how is the world responding to me as a writer?

But you see this:

You misspelled “frustrated.”
Is this a strong introduction?
Nice use of the appositive in Sentence Pattern 4, but your compound sentence in SP 3 is a comma splice because you forgot to include a coordinating conjunction after the comma.
B+.Your teacher.

“Well,” you say, “It was interesting. Thanks, but no thanks. Back to MySpace for some real conversation.”

Luckily, Chris Watson sparked an idea in one of our podcasted conversations about this problem: Somehow find a way to use Diigo to assess student web-log writing without defacing the students’ “intellectual property” and turning writing into “schooliness.”

So here’s my latest experiment, with thanks to Chris (and to Diane Quirk, who suggested this much earlier): using Diigo Groups (with a separate Diigo login for me, to keep my own bookmarks separate from my classroom bookmarks).

My students have joined the Group. Now when they go to their web-logs, after logging in to their Diigo account and setting “Show Annotations > Show Group Annotations” on their Diigo toolbar, they will see the highlights of specific passages from their writing that I have left (and I can start students doing this too, it occurs to me in a very attractive flash), and my annotations will pop up on their screen when they hover their mouse over the highlights.

Also good, our Diigo Groups Bookmarks page records all highlights and annotations I have made on one page. Students can use that to see all feedback I have given to specific strengths and weaknesses on all students writings.

And since they’re using anagrams instead of first-name usernames on their blogs, there’s less of a chance of any embarrassment resulting from this “public feedback”–with “invisible ink.”

The screenshot below is an example of what one student will see when she visits her blog with Diigo turned on.

How to Highlight and “Sticky-Note” Websites, and Save It All Online, Using Diigo (1 January 2007)

Here is an updated version of the Diigo tutorial. Your students will love you (not immediately, but only after they’re gone–they’re students, after all) for teaching them this great research tool!

And you’ll love being able to access your online notes of every website you’ve researched yourself, too–from any computer in the world.

21 thoughts on “Three Uses of Diigo in the History and Language Arts Classroom”

  1. Hi Clay,
    While watching the Diigo frenzy going on this weekend, I was thinking about you and a couple of conversations we’d had about using it for instruction. I wonder how many new subscriptions Diigo gained over the past 2-3 days? I’m not sure about the social tools they’ve recently built in but I suppose that’s a personal preference for some. I recently created a group and invited my supervisor to join so that we could share resources we find about 21st century learning skills. I have that linked right to my Bloglines so I know when he adds something and he gets a notification when I add something. Can we get teachers to embrace this tool? I keep trying…even if they only use it for themselves I think the effort is worth it.

    Diane Quirk’s last blog post..Who Made You Think Today?

  2. Well, that explains why I couldn’t “friend” you … but technically I have been a Diigo member since 2007 .. so not part of the twiiter-induced stampede, haha! But truly amazing that 1 person can say “Diigo” and so many people would join up. I want that person on my marketing team. –Frank

    Frank’s Blog’s last blog post..Helping Colleagues Get Connected One by One

  3. Hi Clay,

    First of all, I’d like to officially go on record and thanks for your discovery and sharing Diigo with the education community very early on! Your videos are awesome and we really appreciate your your participation and continued support of Diigo all these time!

    The recent strong interest in Diigo is obvious: Diigo V3 has just been rolled out. It now includes a completely re-designed browser add-on as well as a completely re-designed website that feature substantially improved user experience, and a slew of innovative and powerful functionalities.

    Love to continue involve you in being an active voice in the new, social web that Diigo is helping to create and shape.



  4. Pingback: Friends' Bookmarks
  5. I’m curious: have you used Diigo with your AP English students to analyze texts? I teach AP English Language, which focuses more on nonfiction and rhetoric. I’m wondering if this would be an effective strategy to have kids read editorials and analyze the author’s style as well as argue the issue. Next year, I’ll be getting a classroom set of laptops, so my every student will have a laptop every day. I’m just trying to envision the logistics here, wondering if Diigo might be the best tool to have them tearing apart complex texts on a regular basis.

    lisahuffs last blog post..Head2Head: Teaching Students to Argue the Right Way

    1. Hi Lisa,

      My AP students were seniors – the only class that didn’t have laptops. So we didn’t use Diigo. Your plan sounds easy enough to implement, though. I’ve never had classes all annotate one site, so I don’t know what sort of complications might pop up, but I don’t see how it could be too hairy.

  6. Another question: Have you used the “post to blog” feature? If so, any glitches you encountered or suggestions you’d make? Next year, since my students will all have laptops every day, I want them regularly reading and tearing apart editorials from publications like NYTimes. I was wondering how I’d assess this–keeping up with all the note taking, especially if students select articles of interest to them, which is what I’d prefer. I noticed you can have all your bookmarks + notes automatically posted to a blog. Then, there’s the group you can create. I haven’t used either, so I’m struggling to see–from a managment standpoint–which would be easiest to handle. Any suggestions or experiences you could share?

    lisahuffs last blog post..Head2Head: Teaching Students to Argue the Right Way

    1. You should probably dink around with the post to blog and groups features, experiment and play around with them yourself (maybe with a friend or colleague?) to get the user experience before your students do.

      Here’s a post that might help that plays with the same project idea, with a screencast that might help.

      Assessment on this stuff is always tricky. The simpler the better?

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