Saturday, 27 June 2009

Skype Interview : Social Bookmarking

Michèle Drechsler is an “inspector of the Education Nationale” in France. She manages a district of 260 teachers. She is responsible for the mission “environment numerical of work” for the departement of Moselle. She undertook university research on the topic: What are the changes caused by the new technologies for the professional training against the KM (Knowledge Management) and Cops (community of practices) paradigm? She currently prepares a doctorate thesis: Teaching resources on line and Web2.0.Indexing, bookmarking and folksonomy
Not only was it an honour to answer Michèle’s questions over Skype, but it really made me reflect on my social bookmarking practices.

Does socialbookmarking help you in your daily practice ?
It provides ideas for my classes, resources to create my own materials and it is now for me an essential tool to share good practice with other teachers.

How long have you been using social bookmarking ? How did you find out about Diigo ? What were the most important reasons for you to join Diigo?
I found out about Diigo via Twitter. I was already using del.icio.us but I sensed that Diigo had much more potential to share bookmarks with like-minded people. My first aim was to meet other linguists and languages teachers to exchange bookmarks for ideas and resources, hence the creation of my "Resources for Languages" Diigo group. I then found out that Diigo was a very effective way to keep up to date with cutting edge practice integrating new technologies in general and their application to language learning and teaching in particular.I have been using Diigo for a bit less than two years.

What are the most important advantages of Diigo according to you ? Visualisation ? Groups ?
Some of my contacts moved on to Diigo and decided to try it too. As I knew that I could transfer my del.icio.us links to Diigo , there was not a lot of risk involved…
I like the fact that on Diigo the bookmarks are linked to a person and a profile. It is therefore easier to identify people who have common interests with you and maximise the exchanges.
I also love the groups and the fact that their activity is easily trackable by rss and (immediate or weekly) emails.
What is the contribution of digital resources in your practice? What is a digital resource for you ? What is a good resource?
For me, a digital resource is anything that can be kept on or accessed through my computer: sound files,photos, images, documents (especially powerpoint, word and excel ), notebook files for my IWB, bookmarks to online resources...
A good resource is a resource that is adaptable to my students’ needs and a resource that is going to grab their attention-at least for a while- and engage them . For learning languages, I would say that a combination of audio files and high quality visuals is the most effective.

How do you keep abreast of new developments ?
I create powerpoint presentations for each lesson I teach and I use them to include a wide range of resources, from “low tech” (cards and worksheet) to “high tech” (notebook documents for the IWB including photos/ videos and sound)
Where do you find your new Diigo bookmarks ? Do you tag your findings as you go along as do you have any tricks to find the resources again ?
I am a member of Twitter and of a great number of other social networks like yahoo groups and Ning networks. I use Plurk, del.icio.us et Diigo. I also use rss to read a great number of blogs.
Do you do searches by key words ? Do you search for specific individuals that you « follow »?
The trick is to find people that have the same areas of interest as you and to follow them on twitter and via other social networks they might be part of. I use tweetdeck and I have a permanent search column for "languages".

How much time do spend searching for new materials? On average, per week?
I would say at least one hour per day but more at the weekend-especially in the evening. I try not to spend too much time on one occasion but to look for things when I have only a very limited amount of time available several times in the day.

How much time do you spend on the various groups you are a member of ? How do you manage your subscriptions?
I usually start going through my Diigo emails as I have joined quite a few Diigo groups but I also check my emails from the mfl resources yahoo list as it is such a fantastic source of information and resources for UK MFL teachers. I manage the information according to the time available to me: quick check, save on Diigo or if it something that takes more time to read, I send a shortcut to my computer desktop as a reminder to read the article or the report later…

In your opinion, does Social Bookmarking improve research ? What are its limits?
Of course it does ! The limit is sometimes the validity of the research, like anything else on the internet… It can be harder to find out whether it is completely reliable.
Does Social Bookmarking enable you to carry out out more relevant searches than with Google?
Yes because contacts can vouch for the validity or usefulness of specific resources whereas Google just gives an idea of the web presence of its author-and a greater web presence does not necessarily equate with greater the reliability/ validity.

Do you trust other users, is that right?
Yes, particularly if the resource has been widely used by the majority of my contacts. It gives you more confidence as it is not just a number of anonymous people.-You have some genuine common interests with your contacts.
How do you view the simultaneous presence of amateurs and experts discussing common topics ?
On the net, anybody can present themselves as an expert. I prefer to think that we are all amateurs because we never cease to learn and that our ability to be critical of everything we come across is the most important thing.
Is tagging a cognitive activity ? Does tagging force you to reflect on categories to find the correct key word?
Yes, but I feel that it remains quite personal too. Lately, I attended an Elluminate session on tagging for Flickr. We were asked to tag a picture and we then compared all the different words and categories suggested-fascinating... For photos the choice of categories is maybe wider but I believe that we also get the categories to fit our needs. The question is always: if I want to find this again to do… what key word do I need?

Key words need to be standardized. Is a protocol necessary at some stage to determine a common vocabulary or is self-regulation best?
This is a very interesting point. I have always allowed self-regulation as I feel that it may be too restricting to regulate for a whole group,-especially if the members speak different languages. Provided the bookmark is accessible via a great selection of key words, I do not think it makes any difference…

Has using digital resources changed your professional practice? Does socialbookmarking enable you to be innovative?
It means that I can store all my resources in one place-my computer, I can share resources more easily with my colleagues as well as edit them to improve them… Using digital resources also enable me to include sound and pictures and to create resources that are more engaging for my students. Using social bookmarking, I can also be sure that my knowledge of how new technologies are applied in my area of work is also up-to-date. Social Bookmarking made me discover new tools such as Wordle or Voki….

Did Social Bookmarking enable you to be more innovative in the classroom ?
Yes, by using relevant You tube videos, by using audacity to do some recordings for my students, by using voki, wordle, by using live web pages to illustrate a point, teach vocabulary or a grammar item-for example, showing an interactive weather map in Spanish while teaching phrases to discuss the weather.

Is there a difference between what the tool is designed for and what you use it for in practice?
Yes because we need to tailor any resources we use to the need of our students, given a defined time allocation and technical situation-blocked sites, access to computer rooms… For instance, avatars can be used to encourage students to write descriptions in another language. That was not why they were created but the use we make of the tools available also depends on our creativity in the classroom…

What are the most important lessons you have learnt through using social bookmarking?
You get more out of social bookmarking if you use it actively. Keeping your good bookmarks to yourself does not make you grow as a professional or as an individual. “Sharing is receiving”. This is probably the most difficult message to spread. The time issue often comes up when I talk about actively using social bookmarking. It does not take any more time than deleting unwanted emails and it is so much more productive…

5 comments:

tellio said...

Lots of good info and perspectives here even for a uni-lingual person like myself. I especially liked that this info was Skype-gathered and that it had a cool action research 'icebreaker' to use with Flickr. Thanks. I tweeted this.

IC Jones said...

Hi there! I do like to blog about languages but the conversation is about learning and how how technology can help in general. Thanks for contributing-will check your blog too!
Isabelle

aliceayel said...

This interview is very interesting and I guess the key motto here is "sharing is receiving". Thank you for that great post!

Alex said...

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IC Jones said...

Hi there
Thank you for all your positive feedback.