Yesterday, Google announced Sidewiki, which allows people to comment directly on web pages for others to see.
It’s a neat concept. It makes the Internet more interactive, and readers before you can add helpful information to navigate the site.
Some teachers have noticed the similarities between Sidewiki and Diigo, a popular social annotation application. Will Sidewiki, with Google’s backing, replace Diigo’s strength among educators?
No way. Here are five reasons why:
1. Diigo’s highlighting feature is much better. Many teachers use Diigo to help students improve their reading strategies by having them highlight passages and write sticky notes to interact with the text. With Sidewiki, you can highlight a passage, but once you make a comment, it gets mixed up with all the rest of the comments. Diigo’s comments stay connected to their corresponding passage.
2. Diigo helps students with research. With Diigo’s bookmarking feature, students can learn how to gather online resources, organize and evaluate them, and guard against plagiarism. Teachers can share recommended websites to the whole class for an assignment or research project. Sidewiki doesn’t do research.
3. Diigo is as easy as Sidewiki to use. Some people are saying that logging in and requiring a toolbar makes Diigo too cumbersome for students. Sure, getting students used to Diigo does take some start-up time. But the same thing goes for Sidewiki, which requires Google Toolbar and logging in.
4. Diigo allows for better privacy. Google is all about publishing everything to the whole world. Although I don’t have a problem with this, many schools do. Diigo isn’t perfect when it comes to privacy, but there is a teacher module that allows you to determine who is in your class and whether students can create their own profiles.
5. Diigo’s sticky notes are better than Sidewiki’s. Google will use an algorithm, similar to its search feature, to determine which user comments will stay on the page and which ones will drop to the bottom. This, of course, is not helpful when it comes to students’ sticky notes. With Diigo, all comments are kept in exactly the same place the user intended. In short, Diigo gives a much more accurate view of how students interact with a website, which can improve teaching and learning.