This is part of a regular series of articles exploring some of the terms used in e-learning (view other articles in the series). We’ll do our best to break down the jargon and explain what things are from a basic perspective.
Bookmarks (or ‘Favorites’ in Internet Explorer) are references to web pages that you save in your web browser so that you can return to a page later. This works well if you only ever need to get access to the bookmarks from the computer where you created them, however with people using computers at work and home, along with various mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, this is becoming less likely. As a result there was a growth in online bookmark manager tools, such as Google Bookmarks, MyBookmarks, and Quick Bookmarks, which store the information online so that they can be accessed from anywhere.
These online bookmark managers are very useful, however they are intended to store bookmarks privately and didn’t lend themselves to keeping bookmarks as part of a group. For this, Social Bookmarking tools were created. These tools allow multiple people to collect bookmarks together, perhaps as part of a research group, so that all members of the group can easily view the resources. Social Bookmarking can go further, however, and allow collections of bookmarks to be accessed by anyone. The tools also contain ways of categorising bookmarks, such as tags, that help organise the collections and make finding specific ones at a later date much easier than if they were just listed by date.
These features of Social Bookmarking tools have resulted in them being used to create curated lists of resources on particular topics. These lists (or just a sub-list based on a specific tag) can then be imported as automatically updated feeds on blogs and learning platforms such as Blackboard. This means that tutors can build collections and have any additions they make automatically appear to students.
Social Bookmarking Tools
The two main Social Bookmarking tools are:
Both are free to use and have large numbers of people using them, so are excellent resources even if you don’t want to start creating your own collections. Both tools offer the ability to keep bookmarks private and Diigo allows users to share bookmarks with private groups. Browser add-ons are available which make adding a new bookmark as easy as clicking a button.